By Thomas M. Malafarina
“Imagination Is More Important Than Knowledge” – Albert Einstein
Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create wTo hat you will.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Everything you can imagine is real.” – Pablo Picasso
“So tell me Chad, what do you think of my little lab?” Dr. Walker Bellamy asked as he showed the young man around the large and efficient research laboratory. The place wasn’t what one might think of when imagining a typical lab, however. It was located in the basement of a ram shackled abandoned three-story former classroom building which was obviously in need of major renovation.
That evening Chad Jefferson had met with Professor Bellamy at the side entrance to the basement, which was marked with an old 1950’s fallout shelter sign. At first, Chad was a bit leery about entering the basement in fear the depilated structure could possibly collapse down on both of them. The professor had assured him since the lab was in a reinforced fallout shelter, designed to provide a safe haven during a nuclear attack, the entire building could collapse and they would still be safe.
However, Chad wasn’t quite as confident. He recalled stories his father had told him about the nuclear attack drills he had routinely experienced during his grammar school days in the early 1960s. His dad had explained how the students would all rise in unison, then get down on their knees, crawl under their desks, close their eyes, and cover their heads with their hands. The government called it “Duck and Cover” and Chad’s father said all the schools went through such similar drills.
Knowing what everyone in the twenty-first century commonly knew about the power of nuclear bombs, Chad understood his father and the other children would have been no more protected by this meaningless gesture than had they been running naked in the schoolyard. He wondered if the same naiveté had been put into practice when designating the so-called safe nuclear fallout shelters. He suspected it probably had been and he felt quite certain if this building ever did suddenly collapse, it would crash right through the basement ceiling crushing everyone inside. Yet curiosity and the potential for much-needed earnings had gotten the better of him, so he accompanied the professor inside.
The lab occupied a space about seventy-five feet wide and one hundred feet deep with a twelve-foot high suspended-type ceiling and the area was awash with artificial light from dozens of recessed fluorescent fixtures. Many of the ceiling panels were missing and those that remained were yellowed and other water stained. Some of the lights flickered and flashed rapidly on and off, giving the lab a sinister science fiction movie appearance.
“It is all very interesting,” Chad replied somewhat unsure of himself, feeling quite out of his element.
“Yes, well don’t mind the lights.” The Doctor said, “We have plenty of electricity at our disposal as well as a gas-powered backup generator. It is simply that I haven’t had any luck getting someone from the university maintenance staff to stop over to replace the broken ballasts in those fixtures as of yet. It won’t be a problem, however, as they shouldn’t pose any detriment to my research.”
Chad didn’t know what he might have imagined the laboratory would be like, but he was surprised to find the place so sparsely furnished. Perhaps he thought he’d find workbenches with shelves lined with beakers, test tubes and maybe there would be circular glass piping all around the lab, flowing with various glowing, bubbling liquids, like something from a Frankenstein movie. He’d even imagined giant electronic towers, topped with shiny silver pulsating spheres and wild flashing voltage jumping in an arc from one ball to the next. However, that was not at all what he found.
Instead, the room looked more like an abandoned warehouse with a series of six long folding tables set up to form a rectangular u-shape, each side two tables in length. On the tables, Chad saw a number of central processing units, flat-screen monitors, recording equipment, keyboards microphones, oscilloscopes, and headphones. Several office-style computer chairs on wheels were scattered about as well.
At the center of the U, there was a large leather recliner. Attached to the back of the recliner was some sort of vertical metal framework with a wiring harness, which appeared to contain thousands of wires, all of which appeared to be linked to the various computers and monitors. From atop the framework was suspended a device resembling an upside-down colander with wire’s attached to it, apparently some type of apparatus to be worn on the head.
Off in the shadows toward the back right corner of the room were two larger pieces of equipment, which Chad couldn’t quite identify from where he stood. One was a tall rectangular device with a glass or plexiglass access door in the front and was about six feet tall by two feet square. The other was much larger and looked like a vertical storage box, which stood about eight feet high and six feet wide with a transparent set of double doors. Chad had the image of a large portable shower of some sort, although it was clear there were no water lines or plumbing attached to it. Instead, Chad noticed more clusters of wires running from the computer servers back to both of the large boxes.
In the left rear corner of the room, Chad noticed what looked like a storage room about eight feet high with a single access door, and an open mezzanine above it. On top of the room was a collection of ductwork and ventilation tubes leading to the outside wall. Next to the front door were several metal gas cans. Chad assumed this room housed the gas-powered backup generator Doctor Bellamy had mentioned. This was further verified when Chad realized the ductwork was for venting the gas fumes outside. Another separate harness of wires ran from the generator structure to the area where the computers were located, Chad assumed this was the main power source. In Chad’s less than technical opinion, it was quite an impressive collection of electronic equipment.
