The human brain is divided into two hemispheres. The left, and the right. The left side is responsible for creativity, imagination and love while the right side is responsible for facts, figures, logic. The two hemispheres are connected by what is effectively a bridge between the two. The Corpus Callosum. It is the gateway between love and logic, creativity and calculation.
Without it, the two sides of the brain are effectively different people living in the same body. The right side of the brain controls the right eye, arm and leg, and vice versa for the left side. Experiments have been carried out on chimps who have had their Corpus Callosum severed, where a nut was placed in one of their hands. The results are astonishing; one can actually watch the two arms fighting for possession of the nut, as though they belong to two different chimps. The severing of the corpus callosum can have beneficial effects for humans; it can serve to lessen the more adverse effects of epilepsy, by stopping the attack affecting both sides of the brain.
Unfortunately, the procedure is not without consequence, as patients have reported seeing either one of their arms moving completely independently of their will. Some have watched as their arms manipulate objects without willing them to, and some have actually had to use their functional arm to physically restrain the wayward limb. This is known as alien hand syndrome.
Phillip had a condition. This condition, to the dismay of both Phillip and his family, had not been diagnosed. Countless psychiatric tests had shown doctors absolutely nothing. Only one thing about Phillip's condition was certain; it was, potentially, very dangerous. It had first happened on Phillip’s sixth birthday. He had been in the garden, opening presents with his family and friends, when he just stopped. A glazed expression overcame his previously jubilant one, and slowly but purposefully, he got up, and began to walk away.
He walked. And walked. And walked. All the while, he was followed by a crowd of anxious parents and children, headed by his own mother, as they pursued him down the quiet cul-de-sac.
“Philly, what are you doing love? Come back!” his mother pleaded, with no response.
His march only ceased when he reached the end of the road, where he collapsed. His parents rushed to him, and were met with the disgruntled face of a sleepy six year old, who had no idea where he was or how he had ended up there. Phillip suffered from something which would best be described as “conscious sleepwalking”. His brain would enter a kind of autopilot mode, commandeering his body. After each of these episodes, Phillip would regain consciousness with absolutely no recollection of what he had done in his catatonic state. For a while, he had been able to control it. He had made sure that if he was going out, he’d be out with a friend who’d be able to look after him, and that he’d call home to check in every half hour. For a while, it had gone away completely.
But then, on the 2nd August 2013, Phillip went missing. Police helicopters, sniffer dogs, Phillip's family making tearful appeals to the public for information, all were fruitless, until emergency services received a call on the 8th of August about a young man fitting Phillip’s description sitting in the middle of a busy ring road. The police had no idea where Phillip had been, and nor had he.
Phillip sat in the hospital waiting room, flanked by his mother, sister and father. Across from him was Dr Bosman. Dr Bosman, a booming man in his 40’s, was a neurosurgeon. Dr Bosman was talking.
“Phillip, for this to work I’m going to need you to listen to me." Phillip nodded. Bosman cleared his throat, and began. “What I intend to do is to sever your Corpus Callosum. It should lessen; if not completely stop your condition.”
Phillip absorbed this information wordlessly. “The procedure is very safe, I can assure you.” Phillip consented without a word.
White light, hospital bed, paper gown, beep, beep, beep, count back from one hundred, ninety nine, ninety eight, ninety seven, ninety seven, ninety...
Philip yet again sat opposite Bosman. This time, however, he was in a hospital bed, his newly shaved head glistening in the halogen glow, with Bosman sitting on a chair at the foot of the bed. He beamed, which served to spread his beard across his face further than it already was.
“Phillip, you’ll be pleased to know that your operation went seamlessly. You should be discharged within five days." Bosman’s eyes then lost a degree of warmth, as he cleared his throat and said with a sympathetic voice, “Now, there may be some side effects, but nothing major. Have you heard of 'alien hand syndrome'?” Phillip made a motion that indicated the negative, and Bosman proceeded to explain to Phillip the biology of the Corpus Callosum.
“With the corpus callosum gone, you are effectively two separate people in the same body. The left and right no longer have an intermediary." Bosman handed him his card. “It shouldn’t be anything you can’t handle, but if at any point you feel like it is, do not hesitate to call me." They shook hands, and Bosman departed.
Phillip felt like an entirely new man, the problem with which he had battled his whole life gone. He kept waiting for it to return, apprehensive. But it never did. As for side effects, he barely noticed them. Occasionally, he felt a tingle running through his left arm, at the most a light tremble, but nothing more.
For the time being. Phillip was at his desk. He’d just finished typing an email, and his computer sat upon his desk, its glow creating a dull shadow puppet show of his figure against the wall. He leaned back in his chair, and sighed backwards into the room. He suddenly became aware of a gentle tugging sensation at his left shoulder, and so looked down. His left arm was moving, fingers scuttling over the keys. It was typing him a message.
“HELLO PHILLIP.” Phillip sat there, heart constantly slamming back down into his chest. He tried, and failed, to use his left arm.
He began to reply. “Hello?”
“HOW DO YOU FEEL?” came the reply.
“I’m very well, how are you?”
There was a pause, before the arm typed, “I want to show you something." The arm then began to move fluidly to the number keys, and began to type once more. For a while, Phillip was unable to grasp what he was reading. But then, slowly, he understood. It was an address. “GO THERE,” the arm typed.
“Why?” He felt feeling return to his left arm, and found he was able to flex it again. The words of Dr. Bosman reverberated inside his head.
“With the corpus callosum gone, you are effectively two separate people in the same body.” One of these people was trying to tell him something. Phillip sat for a long time, staring into the screen of his phone, Bosman’s card in his hand. He dialled. Almost instantaneously, he heard Bosman’s voice.
“Hello? Phillip? Hello?” He hung up.
He didn’t attempt to make sense of his surroundings, or log landmarks. He just drove. After a while, he saw on the screen of his SatNav the end of the blue line he had been following for an hour. He found himself staring down a wide road, at the end of which, a small warehouse. A sign hung loosely over the door, claiming the warehouse to have once belonged to a self storage company. The smashed windows made cruel mosaics on the concrete, the doors adorned with the tags of generations of graffiti artists.
He walked slowly to the door, only to find the lock had already met an untimely death to the blunt end of some sort of tool. He trod the narrow hallway from the door to main warehouse space. Remnants of a makeshift reception, check in cards, crunched beneath his shoe was he moved towards the double doors. As he walked, he became increasingly aware of a sickly sweet smell, which became all the more cloying every step he took. He pushed through the set of double doors, and came face to face with what his left brain had been trying to tell him. In one corner of the room, there was a sleeping bag, a fan heater and a week’s worth of food waste.
In another, there were seven bodies.
The corpses lay piled upon one another, their twisted emaciated forms resembling some sadistic mockery of a game of twister. They appeared to have been tossed aside, as if by some violent child who had grown bored of his toys. But it was what Phillip saw last that would haunt him for the rest of his sheltered life in various secure psychiatric wards.
There, on the wall, was a calendar. The make was that of the storage company's.
It was from 2013, and the only days that had had anything marked on them at all were the days between the 2nd and the 8th of August.
Written by ABardCalledSam