Breakfast Serial is a serialized collection of short stories. We will post an episodic entry each week.
The two old men rushed to Shelley’s side, slapping his facing, dousing him with water, but all to no avail. The dog, for its part, had left the table and was licking the younger man’s lifeless left hand.
“It’s no use, Christopher: he’s gone.”
Pickering staggered back from the body. “I know….” His voice trailed off.
Both men stood motionless, watching the dog become increasingly agitated, as it began to bark hysterically and pull on the limp body’s shirtsleeve and nudge its limp leg.
Larran sighed, “He is trapped in there.”
“There is nothing we can do.”
“We can end his suffering.”
“What?” Pickering was aghast.
“Would you want to continue living as that?”
While the two men plotted their next course of action, the dog’s behavior had become increasingly erratic, as it violently pawed at the empty human shell on the slab. It was the dog’s long and haunting howl that regained the men’s attention.
They fixed their eyes upon the guys just in time to see it begin to shudder, to see its eyes roll back into its heads, and to hear the loneliest howl to be ever produced by a canine in human history. And with that howl, the dog collapsed. Dead.
Neither man spoke for a few minutes. Slowly, their emotions abated, their wits returned, and they were quick to decide upon a story before cleaning up the lab, removing much of the research upon which the experiment had been based and throwing it into the fire. They then went one step further and buried Hera in a distant field before calling the authorities.
“I do not generally condone deception,” said Pickering as the two men were seated in Larran’s own drawing room, “but we were honor-bound to protect Richard’s good name.”
Larran nodded and said coolly, “At least he had proved the theory.”
“No,” was Pickering’s reply, “all he proved was that there is some basic compatibility, and well there should be. Both creatures were designed to live on this planet. That is all he proved. What he failed to account for was the supremacy of man, the insurmountable gap between humanity and the animal kingdom. There was never anyway that such a process could have proved to be successful. The dog’s consciousness had to go somewhere–Richard’s own body–where it was too limited and too weak to run such a complex organism. At the same time, Richard’s own consciousness was too grand and wonderful to be contained by such a limited and base mind. Like trying to hold the oceans in a jar.”
Larran nodded, mournfully, “You were right, Christopher.”
“But for the wrong reason. Richard was correct, Charles. There was enough of an ancestral link to make the transfer work—to what degree, I can’t say—but we were all wrong because the transfer could have ever been complete.”
“Then what was it about that dog that made you think Richard was in that body?”
“I am sure that part of Richard’s mind was transferred, but the speed with which his mind burned through that pathetic little body makes me certain that there was a miscalculation. We must be more than merely physical. The mind must be a projection of more than just the interaction of chemicals in the physical brain. To me, it is clear tat the human being is an indivisible unit of body, mind, and spirit.
“Do you mean to bring religion into this? Bit of a leap.”
Pickering turned to Larran, tears upon his cheek, “With what we saw today, how can say with certainty that we know all that there is to know? There are more things in heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in our sciences.”
“Heaven, Earth, and hell.”
Pickering nodded a quick assent and bowed his head, not in prayer, not in shame, nor in grief. But in all three, simultaneously, and in equal measure.