"All that Man's soul perceives is filtered through his mind. In that way, the mind is his most essential tool, and his most ultimate flaw." -Christopher Cadum
Doctor Christopher Cadum strolled down the halls of the Ebony Medical
Institute. The outside hallways of the huge, ultra-modern complex were
composed almost completely of glass. On a sunny summer day, such as this one,
the light filtering through the glass was dazzling. Christopher took note of
the spectacle, but did not stop to contemplate it. He was a busy man, he had
places to go, "..and after all," he thought with a wry grin, "it's not the
illumination I seek."
As Christopher entered the library archives of the Ebony Institute, a
grisly, bearded figure rose from a computer terminal, and extended a hand.
"You would be Doctor Cadum, am I correct?", he asked with a friendly smile.
Chris took the hand and responded, "Yes, and you are....?"
"Gary Koontz, Vice President of this over-grown medical lab. Nice to
finally meet you in the flesh."
Chris gave a polite smile and said, "Likewise, I'm sure. Were we suppose
"Well officially I'm suppose to interview all the new doctors before they're
accepted, but that rule has long since been abandoned. We're growing so much
now days it would be impossible for me to interview everyone. However, after
going over you're file, I've been wanting to do an unofficial interview anyway.
Do you have a moment?"
Chris frowned. "Will this take long? I was hoping to..."
"It'll only take a moment. Now then," Gary settled back in his chair and
brought something up on the computer, "You have one of the most impressive
records I've run across. 'Graduated high school, age fifteen. Entered
College. Obtained Doctorate in Psychiatry in seven years.' I'd like to know
how you managed that!"
"I took night classes."
Gary gave an appreciative grin and continued reading, "'Went on to Graduate
school, masters in neural-biology, and the rest.' I understand you're still
looking at getting a doctorate in neural-biology?"
"Well, I was quickly running out of funds, and I got an offer from Ebony,
so I decided to accept and go back for my doctorate later."
The older man nodded. "Son, I don't have to tell you that kind of ambition
isn't normal. I've known a prodigy or two in my time, but usually they get
burnt out going at the pace you are. May I ask you a personal question,
"It's 'Chris', and please do."
"What keeps you going?"
Chris leaned back and took a deep breath, relaxing himself. He slowly
brought his attention back to the man sitting patiently in front of him. He
looked the other man straight in the eye and began.
"It's not easy for me to tell this to anyone, because I don't really expect
them to understand. I don't really understand it myself, but here it is.
Ever since I can remember, I've had one true goal in life. That goal was s
imply to learn everything there is to know about the human mind. As I said, I
don't really know why, I just need to know."
"Sometimes our deepest desires are also our darkest shadows." Gary
Chris smiled, "You sound like my Philosophy Prof. I read a story like that
once. It was about a man obsessed with creating life. Eventually he did, to."
"But the story doesn't end there," Koontz added, "Because his creation
became a phantasm. A horror that haunted him day and night, and eventually
"Yes, well I leave such rhetorical nonsense to writers. I personally
thought that story was dull and untrue to reality." Christopher did not add
that the image of Doctor Frankenstien haunted him none the less.
Doctor Gary Koontz studied Christopher for a long time. At last he said,
"I believe I may understand. Probably better than you do. I have one final
question: Why did you choose Ebony? With a record like yours, you could have
gone almost anywhere else. Why here?"
This time it was Chris' turn to study. Did this man know? Could he
He finally answered: "You no doubt know that the Odessy Mark I is completing
its final stages right here at Ebony?"
"The mind connector? Yes, of course, but how could you possibly..."
"In addition to being a good student, I'm also an excellent researcher. I
found out about the work on the Odessy when I was in college, and I knew I had
to be in on it. Imagine: two minds being connected, the ability to explore
someone else's mind, to see how it works! When I was in high school, I
thought that there was no way I would ever live to see the day when they
unearthed the mysteries of our minds, and now its within my grasp."
The aging Vice President looked at Cadum like a man slowly waking out of
"Son, I know what your asking me, and, frankly, I can't think of a better
candidate to test the Mark I, but I'm not in charge of that project, and
besides, it could be dangerous."
