tagSci-Fi & FantasyMind of the Metamorph

Mind of the Metamorph


[This is a non-erotic tale. Seriously. Non-erotic. Stay away if you want sex here. These are not the words you're looking for. This is literally the darkest thing I have ever written, and it is totally unrelated to all of my other works. You have been warned.]


Gregor Samsa had awoken one morning to find that he had been transformed into a giant cockroach—I could only assume it was a Palmetto bug—but at the end of the day, I think he may have had it easy.

Oh, what? Oh, I forgot. Bless me Father, for I have sinned, it has been about eighteen months since my last confession. I have committed.... well, I need to explain a few things first. You may not even consider what I've done lately a sin. Nothing I'm here to confess has any mention in the Ten Commandments, Leviticus or Thomas Aquinas. Trust me, I've looked. So, there may be nothing to forgive. Then again, you may just consider me more than a little insane.

I'm a Catholic... okay, that's obvious, since I'm here. I've always been Catholic. I was an altar boy. When I took philosophy, it was Aquinas'. I've even taken some concepts more seriously than some people would probably want me to.

For example? Well, the idea of taking someone's burden upon yourself. I have wanted, for some time now, to take on other people's pain. I had one philosophy professor whose spinal column malfunctioned so badly, it generates massive surges of pain throughout his body. He can't take medication, because he needs to drive. I prayed more than a few times to literally take on his pain. I've also known rape victims, and a woman who had a child after a gang rape. I've known people abused as children... They all come to me. I never know why they approach me, but half the time I want them to stop coming to me, and the other half, I just want them to stop hurting. I want to do anything to make them stop hurting...

I don't mean to gloat, or portray myself as overly virtuous. Over the years, I've prayed for other, more outrageous solutions, mostly fueled by an overactive imagination and too many episodes of Rod Serling shows growing up.

I've thought really hard about this. I've wanted to trade my body fat with an anorexic friend of mine, or even transfer the body fat from the obese on the planet to the starving nations of the world. I've prayed for a lot, didn't get all that many. Too big, too flashy, I suppose. And besides, if gluttony is a sin, the effects of sin don't exactly evaporate, do they?

And there is something else... about a year ago, I was having dinner with a friend of mine. Her name is Jennifer. Now, you have to imagine a woman who is really, really beautiful. She has a cute, almost button nose, flowing brown hair, milky, soft skin, green eyes to die for, and a set of pink lips with a lower lip that juts out just enough that some men would love to suck on it for a little...

That was too much information, wasn't it Father?

Anyway, she's a marathon runner, an activist against the death penalty, with three jobs, an IQ over mine—and I'm not stupid—and she reads like a librarian. But she's got a problem. She's a recovering anorexic with self esteem in the negative marks, and automatically thinks that any positive comment is simply a lie designed to make her feel better.

The most attractive thing about her is that she knows it. She diagnoses herself better than a shrink, and she knows what her problems are, and she works towards correcting them. Not perfectly, but she tries. I've also been in love with her for years. We've known each other for seven years now. She didn't want to date me because she didn't want me stuck with someone who "wasn't good enough for me." You get the theme.

Then, well, last year, I was pretty much fed up. Jennifer.... was in a bad way. Have you ever seen someone who's stopped eating for days, and was already thin to start with? The body fat is drawn from the extremities to feed the body, and I don't mean extra fat, I mean the natural layer of fat underneath the skin that aids in retaining body heat. Veins become more pronounced in the forearms and calves, appendages look skeletal. You get the idea.

If you've never had a conversation with someone like Jennifer... as I've described her.... you'd have better luck beating your head against a wall trying to tell her anything positive, at all, ever. It's like... no, it IS just plain frustrating to be in love with someone who is convinced that she has no attractive qualities to her.

We were in a restaurant, and she was eating a plate of vegetables. I think it may have been her first meal in days. As I said, she worked three jobs, and she didn't need to... With her condition, she sometimes forgot to eat, and the amount of food she ate after was never enough to compensate.

