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Gerry McLane was a budding novelist. Unfortunately he never seemed to have any ideas to put down in writing. He spent plenty of time staring at screens and out of windows, but very little time creating stories.
He was a twenty nine year old, balding lab assistant who lived on takeaway food and dreams. Dreams that never became reality. Excuses were his favourite past time. He loved telling people that he was a writer and had an array of excuses as to why he never had any finished work.
His favourite was that he never had any time to read.
“One of the things that makes a good writer,” he would say, “is the time spent reading other writers material. Absorbing styles and ideas.” Gerry could never find the time for this. He was always too busy. The fact that he watched thirty six hours of TV a week didn’t help.
And so it was. One more wannabe writer too lazy to put the effort in. However, even lazy people have good fortune sometimes. Soon it would be Gerry’s turn. A throw away conversation that would lead to a realisation of his dream. A dream that he had harboured for so long. But not all good fortune leads to a better existence. A fact Gerry would soon come to realise.
Henry sat in the canteen pouring sugar into his tea. It was his morning break and he was once again spending it with Gerry. He loved Gerry as a good friend, but when he was in one of his moaning moods he could just grab him by the neck and squeeze. This morning was one of those times.
“I just haven’t got the time. I think I might try those audio books and play it while I’m asleep. Isn’t your brain supposed to absorb things while you are asleep?” Gerry continued with his moan. As soon as he mentioned absorb, something sparked in Henry’s mind.
“Hey, Gerry,” he interrupted. “I may have something for you. There’s a scientist in this building who will be looking for volunteers soon for an experiment he’s been perfecting. I know someone working with him. It’s to do with increasing the minds capacity which might help you with your writing. They’ll even pay you for it.”
“Really? What would I have to do?”
“Not too sure, but it’s got something to do with uploading information to the brain. I’ll find out more and let you know.”
“Sounds good to me.” Gerry swigged down his coffee and got up. “I’ll see you in the pub at twelve.” With that he left.
A few days later Gerry found out what was involved. It filled him with dread at first, but he was soon persuaded by the sultry blonde working with the doctor. Probes were to be attached to his brain and information transferred somehow from a computer. It would take about ten minutes and he would need to return a week later for a check-up.
Within two days Gerry had passed the required medical and was briefed on what was to happen before being hooked up while under an anaesthetic. During the transfer process he dreamt about equations. They just suddenly popped into his head. He was asked to write down what was in his mind as soon as he awoke and to recall the same information a week later when he returned for the check-up.
The week in between was uneventful. No increase in his creativity, but he couldn’t get the equations out of his mind. When he returned, the check-up was ok. He wrote down the equations exactly as before with it still fresh in his mind. The doctors were very happy with the results. They wanted to try another test. This time with a piece of text. A poem from an unknown writer. One Gerry would never have heard of before. He agreed and went through the same process that very day.
This time something very different happened. Once again, while he was under, it was like he was dreaming about words, only they produced an emotional reaction. The poem was about a lost love and this physically brought tears to Gerry’s eyes. This was a bit of a shock when he woke up and he was in a sullen mood for the rest of the day.
Four days later Gerry and Henry were having their morning break together.
“You know what Henry, there may be something in these experiments. Lately I can’t seem to stop writing poetry. Sad poetry, but none the less, poetry.” Gerry popped a headache pill in to his mouth and took a swig of his coffee.
“That’s good. How about your novel? How’s that coming along?” Henry asked.
“I’m writing nothing but poetry at the moment. I just can’t seem to think of anything else. See if you can persuade your friend to use a short story the next time I go in. We can see if that helps my novel.”
“I’ll see what she says. I don’t know if she has much influence on what can be used.” Henry noticed Gerry rubbing his temple. “Are you ok?” he asked.
“Just a slight headache. Nothing much.”
“You know you have to report any side effects! Make sure you tell them when you see them next.”
“It’s nothing. It’ll be gone in a couple of hours.”
