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Sci-Fi Stories for Curious Minds

Sci-Fi Stories for Curious Minds

Abstract Glow

Echoes of the Human Mind: Exploring the Frontier of Consciousness

  • Paul Gamlowski

I Am/He Is Tom

Updated: Sep 30, 2020

Written by Paul Gamlowski


—————

I Am Tom

—————


Captain Thomas Watson anxiously looked forward to reuniting with his family.


His tour of duty came close to an end.


Tom felt extra lucky—unlike his subordinates—he kept all of his original body parts.


Medical science advanced biorobotics to the point it could replace or upgrade nearly every human organ. It wasn't too uncommon to see someone willfully take a risk in the hope of a cybernetic upgrade.


But Tom proudly boasted himself as "100% human through and through."


Jim, a medic and Tom's best friend, promised to keep him organic if anything ever happened. Even if it meant the loss of limbs or death and Jim's insubordination ...


———


Yet, something did happen on Tom's final mission …


He led a communications team to set up in a supposedly hidden and undetectable area.


Someone shouted, "Incoming!"


Tom heard a swarming buzz and a loud pop.


A searing pain penetrated his scalp.


Everything went black …


———


Tom woke up to a light shining in his eyes. "Jim?"


"Captain Watson, I'm Dr. Susan Smith. I'm sorry, Jim died. You're the only survivor. A swarm of exploding micro-drones killed everyone else in your company."


"Give me a mirror, Doctor."


Bandages covered Tom's head.


"Captain, you've suffered a trauma."


"Dr. Smith, I feel fine. Whatever you did, I've never thought so clearly, and I remember everything in vivid detail. Did you upgrade my brain?"


Dr. Smith smiled. "The clinic will debrief you after your return home. Recovery policy dictates that those treated for traumatic brain injury such as yours must first talk to a counselor."


"It's because of PTSD, right? So I'll be fixed. Fantastic!"


Dr. Smith nodded.


———


On his arrival home, Tom spent his leave with his family—BBQing, playing games, and, later, one evening, he made love to his wife, Mary.


Mary caressed Tom's face—"How do you feel, honey?"


"Surprisingly well. No headaches or pain. In fact, I've never felt better. My thoughts are sharp, and my ability to recall is incredible."


"Wonderful! I agreed to the procedure. You have an appointment with a counselor tomorrow."


"Huh? What did they do? Can't you give me a hint?"


"Sorry, honey. I promised. I can't. Just remember who you are, Tom."


"I am Tom, of course. Who else would I be?"


Mary kissed his forehead. "That's right!"


———


Tom arrived at the cybernetic clinic.


He sat in a private room to speak with a counselor.


"Hello, Captain Watson. I'm Dr. Frank Gonzalez, but you can call me Frank. Before you discuss the procedure with the other doctors, we need to prepare your mind."


"I'll follow your orders, Dr. Gonzalez."


"Captain, please sit up and take a deep breath. Imagine yourself with your family, and say the words 'I am Tom,' aloud three times. Do this whenever you think about your injury or your recovery. Let's try it now ..."


"Alright, Frank. I am Tom. I am Tom. I am Tom. "


"Excellent, Captain!"


———


Tom laid on a stretcher in a lab. He overheard two doctors discuss his MRI scan and mutter something about it being a success ...


One of the doctors approached him.


"Captain Watson, I'm Dr. Sheila Jung. Your recovery is coming along perfectly. You spoke with Dr. Gonzales, right? He taught you the self-hypnosis technique?"


"Yes, Doctor, for whenever I think of my recovery or the injury. Like right now, I must imagine myself with my family, and say 'I am Tom' aloud three times.


"Perfect! About your procedure ... "Dr. Jung pulled up an image on a tablet screen. "Here's an MRI scan of your head."


"What? All circuitry? No gray matter? Where's my ... Do I have any brain left?"


Dr. Jung shook her head.


Tom's eyes welled up as he nervously chanted, "I am Tom ..."


—————

He Is Tom

—————


The doorbell rang ...


"Karen, watch your brother."


"Yes, mama."


Mary opened the front door. "Yes? Oh, no ..." She cried. "Karen, take your brother upstairs now!"


A uniformed officer asked, "And you are?"


"Mary… I'm Mary Watson."—Her voice strained as she spoke.


"Mrs. Watson, I'm Major, Samuel Jacobs. The commandant of the Marine Corps has entrusted ... "


Mary nearly collapsed, sobbing.


The Marine officer caught her.


A goateed man stepped up. "Enough of this nonsense! He doesn't have to be dead!"


Mary gasped. "Is my husband alive, or isn't he? Who are you?"


"I am Dr. Ion Ionescu … Mrs. Watson, your husband, Captain Thomas Watson, doesn't have to be dead. We can save him and your family."


"Doctor, you're confusing me. Where's Tom?"


"It's complicated. May we step inside for privacy?"


"Yes, of course." Mary gestured for them to sit on the living room couch.


———


Dr. Ionescu spoke …


"Mrs. Watson, a drone struck your husband on the head. His autonomic system failed. He's declared clinically braindead."


"Where is he?"


"His body's in stasis. All I need is your permission."


"Permission to do what, Doctor?"


"Mrs. Watson, to make your family whole again. To transfer Tom's consciousness into a cybernetic brain."


"Has the military done this before?"


Major Jacobs spoke up, "Yes, ma'am, on many laboratory animals ...


"Tom will be the first human recipient."


"A computer brain with his personality, officer?"


"Quite frankly, Mrs. Watson, does it matter? Most of us have upgrades. He'll be your husband and a father to your children. They need him … and you need him."


Dr. Ionescu nodded. "The brain will have his every thought, memory, emotion, and love for you and your children."


"Will he know?"


"Eventually, he will…" Dr. Ionescu stroked his goatee.


"I know my husband. He'll hate what he'll become ...."


Dr. Ionescu nodded. "I understand. I'm confident our counselors will come up with a coping mechanism."


The officer chimed in, "Tom's a loyal, duty-bound man. His love for your family will make him realize it doesn't matter what he really is. All that'll matter is he is Tom, your husband, and the children's father."

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