Dr. Bellamy said, “I realize I’ve only given you a cursory overview of my research, but I’m telling you, this is a win-win situation for both of us. You’ll receive the cash you so desperately need to help pay for your education. It’ll be more money than you currently earn at your other part-time jobs combined. And you‘ll only have to give up two evenings per week and simply spend just a few hours each night here in the lab. Just think how much time that’ll free up for your studies; not to mention how it’ll allow you to some additional time for fun and extracurricular activities on your campus as well.”
Chad Jefferson was not a student at the same technological university where Dr. Walker Bellamy was a professor, that particular school was reserved for the brightest of the bright, students who excelled in math and science. Instead, he attended a nearby, much smaller liberal arts college when his major remained currently undeclared. He still hadn’t made up his mind which direction he should go, career-wise, his being equally proficient in art, music, and writing.
Chad asked, “But I still don’t understand why you want to use me in your research. I mean. Just look around you. This campus is crawling with students much smarter than me, who’d probably kill for the chance to work with you and would likely be willing to work for free. I guess I don’t understand why you’d come to a school like mine for an assistant, and then specifically ask for me. Heck, I was barely able to pass high school algebra. I guess I don’t get it.”
“Not to worry Chad, my boy.” The professor explained, “The nature of my work requires I avoid the very types of students we have here on campus. I don’t need someone with great academic and analytical skills. That sort of left-brain thought process is exactly the opposite of what I require. What I need is a right-brained creative thinker with an incredible imagination. And you fit that requirement perfectly. You see, I contacted all of the top English, Art, and Music professors at your college and asked them to point me in the direction of the most creative, most imaginative, and most talented student they had, and hands down, every one of them recommended you without a moment’s hesitation.”
Chad was caught somewhat by surprise. He had no idea his instructors all thought so highly of him. Chad knew he had a natural affinity for the arts, but never thought too much about it. In his opinion, it was something that came easy to him, and something he would enjoy spending his life doing, so he chose to pursue the college of liberal arts. He didn’t yet know if he would become a commercial artist, a musician, a writer, or perhaps a combination of the three but he knew somewhere within these three fields was where his future would lie.
Professor Bellamy asked, “Chad. Have you ever heard the expression ‘The Mind’s Eye’?”
Chad thought for a moment before answering, “No. I haven’t. But I’d guess it means being able to see with your mind rather than just your eyes, or something like that.”
“Yes. Very good.” Bellamy said. “When I, personally refer to the mind’s eye, I think of it in terms of imagination. Of course, the human mind can interpret things it sees physically through our own eyes, which is unfortunately the sole purpose it serves for a good many people. But for those very few, extremely creative and imaginative individuals such as you, the mind can see things, which don’t exist yet in physical form. This ability to imagine, to see with one’s mind, is exactly what comes into play when a musician composes a musical work or an artist creates a painting, or a writer authors a book. Think about it Chad. When you set out to create something you generally start with a clean sheet of paper or canvas, isn’t that correct?”
“Well yes.” Chad replied, “The same thing is true whether it is a work of art, a story, or a song. I generally start with nothing and then just start imagining what I want to do next.”
The Professor slapped his knee with excitement. “Precisely! That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Do you have any idea how many people look at a blank sheet and see nothing but a blank sheet of paper? They don’t have any idea how to even begin the process of creating something from nothing. That’s what imagination and creativity are all about, creating something where there was previously nothing.”
Chad looked somewhat confused. “Well, yeah I suppose you’re right. But that’s not really a big deal. I have been able to do that my whole life. I guess I sort of thought everybody could do it.”
“And for the most part, you are correct. Just about everyone is born with the ability to imagine, but some are born with a much higher degree of ability than others. Also, as we have grown into adulthood and are forced to face the reality of getting an education, earning an income, and surviving in the daily rat race, gradually this ability gets pushed aside. Most people stop using the imaginative portion of their brains, and instead, they develop the analytical and logical sides because that’s how we make money in this country. Those smart students you spoke of earlier, the ones who excel at this university in math, science, and business, often fall into that category. People like you however are of a rare breed that for whatever reason, refuse to give up their creative side and instead work to further develop those talents and keep using them. That’s specifically why I chose you, Chad. My research, my experiments are directly tied to taking a creative imagination, the mind’s eye so to speak, and magnifying that ability. The idea of my experiments is to find a way to harness the power of the creative imagination then increase that power by a hundredfold to go beyond the mind’s eye. To focus that imagination and use it to better mankind.”
“OK, I suppose.” Chad replied, “It all sounds very interesting and the money certainly is great. When would you like me to start?”
The doctor looked around the room and said, “Well. I suppose if you’re ready we can start on the first session immediately.”
“Right now?” Chad asked, surprised to find the professor so eager to get underway.
