Brain Drain, Science Fiction?

I recently went to the doctor and was diagnosed with having a swollen brain. She said I needed immediate surgery to reduce the pressure. I said, “Okay”, I was all for a little pressure release valve or a brain drain. They shaved my head and strapped me in, down and around. The only things left movable were my eyes and just to irk me they stuck a mirror in front of those. With a little laser pointer the doctor showed me the ridge on which (x) marked the planned drill site. My skull was a multicolored globe stuck full of probes and wires. I looked like an angry Medusa. I was also surrounded by a dozen or so little TV screens on which I could see and hear myself think. Did you know that swear words have a different frequency than thinking of ice cream? They do. They sound similar to a car with bad valves. They got me a dirty look from the anesthesiologist.
What I hate the most about anesthesia is that when they put me under I don’t think coherently or dream. It is not exactly a blind nothingness because I could sense a dull pressure and discern a sound like rasping sandpaper. It felt as if I were swollen all over and I had contracted a new disease called brainspread. I wasn’t being drained, but buttered. Then I had to puke but nothing worked. I had no puke muscles. It was weird, but I didn’t feel bodied or disembodied. Where the hell did I go? Purgatory?
That’s about the time you start to come out of it. I felt thankful and not thankful at all. My brain was completely and utterly numbfounded. Even though I couldn’t puke I had a need to regurgitate my every thought because I couldn’t talk. My tongue was glued down. My eyelids wouldn’t move out of the way of my orbs or maybe they cut the wrong nerve and I was blind. I didn’t want to be blind. I felt like I wanted to panic, but I couldn’t do that either. I couldn’t find my panic button. They had unhooked my brain and I didn’t have a conduit to my body. Maybe they had stollen my brain. I was pretty intelligent, but then again I was also a smart ass. I wouldn’t put it past them to usurp my brain for ulterior motives. Or maybe I was just dead.
When the first wave of pain hit me I was certain I wasn’t dead. After the fifth or sixth one, I wanted to be. My whole head felt like a massive toothache. I was suffering from a bad brain abscess. I had agreed to the damn operation at the outset because I needed my brain reduced not enlarged. Maybe that was the reason I couldn’t see, my eyeballs had popped out of their sockets. On top of all that, there was some cocksucker screaming at the top of his lungs. I wanted to shove a suck in his mouth. That was when something clicked inside my battered head. I closed my mouth. The screams stopped. My eyelids finally popped open.
There was a small table beside the bed with my laptop on it. Beside it sat a pitcher of water with ice cube remnants and a green plastic cup. It dawned on me just how utterly thirsty I was. My throat was parched and sore from all the screaming. I sat up. I was expecting nausea and pain but I felt nothing but the usual tingle behind my right ear. I was going to be okay after all. I had simply had a nasty nightmare.
I poured a glass of water and soothed my parched tongue. I lifted the USB cable that was attached to my laptop and plugged it into the USB port behind my right ear. The tingling stopped. I hit download and went back to sleep.

 

Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®

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I Saw It Coming, Part 2

IMG_0984    I Saw It Coming, Part 2

I thought they were probably going to take me into the alley by Gordo’s Liquor Store.  I had been in there and knew there was a recess about half way down that housed the liquor store garbage containers.  It was smelly and full of shadows, a perfect spot for them to do their dirty deed.  I’m sure they had it figured to where they’d be long gone by the time I was able to pick myself up and scramble for help.

I was pretty certain I wasn’t going to need any help.  Of course a little doubt always seems to elbow it’s way in at times like these and this time was no exception.  What if Skinny had the rest of the gang sequestered away in the alley for reinforcements.  In that case, I would be overwhelmingly out numbered and in big trouble.  This wasn’t a Hollywood stunt.  This was real life, mine.

My antennae popped up and went on full alert.  I had to be ready for anything.

We paused at the alley and both boys looked around.  It was eerily quiet.  The street was mostly empty of pedestrians and devoid of cars.   Mrs. Cooley was putting out oranges in front of her tiny market and there was a lady walking her black poodle near the bank.  Other than those two people nothing was going on.  A surreptitious glance into the alley fortified my belief that it was also deserted.

“This way old man.”

Of course it was The Skinny One with all of his bravado that hissed and gave me a yank.  I had planned to take them by the garbage cans, but the yank disengaged me from The Vulture and I used the momentum to fall and roll.  I grabbed Skinny by the shirt, planted my feet in his groin and tossed him into the alley on the backside of my roll.  There was a disconcerting crunch.

“You Mo Fo!” he growled in obvious pain.

That was sugar to my ears.  I had him wounded but thankful that it wasn’t mortally.

I rolled back onto my feet into a crouch and braced myself to pounce on The Vulture.  But The Vulture hadn’t moved, he was standing frozen at the mouth of the alley.  His mind and eyes looked as if they were running on Meth overdrive.