"It's only as dangerous as the mind that's using it, sir."
Gary leaned forward in his seat, "I'll see if I can pull strings to get you in
on the project. But you realize that it takes more than one mind to test the
machine, who would you connect to?"
Christopher Cadum smiled, "I thought you would never ask."
"That the mind can function apart from the body is all the convincing I need that man has a soul." -Christopher Cadum
Brian Cellars had been described as grotesquely ugly and hopelessly
retarded. He had never spoken a word in his life except general grunts and
screeches, but these were few and far between. Mostly he remained quiet. As
far as his looks went, his glassy eyes were sunken beneath a large protruding
forehead and his ashen white skin contrasted with his oily, black hair. One
of his ears was normal but the other was hardly there, just some indiscernible
lumps protruding from his head. His near deafness left him in a state of
isolation most of the time, and though his eyes were perfect, he hardly used
them, except to read. Most of his time was spent staring at his bedroom wall
caught up in his own thoughts. Brian had been this way since birth, and had
been sent to many specialists and institutions for help. They all said the
same thing: Brian was a introvert, with no desire to make contact with the
outside world. So now he sat in his room all day surrounded by his books.
Reading was his only real love. He had shown signs of being able to read
almost since birth, staring at writing since he was three, at least. By age
five he had defiantly been able to scan text and understand them. This
mystified specialists; how a child like Brian had been able to learn to read
on his own. To others it seemed to be his only real sign of intelligence.
Only Brian actually knew what was going on in his mind.
When Brian was only about twelve, his parents took him to a certain
psychologist, who had said he was interested in looking into the case. As it
turned out, it was not the psychologist that was interested, but a medical
student that he was tutoring. This student, his name was Chris, spent a great
deal of time with the family, and especially Brian, over the next few months.
From the very first, Chris showed signs of mounting frustration at not being
able to get through to Brian. His tests on Brian became increasingly intense
as his frustration mounted. Mr. Cellars raged in his loud way, "That Cadum
fellow is nothing but trouble! After all, what can some ignorant college
student possibly do for our son!"
Mrs. Cellars rung a dish towel nervously in her hands and said, "Well,
Dear, if you want him to stop you can..."
"I know what I can do Flora!" Mr. Cellars interrupted, "Just you keep out of
this! I'll handle that Cadum guy."
Several days later Mr. Cellar burst into Brian's room to find Christopher
hooking sensors around his forehead. Brain had a grimace on his face, and was
straining against some straps that held him to the bed.
"How dare..." growled Mr. Cellars, "How dare you strap my son up like an
animal, and poke around his head!"
"Sir, the restraints were necessary, recording brain waves is a sensitive
process. If you'll just leave for a few moments..."
Mr. Cellars slapped him. "Don't you tell me what to do in my own house!
Christopher Cadum calmly straightened his glasses and leveled Mr. Cellars with
his eyes. In the intensity of his stare, Mr. Cellars momentarily forgot his
"As you say, sir. I will leave. But let me tell you something first.
Your son is a psychological enigma. His case alone may make whole psychology
textbooks obsolete. I believe Brian has more to tell us about the human mind
in his silence, than a whole horde of Frueds. It is a grave error for you to
stand in the way."
With that, Christopher Cadum picked up his equipment and left the room. Mr.
Cellars stood for a moment struggling between reason and rage, and Brian
slowly, mechanically, reached for a copy of Ivanhoe, opened to a page
randomly, and began to read.
"All men's minds are as radically different as two snowflakes. When we consider that all communication is translated through learned social patterns, a true 'meeting of the minds' would be an alien thing indeed." -Christopher Cadum
When Dr. Cadum involved himself in a project, he did so vigorously, and to
the greatest extent possible. Three weeks after Dr. Koontz "pulled strings"
to get him in on the project, Christopher Cadum was running the show.
The work on the technical side of the Odessy had long since been completed,
and Chris pushed the project through to the top priority level of the Ebony
Institute. The test date was established, and the previously extensive
candidate list was tossed out to be replaced by Chris's personal list. This
list only contained two names: Christopher Cadum and Brian Cellars.