You wonder why I worried about her? She scared me to death. And truthfully, I'm not sure what I would do if I ever lost her.

Now, I'm not sure what the conversation was, and it may not have even been about her. I looked at her arms, and her plate of mushrooms, and I just stopped. I was going to tell her about what I thought of her eating habits, how much I worried. But then I cycled through everything in my head, every discussion we had ever had, and I couldn't think of one thing to tell her that she hadn't already heard from me twice. Finally, I couldn't even speak. I had run out of words, and I have a good and hefty vocabulary of seventy thousand plus. All I could do was stare at her.

I just wanted her to see herself like I do, to know, for certain, how people felt about her. The best way to describe it is I focused all of my thoughts, my passion.... my desire... my...um... love, I suppose. I literally just tried to push all of that into her head. It was only a few seconds, and I didn't even think she'd notice my silence...after all, it was just another in a line of long, stupid ideas.

Then next thing I knew, she slid out of the booth and was on the floor. I had to throw myself on her before the waitress trounced over her. I wrapped my body around her, terrified that I would crush her. She's less than half my body mass when she's at her perfect weight level.

Well, I didn't know what I had done at the time, and at that moment, she was in trouble, and I didn't know why. I thought it was that she had passed out at long last from overwork, being overstressed and underfed, and probably still running five miles every morning.

I carried her easily. It was really frightening how easy it was.

I got her seated and patted her cheek until she was conscious. Her eyes opened slowly, and she looked like she was happy. Deliriously happy. Euphoric.

Have you ever been a layman, Father? Was there ever anything in the world beyond the priesthood that tempted you not to be ordained? A pure moment of secular pleasure that almost kept you out of this job? I always figured I would never make a good priest because I like women too much—but I've never really had a solid, definitive reason to say "no" to the priesthood.

Until Jennifer woke up and she kissed me. Really, really hard. She wrapped her arms around my neck and pulled me into the kiss, making sure I couldn't escape, or breathe.

Once she finally let up, she only let my lips two millimeters away from hers, and she smiled luminously. Her eyes were now bright with tears and she whispered so softly that I barely heard her say, "You really do love me."

I blinked and said, "Took you long enough."

I talked with her later, and thankfully, Jennifer is the more rational of the two of us. It took a while to work it out, but apparently I had done what I had intended to do. I had, almost through sheer force of will, drilled it into her head that I loved her. She felt the passion hit her with such force that she nearly blacked out a moment—apparently she wasn't asleep, she was having a... really good moment.

And yes, I'm going to propose to her soon, thank you.

Maybe a month went by before I finally figured it out exactly what happened, how I became, well, telepathic. Yes, I said it, telepath. Telepathy. The ability to enter into the minds of other people. I think I even came up with a theory of how it works. Well, how some of it works. And the first thing I can say is that science fiction makes it look far easier than it actually is.

You see, the human brain is, to some degree, an appliance powered by electricity. It constantly generates about twelve watts of energy, enough to keep a flashlight glowing. It sends out electrical impulses along the nervous system to stimulate muscles into motion or thought into being. We're mostly aware of this when the machine falters, when it short-circuits into epilepsy or frays into Parkinson's. You can induce phantom effects by stimulating the brain with electricity. One of the first guys who went into wireless radio proposed that telepathy was achieved through energy transmissions connecting living minds to one another, that the human brain could function as a receiver, picking up signals at a subconscious level. They may travel perhaps in waves or particles.

Now, if you know anything about physics, electrical devices generate electromagnetic fields. Very, very small and slight fields. I believe the majority of those waves and fields are kept in check by a natural barrier that prevents our thoughts from mixing and floating around into the ether. A lot of those barriers are simply wiring in the brain. Electricity flows along electrical lines in our brains like they do in power cables, and what if our thoughts, like the cables, have insulation? If that is the case, what I do basically forces the charge to jump the metaphorical tracks. By focusing, concentrating hard enough, I can push my thoughts into another person, or at least partially perforate the insulation of my own mind in order to enter into someone else's.

