Integrals, Cartographers of Memory

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It took six days around the clock to transport by truck the records, files, digitized images, photographs, recordings, films accumulated through the eight years Dr. Chaim Benjamin Qaraite had directed the program. Jaffrey Francs, once an inquisitive and pushy medical student and now officially part of the company, had interviewed twenty-five candidates to staff Dr. Qaraite’s Institute for Brain Imaging and Memory (IBIM).

Jaffrey’s workplace was being relocated to a new laboratory in a forsaken industrial corner in the City of Commerce. A thousand-acre site of abandoned warehouses had been converted into research and medical laboratories, a hospital and housing with space for a helicopter pad, independent electrical, gas, water plants, train and truck transportation depots, and storage for equipment and daily life supplies. When the move happened during the day, Jaffrey had accompanied several trucks to the university, but trucks carrying highly technical imaging and medical equipment ran only at night to the recently completed City of Commerce IBIM location where a twenty-five-patient-room hospital took up about one quarter of the facilities.

The press had reported that the institute’s primary brain research facility would relocate to the university campus. On the final night of the move Jaffrey dressed as one of the movers, walked onto the former institute site and easily embedded himself into the physical transition crew. To look official, he grabbed a yellow hard hat and climbed on a truck that carried laboratory equipment. When the trucks and crews arrived at the City of Commerce location, he helped move boxes of parts and tools for one of the MRI machines in one of the laboratories. Inside, men and women, moving in and out of rooms, carrying boxes, chairs, books, office equipment and organizing offices, meeting rooms and laboratories, worked frenetically. With five boxes on a push cart, Jaffrey walked directly to the hospital area. In amazement he viewed the high-quality patient rooms and nurse stations, surgery suites, examination and testing facilities. First class! He continued with the cart, looking for the Brain Imaging Laboratory, but to no avail. After searching he found a third building connected by a wide passageway that went to a university-like gymnasium with exercise equipment and an entertainment area for the workers. While men and women enjoyed coffee and pastry, Jaffrey moved closer to overhear their conversations and understood that the employees in this facility would not go home at night. During the first year they were to live here for a minimum of six months and, after one month off, return for another six months. After this trial period, they would be asked to contract for a year and perhaps more depending on the progress of the research. This could be their permanent residence for as long as they worked for the IBIM.

Outside he walked on stone walkways, through delightful gardens with full-grown trees, blooming flowers and sculptured fountains under a clear evening sky filled with stars. Modern but relaxing architecture stood out: easy on the eye, hypnotic. Movers talked and laughed as they lugged furniture into attractive condominiums—the employees living quarters, five-star accommodations! Astonished and excited by the company campus and its first-rate resources, Jaffrey followed the sound of big diesel engines. He ran up to the cab and the driver smiled and waved his hand, inviting him to climb aboard.

“It’s gonna be a great place to live. The company provides everything for me and my family.”

“Yeah, first class! Like living on the grounds of a university, or should I say a company campus?” Jaffrey replied.

“That’s fine with me. What’s the difference? All the big research universities and companies are going this way. At first, I didn’t like the idea, but now I’m getting used to the new reality. Anyway, they own me. We are a special class, you know. I’m not just a driver but a mechanical engineer. My job is not only driving these mechanical beasts but also designing and building better, more powerful engines and fuels from natural wastes and byproducts with efficiency. The whole idea of this company campus is that it becomes completely self-sustaining.”

The driver went silent for the rest of the trip to Los Angeles. His comments disrupted Jaffrey’s mental picture of the institute, or what the driver called a company. Jaffrey jumped down from the cab and shook it off.