“No time like the present. I have a lot of initial benchmark data to acquire and must go through numerous detailed calibrations of all of the equipment by synchronizing the computer program parameters with your own brain biorhythms.”
“Ok…” Chad replied. “Not having the slightest idea what the doctor was talking about but anxious, nonetheless to begin earning his newfound income. “What would you like me to do?”
The professor replied, “Simply sit over there and relax in that recliner, while I begin the calibration process and record some initial data.”
As Chad walked toward the chair, he asked about the two large devices in the back of the room. “What are those two things back there?”
“Oh yes.” Bellamy replied, “Those are two units which I hope to use later in our research. It may be weeks or months until we can consider using them, however, depending upon the progress we make. The smaller of the two machines is called a rapid prototype machine and the larger is a holographic imaging chamber.”
“I know what a rapid prototype machine is.” Chad said understanding, “We learned about them in my CAD, you know, Computer-Aided Design class. And I know a little bit about holographic projections. I’ve seen some holographic art.”
“Yes. Well, as I said, it’ll be a long time until we are ready for those. In fact, for the first several weeks you may find it very boring to be here and will likely spend most of your time simply sitting relaxed in that chair with very little else to do. I suspect you will be glad you are being well paid for such uninteresting work.”
“WillI be allowed to bring along my laptop or cell phone while sitting in the chair, you know, to play some video games or something, to help pass the time?” Chad asked.
Bellamy looked at him as if he were about to deliver some unfortunate news, which he, in fact, was and said, “Sadly, no that won’t be acceptable, as it violates the very essence of my studies. However, you are welcome to bring a book or perhaps an audiobook if you would like for at least during the beginning sessions, as both of those items can help to stimulate the imagination. Later once our work gets into full swing, I’ll be asking you to leave those at home as well and I’ll want you to do all of your own creative thinking without outside influences.”
Chad thought about it for a moment, “I see what you mean. It makes little sense for me to sit like a zombie staring at the TV when you are studying creativity. My dad always called television ‘the idiot box’. He said television would eventually turn all of us into unimaginative robots who have to rely on someone else to entertain us.”
“Sadly, your father was quite correct.” Dr. Bellamy replied, “Many of our youth have lost their ability to imagine, and at what I consider a much too young an age. That’s one of the main reasons I chose to begin my research; first to understand how the creative mind functions, then to take that ability and enhance it dramatically.”
For the next several hours, Chad sat quietly on the recliner with the strange electronic “colander” helmet on his head. His eyes were closed and he allowed his mind to wander thinking of various unrelated ideas as the doctor had instructed him to do. Finally, when he thought he might fall asleep, the doctor said, “Well Chad. That should do just nicely. I think we’ll stop there for the night.”
As Chad arose from his chair in preparation to leave, he hesitated for a moment, watching the doctor prattle about his various computers. When Bellamy realized Chad was still behind him, he looked up and said, “Oh yes; your pay. Sorry about that my boy, sometimes I am so absent-minded.” The professor handed the young man a fifty-dollar bill, thanked him and Chad left the basement laboratory, got into his car, and headed home.
The next several weeks were as uneventful as the first night had been. Most sessions consisted of Chad sitting in the recliner, reading, and allowing his imagination to take the words and create mental images. Sometimes he’d reach for a blank sheet of paper and do a quick sketch of whatever image he happened to be thinking at the time. As far as he was concerned, the experiment could continue like this indefinitely.
Chad was being paid very well for not doing much of anything. He had been able to quit his other three part-time jobs thanks to his new-found income and was able to spend the extra available time on his own very special project. He was combining his artistic and writing skills in the development of his own graphic novel. He had the idea brewing in his mind for many years and now he was slowly making it a reality.
The novel was a ghastly horror story with over-the-top scenes of violence and some of the most horrid creatures he could imagine. His goal was to complete it by the end of the school year and if he was lucky, find a publisher shortly after that. He dreamed someday the novel would become popular and would make him rich and famous, or at least earn him enough to pay for his growing student loan debt.
As Chad sat in his chair sketching, Bellamy, who had temporarily left the lab returned and looked over the various data streaming across the computer monitors. He nodded his head happily, apparently satisfied with the results.
“I think the equipment is finely calibrated to your own unique brain wave signature. I’d like to try something, Chad.” Bellamy said, “I see you have a sketch pad there with you.” Bellamy reached into his lunch bag, which sat next to the computer, and retrieved a bright shiny apple, “How are you with drawing still-lifes?” he asked.
“Pretty good.” Chad replied, “My art instructor said I have a great natural talent for rendering things realistically.”
Dr. Bellamy said, “Excellent. Here is what I would like you to do. I’m going to place this apple on the table, and I want you to draw it as realistically as you can.”
“That should be easy, Dr. Bellamy. But I only have a drawing pencil, so it’ll have to be in black and white.”