Christopher sat on a leather chair in his small, comfortable office facing
the burly, red faced Peter Cellars, his thin and fidgety wife, Flora, and
their malformed son, Brian. His gaze passed over the three. Looking at Brian,
he was struck by how thin and frail this boy appeared, even years later. He
wondered at this boy who had consumed his thoughts for five years now, and
asked himself the same, searing question: What is he thinking? Why can't I
get through to him, touch his mind? His gaze then passed on to Flora Cellars,
bringing a vaguely uncomfortable feeling into his stomach. Her story was
mapped out in the wrinkles that were prematurely etched under her hollow eyes.
At last his eyes rested on Peter Cellars, and he forced himself to suppress a
smile. It had surprised him to find an intellect beneath the loud macho-ism
that this man paraded around for all to see. Chris would now utilize it to
it's full extent now.
"Get to the point, Cadum." The large man uttered, coldly.
"There's no point in beating around the bush, or ignoring the past," Chris
started, mildly, "The fact is that last time we saw each other, I strapped
your son to the bed, and attempted to record his brain waves. You had to run
me off, a decision I must commend. I had no right to do what I did, and had
not been trained to administer the test anyway. I was an ignorant medical
student at the time, and I can only thank you for not pressing charges. I
would like to ask your forgiveness, Sir."
Chris said this with remorse, though he felt none. As he suspected, the
man was utterly taken aback. "I...I never thought to press charges..."
Peter managed, "I...consider it past." He finally said.
"As you can see, sir, I am now a full psychiatrist, with degrees in
neurological biology, but my interest in helping your son has not changed.
I know you have been to many institutes and psychologists, and have always
walked away disappointed. But I'm not lying when I say that we have an
experimental, new device right here at the institute that may be able to make
your son as normal as you or I." He leaned forward in his seat, "Will you let
me help him, sir? Will you let me make up to your family, to your son, what I
"Well..." Peter hesitated, and frowned, "Why should I trust you?"
Chris leaned back and shrugged. "Have you ever wondered why your son isn't
normal? Have you longed to get inside him, see what he's all about? Just how
frustrating has it been to have a son like this, and to be told again and
again that there is no hope? How willing are you to take the risk to finally
lead a normal life? Because, sir," Chris lowered his voice in intensity, "let
me make it absolutely clear to you: you have no other choice. This is the
only hope your son will ever have."
Peter Cellars lowered his face into his hands. Chris leaned back and smiled,
he could feel he had gotten through. It was going to work, as he knew it
would. Peter raised his head, and asked quietly, "How does this procedure
"Well," smiled Chris, "Let me show you."
"Our mind is for reason, our will is for decisions, and our emotion is for complicating otherwise simple matters." -Christopher Cadum
When Dr. Cadum assured his colleagues that there would be no need for a
backup volunteer, that Brian's parents would agree to the procedure, they were
skeptical to say the least. But when, a week after talking with them, Brian
was on the test table next to Christopher, his most stubborn doubters had to
grudgingly admit that there was a certain unorthodox efficiency to him,
despite his pompous pretentiousness.
One would think that the testing of a device as revolutionary as the
Odessy Mark I would draw quite a crowd of spectators, but this was not the
case. The project was still relatively secret, and due to the sensitivity of
the test, only a scant half dozen people were found in the tiny operating room.
Brian seemed more agitated than usual, and even Christopher's usually calm
demeanor was gone.
There was little bravado, or preamble to the event. The technicians
activated the machine, as they had practiced, in silence, and Gary Koontz
looked at the nervous face of Chris and asked him one last time, "Are you sure
you want to do this?" Chris rolled his eyes at Gary in agitation and said,
"Just throw the dang switch!" Gary stepped back from Chris, and someone out
of his vision activated the last switch. The hairs on the back of his neck
stood up as electricity lightly danced across his skull, and the howl of Brian
Cellars was the last thing he heard before dropping through the various levels
Part V "If life is filled with the unexpected, perhaps our expectations need adjusting" -Gary Koontz -Like Alice down the rabbit hole -So is the man that's lost his soul -Descended to the bottom, Oh! -The man illumined by Sodom's glow -The blackest fire that burns so hot -Man's mind and soul within him rot -For all he thinks within him well -Is kindling for the fires of hell!
