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Sanity Lesson, a Short Story
Scifi Story by Tamara Wilhite
The narrator's serene peace held the audience's attention more than the monk-like robes, as they struggled with the permanent ADHD and tics left by the plague.
"To be overly emotional is a disadvantage. You hand off the ability to think rationally to the hind brain, the lizard brain, the monster in the basement. All that makes us human – logic, forethought, long term goals – are washed away in the flood of emotion.
I once welcomed the cool sanity that the “Middle Way” ritual gave me. Then the emotion ceased to matter, and there was only the calm. “Middle Way” doesn’t deny all feeling. Hunger, thirst, sexual desire, long term goals for something bigger or better, pleasure at companionship – those still exist.
How does someone explain a human ideal to one who neither wants nor cares for it? It would seem a threat to human nature, to seek to rise above it so absolutely. The irony that the Middle Way rose from those that hated the worst of human nature, though hate is one of the worst emotions, was never lost upon us.
We never sought converts, but they came to us of their own volition. When drugs were used to achieve the ideal of sanity, the results often required continual usage, despite the physical damage such chemicals caused. This was not ideal. Surgery was also an option, though it was hard to find neurosurgeons willing to bring our brains into alignment with our minds. Was, though it is not such now. Not after the Pandemic. Now we have many converts among doctors who saw that we represented the only hope for sanity in this new situation.
Imagine rabies, a disease that eats through the brain, leaving a raving lunatic. No, not lunatic. Lunatics are crazy people, sometimes capable of being talked into sanity or drugged back – yes, a joke, we are not denied those - drug back with drugs to sanity.
The virus ate through the portions of the brain that brought emotional control. Lose your ability to control emotion, and you become a seething wreck. A wild animal. Attacking others upon anger, raping upon a fit of lust, suicidal in minor despair, murderous at the merest slight … And the virus was already alive within their bodies, able to be spread when the emotional control was eroded, very active when the person went wild and spread it. Through saliva at bites, blood to blood at injury, bodily fluid exchange during rapes. And, yes, through cannibalism when some went into a deep fervor from which they never arose, unable to comprehend how to open cans or find wild food, only attacking in rage and hunger and eating the victims.
It has not yet been determined whether or not we will have to act against the uninfected. I stand before you as infected as you are. However, because the emotional portion of the brain’s rage has no effect upon me, the infection has no impact upon me.
This has resulted in the greatest fear of some of the uninfected – an infected individual who is fully capable of making rational decision. We are not only capable of using high technology, we built cybernetic devices as our financial base, but we maintained other factories as well. We were once a threat merely for choosing to alter our brains to match our mind’s desire. We are now a threat of Pandemic, to spread a viral insanity as well as our vision.
Some of you were in such a state when we found you. The virus does cause brain damage, but the upper cortex is often salvageable. The neural implants some of you now carry make up for what the virus damaged, thanks to the cybernetic manufacturing we always had within our midst. We saw no harm but much benefit from cybernetics. We keep it to a minimum, but we had no bias against artificial cochlea for the inner ear, artificial eyes, artificial nerves to return the body to an optimal, functional state."
A few in the audience nodded. The environmentalists joining with religious fundamentalists against the upgraded was as bad as the violence everyone had expected to happen against the genetically engineered, but the latter group had never gotten large enough to be an issue and were more than covered in the purges of the elites.
"When the virus struck and the injured poured in, we made much wealth from the inventory we made in the expectation it would be desperately in demand in the next war. Yes, we were wrong about the war that didn’t come, instead losing so many to the environmentalist plague they unleashed in the from of the Pandemic.
Unfortunately, in its mainstream release, it caused insanity through emotional release instead of the “peaceful” comatose state they expected. Instead of letting all of you die in a blissful sleep to deep coma to death and saving the Earth for the animals, it turned most into wild, savage animals. The procedure we perfected to create perfect detachment from our animal nature, once called evil, now offered a way for the infected to be saved. To be restored to sanity. And now many of you will be sent to save the rest of the world.
The surgical strikes to find those who are guilty for such are as clear and precise as those who recently performed your surgery. The emotional linkages are gone, literally wiped away. You live, your body lives, your mind functions well. If you prove the full restoration of your motor skills and survive the military training, you, too, may choose be sent to kill those who unleashed this Pandemic of insanity, the uncontrolled tide of emotion.
The Pandemic has given us the opportunity to spread this peace to tens of millions of survivors once like you. When your training is complete, you will join the mop up squads that find other infected survivors to restore to a better, saner world. Perhaps we will bring the virus and its cure to the world. The virus brought to cure the world of humanity will ensure that all will either choose death or be saved via our solution. Then none of them must live in fear of any kind, any more.
This is a challenge to which we must seek to overcome. Out of this insanity, we will find reason or die trying. This is the world's sanity lesson."