The Real Delgado

“Have you heard? They finished debunking Tony’s notes.” The young woman drags a stool over to her workbench, flipping the tail of her lab coat to avoid sitting on it. "True to his word, you're not mentioned at all."

The Etheric Sphere on her desk glows brighter. The obviously after-market speaker jury-rigged to it emits a voice. “I hadn’t heard. Call it up for me, would you?”

“Sure thing.” She keys in a search on her laptop and clicks a result. She pivots the screen to face the sphere. The first few paragraphs of a news story fill the screen:
Dr. Antonio Delgado was stripped of his medical license on Tuesday after a year-long investigation into his unorthodox treatment of mental illness.

“His patients claim they were cured, but the methodology detailed in his notes is flawed,” wrote Dr. John Amelius, head of the New York State Medical Review Board. “The electrical mesh he described could only detect electrical activity in the brain, and poorly at that. It offers no therapeutic value that we can discern.”

Dr. Delgado was arrested on fraud and reckless endangerment charges after investigators determined he conducted unregulated and unethical experiments on human subjects. Some of his clients reported paying $20,000 for a single "treatment"...
The sphere pulses red. “I told that idiot he was overreaching.”

“Yes, you did, Dr. Delgado.” The woman turns the laptop back to face her.

Dr. José Delgado, 1915-2011.
Photo via KTERRL.
“I'm embarrassed he took my name. Good riddance. At least he protected us, so the work continues. Thank you for staying with me, Ell.”

“And miss the opportunity to get published for helping to cure mental illness? Are you serious? I’d be a fool not to work with one of the greatest minds in neuroscience, living or dead.”

The speaker chuckles, and the sphere fades back to a soft white glow. “If only I could publish posthumously. If I had known I could enter the brain and stimulate it with such precision, I might have died earlier. Continuing my work in this condition is nothing short of miraculous.”

“And we’re helping people. Don’t forget that.” Ell calls up the day’s schedule on the laptop.

“Yes, but our situation has its challenges. I’ll be happy once we can dispense with the Etheric Sphere theatrics. Or better yet, come up with a purely electrical treatment.”

Ell leans back, crosses her arms, and considers the sphere for a moment. “I’ve been meaning to ask you, can you really take control of a person’s body?”

Silence reigns for a moment. “It’s much easier if they want me to, but yes. The nervous system is nothing but electrical impulses, and I can exert some limited control over those impulses. In this case I’m an invader, so the body musters defenses I never knew existed to force me out. I can’t do it for long.”

Another silence before the voice spoke again. “In the interest of full disclosure, I suppose I could short out a person’s nervous system. I don’t know what exactly that would do to a person, how much it would take out of me, nor how long the effects would last.”

Ell pales slightly. “I thought as much theoretically, but hearing you say it gives me the chills. This is voodoo territory.”

“Ell, I would never... I only go into people’s brains when invited, and then only to fix problems.” The sphere pales yellow and anxiety creeps into the voice on the speaker.

Ell waves away any further discussion and regains her composure. “Enough said, Dr. Delgado.” She turns back to the laptop. “We have a full day scheduled, including another test with a monkey.”

The speaker sighs. The sphere's light turns white again. “Tony was an unethical ass, but I do miss working with human brains.”

Ell smiles. “Patience, Dr. Delgado.”

NOTES: I'm listening to The Future of the Mind by Michio Kaku (Amazon link), and it mentions Dr. José Delgado's experiments with controlling behavior by sending electrical impulses directly into the brain. Fascinating stuff. And then I thought, "If I were an incorporeal spirit that could control electricity, could I stimulate a tiny area of neurons with enough control to make a difference? And if I can do that, what else could I do while I'm in there?"

Also "Ell" because I couldn't stay awake to finish the 9 pages I have left in Patrick Rothfuss's The Wise Man's Fear (Amazon link).

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