36919406G-6RMsGavin stared at the blue flame stretching from the base of the Bunsen burner. The contents of the test tube above it began to bubble in protest. Leaving its solid state, his latest concoction was reluctantly transforming into its liquid state. Gavin remembered conducting simpler experiments as a young boy in his makeshift home laboratory. Chemicals were lined up along his shelf in alphabetical order awaiting the opportunity to react in a magical and mysterious way with its perfect complement.

Gavin’s love of chemistry had remained a mainstay in his life. He still wore a lab coat and safety goggles. They just happened to be a few sizes bigger than the ones he wore in his younger days. For the past three semesters, Gavin had been working with his graduate school professor on exploratory research into the workings of the human brain. The recurring nightmares that haunted his sleeping hours nudged Gavin to specialize his studies in the area of neuroscience.

The laboratory where he worked felt more like home than his shoebox apartment just off campus. He could walk from his desk to the lab table, from the supply cabinet to the sink with his eyes closed. The neural pathways in his brain had committed the necessary navigation steps to memory. The only physical steps which always seemed to fire negative cerebral indicators, without fail, were when he approached the live supply container.

The sacrificial mice continued to be a moral dilemma for Gavin. It was difficult for him to resolve the internal conflicts as he subjected these living creatures to the experiments formulated in his mind. The effects of his experiments were unknown, whether they be positive or negative. The fact that these whiskered mammals with a tail carried a terminal illness within made it slightly easier for him to proceed with his research. But still, it disheartened Gavin to potentially cut any life short in the name of scientific advancement.

Flipping the switch on the brainwave monitoring equipment, Gavin slid on his protective gloves and retrieved his latest subject from the metal cage. Placing the gray mouse in the controlled environment, he turned back to the now boiling mixture in his test tube. Removing it from the heat, he allowed it to cool to room temperature before placing the necessary amount into the syringe. There was a precise timing to the steps of each and every experiment.

This was always the most difficult part for Gavin. Up until this point in the experiment, everything was hypothetical and theoretical. No effects would materialize until the next step was taken when he injected the latest speculative drug into his subject. His hesitancy in following through on this process with conviction would produce a marked shift in the proceedings of Gavin’s day.

mouse-in-cageAs he reached into the cage, this particular mouse seemed to sense the ensuing consequences of the situation. Maybe it was the smaller dose of the same mixture he had received earlier. As if running from danger, the tiny body scurried around the cage to avoid the needle that was searching for its hindquarters. In a moment of weakness and carelessness, Gavin lunged towards the mouse to expedite the completion of this always unpleasant task. Grabbing the mouse with his left hand, he quickly moved to inject the mixture in the syringe with his right hand. With another furious lunge uncharacteristic of such a tiny animal, the needle missed its intended target. As the needle pierced the latex glove on his left hand, the small red discoloration that appeared thrust Gavin into panic mode.

As well as Gavin knew the surroundings of his own lab, the unexpected always confounded his logical and intuitive mind. Looking left and right with urgency, he located the wash basin. Moving with expediency, he removed his glove and began to flush the pin prick hole between his left thumb and index finger. Leaving it under the flow of water for thirty seconds, it looked as if he was rinsing his hands after washing them. There was no evidence that the outer shell of his skin had been compromised. He would find that evidence later.

Returning to the open cage in order to continue with his intended experiment, Gavin was surprised to find the tiny mouse cowering in the corner. Given the opportunity to escape the confines of this controlled environment, the mouse remained still in the cage, eyes locked on Gavin in fear, as if he understood exactly what would happen next.

As he reached for the syringe once more, the majority of its contents still preserved in the vial, Gavin felt a wave a nausea wash over him. He had never had a strong stomach, but this was a different type of feeling. The brief episode of dizziness required him to place both hands on the table to steady his feet beneath him. As the feeling subsided, Gavin gave a gentle shake to his head and refocused on the task at hand. Looking back to his subject in the corner of the cage, he heard a voice. It was not an audible voice, but more like the mental form of a voice, a thought.

It was a thought characterized by fear. As he caught a glimpse of the monitoring equipment wirelessly connected to his subject, Gavin realized that the brain activity of the animal staring back at him was wildly active. As he pulled back, increasing the distance between he and the mouse, those mental thoughts filled with fear diminished. The display on the monitoring equipment showed a corresponding decrease in activity. Back and forth, Gavin experimented with the distance between him and the mouse, syringe in hand, periodically marking the correlated findings in his notebook. Staring at the helpless mouse along with the results of his experiment helped Gavin realize that he would never be able to tell anyone what he’d just discovered.

mind-readerThe combination of elements reacting in that test tube had created an incomprehensible link between the psyches of its carriers. Gavin was able to sense the feelings and emotions of the mouse looking back at him, and the furry rodent could sense the same in Gavin. They could read each other’s minds. Controlling the ratio of this substance injected into each individual, Gavin deduced, provided one of the subjects with a certain degree of control over the other’s thoughts.