“Not a problem Chad. It doesn’t really matter what colors you use to draw it. What does matter is how you envision it in your mind while you’re drawing it. If you can envision the apple exactly as it appears to your physical eyes, colors, shading, and all, in your mind’s eye, we could be well on the way to having some great success tonight.”
Chad didn’t fully understand what the doctor was looking for, but he did know how to draw and had no problem imagining, so he immediately began studying the apple, looking for subtleties of color, light, reflection, and shading and began sketching what turned out to be an incredible likeness. When he was finished, he turned to hand the sketch to the professor and was astounded to see what looked like an almost exact duplicate of the apple from the table now displayed prominently on the computer screen.
“Wow.” Chad exclaimed, “How did that get there?”
The doctor laughed exuberantly and proclaimed, “You put it there. Isn’t that completely amazing, Chad? That image on the computer screen is the digitized rendering of what you imagined in your mind while you were sketching the apple.”
Upon closer examination, Chad noticed it wasn’t actually a duplicate of the apple but something very close. The colors were a bit too vibrant, the reflections too shiny, the size a bit abnormal, but it was nonetheless a good representation.
The doctor pressed a few keys and the smaller machine at the back of the laboratory sprang to life with a whirring noise
“What is that for?” Chad asked.
The doctor explained. “There is a slight difference between what one imagines and what one sees. For example, you probably noticed the color and gloss differences between the apple on the table and the one on the screen, not to mention the size difference. This is caused by your imagination.”
“I’m not sure I understand,” Chad said confused.
“Well, think of it this way.” Dr. Bellamy said, “Reality is one thing and imagination is something else entirely. Imagination is by nature fluid and not traditionally capable of being focused. Therefore, with study, we can very well analyze, determine and quantify that difference in an individual subject such as you. That’s where the computers come into play. Through a series of detailed experiments just like the one we did tonight, we can determine just how far your imaginative mind’s eye varies from what your eyes really see. Then we can allow the computers to compensate for the difference and force a more exact image to be displayed on the screen.”
Chad said, “So we have the apple on the table and the apple in my mind. The apple on the computer represents what I saw in my mind. Now by comparing the differences, the computer will be able to take the image from my mind and before displaying it, will modify the image based on the measured differences and someday produce an exact replica of the apple on the table, on the computer monitor. Is that right?”
“Precisely.” Dr. Bellamy said with pleasure, “That is exactly what I am trying to do. You’re very astute, Chad my boy.”
“I’m sorry Dr. Bellamy. But I don’t see why this would be any different than simply taking a picture of the apple and displaying it on the computer. I know there are cameras out there capable of photographing enough views of the apple to generate a solid 3-D image of the apple on any solid-modeling Computer-Aided Design system. I’ve used solid modeling in many of my graphic art classes. I know it can be done. Why take the extra step of going through my imagination?”
“Well.” The doctor said with some hesitation, “Maybe it’s time to let you in on the ultimate goal of my experiments. You see, what we’re doing here is just the most elementary steps in a process that someday, perhaps in your lifetime, will be available to anyone and which will end all world hunger, crime, as well as wars, and hopefully will usher in a new dawn of enlightenment for all of mankind.”
Chad looked at the professor as if he were out of his mind. He couldn’t quite figure out how his getting an apple to appear on a computer screen could do anything to help mankind.
Dr. Bellamy walked over to the rapid prototype machine, which had just stopped running. He reached inside and took out an exact physical replica of the apple as it had appeared on the computer screen. Of course, it didn’t have the color of the displayed image as it was constructed of a dusty material used in the solid modeling process. However, it was the exact size of the apple as depicted in the 3-D solid modeling computer program displayed on the computer monitor.
“Just imagine, Chad.” The doctor said with excitement, “Just think if instead of this fiber-based model, I held a real, delicious, juicy apple in my hands. Now, what if instead of an apple it was a turkey, or steak or maybe a much-needed medicine or a cure for some fatal disease. What if we were able to hook ourselves up to a machine like this and a few seconds later, the cure for any illness would come out of a device such as the one back there, although of course, a much more sophisticated version, but a similar device none the less. Do you see where I am going with this? What if we could have anything we imagined?”
Chad thought for a moment, “I suppose that would be pretty good.” He said unaware of how insignificant he made the accomplishment sound.
“Pretty good?” The doctor asked, stunned by the understatement, “Chad, my boy, it would be much better than pretty good. It would be revolutionary. Remember on the old Star Trek TV shows how the crew had those machines they called “Replicators”. Whenever one of the crew wanted something all he had to do was ask the machine for whatever it was and the item appeared? If we could do that, no one would ever go hungry again. There’d be no need for money or greed or any such trappings. Everyone would instantly have everything they’d ever wanted right at their fingertips. There’d be no reason to steal, hurt, or kill anymore. Crime and war would become outdated. Mankind would be free to pursue intellectual endeavors like the sciences all day long not to mention art, music, literature, and philosophy… you name it. Initially, the system might just contain a few essential items, but eventually, the database would grow exponentially in size, making more and more items available. In addition, these devices will become more sophisticated and able to handle larger and more complex items. When that becomes a reality, there would literally be no limit to what could be instantly produced.”
