“What is this bullshit?” the General spat. He threw a heavy, coil-bound book onto the mahogany desk between him and the two visibly nervous men. “We commissioned you whitecoats to get this shit up and running so we can start using it, not to write some damned textbook. What am I even looking at?”
“It’s Veil, sir. That’s what you asked us for. Veil,” the braver of the two whitecoats answered cautiously. He and his colleague walked into the General’s office with all the confidence of two major league athletes, but they were immediately reduced to confused schoolboys being reprimanded by their coach.
“That,” the General pointed at the impressively thick book, “is not Veil. That is a book. Veil is a machine or a piece of electronics or something. Something I can put my hands on. That, you fuckholes,” he pointed at the book again, how an angry dog owner would point at an indoor mess, “is a fucking book!”
The less brave but more competent of the whitecoats spoke up. “Sir, this is only the beginning phase. First we had to extrapolate … uh, uh, figure out … Dr. Tsay’s raw data to piece everything together, so we could start building Veil the way we—the way the military—wants it.”
“I know what extrapolate means, jackass. I haven’t the slightest clue what anything in that book says or means, and it’s not my job to know formulas and diagrams. I’m not about to sit here and sift through that crap. You’re wasting my time even bringing it to me. I don’t need you to show off. What, you two want congratulations? Do you expect me to be happy you compiled a bunch of shit like my wife’s Reader’s Digest that I read when I’m taking a shit? Well, woopty-goddamn-doo, fellas. Jin fucking Tsay would still be working on this project if that’s all we needed.”
The two shot glances at each other from the corners of their eyes.
“What I need is for you two cockjockeys to tell me exactly what the hell Tsay’s shit is going to do. In terms of what intel we can expect to gain from it. Then I need you to build it, like you were supposed to.”
“Can we sit down, sir?” the more competent whitecoat requested.
The General picked up the book and tossed it across his desk. It made a heavy thud when it landed on the ground between to the two men, who were in fact wearing white lab coats.
The General ordered them to sit the fuck down.
“I don’t know how much you know about Veil, sir.”
“I know it’s a spying technique—I mean technology—that uses the brain. I know it puts someone’s mind into someone else, and we can extract everything the person knows. We can dig out everything in their mind. I know Tsay figured out a way to do it, and it worked. That’s what I know.”
“Roughly, yes,” the increasingly competent-sounding one replied. He cleared his throat to hide his condescension. “But it’s a lot more ummm … complicated, yet brilliant than that.”
“Then explain,” the General growled. He hated talking to whitecoats. They were everything the military programmed their soldiers not to be: weak, mousey, and downright effeminate. Their voices always sounded shriller than his wife’s, and he thought Lynn Coffman had a godforsaken voice that was shrill enough to be classified as sonar. To the General, whitecoats were merely a necessary annoyance he had to put up with if he wanted to build a more advanced and capable military than any other military throughout the world.
Although, they already were.
That was, they already were a more advanced and capable military. The General simply wanted them to be even more so, and he wouldn’t mind if it was all because of him.
“Imagine a field of electricity…” the whitecoat started.
The General was already annoyed by the sound of the man’s voice. He imagined, thanks to that voice, some disoriented and confused little brown cave bats would soon start crashing into the windows of his office.
Goddamn sonofabitch, this better not take long. I already want to take his face and murder your face with it.
“…that covers the entire brain and also reaches all the way down inside it. Like a hairnet—or ummm—like a veil, you could say. Yeah, that works. Imagine a veil.”
Did this moron really just now make that connection? It’s called Veil for a reason, jacksack.
“Imagine the brain being covered by an electrical veil, with electric roots that go down deep inside the brain. That neuroelectrical network is measured in brainwaves, as Dr. Tsay postulated in his thesis, and is responsible for tying together the different functions within the brain and absorbing, combining, and translating it all into what we call awareness.”
“Or, more accurately, experience,” his colleague interrupted. He didn’t want to be completely overshadowed by his counterpart.