The thoughts flitted around him as Christopher took corporeal form within the mind. Conscious and subconscious merged, and a thousand, thousand things of horror and tempting delight took form and hovered before his face before being wiped away in the sand-blast of thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
He knew not whence the words of the poem came, as, in the haziness of his own thoughts, he remembered how creative and unpredictable the subconscious could be. But whether they sprang from his own mind, or the mind of Brian, they were the last lingering thoughts to come to him before he woke.
Chris sat up with a start. He looked around him, and in the dim illumination, could make out the laboratory he had been lying in moments ago. The flashing lights from the machinery cast a glow around the otherwise dark room. Had it been moments? An eerie feeling crept across him, as he saw sweat bead on his brow. He climbed unsteadily off the bed. The test had failed. That much he was sure of. No mind exploration, no illumination, just a lingering poem. Like Alice down the rabbit hole. Another chill crept across his body. Where was everybody!? He felt an intense loneliness that simply added to his horror. He reached out to find some relief, and for a moment, thought he could sense a presence. The presence drew back from him. He watched the expression on his face change. Something was wrong. No, he corrected himself, something was right. The illumination was too dim, there was nobody in the room, and what was more, he could see himself! He was looking at himself! He was in Brian's mind after all! For, he remembered, only in a dream could one actually look at one's self. He spun around to look at the bed Brian had occupied, and his view shifted.
He was now looking from his own eyes, and the bed was not the one at Ebony institute, but the one he had seen in Brian's bedroom. The sheets were ruffled, as though the bed had been recently occupied, but no one was in it. Beyond the bed was a door that had not been there before. Christopher slowly approached it. He could feel something oppressive beyond. There was a rumble somewhere, and a brief eddy of thought stream flew by, singing in the voice of Peter Cellars, "How dare you? Dare you?" The voices made him feel all the more alone. Just before his hand clasped the knob, the door flew opened, and a searing light penetrated the previously dim room. Christopher whimpered and retreated into the shadows. A dark figure stood silhouetted against the light. It seemed to absorb the light. The figure made a run at Chris. Chris flinched, and felt, rather than saw, the shadow run through him. The feeling was both terrifying and delightful. As the shadow figure disappeared around a corner, Christopher glanced back at the doorway. It still stood open, patiently inviting. Beyond it, bright things twinkled and glittered. Again the voice, "Do you dare? Do you?" Chris slammed the door and sank back into the darkness with immense relief. So is the man that's lost his soul. Above him the presence frowned. With teeth set, Chris began to pursue the shadow.
Doctor Christopher Cadum ran down the halls of Ebony Medical Institute. The outside halls of this ultra-modern complex, were composed almost completely of glass. This glass appeared, to Chris, to be opaque, but with the occasional flash of lightning in the distance made him unsure. At any rate, there was only a murky blackness all around, as Chris pursued the shadow.
Chris slammed through a glass door, and came to a garish lobby, the mental travesty of it's real- life counterpart. "I believe I may understand, probably better than you do," shouted the mind eddies. Was that a gargoyle up in the corner? Chris couldn't be sure. A shimmer of movement off to his left caught Chris's attention, and he was off again.
Chris came to a heavy set of oaken doors set on iron hinges at the far end of the lobby. Pushing with some difficulty, he managed to open them a crack and squeeze through. Then he looked up. And up, and up and up. He stood in a grand Cathedral, elaborate in it's beauty. It bore a resemblance to the church his parents made him attend as a boy. Everything about the cathedral was exaggerated to give a child's-eye view of beauty. There, in the center of it all, hung an orb, pulsing and beautiful. Christopher felt he could reach out and touch it. He was drawn to it, somehow, and began walking. Something flickered in the corner of his eye. Tearing his eyes from the orb, he looked to see the retreating shadow. Another mind stream, a different voice, "Are you sure you want to do this? Are you sure? Sure? Are you?" Chris looked at the beautiful orb, it's spell broken, and then back at the door through which the shadow had run. Descended to the bottom, Oh! "Not the illumination I seek," he thought, and pursued the shadow.
