Author : Andrew Moen

Joel’s brow furrowed as he lost himself in thought. Work didn’t felt right. Nothing had for the past six months, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Nothing had changed in his life since the accident. The doctors had told him the procedure was experimental, but so far he had exceeded their expectations. When he had woken from the surgery they had asked him how he felt. Joel had laughed and said he felt amazing. The cybernetics merged with the freshly cloned parts of his new body so well he felt like a new man, which, he supposed, he really was. Only his mind was the same, saved from his old mangled body. The doctors and programmers had cheered. The first ever consciousness transplant had been a success.

Even then, on that very day, Joel had felt something was wrong. He couldn’t say what it was as he smiled at his wife and hugged her. Their kiss felt the same- was the same, yet somehow different. She had noticed as well after a few days. His therapist had said there may be differences, pieces of his old self lost in the transfer; the process wasn’t perfect yet. Memories may be foggy, old habits may not be there. However, Joel soon discovered due to his new mechanical brain he remembered more than he had previously; the color of his first girlfriend’s eyes, the exact seat he had sat in at his college graduation, his wife’s second cousin’s name. It was beyond expectations, the doctors kept saying.

But something was still wrong, he had told his therapist. His wife had even accompanied him to a few of his therapy sessions, but even she couldn’t say what it was. He was the same Joel. He laughed at the same things, he loved the same food, he made love the same. Though he did remember their anniversary now, she had said with a smile. They had all laughed, but Joel had wondered why. Why had he laughed?

Why did he do anything now? It all seemed contrived; it was as if he was an actor, all his lines and actions planned out in advance. When he laughed, his body felt happy, but in his mind, he felt blank. When he looked at his wife, he felt his heart beat faster, his mouth slowly curve into a smile, and he thought about how much he loved her. But inside it was hollow. Something about it all seemed fake.

Suddenly he gasped. His heart had skipped a beat as his brain made the connection. He felt the adrenaline rushing through him, clouding his thoughts with fear. He began to cry, though he wondered if what he truly felt was sadness. He knew he should, and for all the world he was, but inside it wasn’t the same as sadness he had known before.

It hadn’t worked, he thought to himself. The procedure was not exceeding expectations; it had failed that first day when he lay there after the car crash. Day in and day out, he had gone about his business a dead man, as dead as that body they had carted away that day. And now he was just another body, a technological wonder of cybernetics and bio-engineering drifting through the world as if alive; a robot, a zombie, a computer, but nothing more. Some part was missing; some part had not been transferred. He sat at his desk as co-workers gathered around his office door and he cried.


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