Case 42

Initial Notes: This file describes one of the subjects termed an ‘oddity’. Throughout the course of said subject’s life, there has been careful documentation as to the mental state of the subject. The notes were discovered and destroyed by the subject and what follows is the personal account of the subject. For this reason, Case 42 is considered scientifically invalid in our research. It is not written objectively or in a scientific manner and reads rather like a story.

Gavin Grantham knew that he didn’t belong. He was, as some would put kindly, different. As far as he was concerned, he always had been.

For one thing, he collected books. At the age of sixteen, he had collected up to five.

The first one had been given to him by his great great grandfather in secret–Webster’s Dictionary. He’d been six at the time.

It’s not like books were forbidden or anything, but it was strictly looked down upon to own one. Of course, people hadn’t ceased to read. It’s just that they now read electronically. The idea of using paper for reading material was akin to something like murdering a tree.

The next book Gavin had stumbled across was the Holy Bible. Nine years old and walking home from school alone, he had passed behind an old church and found it thrown on top of a broken, electric dumpster. He still wasn’t sure what had possessed him to take it, but a moment later he had snatched it from the mountain of trash and sprinted home.

At age eleven he had traded his lunch with a homeless man for a paperback version of Hamlet. Two weeks later the same homeless man had given him a hardbound copy of 1984 for free.

On his fifteenth birthday, he found an abandoned book of poetry by some Billy Collins–his favorite birthday present despite its missing pages.

Books were growing scarcer and scarcer, and with each passing year the likelihood of finding another one grew smaller.

That was the first thing that was different about Gavin. He liked paper books, or as he preferred to call them, real books.

The second thing that was different about Gavin was that he questioned everything. His friends called him nosey, but that wasn’t exactly true.

Mostly, Gavin was curious. He hated being shushed by his friends who would tell him to “stop nosing about”.

He didn’t like to accept things merely because others wanted him to. He wanted to come to his own conclusions.

Usually Gavin tried to keep a low profile.

He, unlike his peers, wanted privacy. He wanted to be able to keep his thoughts to himself.

But sometimes he couldn’t. Sometimes everyone knew that he was different.

Sometimes, like on one Thursday afternoon, the 18th of September, seventeen year old Gavin couldn’t help himself. It all began when Shelly Smithton came back to school after a three day absence. Her father had just passed away.

Gavin found himself joining his classmates in a circle outside the metal classroom door. Pushing his way into the group politely, Gavin’s eyes fell on the center of everybody’s attention.

Shelly.

A large smile was spread across her face, reaching to her bright blue eyes.

She chattered on about the last few days as Gavin frowned and studied the rest of his peers, all of whom seemed unconcerned.

“And by the time I woke up, I felt completely different about the whole affair!” Shelly exclaimed cheerfully.

Gavin nudged Wilson, the boy next to him, and said, “What is she on about?”

Wilson stared at Gavin wide-eyed. “Didn’t you hear? Shelly had the operation.”

Gavin’s stomach felt suddenly icy. “Which operation?”

“AR,” Wilson explained.

Gavin’s mouth went dry.

He’d never actually met anyone who had undergone AR but he’d heard a great deal about it.

AR stood for Association Reversal. Scientists were able to change a person’s attitude towards their past experiences. Alter one’s reaction to a memory. In Shelly’s case, they had somehow changed the association to her dad’s death from a negative into a positive.

The whole things seemed strangely unnatural to Gavin, but it was an operation that was becoming fairly commonplace.

No one else ever seemed to care that it wasn’t right. Had they all forgotten Lucy Sanders?

Lucy Sanders had been in one of the AR trials. She had had an unnatural fear of heights. After the operation, that fear was gone. But so was the caution that came with.

She died quickly, the papers had said. Before she hit the ground.

The story always made Gavin feel slightly nauseous.

Wilson grinned. “It’s great, isn’t it?”

Gavin grit his teeth. “No.”

Wilson raised his eyebrows at him. “What?” he asked innocently. “Shelly is fine.”

“Yeah, she is,” Gavin muttered fiercely. “And she shouldn’t be.”

Wilson ignored him.

Gavin looked around at the others, challengingly. “Shelly’s father just died!” he pointed out passionately.

Some of the others avoided his gaze, others mocked him.

“It wasn’t your dad Grantham,” someone laughed.

“Maybe you need an AR too,” somebody else joked.

And just like that, the fire went out in Gavin. He sighed numbly and walked away.

He could hear the others muttering behind his back. He wished that somehow he could go once more to his great great grandfather’s farm and escape everything. Where he could lie down in the grassy fields and contemplate the tufts of clouds overhead, as if there was some kind of hidden meaning to it all.

But the idea was ridiculous. The farm had been taken over by the government years ago and turned into a tablet factory where the empty shells meant for electronic books were made. The irony didn’t make Gavin laugh.

As far as some hidden meaning that supposedly existed, Gavin no longer knew what he believed in. He knew what any one of his fellow classmates would say if asked about their purpose in life:

“The advancement of society and improvement of the human condition.”

But people had lived before the electronic age had swept the globe brainwashing everyone into submission under the name of peace. So despite everything he’d been told growing up, Gavin knew that technology wasn’t essential to life.

There had to be more.

Here ends the personal account of Gavin J. Grantham. What follows is a summary of the events that occurred afterwards:

Gavin Grantham discovered that he was being studied, though the details as to how remain unclear. Approximately one week later, he destroyed his Case file and was taken into custody. After running numerous tests, a team of doctors deemed the subject unfit to function in normal society. The subject then made a strange request for a pencil and paper. Given the strangeness of the request, the doctors believed that giving into the said request could lead to further insight into the mental state of the subject. The request was granted and actual paper was given to the subject. The subject then proceeded to record the above personal account in third person using the pencil and paper. Before further studies could be made, the subject suffered from severe head trauma and died that very afternoon.

The findings of Case 42 are inconclusive.

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