The maze of halls grew ever more confusing and dark. The juxtaposition of loneliness and the presence of someone else increased. The shadow was never clear but for a moment, as it twisted and turned and flitted through the labyrinth that was Ebony. And the presence continued to frown.
Bursting through another door, Chris found himself in a sunny apartment. Looking around at the tousled bed, and poster-lined walls, made him feel homesick and almost contented, as he saw what could easily have been an amalgam of all the rooms he had ever grown up in. The shadow was nowhere to be seen. He approached one wall on which was mounted the picture of his now-deceased parents, and his framed doctorate degree. He ran his finger around his mother's face, and a tear came to his eye.
"Chris, please slow down, for me, if not for yourself! Your father and I hardly get to see you anymore! The least you could do is sit down and have a decent meal with us. Please?"
A pounding reverberated through the room, shaking it. The two frames dropped from the wall. Chris barely had time to catch his doctorate degree before the other shattered on the floor. Chris looked at the shattered visage of his parents, as they aged and withered before his eyes. His father coming home so late, so tired, but not to tired to listen. His last hug from his mother. The loneliness pounded at him. He looked at the frame he held in his hand. His most coveted possession. The loneliness decreased somewhat. In the glass of the picture he saw the reflection of something looming behind him. The shadow was very near, it was time to go.
This time, there were no halls, just space all around him, and he could see the shadow closer than ever before. The man illumined by Sodom's glow. An immense wall of Granite, a thousand times bigger than the one surrounding the institute sprang up before him out of no where. The shadow had no place to run. The blackest fires that burn so hot. Closer, and closer it came. Lightning crashed around, soundlessly. Man's mind and soul within him rot. Closer still. The shadow stopped against the wall. For all he thinks within him well. He was almost upon it. Is kindling for the fires of hell. The shadow turned and faced him. Christopher Cadum froze. He could not, and did not wish to move. He wished something, but could not determine what. He knew only one thing: the shadow was him, and he was consumed with unimaginable horror.
Part VI"That man would prey on fellow man is all the convincing I need that he is essentially evil." -Gary Koontz
"Sometimes our deepest desires are also our darkest shadows," the mind eddies mocked, as the shadow that was Christopher Cadum looked at the frail facade who had thought to perpetrate him. A pathetic creature, so trim and proper and good. Around the two a universe revolved. Stars, planets, and galaxies set their course around Christopher Cadum. As it should be, thought the shadow, I am the center of all! The shadow, Chris, grinned an evil grin, as he reached out and touched the spectral facade, entered it, and indwelled it.
Chris woke with a shock. Everything made sense now, for a moment, and then it was gone. He was both the specter of good and the shadow of evil. The dualistic creature became confusion.
A light broke through the darkness and touched Christopher Cadum. He whimpered, for everywhere it touched, it hurt. He felt toward the light, and was shocked to find that its source was the presence he had felt with him the entire time. The presence bore such a power, such a pureness, such an intelligence, that Chris could not stand in its presence. Chris lifted his eyes to behold an armored creature of light. For the first time in his life, Chris knew humility.
"I have followed you on your journey through your mind," the creature said. My mind? Thought Chris. I was exploring MY mind? "At every turn you have chosen the darkness rather than the light. I can only assume that you have no choice."
The creature reached out and took hold of Chris. He watched as the two parts separated. The shadow and the specter. Somewhere in the sky, two asteroids collided.
"It confounds me how you have so deceived yourself into thinking that you are this." The Light Being indicated the specter.
"You drive yourself thinking your pursuits are noble, but under the facade lies the truth." The being indicated the shadow. Two planets above them toppled together, illuminating the night for a moment. "You live, and learn, and drive yourself only because it gives you power!"
"Stop!" cried Chris in pain.
"Power to manipulate!" shouted the creature. A star exploded.
"To you society is nothing but a collection of clay for you to mold any way you wish! The more you learn about the mind, the more dangerous you are!"
"Its not true!" shouted Chris, writhing in pain.
"It IS true! You violate me because you cannot mold me. In my realm, truth prevails!" the voice quieted. "There was a time," it said, "When that wasn't true, but instead of pursuing true illumination, you followed after your own corrupt agenda! I KNOW! I HAVE TRAVELED THE PATHS OF YOUR MIND!"