At daybreak Jaffrey Francs ritualistically prepared his coffee and his same usual breakfast: a slice of rye bread, a hardboiled egg, one kind of fruit and a raw chopped green vegetable. Before leaving his one-bedroom apartment, provided by the institute at a generous inexpensive monthly rent, he took out a soft leather folder containing a yellow paper pad and six plastic pockets for notes and articles. Turning to the yellow pad, he ran his finger down the list of tasks for the day. He remembered how as a kid he had lists of planned daily activities that he never failed to perform. Jaffrey chuckled recalling how in high school he became ever more diligent in completing his daily agenda. For example, after coming home from school, he folded and put away his school clothes, some in the dirty clothes hamper and others in the closet or drawers, then completed his homework, and after that he made sure everything was in order in his room. He dusted and always lightly pledged his desk, got ready for dinner, maybe watched a TV program, and finally got ready for bed and read a little. He had a school weekday list and another more flexible one for the weekends. Maybe that’s why he did so well at the university and medical school—he just made a list and finished it. Eager to get going, he gathered diagrams, charts, papers and the day’s to-do list and closed the folder, returning it carefully to the soft leather briefcase. Excited and ready to leave, he stepped on a piece of paper that someone had slipped under the door. Jaffrey unfolded the paper and read: Meet Director today 3:00 p.m. his office. Okay, he nodded.

The campus agronomist, soil and water experts tended the gardens inside and out. They made it a pleasure to walk from the apartment to the laboratory or to any part of the campus. Fountains and pools, some with coy, were magnificent. Institute planners created for its workers an inspirational environment. Privilege, such a privilege to work here, Jaffrey thought as he began to foresee what Dr. Qaraite might say about the team’s request. Dr. Qaraite had assigned Roberto Stillman, neurologist and psychiatrist specializing in schizophrenia; Isabel Cordelli, talented physicist, biochemist and brain imaging specialist; and Jaffrey Francs, MD, to a laboratory specializing in the biomedical imaging of the brain’s memory functions. All members of the team were brilliantly unique, but who wasn’t in this place? What Jaffrey appreciated about them was that they were not one-hundred-percent company people, meaning that they had a life. They enjoyed physical activities. Isabel Cordelli was a natural athlete and active participant in organized athletic events. She formed a club that trained to climb Mount Whitney every year. Roberto Stillman was a cool, calm and copasetic guy who never revealed emotion. Nothing seemed to bother him, and he went along with Jaffrey and Isabel’s suggestions. Physically he was wiry and very strong, a consequence of the three activities he enjoyed: cycling, yoga and ballet. Because he practically lived in the lab, the first thing he did was request the installation of lockers, showers and a bar for ballet exercise. Often members of the team and laboratory assistants would arrive early and find Stillman dancing, leaping and pirouetting throughout the work area. Nothing was ever broken, and he definitely created a magnificent sight. When Stillman and Cordelli were new additions to the institute staff, it so happened that, although they had more administrative experience, Francs became the de facto leader of the team. The threesome got along and worked well together. On the first day they met in their lab, Francs, Cordelli and Stillman discovered that they all wanted to go beyond their assigned task.


That afternoon, under clear blue skies, Jaffrey walked to Dr. Qaraite’s office, where the secretary pointed to a seat. Dr. Greyson Benjamin Qaraite, a psychiatrist and neurosurgeon who had trained and practiced at UCLA and USC, was the former Director of the Brain Imaging Research through Advancing Neurotechnology, specializing in mapping and pinpointing brain sites that produce, preserve and record memory. His lifelong scientific objectives were driven by the theories of Jean Gebser, specifically Gebser’s theory of the five structures of consciousness: The Archaic, the Magical, the Mythical, the Mental-Rational, and the Emerging Integral. These accumulated structures remain active in the brain and mind, even today. His research on mammals of different levels of evolution—including rats, rabbits, apes, gorillas and humans—had convinced him that humanity stood at the threshold of the integral stage.

Dr. Qaraite had pioneered a method to follow experiences of high primates throughout their physical and mental evolution and track what their genetic ancestors had seen hundreds and thousands of years past. Brain-imaging technology progressed to such a point that Dr. Qaraite had recently displayed fairly clear viewings of apes’ memories amassed throughout evolutionary periods. This kind of digital photograph of the brain neurons’ electrical synapses literally archived historical time images. Gebser’s theoretical structures of consciousness Dr. Qaraite considered within reach of scientific verification.