“What the Hell you lookin at?”  Skinny railed from the alley behind me, “Get the old coot.”

Vulture mustered a hesitant lurch toward me and then stopped as we locked eyes.  He didn’t like what he was seeing and that was enough, he turned and boogied back up toward the bank.

I put my attention back on Skinny.  He had managed to get himself into a sitting position up against the brick of the liquor store.  His left ankle was clearly broken and was going to need a good surgeon to piece it back together.  He moaned.

“I am going to go into the liquor store and call an ambulance,” I said, “But before I do I want to give you a little advice to think about.  You do have the capacity to think, don’t you?”

He glared at me.

“I mean what I say.”  I emphasized.

He continued to glare but was obviously struggling with the pain.  I could see the beginnings of a crack forming in his facade.

“It goes like this,” I said, “The Vulture flew the coop.  It is not a bad thing to do when flying is called for.  He saved himself a world of hurt and a visit to the hospital.  I know in your mind that he saved nothing because he didn’t save you.  It is your intention to hurt him bad because you failed to hurt me.  I’m telling you to drop it.  You and your little gang.  Just leave him alone.  The consequences of dishonoring me and hurting him are not something you can afford.”

My eyes bore into him.  “Do we have an understanding?”  I asked as I pressed him harder with my will.

The pain was more than he could bear.  He dropped his head and looked away.  His body wilted and his bravado vanished into the broken lost child he truly was.  A sob suddenly escaped his constricted throat.

I knelt beside him and gingerly put my hand on his head.  It was a calculated risk I was willing to take.  He flinched but didn’t bite.  To his everlasting benefit, The Skinny One gave in.  He asked for help.

I rose and turned to go.

“Thank you,” he said or he didn’t.  I can’t say for sure, I can only hope.

Part 3 to come soon.  Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books®

When War Comes, A Short Story

IMG_0921         When War Comes

He was my older brother by spirit, not by blood.  He could look through the eyes of the crow or the hawk and see you even when he wasn’t present.  He had what the elders called far vision.  He had the ears of a deer and the wings of a duck.  He could disappear at will.

I adored him.

He told me, “Stop being a puppy, young Night Bird.”

He often came decorated with paint in the colors of a warrior.  He pointed with a finger and spoke with his hands.  He would grab my tongue and give a shake of his head if I spoke too loud near the water where we fished.  He gave me feathers for lessons and beads rubbed raw by the swirling currents of the river.  He gifted me the paw of a weasel when I showed him a nest of pheasant eggs.

I looked up to receive his praise.

He told me, “Don’t put your eggs in another man’s basket.”

He helped me find an ash to carve a bow.  He taught me the way of sticks and how they bend just right when they plead to be an arrow.  He showed me rituals on how to ask the feather where it goes and how to honor flint when it is broken.  I was coached on how to say the words to make an arrow fly true to its kill.

I found truth in what he said.

He told me, “Truth is worthless to the dead.”

He tested me like the leather I used to string my bow.  He tested my patience and my will.  He approved or disapproved.  It all depended on the direction of the wind.  I could tell by the the lift of his chin when he knew that I knew.

I smiled at his knowledge.

He told me, “A lesson learned is a lesson you forgot.”

We practiced until I bled and my blood became a vessel that poured my spirit into the bow, until my hands were indistinguishable from the rose of the wood.  I shot arrow after arrow, day upon day two years in a row.  I could stand on my head or I could sit, I could run or I could crawl, leap or flip.  It didn’t matter to my arrows, they had learned to arrive where I had meant them to go.  They were I and I was them and in an instant I could snatch an arrow out of flight and whisk it back from where it came.

I was cocky with my aim.

He told me, “The pheasant that crows too soon and too loud gets eaten.”

He took me to the mountains and taught me how to hunt like the big cats and climb like the goats.  I was shown the camouflage of painted faces and the different spirits they conjure for their host.  He spoke the words behind the smoke and the rhythms of the tom-toms.  We danced the dances, chanted our chants and in the Spring I came to be a man in the arms of Silver Birch.

I went to her in the night.

He told me, “Love is a warrior’s strength and his weakness combined.”

We sat in silence amidst the bustle of the many young boys as they searched to retrieve our arrows.  They plucked them from the grass where we practiced and brought them back to our quivers by name.  We traded for their efforts with feathers and beads or candy for the ones that shook their heads.  One That Grows Fat In the Middle is my little brother by blood.  My Little Brother by spirit is Cloud In The Eye.  He too likes candy above feathers and often cries to my dismay.  I do not recall myself in his childish manners.  He seems to lack the will in search of his honor.

Older Brother clicks his teeth.  He points and gestures with his chin, “Some boys are men, some boys are squaws.  It’s good to know which,” he said, “when war comes.”

Richard Rensberry, Author at QuickTurtle Books™