“Wow!” Chad exclaimed, “You really think all of that could someday come from the work we’re doing right here, today?”
The professor looked at him knowingly and said, “Absolutely. We’re pioneering a new frontier, Chad. Whatever progress you and I make here in the project’s infancy, will forge a trail for others to follow. And with the mind and imagination, I believe you possess we could actually see many amazing advances happen very quickly in our work as well. I only wish I could find more wealthy backers to help finance my work. If so, I honestly believe I could buy the necessary equipment to cut years off of my research.”
“Yeah. Too bad I can’t simply imagine money and make it appear.” Chad said innocently, “That sure would solve both of our financial problems.”
The doctor looked at Chad with amazement as if the boy had just suggested something so ridiculously simple, yet so incredibly on target, that he wondered why he hadn’t thought of it himself. If he could find a way to fine-tune his equipment so the products generated by Chad’s mind could become exact replications, he could very possibly use the boy to help him take the experiment to the next level and thereby become his own financial backer. He decided not to let the boy know of his excitement or of his plans. Bellamy needed Chad’s mind to be clear and free of any distractions if he were ever going to take the experiment to the final step, that step being a journey beyond the mind’s eye. He decided instead to tuck away the idea until he succeeded with a few additional experiments then, perhaps he could find a way to test it out without making Chad aware of what he was doing.
“Um… ah.. yes.” The doctor stammered, trying to act as if Chad had said something irrelevant. “If it were only that easy, my boy… Anyway, I think your work here is done for the night, Chad. I just have to take some measurements of the apple model and make some additional adjustments before heading home. So… I’ll see you again next Tuesday night. Is that correct?” He handed Chad two fifty-dollar bills.
“You bet,” Chad said, noticing the increase in pay. “Um… yeah… see you then.”
Dr. Bellamy worked until very late in the night, adjusting and readjusting his machinery. Just before dawn, he started up the holographic imaging chamber and sent the apple image from the computer to the chamber. However, the truth was, that particular chamber was not simply an imaging chamber as he had told Chad, but was a very special piece of machinery of his own design which, he had been developing for many years. When he walked over and opened up the front door of the machine. Not just a holographic image of an apple was inside, but a full-size physical replica of the apple. Bellamy reached down and picked up the apple, staring at it as if contemplating whether he should risk taking a bite or not. After a moment’s hesitation, he bit into the apple and his eyes lit up with joy at the incredible taste the apple produced. It was like an apple, but so much more. It was the single most scrumptious piece of fruit he had ever eaten in his life. He had never even imagined such an incredibly delicious taste, but then again, he hadn’t imagined this one either… Chad had.
Over the course of the next several weeks, Bellamy worked on fine-tuning the equipment. He had set it so precisely that all Chad had to do was look at any object, imagine it in his mind for just a second and it would instantly appear on the computer graphics screen in the exact, proportioned size, shape and color with absolutely no deviation from the original. Dr. Bellamy made a point of never turning on his holographic machine while Chad was in the lab. The most he would do was occasionally do a rapid prototype of the object for measurement and calibration but he would never activate the other machine.
One night the doctor said to Chad, with a slight but noticeable hesitation, “I would like to take our experiments a step further if possible. Up until now, we’ve only been experimenting with simple solid objects. I’d like to try something new, something more complex and involved. I’ve equipped the computer with a specially designed animation/rendering program. I want to see what happens if you imagine a living, moving object.”
“Wow!” Chad said with excitement, “That sounds really cool!”
For the remainder of the evening, Chad sat watching a lab rat running around in its cage as the doctor made numerous adjustments to the equipment. Chad tried his best to imagine the small creature in all of its detail and to include every nuance of its movements, every twitch, every wrinkle of its nose, the blinking of its eyes everything.
“Excellent!” the doctor suddenly announced. “Very good Chad! Why don’t you take a little break and come over here and see what you have created.”
Chad removed his colander hat, as he now thought of it, and walked over to the computer screen where the professor was sitting staring in amazement. On the screen before him was a rat, not exactly like the rat from the cage, perhaps a bit larger but every bit as detailed as the real thing. It was running happily about the screen. “Unreal! That is so cool.” Chad said. “When this is perfected, you could literally change the entire cartoon animation industry.”
The professor stifled a laugh at how naive the young boy was. He had absolutely no interest in animated films or any other such nonsense. His goals were much higher than that. He cared nothing about cartoons, animation, anime, or whatever it was the young people called it nowadays. So as before, he dismissed Chad early for the evening and moved on to the next phase of his experiments. Chad was happy because it meant he could spend the evening’s remaining time developing his horrifying new graphic novel.