The next step in the research required a human subject willing to submit to the retrieval of images stored in the memory reservoirs of his or her brain. If surgical and imaging teams were able to locate and capture images of a historical past, that the subject could not have possibly experienced, this would further demonstrate the viability of Gebser’s theory that these accumulated human memories will coalesce into what he termed an active integral memory. Technology provided the conduits to examine Gebser’s theories, to situate humanity as witness to the great events of the past.


Jaffrey’s team had worked together collegially, effectively mapping the brain, traveling deeper into the white matter fibers of the hippocampus that archives chimpanzees’ accumulated experience. Isabel Cordelli photographed the functioning brain by penetrating the skull and moving several nano cameras over the brain’s surface. They kept detailed records of their exploration and maintained all information among themselves, they thought. Jaffrey entered Dr. Qaraite’s office and sat at a round table with a stack of documents. Relinquishing formalities, Dr. Qaraite went right to the point.

“Congratulations, your team may be close to a groundbreaking discovery in the history of science. The majority of the images are magnificent, areas we hadn’t accessed, had never seen before. I’m excited about your progress, but, before we get to experiments on humans, I need data on the deaths of three chimpanzees in your lab.”

“I explained that in my request to replace chimps. The burns were caused by the use of a probe adapted and used by Dr. Cordelli and Dr. Stillman and approved by me. We are improving the technology to see clearly at the nanoscale. We’re almost there. We can go even deeper now.”

While Jaffrey responded, Dr. Qaraite read his request.

“Very well, I’ll approve three. Good work. Good luck.”

Jaffrey Francs’ team interpreted Dr. Qaraite’s brain function hypothesis to mean that visual regions of the brain work together to capture perfectly coherent information in an instant when millions of neurons simultaneously unite to produce an image, perhaps what the chimpanzee is seeing at the time of the probe, or at the moment when he is dreaming or remembering. The ultimate achievement would be capturing images from a particular historical period. An event that had been witnessed by an ancestor could be available for further research.

Francs, Cordelli and Stillman understood the implications of Gebser’s theory that humanity archived all its historical experience in the brains of individuals through successive generations. United in their quest, Francs and his colleagues had remained together at the institute because they sensed that their cartography of the brain would lead to an unprecedented exploration of the contemporary human mind. Unlike Francs’ unit, several teams had been dismantled. Nobody was asked to leave the campus or considered a failure; they were simply reassigned to another task or project. Realizing, after four years of effort, how close Francs’ team was to the ultimate achievement, Dr. Qaraite approved their requests unconditionally.


Mistakes happen, even in this institute where oversights rarely occur. Instead of three chimpanzees, the team received two large orangutans from the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines. These beasts were immediately placed in stainless-steel cages that high primates had previously occupied. Francs’ laboratory had seven cages that throughout the years had been utilized mostly for chimpanzees, yet at times the institute’s animal handlers had sent them macaque monkeys and large orangutans. Unlike the chimps, the large, strong orangutans were difficult to handle; nevertheless, the team experimented on the smaller ape using several new and highly improved probes designed by Dr. Cordelli and Dr. Stillman. These doctors had entered the orangutan’s brain on twelve occasions, going deeper than ever before, learning to maneuver the nanotechnology to find new pathways to different areas of a living brain that had never been accessed and surveyed by camera before. The orangutan rested and healed for not quite three months. It ate, slept and paced on all fours in the larger cage that Stillman had obtained for him. The beast seemed normal, revealing no ill effects from the many brain interventions it had endured.

Francs’ team was well aware that ancient long-term memory depended on several organizers in different regions of the brain and decided to find and follow paths that connected these regions through neurons’ synaptic interactions. Francs, Cordelli and Stillman had become absolutely sure that the synapses contained traces of long-term memory. Cordelli and the others knew that their procedures and conclusions would be attacked, yet wholeheartedly remained committed to their plan to use two nano cameras to capture the orangutan’s memory and to project it on a screen. They believed that their experiments with animals had promise to reach their ultimate objective: to map the pathways connecting essential regions of the brain that housed ancient long-term memory in humans.