As ethical as Gavin’s persona had been up to this point in his life, he could not help but imagine the possibilities. The city water supply was a perfect carrier for this pharmaceutical wonder. Everyone would be exposed. It was easy to control the amounts in each subject. No one would know.

Were the smiles of the attractive brunette in the apartment across the hall just friendly, or maybe something more? Could this be used in secrecy by the police force to avert criminal activity before it was committed? Were the latest actions of the city mayor carried out with the most worthy of intentions? As he stared at the innocuous liquid in the test tube, he realized that the power was in his hands, quite literally.

Gavin was accustomed to resolving the scientific dilemmas that he encountered on a daily basis. It was well scripted process of hypothesis, experiment, and conclusion. The moral dilemma facing him in this very moment was more difficult to address. The human mind is capable of rationalization that is anything but rational.

Gavin remembered a situation from his childhood days. Walking into the corner drug store owned by his uncle, he pulled the ice cream sandwich from the freezer in the back of the store and headed towards the front counter to pay. On the way up the aisle, his eyes caught a glimpse of the baseball cards wrapped in clear plastic. The player’s card just visible through the exterior was one of the five remaining needed to complete his collection. As he slipped the thin pack into his right pocket, he justified his actions. It was under one dollar. It was his uncle’s store. It wasn’t really stealing if the store was owned by his family. As he departed the store, the seventy five cents Gavin had placed on the counter only covered the cost of the ice cream he was now eating. In his heart, he knew that his choices were misaligned. And yet, they had been justified.

sink-with-running-waterAs he continued to stare at the contents of the test tube in his left hand, he knew what he should do. As he walked towards the basin and turned the faucet on, the stream of water from the spigot invited him to do the right thing. Time to think is a good thing, sometimes. The longer Gavin stood over that sink, however, allowed him time to justify his final decision. As he poured the contents of the test tube into a sealed vial, he slipped it into his right pocket, just in case.


12 thoughts on “Discovery

  1. Writing to Freedom August 29, 2014 / 11:53 am

    Dang Dave. You done left me hangin’. Now I must wait for the next installment, at least I hope there is a next one. 🙂 I enjoyed how well you painted the scenes and feelings. I am captivated and like how you connected their thoughts and feelings. Can’t wait to see where this goes.

    • davecenker August 29, 2014 / 3:41 pm

      Thanks Brad, I hadn’t even contemplated a sequel, leaving the next installment to the imagination of the reader, but maybe I will need to reconsider 😉 Thank you very much for taking the time to read and for providing such kind and thoughtful words, best wishes for an inspired day!

      • Writing to Freedom August 29, 2014 / 4:34 pm

        My pleasure in reading and commenting. Maybe I’ll let my imagination play too. 🙂

  2. adrianapridemore August 29, 2014 / 4:52 pm

    Another great piece!
    I love the statement “The human mind is capable of rationalization that is anything but rational.” That is humanities’ fatal flaw I think.

    • davecenker September 1, 2014 / 10:48 am

      It was rather eye-opening for me when I found that line rolling off my fingertips also. I actually stopped in my tracks after I wrote this line and read it again. The mind can be a very powerful entity, for good, for bad, and for everywhere in between. It’s the free will to choose how we utilize it that helps to define our path in life. Thanks, as always, for reading and commenting 😉

  3. Marquita Herald (@marquitaherald) August 29, 2014 / 5:45 pm

    Oh my Dave this story did get my mind running in so many different directions and as always I could literally picture the characters you were describing. Another winner!

    • davecenker September 1, 2014 / 10:52 am

      Thank you Marty, this one definitely had me traveling in a different direction than most of my other offerings. Shifting a little bit more to the darker side of our personalities, I hope that it inspires nonetheless to recognize and appreciate the power we hold within our choices. Thanks, as always, for taking the time to read and leave your thoughts 😉

  4. Niki Richardson August 29, 2014 / 11:45 pm

    Totally digging it!! Was hooked on every word! Beautiful piece of writing Dave!

    • davecenker September 1, 2014 / 10:54 am

      Thank you Niki, I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. I hope that your new business endeavors are becoming wildly successful. Thanks again and best wishes for an inspired day 😉

  5. Niki Richardson August 29, 2014 / 11:47 pm

    Reblogged this on Lifestyle DIVA Divine.Inspired.Vibrant.Abundant and commented:
    A cyber friend of mine wrote this very interesting story– it’s a cliff hanger and it totally enthralled me. The idea of being able to read minds is intriguing. The applications endless and could be oh so deadly if they fell in the wrong (or right) hands.

    How does it land on you?

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