Of late, Chad found he had been actually having trouble focusing on his lab responsibilities as well as his schoolwork. His mind kept drifting back to his graphic novel. In the past, he’d often found he had such trouble reining in his creative imagination. But lately, it seemed to be even more difficult to do so. It was almost as if Dr. Bellamy’s experiments had produced an unplanned side effect. It was like his own ability to imagine and create was beginning to grow exponentially, opening all sorts of new and previously unavailable avenues of inspiration.
Most people who weren’t artistic by nature didn’t realize just how much of a double-edged sword being so creative was. In one sense, it was a blessing when one needed to come up with new and original ideas quickly. However, it was also a curse because often when a creative idea chose to manifest itself, it simply had to come out and there was very little Chad could do to keep it from doing so. An extremely persistent idea would often completely preoccupy Chad’s mind until he finally found an outlet for the inspiration, a way to make it concrete. Lately, that need seemed to be constant, more persistent, more demanding, and more uncontrollable than ever before.
Alone in the laboratory, Dr. Bellamy again turned on the holographic chamber in the back of the lab and began downloading the lab rat data from the computer to the chamber. Within seconds, he was astounded to see a small furry living version of the animated lab rat running about the inside of the chamber.
“Absolutely amazing!” The doctor shouted with astonishment. “I’ve created a living creature from the mind’s eye of that incredibly gifted young man. This level of success so early in my experimentation is… is beyond my wildest expectations.” Bellamy took a small cage and placed it on the floor next to the chamber door. When he carefully opened the door, the rat scurried out of the chamber and right into the cage, which Bellamy quickly secured.
The doctor stared closely at the rat through the bars and noticed something very odd about the creature. It seemed to possess an almost human intelligence in its black eyes, but also something more than that; something which might be considered a dark and almost sinister look, lurking just below the surface.
One of his fingers accidentally slipped through the bars of the cage and too close to the rat. Instantly, without a second of hesitation, the creature bit down hard on the man’s finger, shredding off a large chunk of flesh and bits of a shattered fingernail. It held the torn flesh between its forepaws and began feasting on it as blood ran down between its razor-sharp teeth, over its lip, and down onto the bottom of the cage.
Bellamy screamed with pain and revulsion dropping the cage to the floor. He was fortunate the enclosure door didn’t spring open or he would have found himself trapped in the lab with the horrid beast. He grabbed a paper towel and wrapped his wounded finger to slow down the bleeding until he could attend to it better later.
Then with his good hand, he picked up the cage by its carrying handle and walked it over to the far corner of the lab near the generator room. He clumsily took one of the gas containers and doused the animal with gasoline. The rat looked directly at Bellamy, their eyes meeting, the unspoken knowledge of a mysterious unexplainable intelligence passing between them, as the rat’s eyes told Bellamy it understood what the doctor’s murderous plan was. At first, Bellamy was taken aback by the strange understanding, and then as the pain in his finger throbbed, he disregarded the momentary feeling and continued with his plan.
When the cage was a safe distance from the rest of the stored fuel, he lit a match and dropped it in, watching the rat slowly and agonizingly burn to death, screaming and howling in its flaming torture. He smelled the acrid stench of burning hair and cooking meat as the creature rolled, kicked, and writhed in its final dance of death. Just before the hideous roasting thing finally succumbed, Bellamy thought he heard it speak. Unbelievable, he was certain he had heard it say “No. Please. Don’ kill me.” The high-pitched plea sent a cold chill down the doctor’s spine, but he could only hope it was just his imagination and for the sake of his own soul, he hadn’t actually heard what he thought he had heard.
Early the next week when Chad showed up for his scheduled session he asked Dr. Bellamy if they would be doing more of the animation type experiments similar to those they had done the previous week. This caught the doctor off guard and for a moment, he appeared very uncomfortable by the very suggestion.
He gingerly rubbed his bandaged finger trying his best to sound confident and said, “Uh… No… No Chad. Not this week. We may do more of that at another time but tonight we’ll focus on more stationary objects again.”
Chad was a bit disappointed because he knew staring at non-moving objects and imagining them was extremely boring as was the final product when compared to the fun they had animating the lab rat on the computer screen. Before he could think about it further, the professor asked him, “Chad? I have what might seem like an odd question for you.” Then after a moment’s pause, he asked, “Have you ever been hypnotized before?”
The boy thought for a moment and said, “Nope… Never… I considered it one time at one of our high school assemblies where there was this hypnotist, but I was never lucky enough to be picked to be a volunteer.”
“Well.” The doctor said, “I’d like to try something to help you focus your concentration more acutely and to assist in more quickly getting usable images from inside your mind to the computer. Would you be all right with that? I assure you it’ll be perfectly safe.”