“Yes, or experience.” The whitecoat rolled his eyes and didn’t look at his partner. He wanted to avoid having the conversation turn to a friggen roundtable between the three of them. All they needed to accomplish was to get the facts across. “Dr. Tsay called that network of neuroelectrical currents ‘The Witness.’ From what we can ascertain, Dr. Tsay believed its neuroelectrical current stimulates the brain to create literally everything about a person—what they see, smell, hear, think, feel, taste, remember—everything.
“The Witness is how all the different parts within the brain communicate and interact with each other to form one single person. Dr. Tsay discovered this neuroelectrical network retains the … ummm … information it receives and transmits. The information is retained for one entire timespan between sleep-cycles. You see, during a sleep-cycle, the brainwaves decelerate into delta waves, the slowest waves, so The Witness fades away, and the brain kind of resets and prepares for another cycle to begin when the person wakes—”
The General put his hand up and interrupted the annoying whitecoat. “Are you arriving at a point? I might as well read the damn book.”
“Yes—yes. Sorry, sir. Sorry. But yes, ok. What Dr. Tsay learned, and it’s the crux of all this, the beauty of it,” he continued and leaned in. He raised his hand and pressed his index finger and thumb together, as if to emphasize his point. “That neuroelectrical network, that electric veil, can be extracted—it can be downloaded—from one subject’s brain and implanted—or uploaded—onto another subject’s brain. Like putting a veil over a veil. When this happens, when their Witness is uploaded onto someone else, their Witness experiences all the same things the subject does. They essentially are that person. All the information is retained in that neuroelectricity. It’s stored, by the person’s neuroelectrical network, by their Witness, so when that neuroelectricity is returned to their brain, they remember everything—”
The General put his hand up again.
“Get—to—the—fucking—point,” he snarled.
“Ok … ok … right, sir. So, as I was saying, when they’re uploaded back onto themselves, they remember everything about being that other person. You see, their brain is subjected to all the neuroelectricity retained in their Witness. In essence, when it’s uploaded back onto them, their Witness plays their brain kind of like a piano. It strikes all the synaptic notes it stored up when it was inside the other person, and it strikes them in exactly the same way as the other person’s synapses were struck. You see, their brain gets stimulated the same way the other person’s brain was stimulated and—”
The General slammed a fist onto the desk. Both scientists inhaled, and their blood pressure rose. The General leaned forward and pointed at the other whitecoat, who remained mostly silent up to that point, although by no choice of his own. However, now that it was his turn to talk, he no longer wanted to take it.
“I suggest you do a much better, much quicker job of answering my question than your little asshole friend here. All he’s done is use a bunch of pansy-ass words to tell me what I said in the very beginning. Can you answer my question?”
“Yes sir, I’ll try, sir. Ummm … so what Schaffer was saying—what he was trying to say—after the Veil gets done, that person totally remembers what it was like to be the other person. They remember that person’s thoughts and stuff. Their thoughts and memories and stuff. Like, I mean, even what they saw, smelled, tasted. Everything. It gives a dude the power to literally be another dude and then remember what it was like to be that other dude, sir. Like you said before. We could like spy on the enemy, you know? Cause we could Veil the enemy and be the enemy, to get all the enemy’s thoughts and stuff, sir. We can—”
Schaffer couldn’t help himself. He had to interrupt. He couldn’t stand anything about Pollock, and having to listen to how Pollock talked drove Schaffer absolutely friggen insane. Schaffer thought Pollock sounded like George Bush. The Dubya one. He couldn’t believe he and Pollock had the same job, and that they were considered equals.
So, Schaffer simply couldn’t help himself. He interrupted.
“Right! Right! See, as I was saying earlier, using Veil, my neuroelectrical network can be temporarily removed from me, placed over your brain like a veil for an entire day and then when that network was returned to me, I would remember exactly what it was like to be you. My neuroelectricity, my Witness, will play my brain like a piano, using all of your experiences as its sheet music.”