It took me weeks of practice to get the mechanics and the operations down. I suspect that I was already predisposed to the ability. Maybe my wiring had already leaked "waves" that other people subconsciously picked up on and drew them to me. I could literally have been sending out vibes my entire life, and my concentration and passion for Jennifer allowed me to poke a big enough hole in my mental defenses to have this ability.

I'm sorry for the long, rambling discussion, Father, but how else can I get you to believe me? Besides, I'm a bit of a geek, I find this stuff really cool...

You think I'm nuts, don't you? Well, let me finish my tale, and I'll give you a demonstration. What's the harm? I'm the only one in here for confession, and it's an hour until Mass.

Anyway, after I practiced often enough, I went to my first patient.

Dr. Joseph Miller, philosophy professor, was a man in constant pain since he was born. He's the one with a spinal deformity and he couldn't take pain medication. I like his philosophy, since it so matches my own...The only thing is, Miller's pain makes him a little incoherent himself at times, and free floating when in class—other times he just needs to keep talking to distract himself from the pain.

Anyway, I dropped by for a "casual" visit, and relied on his constant, non-stop talking to work my way through his neural pathways. All I did was look for something that was erratic, and constantly firing in one long stream of nerve impulse. I "touched" the nerve with my mind, and I felt like my own knee was on fire.

Thankfully, I was able to bite the inside of my cheek and not scream in agony. I then essentially frayed the wiring that the impulse traveled along...sorry, that's a bad analogy. I basically shifted the impulse so that it went everywhere, dispersing it. The short version— by the time I was done, Miller complained of a dull ache over his entire body, instead of a constant stabbing pain in his knee.

And that was only the beginning. I started having conversations with him about other things, like when he met Jacques Maritain, and Ralph McInerny, and basically the history of philosophy. As he talked, I gently went through his surface thoughts, and trust me, you'd be surprised at the amount of material he goes through every time he speaks. After a while, I was able to essentially copy and paste some of his knowledge and memories into my own.

What? No, I don't mean steal his memories or mind-wipe him, I mean I copied them. It's like with a data stick... a flash drive... okay, how about a floppy disk, you know what that is? The information stays on the computer, but can be reproduced on the floppy. In this case, I mimicked the memories and the knowledge patterns of electrical currents in his brain and sent some of my thoughts through them enough that they picked up the pattern.

And I started doing that with other professors as well. I practiced by copying their knowledge, expanding my frame of reference. I even practiced with my father—with his consent—and he has read a lot. Literally over forty thousand books.

It was several months, over a year, before I came to something else. The reason I'm here.

Let me tell you about two public school teachers.

Alfred and James Belloc were a set of monsters, father and son. Monsters I had never heard of... creatures who had abused children in an area of Brooklyn only two exits down from my house on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

And then I met one of their victims.

This is one of the people I mentioned before. Angela. We almost literally tripped over each other one night in midtown Manhattan. We talked of many things, and somehow got onto the subject of professions. She stated that she briefly considered going into psychotherapy, to counsel victims of abuse. I nodded, commenting that I already had experience in that field. It was a period of my life where I almost literally attracted rape victims—I had known five at that point—and I said as much.

She said, "Really?" There was a silence from her for a moment, until she said, "You've just met another."

I said nothing, because there's really nothing you can say. Asking for more information may come off as prying, and when the other person talks about it, s/he's likely to expound on the matter anyway. She interpreted my silence as being uncomfortable, and after I explained, she went on, asking if I had ever heard of a film called "Jailing the Bellocs."

Neither I, nor anyone I had ever known, ever had. As Angela told me, James and his father Alfred were two teachers in a public school. Apparently, they abuse more students per year than the Catholic Church has in the past hundred—literally thousands of them a year, but no one hears...Angela went into minor detail about the rapes that went on...

I'm sorry, Father, I'll lower my voice, I suppose it really does carry...I guess it may be obvious that I did not like the Bellocs. However, I was consoled that Alfred died in jail, his life a horrific wreck, and that James had been put behind bars. That was that, after all.