Chad hesitated for a moment then said, “Well. Sure. I suppose it’d be alright.”
Then Bellamy assured him, “Just in case you were wondering, while you’re under hypnosis, you’ll still have full control of your faculties and can’t ever be made to do anything you wouldn’t be willing to do while fully awake.”
With Chad’s agreement, the doctor placed him into a hypnotic state using a simple pen, which he waved back and forth in front of the boy’s eyes. When Chad was completely under hypnosis and resting slack-jawed comfortably in the recliner in a deep trance, Dr. Bellamy reached into his wallet and withdrew a crisp brand new fifty-dollar bill.
“Chad?” the doctor said in a calm and reassuring voice. “I want you to study this bill very carefully. It’s a similar bill to the ones I have been giving you each week. In fact, I will be giving you this bill at the end of the night as payment. What I want you to do is to look at the front and the back, making sure you get every single detail into your mind, you don’t have to worry about memorizing the nuances because your subconscious will automatically do that for you. Your subconscious mind will catalog the most minuscule of details of the paper and thread weaves as well as the shades and hues of the ink. I just want you to study the bill itself, and concentrate with all of your might. Can you see the bill clearly in your mind’s eye?”
“Yes, I can see the bill,” Chad replied in a sleepy almost robotic voice. The doctor looked over at the computer monitor and was thrilled to see the replica displayed on the screen rotating slowly showing the exact details on both the front and back of the bill. Ulysses S. Grant repeatedly came into view then passed by as the bill rotated in circles. With a few quick keyboard strokes, the professor saved the image to the computer’s hard drive.
“Good. Very good.” The doctor prompted. “Now Chad. I want you to imagine a stack of almost identical fifty-dollar bills, one hundred bills thick, and imagine each serial number on each bill as being random, non-repeating, and non-sequential. And I want you to imagine a paper band tightly surrounding the stack of bills with the number five thousand stamped on it. Can you do that for me?”
“Yes, I can do that for you.” Chad once again said as on the computer monitor a rotating stack of the fifties appeared on the screen, just as the doctor described. He was beyond elated and once again saved the file immediately.
“Now Chad.” The doctor suggested. “I’d like you to do one more thing for me. Can you imagine a cube, three feet wide by three feet deep by eight feet high made up completely of similar stacks of fifty-dollar bills like the ones you just imagined? And can you picture a wheeled wooden dolly positioned underneath the cube of wrapped bills with a convenient handle for pulling? Is that something you think you can do Chad?”
Chad’s closed eyes squinted with extreme concentration; sweat beginning to bead on his forehead, as he did what the doctor asked. On the computer screen an image of the cube on the cart appeared as a full three-dimensional rendering. Bellamy couldn’t believe his eyes. This young man had just created a small fortune in fifty-dollar bills. Without a moment’s hesitation, Bellamy raced over to his computer and again saved the final image file to the computer.
If the next part of his experiment was successful, he’d have a never-ending supply of cash and would be able to leave the university, purchase his own lab equipped with state of the art equipment, and would never need to go begging for money again. He quickly downloaded the file from the computer to the holographic chamber. Within seconds, right before the doctor’s bulging eyes an incredible rectangular cube-shaped stack of money appeared inside the chamber complete with a cart and handle as he had requested.
Although the money was technically counterfeit, Bellamy instinctively knew the fake money would be completely undetectable by any known means the authorities had of scanning, as the bills would be identically in every way to real money, even down to the smallest fiber of the woven paper.
He quickly opened the door to the unbelievable box, grabbed the handle of the cart, and pulled the money cube out onto the lab floor. As he did, the stack toppled and fell to the floor creating a mountain of neatly bound stacks of money. Elated beyond comprehension, Bellamy dove into the pile of money-grabbing stacks, ripping off their paper bands and throwing the money all around madly like the cartoon character Scrooge McDuck. He was so enthralled with his instant riches that he completely forgot about closing the door to the chamber as well as the fact Chad was still sitting in the recliner hypnotized and hooked up to the computer equipment.
Chad’s eyes began to flitter beneath his closed lids as his ever-active imagination continued working. Without the doctor’s verbal direction and suggestions, he was once again free to relax, allowing his busy mind to run wild with whatever it chose to imagine. And since Chad had been so preoccupied of late with his horribly violent graphic novel, it was the first thing to pop into his subconscious.
As he lay quietly in his recliner, Chad wasn’t even aware of the hideous and monstrous images his mind was generating; scenes of mayhem with horrible ungodly creatures rising up from the bowels of Hell to maim and devour their innocent victims. His mind’s eye imagined deformed repugnant beings with protruding eyeballs, whose very touch could cause flesh to boil and objects to burst into flames.