Stillman cared for the animals and usually formed a relationship with them. He considered what his colleagues and he did as barbarous and inhumane, but still he remained dedicated to the project. Preparing animals for experimentation, he sedated, shaved, sliced, sawed and/or bored into their skulls. Then he positioned them onto the procedural gurney and wired them onto a series of monitoring devices and screens. Prior to surgery that day he empathized with the largest of the orangutans, one whose eyes seemed larger than ever before. Perhaps the beast had a sense of what was going to happen to him, Roberto Stillman reflected as he double-checked all connections in tubing and mask. In the morning he noticed the orangutans reaching out, attempting to touch each other. Full of energy, the smaller one stretched as much as possible to touch its companion as this larger one screamed and flung itself from the bars to the walls of the cage. Stillman rolled the cage out of sight of the empathetic ape.


Francs and Cordelli, draped in surgical garments from head to toe, moved to their positions. Stillman, watching the screen, helped guide Cordelli through the orangutan’s brain, Francs monitored vital signs and administered small doses of sedation to the subject to keep it calm and still while Cordelli operated. Cordelli had gone to Georgia to train in the use of advanced nanotechnological exploratory surgical instruments. Instead of thin scopes provided by the Georgia technicians, she placed nano cameras at the ends of two funnels. Holding the first funnel, Cordelli nodded the start signal to her assistants. She placed both conduits into the two cylindrical openings. Using funnels half the size of a human hair, Cordelli began to descend, weaving into grids of billions of nerve fibers where she believed the orangutan’s thoughts or images rushed through the white matter, moving and communicating between one region of the brain and another.

After four hours the two nano cameras were in position between both regions to attempt to photograph the instantaneous, simultaneous firing of neuron synapses in an effort to recover images from the beast’s past memory.

“We’re there. Ready. Start cameras!” Cordelli shouted to her colleagues.

Cordelli let the cameras run continuously, photographing millions of synapses going off in a microsite inside the vastness of a live primate brain.

The orangutan’s wide eyes had closed after Cordelli’s command to commence shooting. Relieved from the ape’s querulous gaze, Stillman and Francs felt free to look down at the long, hairy manlike creature.

“He’s not as thick-chested as the other one,” Stillman said.

“Yeah, taller, but still heavy and strong,” reaffirmed Francs.

“Come on, we have to unwind this beast,” Cordelli replied.

Stillman went back to the screen and nodded that he was ready. Francs listened to the orangutan’s heartbeat. He motioned thumbs up. Cordelli started the withdrawal slowly, ever so slowly.

The extraction took three hours and nine minutes. Cordelli was excited to see if she had captured any images.

“Isabel, the information will take hours to download through four computers, interpreting and constructing whatever we have and then awaiting digitization for viewing. We’ll be here all night,” said Francs.

“I still have to break down the animal and clean him up,” Stillman offered.

Francs listened to the beast’s heart once more and began to separate him from the devices and monitors.

“He’s like a huge plug-in strip.”

Cordelli grabbed her briefcase and headed for the door, eager to get some sleep in preparation for a marathon race scheduled for the next day.

In the early hours of the morning, Stillman and Francs lowered the gurney, slowly pulled the orangutan onto the floor of his cage.

“Hey, he must weigh two hundred pounds,” Francs commented.

They threw a blanket on him. Stillman would sleep in the lab, as he often did.

Jaffrey Francs walked through a quiet campus and wondered what the orangutan had given them.


Days after the computer programmer and analyst codified and digitized the information, and printed their compositions and images, she handed two boxes of photos to Isabel Cordelli.

“These are the clearest photos. There seems to be an image there, one in fact, one throughout each box of one hundred. The photos record the fitting together of an image in the depths of your ape’s mind.”

The analyst recognized a stunned expression on the faces of the team members.

“Hey now, please don’t be surprised. You know how it works.”

“Two from thousands of photos?”

“Yes, but be happy you’re on to something here. Good luck. You take thousands and only get a few that show something recognizable.” She stepped out into a sunny midday.