I would hear tell later on that it wasn't the end of the story. The survivor had only spent only a mere FIVE years in jail for over 200 counts of child rape and pornography. But he protested his innocence. Never mind his allocution, never mind the evidence given against him. He said the cops goaded the children into lying, or they were given false memories by bad psychotherapy.

When children are threatened with torture and death if they talk, goading is required.

And it is hard to imagine false memories via faulty memory recovery when the victims underwent no such process.

Not to mention that physical evidence of the crime is imprinted on each victim. But I suppose James Belloc would have suggested that the prosecution made that up, too.

Then again, to add lying to the account of his sins is like adding a parking ticket to the crimes of Son of Sam, but these lies only continued the torture of his victims. Their own community condemned the children as liars, vilified as convicting an "innocent man." The accusations were made public as Belloc tried to clear his name of all convictions based on a legal technicality. It wasn't enough to try and destroy the lives of children, but he tried to destroy them as adults.

You don't believe a community would believe such a tale? Think of it as Malibu, or Great Neck, or ... I'm not sure what else would fit. But James was well liked, and as charismatic as your average sociopath. His local Rabbi liked him, the community had always loved him, and could never, in a thousand years, believe that he had anything to do with it. "Oh, his father did it all, he was sucked in," or "Poor, poor baby, his father abused him and made him that way," or, of course, "The Children lied."

They were so "understanding," it was sickening.

That was all, well, I won't say "fine," because it isn't. But James was pond scum. And Angela seemed to be well put together, if a little hyper. I grew to know Angela. We're close. She's like my sister. Only with multiple personalities. Half of them were suicidal. The other half, well, they all had problems.

After several months of training with my mind, making sure that I could do major surgery on someone's brain, I was certain I had a purpose for my gift. I could heal Angela. It wouldn't be easy, of course, but it could be done... at least, I hoped it could be.

Angela Murasso had moved up to Westchester in order to leave Brooklyn behind. She had changed her last name when she turned eighteen some ten years earlier.

The night I was going to...heal her...Angela was bouncing around like a ping-pong ball. She had her personality shifts under control, but she always teetered on the edge of a panic attack. She ran her fingers through her long brown hair, she did gymnastic stretches, and just kept moving. It was like she was totally unaware that she had shorts on and no bra, almost like she was in another world.

I'd seen the display before, and you would think that it would be erotic—but trust me, her nervous energy was almost kinetic in force. I could almost feel the waves pulsing off her before I became a telepath, and after I did, it came at me like pins and needles all over my skin. Angela is really one of the few people with whom I have that kind of a visceral reaction—but then again, it could simply be because there's so much wrong in her head. After my telepathy kicked in, I usually needed to spend an hour with Jennifer to fully recuperate from hanging out with Angela.

"Angela," I asked, "could you take a seat a moment?"

She glanced up a moment, turning her hazel eyes on me. "Why?"

"Because I want to try something, and I want to make certain that you don't wind up falling over in the middle of a stretch."

She shrugged, slipped out of the split and curled her legs beneath her. "What is it, Paul?"

I took a seat on the couch. I wanted padding around me in case something went wrong and my own body fell over. "I want to have a conversation with some of your other personalities. All of them, if possible."

She arched a perfectly manicured brow as though I were totally out of my mind. "Why would you want to do something like that? You're not going to threaten them, are you? Two of them have the personality of a five-year-old, one's a sociopath, and we won't even go into the one with the self-control of a hormonal teenager. I'm not even sure about the rest of them. Why would you want to be bothered?"

I had to start looking at my nails. If I looked at her while I spoke, I would get emotional, and I needed to be focused and calm, otherwise she would think that she had finally driven ME about the bend. I said, "Because I want to take your pain away, and they have large chunks of it. They have memories of your...problems. They remember things and have held onto events that you can't even recall. If I can lift the initial moments of terror, at least lessen the memory of the pain and the fear, that should be enough to..."

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