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Mouthful by Jasper Bark

Mouthful by Richard Serrao“It was Scopolamine wasn’t it? Risky getting the dosage right. You must have put it on the steak.”

“I did indeed.”

“I’ve been trying to work out why I got up from the table and just followed you out of the banquet hall. I mean the banquet was in my honour. So why leave? Why follow you here and let you do all this without putting up a fight?”

“Because you have no free will, the drug saw to that. Now open wide.”

“That tastes foul you know. I’d much rather have steak.”

“You’re nearly done, only a few more spoonfuls.”

“It was a nice touch dressing as a waiter by the way.”

“Thank you, no one gives the waiter a second glance. I was as good as invisible. Not like the last banquet you threw.”

“Ah yes, I’d forgotten about that, your little protest. You and your sad, little freshmen were livid when you found out.”

“It was despicable.”

“Well I had to do something. You were trying to drag the department back to the stone age. Animal experimentation is our biggest source of revenue. Yet there you were turning round and biting the hand that feeds us all.”

“More than 50% of the university’s animal testing has no practical application. Even those experiments that do aren’t breaking any new ground, you’re just confirming existing data. Torturing innocent creatures to prove what we already know. What possible contribution to science are you going to make by sewing up the eyelids of new born macaques?”

“A darn sight bigger contribution than your psychic charlatans. Parapsychology, in this day and age? You were going to make the department a laughing stock.”

“It wasn’t parapsychology. The work I was doing on Morphic Resonance could have rewritten modern science.”

“Morphic Resonance? Oh please, spare me. Do you really expect me to believe that all self organising systems draw on some mythical collective memory?”

“They do. Everything from molecules and crystal lattices to animals and animal societies. The work I was doing with David Rebennack proves it. Memories aren’t stored as material traces in the brain, they’re part of a larger stream of information that all living organisms can tap into.”

“Your work with Rebennack was pure baloney.”

“You saw the results yourself. Everything took place under laboratory conditions and was impartially monitored. After having a tumor removed from his brain, David Rebennack developed extraordinary abilities. Within minutes of talking to someone in a foreign language David could hold a conversation. Within an hour he was fluent in the language, even if he’d never heard it spoken before. The only thing that explains this phenomena is Morphic Resonance.”

“Your work with Rebennack was completely discredited and the evidence was shown to be fundamentally flawed.”

“I was not discredited. I invited a panel of my peers to replicate the experiments. A panel that you oversaw. You conducted the experiments and then falsified the results.”

“I did no such thing.”

“Tell the truth, you’re under my will don’t forget and I won’t put up with your lies.”

“Alright, I might have made a few adjustments to the parameters, but what you were proposing was ridiculous. Think how it would have affected my reputation if I reported what I saw accurately.”

“Think what it did to my reputation because you didn’t. My paper was rescinded, you wiped out a decade of my work. I lost my place on the faculty and became a joke. I can’t get a job as a lab assistant now.”

“Well you don’t deserve one, with your ludicrous New Age views and your trendy liberal politics, holding protests against my work.”

“And look how you responded to our protest.”

“You mean the exotic menu of my sponsors’ banquet? I was rather pleased with that. I presume you know that the Qing dynasty used to serve the brains of live monkeys at the Manchu Han Imperial feast, fresh from the skull? What better use to make of those macaques you thought so precious. The sponsors were delighted. It’s not an easy thing to serve. You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to remove the top of the skull without damaging the brain.”

“Actually I would. Just two more spoonfuls. It’s even more difficult to do it with a human skull. It was your banquet that inspired this experiment.”

“That really does taste awful. What do you hope to prove with this little experiment?”

“The existence of Morphic Resonance. You see that’s almost the last of your inferior frontal gyrus and yet you’re still able to hold a complex conversation – how else do you explain that if not through Morphic Resonance?”

“The inferior frontal gyrus… you mean you’ve been feeding me… I’ve been eating…?”

“The language processing region of your brain, yes. You see, you really have just eaten your own words. Now, open wide…”

WRITTEN BY JASPER BARK
ILLUSTRATED BY RICHARD SERRAO

Jasper Bark is the author of Way of the Barefoot Zombie and the audiobook series Dead Air. He hosts This is Horror events across the UK.

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