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The Tale of Dr. Jasper and Mr. Hatz

The pivotal moment arrived. Dr. Henry Jasper quaffed the stale liquid and depressed the button on the silvery transmitter. His heart was beating fast, but he could not tell if it was due to nervousness, the drug, or both. He could feel the warmth of the liquid permeate his throat and down to his stomach. As the liquid absorbed into his body, suddenly he felt a tingling sensation run through him from tip to toe. It quickly changed to a gripping pain, as of a million ants crawling on his nerves. He watched in groggy horror as his hands turned into putty and transformed into a grotesque ape-like shape. Suddenly, his head cleared and he shuffled to the mirror. He screamed in delight and awe for what he beheld was so shocking that he knew it must remain his secret. His visage had an insidious evil but belied no deformity. A black strength and vigor flowed through his veins. For a brief moment, he truly felt free.

♣ ♠ ♣

Dr. Hastie Lomax chided, "You're head's filled with nonsense my dear Jasper. Such a thing would be outrageous - the medical community would never accept it."

Jasper could no longer be disturbed by this oft-heard comment from his closest friend. His recent successes had refreshed his confidence. Yet, at a deeper level, he reviled the slow, dogmatic gait of his peers. After all, the year was 2053; Four hundred thirty-three years of the scientific method as proposed by Francis Bacon had not awakened these men's minds to enlightened ways of thinking. Jasper diverted from his usual explanation of the merits of his work and tried to convince Lomax of his ideals. "You're too old-fashioned my friend. Why should we limit ourselves when the possibilities of man are truly unbounded? There is no right and wrong, Lomax. Man creates his limitations and can set himself free."

"I'm quite satisfied with the way things are now. There's no sense in upsetting the status quo, especially if society will suffer you for it." Feeling the lack of the usual response, he added, "What you speak of is technically infeasible because ... "

"Because of what?" interrupted Jasper. "We have everything we need: nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, DNA reconstruction," said Jasper as he counted on his fingers. "We have but to put these things together."

"But for what, I say? I know you've already told me, but I still don't believe you," responded Lomax.

"I will tell you till you believe, Lomax. We are burdened by a duality in our natures. Evil lurks in our minds at all moments and is only constrained by our higher self and society. Our higher self is tainted by these constant battles with the lower. Why not separate the natures? Let the lower breath free, and the higher will aspire to heights to reach the sun!"

♣ ♠ ♣

The awe and disbelief quickly left as the realization of his freedom took hold. He immediately had the urge to satisfy all his desires. The Virtual Reality visor became his escape and the illicit worlds of cyberspace were his playpen. He was the marionette of that reckless puppeteer, emotion. Craving more, he furiously exited his desolate lab to find mischief in the city and the night was long indeed. But in his haste, he left the transmitter behind.

It was fear of the authorities that made him come back for it. The transmitter was the key to getting back for it signaled the million or so micro-robots in his blood to revert him to his normal state. His normal state and his transfigured state were stored as binary data in the transmitter. The instructions for his transformation were beamed to the micro-robots that then set to work rebuilding his DNA and physical makeup. Not only was he physically altered, but also his mind was made keener. He did not necessarily become more intelligent, but craftier and more devious. This was exactly his state of mind as he planned his way back into his lab to retrieve the transmitter.

He had exited by a back door and the only way in was the front door that required him to pass a retinal scan. The microscopic machines in his blood had no doubt altered his eyes and hence there would be no way to bypass this security. It was nearly morning and he had already crafted his plan, but the uncertainty involved was racking his mind. He would take his chances. He took out his videophone from his coat pocket, spoke a message into it, and hit 'Send'.

♣ ♠ ♣

Dr. Lomax parted with his friend Jasper with an air of unease. He had known Jasper for many years, as they had been classmates in the School of Tele-medicine. They had learned together their art of treating patients via special apparatuses that allowed them to sense their patients from remote locations. Jasper had always insisted, though, on using his real voice through the tele-screens, and not the quirky voice of the Universal Translator. His patients couldn't understand him and his instructors were dismayed, but still Jasper wouldn't change his mind. It was this strong-headedness that worried Lomax because it conflicted with the people who couldn't understand him, sometimes literally.

The comfort of sleep dispelled the unease Lomax felt. He dreamt of his planned vacation to the moon and the grand scenes of tranquility he would see from the transport ship. A beeping sound invaded through the mists of his dream and called him to awaken. The dream forgotten, Lomax turned on the tele-screen beckoning him from his dresser. In the brightness of the flat panel, Lomax squinted his eyes and said, "Hello?" As his eyes adjusted, he saw that he had received an urgent message and not a live video call. He played back the message and as the quirky voice of the Universal Translator echoed in his ears, the unease he had felt earlier magnified into a tremendous fear; for here is what the message said:

My dear Dr. Lomax,

Please excuse the oddity of this message and the time of sending. But you must not fail me now, in my hour of greatest need. Take the time to notice that this message has been digitally authenticated by my signature and is not a fake. With the utmost urgency, I ask that you do one favor for me whose need outweighs it by oceans. In my laboratory is a small, silver transmitter with the label, "Transformer." At exactly 6 am, a man will present himself at the front door as Mr. Hatz and you are to give this transmitter to him. Rest assured that this man has my permission and you are to treat him as a friend. Again, the transmitter labeled "Transformer" is to be handed to Mr. Hatz at 6 am. In my distress, I fear that the slightest misinformation may cause calamity so I must be doubly careful. Serve me, my dear Lomax, and save

Your friend,

H. J.

♣ ♠ ♣

Jasper scurried up to the front door at the appointed hour. His friend was waiting there with a grave look upon his face. As soon as he saw him, his face turned pale as if he had seen the devil himself. Jasper approached him carefully and introduced himself as Mr. Hatz. The doctor derided this small, evil looking man but swallowed his revulsion and said, "If you are who you say you are, follow me inside."

Once in the laboratory, to which the doctor had access, Mr. Hatz immediately said in a hoarse voice, "Well, where is it?" "Have patience sir. I would like to know the whereabouts of Jasper and his condition first," replied Lomax, his skin crawling at the sound of Hatz's voice.

Hatz's rage inflamed and only with an incredible amount of control was he able to respond, "I assure you that your questions will be answered. He mentioned an item of business that was to be given to me, a silver transmitter..."

Relenting, Lomax said, "Yes, here it is."

Hatz grabbed it and was about to push the button before he said, "Lomax, I must ask you to leave now and keep your sanity, for what you are about to see will boggle your mind. I urge you, leave these questions unanswered and live in bliss."

"I have come too far to not see this to its end."

"Suit yourself," said Hatz, and he pressed the button on the transmitter.

Lomax watched in horror as he saw Hatz fall to the floor in a sudden convulsion. He could not hear the silent sound of tiny insect-like machines splitting apart Jasper's strands of DNA and rebinding them into their original configuration. He could not see the electro-magnetic radiation carrying the blueprint of Jasper's life back to his body. He could not feel the gnashing and churning of elementary compounds, structures and chemicals in the cells of Jasper. What he saw was only the morphing of Hatz's seemingly solid body into the form of his friend, Jasper. A trickle of metallic, stale liquid crept out of the ears of the unconscious Jasper. The micro-robots had done their job and were exiting his body, signaling that the pivotal moment had passed.

This short story was written on March 20, 1998 for English 317.001 taught by Professor Howes.


Created 2004-12-16, Last Modified 2011-07-24, © Shailesh N. Humbad
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