He planned to continue—there was so much he wanted to explain, and he really liked the piano analogy; he made that up on the spot—but he noticed the General wasn’t looking at him. The General didn’t look at him during any of what he said, and he was still looking at Pollock. Pollock wasn’t looking at him either; he was looking at the General.
So, Schaffer stopped.
The General completely ignored Schaffer and his outburst. He directed his next question to Pollock. He also considered Schaffer lucky that he was ignoring his outburst. Quite lucky.
“So, if I had an alive Saddam straight-to-hell Hussein sitting right here next to you, I could use Tsay’s machine and take your mind, put it on top of Hussein’s mind, and you’d know what it was like to be him? You’d have access to everydamnthing Hussein knows and when we put your mind back inside you, you could tell us everything we wanted to know about him?”
Pollock nodded enthusiastically.
“Yeah, yeah, sir. That’s pretty much it. In a manner of speaking, yeah. Totally. There are like these limitations and rules and stuff, but you get the overall idea, sir. You’re good. You’re good. Tsay invented this technology that literally—and I mean literally, man—allows one person to experience what it’s like to be someone else and then remember it. All of it. With Tsay’s technology, we totally have the ability to be someone else for a day. Trust me, sir, I tried it. It’s some badass shit.”
“Ok, so why not just go inside and take out one thought or one memory? Why can’t we just extract only the crap we need?” the General asked. “Why make all this so complicated with two brains and electronic veils and fucking nonsense stupid-ass goddamn … bullshit … … motherfuck!”
Neither of the scientists knew if what the General said ended with an actual question, or if it was a frustrated series of random cuss words that indicated some kind of seizure or something occurred.
“Well?!” the General barked.
Right, it was a question. Whew.
“Ok, so get this. What Tsay said—” Pollock stopped himself.
I said, ‘Tsay said.’ Heh.
Pollock chuckled. “Tsay said. That’s pretty funny.”
“Jesus, Pollock. Really?” Schaffer grunted and shook his head.
I could not possibly hate you more, you frakking imbecile.
Pollock chuckled again and then continued.
He ignored Schaffer the same way the General did earlier, without so much as glancing over at him or acknowledging his existence.
“Anyway, so Tsay said we can’t separate one function of the brain from another. Even if we wanna, we can’t just go in and pick and choose what we want, because it’s all tied together. We gotta use the entire brain. And, according to him, because it’s so complicated up in there and all intertwined, you know, the only way we can access and interpret what’s in one dude’s brain is by using another dude’s brain. Or, a chick’s brain. We could even do a chick—Veil a chick, I mean. We could even Veil a chick.”
Schaffer thought he’d give it one more try. At least he wouldn’t have to listen to Pollock talk for a minute. He’d rather hear the General shout than hear Pollock friggen whisper.
“And that is Dr. Tsay’s theory of Veil,” the mostly silent and increasingly annoyed Schaffer interjected. “The neuroelectrical network that I explained is The Witness. The Witness is but one part of Veil. While it is the most crucial part, Dr. Tsay spent years researching the process and developing Veil as a whole. The entire theory, its application, all its rules, and the implications of what this all could mean—that is Veil. It is remarkable, General.”
General Coffman had enough. All he asked for was an explanation of the intel they could expect to obtain through Veil. He also wanted to know if the two buffoons sitting in front of him could build it, and if they could build it quickly. Apparently, those two questions were too hard for the two assholes-for-mouths to answer.
“Son,” the General leaned forward and lowered his voice, which made the two whitecoats as nervous as when he yelled invectives at them, “I don’t give a shit what you call it. Witness, Veil, or fucking iBrain. All I care about is if it works, and if we can use it.”
“You can use it.”
“Then get the hell out of my office and make it happen. Build the thing like you were supposed to do in the first damn place. As of today, you’ve had exactly three months to bring me something. That book doesn’t count. Now, get your asses out of my sight,” the General commanded.
The two men quickly exited the General’s office but left the book behind.
Both glanced at it as they moved past, but both avoided it.
They had their own copies; they didn’t need that one.
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