I watched eagerly as the classroom filled; student upon student swinging their bags onto the long tables and taking their seats. They were shocked to see me there and stared. I tried to smile and nod, but being restrained only made the muscles in my face tighten. I wasn’t even aware that I was restrained until that particular moment.
I wasn’t frightened. Something about “for science” kept coming back to me and allowed me to find that calm, cool, collected, I was capable of. I did feel… awkward.
I stared until the faces sitting in front of me started distorting. Their eyes melded together, mouths twisted, and an occasional forked tongue would wet a student’s lips and/or chin. The figures started going in and out of focus. The vivid colors of school sweaters, band t-shirts, and bare breasts all made up the collective before me.
The heat of their laser beam eyes made sweat trickled down my face, but I was unable to wipe it away. My forehead was stuck to the metal support it rested on, and the rest of me was strapped into a sitting position; leaning forward with my hands bound to my sides.
There were large screens positioned throughout the auditorium; two in my peripheral. One large screen behind me was reflected in the large doe eyes of the students in the front row. On the screen, a magnified view of my head. The top hemisphere shaved, but the hair on the lower was parted and tied in two low ponies that framed the tattoo on the back of my neck. Becoming self conscious of the obvious craters and freckles on my exposed cranium, I felt my ears grow hot.
Over my shoulder boomed a voice in a foreign tongue. The faces of the students in the rows left mine and followed a man hovering behind where I was seated. I could not make out the words, but the accent was oddly familiar.
After a few minutes, the words appeared to be making more sense. The language was not foreign; the words were backwards. As if the words had been taunting me with this puzzle and surprised I had solved it, they started rearranging themselves. It was time to “remove the top half of her skull,” the professor/doctor/whatever said.
I didn’t seem troubled by the thought of the top part of my head being removed. It appeared to be prepped on the big screen. We all heard the whirring of saws, the suctioning of instruments, and watched as the top of my head was removed with a wet pop.
The class ooooh’d and ahhhhh’d.
With a scalpel in hand, the doctor began cutting away at pieces of my brain; tossing small bits to the floor. “AH HA! Zoom in here, Demetri,” the man said and I saw the image grow on the screens in the glassy eyes ahead of me. “Class, exactly what we were hoping for.” You could hear the smile in his voice as he fished around in my head with a small pair of tongs. He tugged and pulled and finally held up his specimen for all to see.
“The highly elusive brain worm!” The class clapped fervently. I just sat there, restrained, and tried to see what this worm looked like. “This specimen is impressive. We shall all share it… eat it, and soon we will have our own worms.”
The class clapped and clapped. The first row shot to their feet and clapped until I thought their hands would break free and fly onto the floor… to mingle with the bits of brain I wouldn’t be using.
I guess it was cool to have worms in your brain. I didn’t get it.