The fingers typing this are not mine. Mine were long and tan and agile. These are stubby and sluggish… sickly white. I know where the letters on the keyboard are, but the fingers are slow to find them, and sometime miss. They keep wanting to dig into the anus that is also not mine, and is stricken with some horrific malady. I have to concentrate to keep them on task.
Soon enough, this body will begin to reject my brain like the six bodies before it, and I will move on.
If I’d had more time, say another year, I believe that I could have perfected the procedure, before undergoing it myself. But I didn’t have more time. The cancer was eating away at my body, killing it from the inside. My best guess was that I had two months at most. Even those two months might have been enough to work out some of the problems that I now face. But when Jasper Gaffney fell into a hopeless coma following a car accident, circumstances seemed to dictate immediate action.
I apologize. My writing has become disordered. It is due to the extra mental exertion required to keep this oafish body on track. I am typing this sentence with one hand; I’m afraid that I must go thoroughly wash the other before I can continue.
Melanie Gaffney was, and still is, my professional partner. On the evening her husband lay brain dead on the hospital bed, hooked up to a ventilator, she approached me with bleary eyes.
“You could die tomorrow, Sal,” she said. “I can’t continue the work alone. And… I don’t want to lose Jasper. I can’t.”
“It won’t be Jasper that comes out of the procedure, Melanie. You know that.”
“It will be enough of Jasper for me,” she said. “The sound of his voice. The shape of his lips when he smiles. The broad shoulders that have carried me through so much. I can’t bear to lose that. I can’t bear to never see him again.”
Frankly, it did not take much consideration on my part. We had been struggling to find an ethical way to perform the procedure, ever since I was diagnosed with cancer. This seemed to be the ideal situation, at least given the circumstances. Jasper had been in the prime of his life, with a very fit and healthy body, when the tragic accident had occurred. And here was Melanie, who knew exactly the implications of the procedure, begging for it to be done on her husband’s body.
Melanie performed the surgery herself.
It took several days of working through the haze of anesthetics and painkillers to fully realize the experience of living inside of a new body. My senses were sharper than ever, with nuances of sound and color that I had never noticed before performing their symphony all around me. As the pain receded, I felt a vigor coursing through my body that I had not felt even when my original body was at its own prime.
It was remarkable, and for a brief time, we thought that it had worked without complication. We had accomplished the first successful brain transplant.
During this period, perhaps predictably, Melanie and I fell in love. It was a strange, but exhilarating, experience to make love in a body that was not my own.
Lying in bed together afterwards, I would often open up and talk about private experiences and opinions in the way that lovers do. Those all came from before, from when I was living in Sal’s body. And at first, I still felt like Sal. The Sal who had been Melanie’s professional colleague for years, and was now becoming intimate with her.
More and more often, however, I noticed that Melanie would call me “Jasper.” She would talk about things that had happened in their past as if I was already aware of them, though of course I couldn’t have been.
These moments only came in the bedroom, and for the most part, Melanie would refer to me as Sal, and would talk to me as such.
Then there were times when I did feel like I was Jasper. It is difficult to describe. My entire thought process altered somewhat, as did my personality. In a way, this was to be expected. A young, fit man living with his love had different things to think about than an old, sick and lonely man.
At night, when I couldn’t sleep, I would ask myself: Who am I? What is a person?
It began as a slight tremor in my hands. I didn’t even notice it, as I had the same condition when I was in Sal’s body. Melanie pointed it out, but neither of us were particularly concerned.
The next problem manifested itself in the bedroom, when I became unable to perform, even with the aid of medication.
The tremors increased in severity and spread throughout Jasper’s body, as the headaches began. Soon, I was unable to get out of bed. It was too painful.
My flesh began to rot.
“We need to find you a new body,” said Melanie. “And then we need to get back to work. We let ourselves grow lazy.”
It was too much of an effort to talk. My throat was raw and on fire. I tried to nod, but by then, my head was jerking uncontrollably. Finally, I managed to gasp out a “Yes.”
I do not know how or from where Melanie procured my third body, and I didn’t ask.
That body had belonged to a young man, perhaps 30 years old, who was even more fit than Jasper had been. He was very athletic, and very attractive.
We still made love, and afterwards, Melanie would still occasionally call me “Jasper”… but this time, we went to work.
We pored over our notes, but by the time the tremors began, we were no closer to a solution than we had been.
I went through my fourth body, then my fifth and sixth, each one younger and more handsome than the last. Each time, the body decayed a little faster, and we made no real progress in determining where the fundamental problem lay.
One night, while I was home alone in my seventh (counting Sal’s) body, the headaches just beginning to take hold of me, the front door crashed open and Melanie stood at the threshold, panting.
“I need a hand with this,” she said, pointing to the body behind her.
“Is that… my new body?” I asked, looking down. I was surprised to see an obese, middle-aged man.
“I thought we would try something different,” said Melanie. “We keep going younger and fitter with them, and they keep decaying faster and faster. Maybe there’s a connection. What if we try going older and… flabbier… this time? Just until we figure out what is going on.”
And here I sit, in my eighth body, trying to fight the urge to dig into my anus.
Melanie’s hypothesis was correct. This body, as unpleasant as it is, has served me well. It has been over a month, and the tremors are just now beginning. It is the first time that I have been able to devote such a long stretch of time to think about my problem. This extra room for contemplation has led me to come up with, if not a solution, then at least the path towards a solution.
Our previous method, of haphazardly trying different bodies, was flawed in several ways. I am quite satisfied with the new method I have devised.
In the basement are some dozen subjects, each of which has undergone a brain transplant. We are now able to study a variety of situations very rapidly. Best of all, we can now surgically study the brains in action, as they interact with their new bodies, without being concerned about damaging the brains, since now we know we can always find a new one.
We are so confident that we will find the solution that we’ve decided to treat ourselves. Melanie is out now collecting my next body. It’s going to be the youngest one yet. She’s told me that it will be a surprise, too. I wonder if she’ll get a female this time? That could be fun. I can’t wait to see what she brings back!