Within seconds, the horrible images moved from his mind to the computer screen then directly to the still connected, still active holographic imaging chamber. Bellamy was busy caressing his newfound wealth and had his back to the doorway of the holographic closet when the first creature materialized.
The doctor suddenly heard heavy breathing behind him and a low guttural growl as he turned slowly to come face to face with something his analytical mind couldn’t have possibly imagined. The creature was about four feet high, naked, and had shining leathery-like flesh with large eyes, bulging so far from their sockets as to almost look comical. Perhaps he could have found some humor in their appearance had it not been for the wide-open mouth filled with long, curved razor-sharp fangs.
At that very moment, the realization hit him. He remembered Chad, the computers, the chamber, and the fact that everything was still online, connected, and functioning. Then he had an epiphany regarding the duality of a mind rich with creativity and imagination. He had always been able to appreciate the positive aspects of such a gift but he hadn’t considered the notion that such a blessing might also be something of a curse.
A mind gifted with such genius of extreme imagination was not something that could simply be turned off and on. It was activated by inspiration, by some often-unforeseen stimulus and once in motion was like a runaway train, needing to run its course, unable to stop until it either exhausted itself or crashed violently at the end of the line. Trying to hold it at bay, to prevent it from expressing itself was like trying to hold back the ocean; it simply couldn’t be done. And now Bellamy saw that a tsunami of deadly inhuman creatures was heading right for him.
Behind the first horrible creature was another even more hideous thing. It appeared to be female, although barely so. Its body was that of a gorgeous voluptuous woman, clad in a black evening dress, with ample cleavage and flawless skin. But that is where the similarity to anything beautiful or even human ended.
Its face was a horrid mass of twisted distorted rotting flesh with the right side of the face and nose missing, revealing a bone-white skull. The facial remnants were encircled by strips of filthy brown cloth bandages from its chin to the top of its head as if this were the only thing preventing the accumulation of rotting flesh from sliding off of its skull and splattering to the floor. At the top of its head, just beyond the bandages a large portion of its cranium cap was missing and its brain bulged from the opening like a horrid bowl of pulsating grey gelatin.
The two creatures moved slowly from the chamber as another unearthly thing began to take shape inside. It looked like some twisted version of Frankenstein’s monster yet somehow it was frighteningly much more horrifying and deformed. Flames shot from the fingertips of its outstretched reaching hands.
Some of the flames shot past the other creatures like miniature flying balls of fire. Several struck the pile of money while others flew off toward the area where the gasoline cans were stored. Unfortunately, the previous week when Bellamy had doused the rat’s cage with gas, he neglected to clean up the mess and several rags still saturated and still slightly damp with gasoline laid around the burned cage. These discarded rags quickly caught fire and soon the basement lab was engulfed in flames.
One of the flaming fingertip projectiles struck Bellamy directly in the chest, knocking him backward onto the burning pile of bills. As his clothing caught fire, the first two creatures jumped upon him and began systematically dismembering him, ripping him apart limb by limb, devouring his toasting remains with a ferocity born of Chad’s imaginative graphic novel. Although their own leathery skin was blistering and burning, they appeared unable to ease their savage feeding frenzy, even to save themselves.
As Chad lay in a trance on the recliner he was startled to semi-consciousness by the commotion, not enough to realize what was happening but to a sufficient degree that his own subconscious self-preservation response kicked in and he was able to get up and slowly walk toward the front door of the lab. Without realizing what he was doing, the young man opened the door, walked out into the cool evening and closed the door tightly behind him. When he got about a block from the building, the basement lab exploded and the entire multi-storied structure collapsed downward in a massive heap. Apparently, the professor had been wrong about the reinforced fallout shelter.
Chad suddenly awoke to find himself standing in the street as fire sirens began to sound in the distance signaling their approach. The last thing he recalled was his relaxing on the recliner as Dr. Bellamy was beginning to hypnotize him. Yet now he was a block from the former lab with no knowledge of how he got here or what had happened.
Sometime later authorities conducted a meticulous arson and criminal investigation. Everything in the lab was burned beyond recognition, leaving no trace of any notes, equipment, or the professor himself. Also missing were any signs of the money or the creatures, which had come from the holographic chamber. Chad didn’t volunteer to come forward to tell authorities of his involvement in the experiments as only he and the professor knew of their activities. He decided if any of the teachers from his college who were approached by the professor asking about him questioned him, he would simply tell them Bellamy wanted him to do a drawing for him or else he would make up some other such lie. Chad didn’t know why he had decided to be so secretive about his involvement with Bellamy but instinctively seemed to think it would be for the best.
In the end, no one including Chad would ever know the extent of Bellamy’s experiments or just how close the man had come to fulfilling his lifelong dream. Ironically, because of Bellamy’s own natural human greed, the very type of behavior he sought to eliminate from the world had been responsible for turning his dream into a tragic fatal nightmare.