I Am a Brain in a Jar

John Henry's Last At Bat

September 07, 2020 Klaus Brenner and Doctor Brandon Winter Season 1 Episode 20
I Am a Brain in a Jar
John Henry's Last At Bat
I Am a Brain in a Jar
John Henry's Last At Bat
Sep 07, 2020 Season 1 Episode 20
Klaus Brenner and Doctor Brandon Winter

A story about a man, a machine and baseball.

The voice of The Brain is Sarah Nightmare. "PAMERA" is by Dr. Brandon Winter. "John Henry's  Last At Bat" is by Klaus Brenner.

Show Notes Transcript

A story about a man, a machine and baseball.

The voice of The Brain is Sarah Nightmare. "PAMERA" is by Dr. Brandon Winter. "John Henry's  Last At Bat" is by Klaus Brenner.

Salutations. I hope you had a wonderful summer. Wandering the streets of your favorite city, going to movies, eating at restaurants, just being happy and social. 1998 is a great year for humanity. You should enjoy it.

Wait, it’s not 1998? What year is it?


Moving along, are you the child or grandchild of an abductee? If so, you may be entitled to financial compensation. The Pre-Contact Abduction and Medical Experimentation Reconciliation Association, or PAMERA, just settled out of court with the Gray Alien Technocracy for 10 billion galactic credits, and they’re looking for affected family members to distribute the funds to. 

PAMERA represents descendants of human abductees and human-alien chimera taken or created between 1947 and 2103, a time period where the sudden availability of portable probing and gene splicing kits made human experimentation commonplace. 

Tell-tale signs of abduction or chimera DNA include: telekinesis, telepathy, extra digits on the left hand, an extended lifespan of fifty years or more, and a sudden transformation at puberty into a semi-sentient apex predator with broad spectrum vision, an exoskeleton of keratin plates, and an almost erotic fixation with raw mammalian flesh.

If you or someone in your family has exhibited any of these symptoms within the last five generations, you may be eligible for a share of the settlement. The money is going fast, so don’t wait. Call 555-NOT-COOL today. That’s 555-668-2665.  Money isn’t everything, but it’s not nothing, either.

John Henry’s Last At Bat

Jim Jackson had a cannon for an arm.

As in, his arm had been replaced by a metal tube and hydraulics, allowing him to launch the ball at well over three hundred miles an hour.

Baseball had changed significantly in the eleven years since genetic and cybernetic modifications became legal. Massive, robotic arms allowed players to hit with such power that balls routinely landed in suburbs miles away. Legs became elongated, allowing players to round the bases with gazelle-like speed. And the outfielders had wings.

 This was no longer a game for the regular Joe. In fact, there was only one non-enhanced human still in the league.

John Henry, the greatest to have ever played the game. The man who had broken the home run record in his rookie year, the man who won a Golden Glove five years in a row, the only player to ever bat .600 over the course of a season. In a league filled with mortals, he was a step above. In a league filled with freaks and monsters, he held his own.

He had already announced he would retire at the end of the season. Now, he was taking what could very well be his last at bat, here in the ninth inning of the seventh game of the National League Championship Series, his team down one. There were two outs, the bases were empty, and the weight of the galaxy rested on his shoulders.

Jim Jackson loaded a ball into his cannon. Henry clutched his bat. Jackson launched a fastball. It reached the catcher’s mitt before Henry even had a chance to swing.

 The crowd, some 200,000 strong, cheered. John Henry stayed stoic, unmoving, ready for the next pitch. Jim Jackson loaded another ball, then fired. Henry swung, but at the last moment, the ball dipped below his bat. A slider.

John Henry just licked his lips while Jim Jackson loaded another ball. He had something special coming up. It came out like a corkscrew, swerving unpredictably. 200,000 Mets fans held their breaths.

Henry swung, striking the ball at the very edge of his bat. It flew off at incredible speed, right past the outstretched, webbed hand of Sergio Gomez, the shortstop, then bounced, then tore the outfielder’s wing off, before coming to rest against the wall.

He rounded, first, then second. For a moment, he considered stopping at third, but he kept running. This was a mistake. Halfway to home, he saw the ball reach the mitt of the catcher, Earl Marsh, the man they called The Engine.

If John were to slide into home, he’d assuredly be tagged out. His only choice was to run directly into the Engine in order to jar the ball loose. But Earl’s body was seventy percent metal. This would be painful.

Henry picked up speed, running faster than he ever had before, faster than should be humanly possible. So fast that he, ever so briefly, tore a hole in time and space.

Through this hole, John Henry saw the future. He would succeed. The ball would drop from The Engine’s grasp and the game would be tied. Malcolm Morris would score a walk-off home run on the very next at bat and his team would go on to win the World and then the Galactic Series.

But the collision would turn his organs into pulp and he would die, right then and there on the diamond. Still, he would live on as a symbol, as a metaphor for man’s noble yet futile struggle against the forces of modernity.

Knowing all this, he made a decision. He slid and was tagged out.

As John Henry rose to his feet, he felt no regret. He had no intention of being a martyr. A martyr can’t watch his son grow up. A martyr can’t hold his wife.

As he walked to the dugout, he held his head high, satisfied with all he had achieved, excited for whatever the future would bring.