“Any progress on the patient so far?”
“No. His vital signs are stable, but there isn’t any indication of unusual brain activity.” A woman in a white lab coat typed something into her computer, listening to the steady beep of her patient’s heartbeat on the monitor. “Oh, wait! There is something!”
“What is it?” Another scientist leaned over the first woman’s shoulder, eagerly inspecting the screen.
“Hang on…” the first woman leaned closer to the computer, the skin between her eyebrows furrowing as they moved closer together. “Actually, false alarm. He’s thinking about frogs.”
“Frogs?” the second scientist raised an eyebrow. “Well, that could be something. Is there any record of him knowing about frogs before?”
“Let me check.” the first woman pressed a button on her desk and a second screen appeared, this one displaying a log dating back to the previous six months.
11/17/2052/ Patient J is familiar with Case 77.
11/16/2052/ Patient J is familiar with the concept of Planet Earth.
11/15/2052/ Patient J is familiar with the concept of desolation.
The first woman scrolled all the way down to the bottom, her eyes scanning each entry as it went past.
5/04/2052/ Patient J is familiar with the concept of love.
5/03/2052/ Patient J is familiar with the concept of consciousness.
5/02/2052/ Patient J is familiar with the concept of having a name.
“There’s nothing in here about frogs,” the first woman muttered, scrolling back up to the latest entry. “That’s a new thing for him.”
“Put it in the database,” the second scientist ordered. The first woman opened a fresh text box, typing in the date and the words:
11/18/2052/ Patient J is familiar with the concept of frogs.
“This is good,” the second scientist murmured excitedly, bouncing a little on the back of the first woman’s chair. “We haven’t introduced any animal-related stimuli. He’s recovered this memory all on his own!”
“Indeed,” the first woman rubbed her chin thoughtfully. “He may be recovering the neural pathways related to mundane memories. I would think he’d react first to something more intense, like Patient A, but I suppose this is still a good sign.”
“Why do you think he’s not responding to the Patient A stimuli?” the second scientist asked.
“I don’t know,” the first woman replied, shaking her head. “Patient J seems to be having difficulty with the concept of human connection. It’s creating a bit of a roadblock in his mental facilities. Perhaps he’d have an easier time understanding it if we took him out of that bubble for once. After all, he’s been stuck in there for the entirety of his recollected life.”
The second scientist tilted their head. “What are you suggesting?”
“We give him a friend,” the first woman responded, turning to look at the second scientist. “Patient C would be a good fit. Her caring nature would mesh well with Patient J’s disposition. It’ll help him understand the concept of connection.”
“But that may cause a neural overcross,” the second scientist pointed out. “The reason we keep him in that bubble is to ensure he makes as little new memories as possible. It is imperative that he recovers the old ones first.”
“But he can’t understand the old ones if he doesn’t have anything new to compare them to,” the first woman stated firmly. “The human brain is notorious for only being able to understand strange things through comparison to familiar things. In this case, his relationship with Patient C will be seen as similar to his connection to Patient A, allowing him to understand the importance of Patient A. That will create an opening for us to finally recover those previous memories.”
“But what if he loses the old ones instead?” the second scientist wondered. “What if he becomes too attached to Patient C and doesn’t want to remember Patient A?”
“His love for Patient A is too strong,” the first woman replied, turning and leaning over her desk to look down at the chamber below. At the bottom of the round, white shaft was a single bed. Sitting at the edge of the bed was a boy with an explosion of vivid red hair, staring intently at a picture on the wall. “He’ll remember. Eventually.”