“That’s beside the point. You must report anything that happens to you during the experiment. It’s vital for them to be able to monitor the progress.”
“Ok, ok. I’ll tell them.” Gerry said this to get Henry off of his back.
The next time Gerry was in for his check-up he heard the news he was hoping for.
“I hear you’re becoming quite the poet,” the Doctor began as soon as Gerry had finished his check-up. He sat behind a large desk covered in blue post-it notes. Doctor Becker was a middle-aged man with an obvious healthy appetite for his food. His stomach stretched his white coat to breaking point. “It’s interesting that one of the effects of the experiment is a stimulation of your creative side. It’s not something we’d considered before. No one else has exhibited this same side effect. Because of this we are going to change the information you receive on your next upload. It will be a short story.” Doctor Becker noticed the smile on Gerry’s face. “Have you had any other side effects during the week? Nausea? Headaches? Dizziness?”
“Ok then. If you can come back the same time tomorrow we’ll have everything ready for you.”
“Can you find something that is not so sad this time? It’s been quite an emotional week.” Gerry stood up and headed for the door.
“I’m sure we can find something a little easier on your emotions.”
Gerry opened the door and left the Doctor in his office. His mind racing. Twenty four hours to go. He got home and continued with his poem writing.
That evening Gerry was at his computer, but something was wrong. The free flowing poems that came so easily to him over the last few days struggled to materialise. It was getting harder and harder to complete sentences let alone whole poems. The desire and need to create was still as strong as ever, but the ability to put this into words had deserted him.
He rubbed at his temple trying to ease the annoying pain that had plagued his head for most of the day. Suddenly he heard a voice.
“You know what the problem is?”
“No, what?” he replied as though he was in the middle of a conversation.
“You need another boost to your mind. You need to be hooked up. You need that flow of words to your brain again. It’s obvious the last fix has worn off.”
“I’ll be getting more tomorrow.”
“But you need it now! Why wait until then?”
“There’s no way I can get it now!”
“Yes you can. You have access to the building.”
“No! No! I can wait until tomorrow.”
“No you can’t! You must have it now!” The voice became angry.
“No!” Gerry shouted grabbing his head with both hands. He stood up knocking the chair to the floor. The combination of the voice and the pain in his head was becoming unbearable. He staggered to the kitchen, grabbed two headache pills, gulped them down without any water and headed for the bedroom to collapse in a heap on his unmade bed.
It was a restless sleep Gerry eventually fell into. Rhyming words filling his mind while he was chasing them with a butterfly net, always failing to catch them at the last moment, leaving him feeling empty and frustrated. A faceless voice constantly taunting him.
The buzzing alarm couldn’t come soon enough. Although this time it felt as though it was gouging out a part of his brain. He slammed his hand down on it to end the torture. Seven o’clock. Gerry sat up on his bed. His headache, while still there, had reduced to a mild throb. Nothing that needed more pills. He jumped up and started getting ready for work. By the evening he would be writing stories like they were going out of fashion.
That day seemed to drag as the throbbing pain in his head gradually got worse. It was a blessed relief as Gerry finally was able to walk into the lab at the end of it. He was hooked up and the flow of words created a good feeling throughout his body from the uplifting story he was receiving. The pain in his head finally disappeared.
Doctor Becker ran the usual tests and once again everything was ok.
“Another clean bill of health for you. Now during this week I want you to monitor your writing progress. Keep a folder of everything you do. We’ll take a look at it next week when you come in.”
“If that’s all, I’d like to get started,” Gerry returned abruptly.
“Sure,” said the Doctor a little taken aback.
Gerry almost ran out of the room. The sooner he got home the better. He was on an unbelievable high. He never felt so good in his life. Even the thought of having to face all of those people on the tube couldn’t bring him down. His head was free from any pain he had experienced during the day. Just filled with wonderful, happy words waiting to be transferred into stories.