Above a galaxy spun apart, millions of stars imploded providing flash after flash of supernova.
"Noo....please...stop!" whispered Chris.
"The truth is a ruthless thing, as are you." Said the voice. "Until traveling the paths of your mind, I have never understood why men acted as they did. I did not understand why they should prey on each other, when helping each other would be so much more beneficial. Now I know. They see the light, but that perception is diverted by the darkness, the arrogance and selfishness of the soul."
Looking above, Chris saw one side of the sky placid and beautiful in its star-studded glory. But the half of the sky that was over him was destroying itself, and decaying into nothing. Every word of the creature was piercing, true, and deadly to Chris.
"Do you understand what you see?" questioned the creature.
"No," whispered Chris.
"When Man assumes control of his own mind, he works toward the destruction of the same. It is only when he gives control up to a higher power that order is maintained."
It was only now did Chris understand the truth about humility. Too late. He thought in agony. Far, far too late.
"You see," said the creature, "Man is the ultimate infringement. Was it enough that Man infringes on the world? No! They must infringe on society as well. Thus I drew back from society. Then Man invaded my family, and so I withdrew. Man invaded my home, I retreated again. Man assaulted my body, and I gave that up to the foe. And now," the creature glowed with furry, "you have the audacity to invade my last sanction, my mind. I cannot withdraw any further, I MUST resist, and I MUST prevail!"
At last Chris knew who he was speaking to, but it was too late. "I only came to help you!" was his last, pathetic cry, as wave after wave of power and furry drove him back and back into a deep, warm hiding place where the light could not touch him.
Part VII"For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." -Isaac Newton
Gary Koontz had only been sitting for a few seconds, when Christopher and Brian began convulsing in unison. An aid reached to shut the machine off, but Gary grabbed his hand and pulled it back from the switch.
"Its not serious yet, let's continue for a few more minuets and see how things progress."
`The two where only under a total of three minuets, when a slurred and unsteady voice said, "It's over, you can turn it off." Gary looked at the source of the voice, and couldn't believe his eyes. There sat Brian, fully alert, and calm. He seemed so natural that his deformities were not even noticeable. The machine was deactivated, and as the amazed group crowded around Brain, they failed to notice Doctor Christopher Cadum curled up in a fetal position, his glassy eyes staring off into space, and drool running down his cheek. They also missed Brian's ever-so-slight smile.
Part VIII"Poetic justice, is none other than the hand of God." -Gary Koontz
Doctor Frank and Doctor Mike were just finishing giving the mental patients in the Ebony Institute's mental ward their checkups.
"Its a shame about this new guy," Frank said, looking over a patient named Christopher Cadum, "shot down in the prime of his career on some dumb experiment."
"Yeah," commented Mike, "that project was his baby, all right."
"What must it be like to enter another person's mind?" mused Frank.
"Like Alice down the rabbits hole, I would imagine," smiled Mike, "You would never know what's going to happen next."
They worked a moment in silence.
"I would hate to go like he did," Frank spoke up, "a genius one minuet, the next you're committed to the ward the rest of your life."
"I'm not sure I understand exactly how it happened, though." Admitted Mike.
"Well, nobody is SURE what happened, but there are two theories as to what happened."
"Yeah?" asked Mike, with interest.
"The first is that Brian was forced to assert himself during the contact.
The act of asserting himself drew him out of his shell, but it also forced Christopher into one of his own."
"And what's the second theory?"
"The second theory is that Chris had something that Brian needed to be balanced. He gave it to Brian, but in doing so, he ended up unbalanced himself."
"I guess we'll never know." Sighed Mike.
"Maybe, maybe not." Shrugged Frank.
The two doctors began to leave the room.
"Well, regardless, its kind of noble, what he did," commented Mike. "He gave up his sanity so another kid could have it."
"I'd have to agree with you there," nodded Frank, "he certainly was noble."
The door closed behind them, and Chris stared off into space.
"Psychology may be the most selfish and pointless of studies ever; for it is the study of self, and the eye cannot behold itself without the aid of a mirror." -Christopher CadumBack to the main page.
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