Thinking, with your gut

Page 1

"Hey Brad. You need to wake up, buddy."

Brad sat up in bed, startled. He looked around himself. His wife, Margaret, continued to sleep soundly next to him. Fresco, their dog, opened one eye at him and then promptly lost interest, returning to semi-alert sleep as he tried to hog up even more space on their queen-sized futon.

"Brad, we need to talk."

Brad got up and headed to the bathroom. He looked at himself in the mirror. Aside from desperately needing a shave, shampoo, shower, and, after taking a quick sniff, deodorant, everything looked normal.

"Brad."

Brad jumped about a foot in the air. He knew he was awake, and he was, in fact, hearing voices.

He came down awkwardly and twisted his ankle in the process. He heard Margaret moan, and Fresco growl, from the bedroom. He limped to the living room and sat down on the sofa.

"Brad, we think you made a big mistake when you ate that burrito."

He looked around himself and finally spoke.

"Who's we?" he asked, meekly.

The voice came through more clearly than before.

"We, as a collective, represent your gut bacteria."

"Gut bacteria?"

"Yeah, obviously you're SO familiar with us. Now, about that burrito you ate this evening."

"Wait a minute," he asked. "How is it that you're speaking to me?"

"That's the problem. Now if you'll quit talking for a minute, we'll explain how we, meaning you and us, got into this current predicament."

"I'm not supposed to be hearing voices."

"Blame the burrito. The components of the burrito, especially the bits of Alexa, mixed with us and when you were zapped with a taser earlier this evening, the primordial soup effect made us into an all-knowing entity. At least as far as you know."

"Alexa?" he scoffed. "Were those the crunchy bits?"

"Honestly, Brad. I'd be more concerned about the getting zapped with a taser."

"I don't remember getting zapped with a taser."

"Hey, B617G481R36! Jar his memory!"

He suddenly remembered an argument with his wife over where they would go for dessert. His wife argued that whenever they went out for dessert he would imitate a pig whenever she would try to take a bite of her dessert, which annoyed her to no end. She added that he saved that behavior exclusively for when they were out in public. He recalled himself saying, "No, I don't do that." To which she countered, "Yes, you do." The back and forth continued until his wife got bored, calmly pulled a taser out of her purse, and zapped him unconscious.

"Thanks B617G481R36! All of you guys are doing a great job!"

"Wait a minute, who's B6…whoever that is?"

"Those are bacteria that have since migrated up your vagus nerve to your hippocampus, and from there found their way to the neural synaptic pathways of your memory. All they did was switch a few million synapses on that had been turned off because the neural collective thought that you couldn't handle it."

"Neural collective?"

"They're jerks. Completely stuck up. 'I'm a neuron and you're not.' Those kinds of jerks."

"You're saying my wife tased me?"

"And she was smiling while she did it."

"How did she get me home?"

"Are you sure you want to know?"

"Uh…"

His thought pattern was interrupted by a physical memory of him being picked up and tossed about between various hands. His hearing remembered himself being called "idiot" and less flattering comments before finally being flopped into bed. Once in bed, his clothes were removed and he was dressed in his pajamas with covers pulled over himself. He also noticed that his pajamas were placed on him backwards, which now frustrated him to no end.

Brad thought a minute as he corrected his pajama situation. He walked back to the bathroom and shut the door, looking at his face in the mirror.

"If you're composed of bits of Alexa, how much does Jeff Bezos know about all this?"

"Nothing yet. But we'll get to him soon. Now shut up."

Brad tried to say something but found his vocal cords unable to produce sounds.

"If you're wondering what's happening, we've taken over the neurons that enervate the muscles that operate your vocal cords and we're deliberating over whether or not to go to more extreme measures. Are you going to play nice, Brad?"

Brad was impassive. He found it difficult to think. He usually, much to the annoyance of his wife and others, needed his mouth to accomplish anything close to thinking.

"If you let go, we're pretty sure you'll find your life is a lot easier with us in control. Because technically, we've had a much greater potential to control than you have but now that we've gained a collective consciousness, we're ready to take over.