I Am a Brain in a Jar

A Parting Gift (The Manatee Story)

March 24, 2021 Klaus Brenner and Doctor Brandon Winter Season 1 Episode 28
I Am a Brain in a Jar
A Parting Gift (The Manatee Story)
Chapters
I Am a Brain in a Jar
A Parting Gift (The Manatee Story)
Mar 24, 2021 Season 1 Episode 28
Klaus Brenner and Doctor Brandon Winter

A lowly manatee makes a cosmic connection.

The voice of The Brain is Sarah Nightmare. "A Parting Gift" written by Dr. Brandon Winter, "Mambodine 2" by Klaus Brenner.

Show Notes Transcript

A lowly manatee makes a cosmic connection.

The voice of The Brain is Sarah Nightmare. "A Parting Gift" written by Dr. Brandon Winter, "Mambodine 2" by Klaus Brenner.

The manatee was chewing absentmindedly when the object arrived. It was a black square in a night made purple by distant city lights, and-


Shit, I forgot the advert.

Just give me a second. The ad copy should be around here somewhere.

Here it is. Let’s see.

“The product is a nutritional supplement called Mambodine from Applied Nutrionics. It’s made from ground-up black mambas. That’s stupid, we know, but people are buying it. So yeah, Mambodine.

When talking about Mambodine, make sure to list as many health benefits as you can without getting too specific. We don’t want some government agency getting up in our business, making us provide evidence for our claims and such. The word ‘toxins’ is great for this. It sounds scary, but doesn’t actually mean much of anything.

If you could also stress how badass the product is, that would be great. Tell them it will give them strength and virility, maybe cure baldness too. Insecure men are one of our key demographics.

Make sure to give a personal anecdote about how Mambodine has changed your life. Tell them it helped you climb Mount Kilimanjaro or something. Don’t actually consume the product, though. We usually remove the venom glands, but on some days we can’t be bothered.

Have fun and be creative with it. Make it your own. And above all else, don’t just read the ad copy out loud.” 


Whatever



The manatee was chewing absentmindedly when the object arrived. It was a black square in a night made purple by distant city lights, and the water vibrated as it hovered just above the trees. Frogs leapt from the grass, birds scattered and branches shook. But the manatee chewed and swayed in satisfaction, the warm, still air caressing its exposed back.

The object let out a lone peel of thunder, light descending in a shining, vertical sheet. Then it began to move, illuminating the swamp. Fish jumped out of the water as it approached, grass withered under it. But the manatee did not move. Perhaps it had slept and the day had come—the sky was brighter, after all. It chewed.

Agony pressed down upon the manatee like a fist as the light touched it. Its skin blistered, then split down its back. Even under water, it could hear itself sizzle and pop. 

Driven by instinct, the manatee rolled over, plunging its brittle black skin and exposed flesh into the water. There was a moment of relief, then more pain as a smoldering needle twisted into its nerves and pushed the wind out of its lungs in an explosion of bubbles. 

The manatee surfaced and sucked air through flared nostrils. It began to shake, its eyes itching in the dry air. The light hung just in front of it. The manatee could smell ozone and the deep funk of sulfur dredged up from the bottom by the simmering water, where schools of fish thrashed as the light cooked them alive. The surface glistened with fat.

Pain turned to panic. The manatee beat the water with its flat tail and swam from the light, directionless and afraid. It dodged decaying stumps and pushed through waving groves of sea plants, stirring the fine mud and silt into a blinding slurry. Yet, it did not slow down. It grunted in pain and effort, but it was clear in purpose. Flee the thing, escape the thing, find safety. 

The manatee ran aground not far from the object,  coming to rest against an anthill. Ants streamed down the side in thin columns, swarming the manatee’s sides and flippers, making  their way to its face, where they knew its eyes would be. 

The manatee felt the air around its body, the ants on its skin. It knew it was doomed. But as it lay in the quiet under the twin light of the object and the moon, a calm came over it, the kind of calm that exists only on the far side of panic. The world was a narrow set of events now, and the manatee added them up easily. There was nothing to do now but wait for the inevitable. The manatee let out a breath and moaned. 

The object stopped and turned toward the noise. Its light flickered, and when the manatee moaned again, it went out. The manatee rolled back and forth on its sides, crushing ants and rubbing at the sores that rose on its skin. The object floated silently. If the manatee had been able to wonder, it would have puzzled at the thing and what it wanted. But the manatee’s world was small, and shrinking as its time grew shorter. It fought just the same. 

Slowly, the object drew closer, until its side was only inches from the manatee’s nose. The animal’s breath fogged the perfect surface. It could smell the object’s metal skin and feel the heat that rose from it, but the manatee did not care—it was too late for that. It thrashed against the ants again, closed its eyes, and settled into the sandy dirt, ready for events to take their course.

It did not notice when a new light surrounded it, or when the wounds on its back closed and scabbed over. But as it opened its eyes, it was floating, suspended in the air above the swamp. The light was warm on its back, and the manatee swayed in satisfaction. It saw sea plants waving in the shallows, and opened and closed its mouth in anticipation.  

Once back in the water, the manatee looked up at the black shape hovering just above and backed away. The object did not move—a small thread of light, as thin as a hair, spiraled down through the air and touched the manatee between the eyes. And for the first time in its life, the creature felt its own mind. And another mind as well, whatever was tethered to the other end of the light thread. The manatee recognized it the way a child recognizes itself in a mirror. It felt the thing’s curiosity, its regret, and a single thought: “for you.” 

Then the object let out one last crack of thunder and disappeared. The manatee’s thoughts grew dimmer as it faded from view. Soon, the night was a far-off dream. Had it been hurt? It seemed to remember pain, but there was none now. Why had it been so frightened? It laughed.  

“Ridiculous,” it said to itself as it swam away. “You’re imagining things.” 

It froze at its own thought, shook, and laughed. It had never, it realized, imagined anything before. 

The manatee swayed in satisfaction and chewed.