“Two images,” Cordelli spoke first. “Wow, what a breakthrough.”

“Let’s not be pessimistic. Wait ’til we see the images,” Francs answered.

For lunch all three departed on their own paths. During the years they had worked together, they had not once gathered socially for lunch or dinner. Roberto had met a graduate student who studied dance at the University of California, Irvine, and whose parents had a dance studio in the City of Montebello. He often went to dance with Florence after hours at the studio. Isabel continued to lead groups of company employees in physical workouts, long-distance running, hiking, and swimming, culminating in mountain climbing and Southern California triathlons. Jaffrey Francs made lists for himself to accomplish, many relating to the administrative work for the laboratory and the team. He didn’t have any time for himself, he thought. Seldom did the three inquire about what each did in their free time, although Isabel and Roberto had friends within and outside of the campus, and it seemed that everybody knew about them.

When they returned to the laboratory, they first studied the hard photos. They rotated and measured the image that seemed to appear in most of the two hundred or so that the analyst had given them. There was lots of note taking and calculating, and hardly any commentary.

“Let’s bring them up on the computer,” Francs called out.

The images nearest the hippocampus were the clearest. Thousands or millions of synapses fired simultaneously in a micro-instant to form an image in the memory of the orangutan. Eyes, trees and a pattern that appeared to be the skin of a serpent were the first recognizable images of the past life of a living subject—in this case, an orangutan. A buckle, a belt buckle with what appeared to be an escutcheon with markings of sorts, perhaps letters, was the team’s most important find. Eyes, trees and skin could be analyzed, but the buckle and the escutcheon could be read and more accurately be situated in time. Francs immediately called the anthropologists, archeologists and historians on campus to the laboratory. Within two hours, four experts were all over the images. Dispassionately, the experts dismissed the eyes, trees and skin to focus on the belt buckle and escutcheon.

“Not their field—not eyes, trees or skin, guys.” Stillman chuckled and walked back to where the orangutans were caged.

The experts remained in the laboratory in front of the computer, reviewing and commenting on the hard photos and the images on the screen. They made phone calls to other experts worldwide and downloaded linguistic programs, metal and leather analyses, and received historical documents and photos of belts and military attire and escutcheons from European museums. Gathering the material they received, they headed for the door.

“Well, what about the belt?” Francs asked.

“It could be Roman.” The expert glanced at the others, who nodded in agreement.

“The markings?” Cordelli stood in front of the group as if she was not going to let them go without some indication as to what they thought.

“Probably Latin and the escutcheon Roman. Okay? We’ll have more for you tomorrow. Good night, Doctor Cordelli.”

Cordelli stepped aside and tried to understand the meaning of what these men and women had just reported to her. If the belt, escutcheon and the marks were Roman and Latin, the team had accomplished the impossible by accessing and recording images of an occurrence from Roman times stored in the memory of an ape’s brain. She stood perfectly still thinking of what this meant to the human condition. This procedure could be the ultimate test for human history. Using her team’s technology, researchers could photograph the great events of the past and juxtapose them to their written history. This could be the greatest discovery of the twenty-first century. Cordelli smiled.


Francs’ team attempted to archive the details of their experiments and, in particular, the methodology and development of medical apparatus that Cordelli had refined throughout her years at the institute. Dr. Qaraite systematically and repeatedly interviewed all personnel who performed a service in Francs’ laboratory. What these subjects reported encouraged Dr. Qaraite to obtain several large grants in support of his most productive group of scientists. Millions had come from the United States Department of Defense, distributed by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency. It was in the latter category that Jaffrey Francs and his colleagues were awarded $25,000,000 for five years to select human subjects and continue attempts to retrieve images from memories situated in the consciousness structures posited by Jean Gebser.

Eager and anxious to begin interviewing volunteers, Isabel Cordelli, Roberto Stillman and Jaffrey Francs had packed their bags and waited for a credit card and the location of their first encounter with a potential human subject. They had expected a list of ten or twelve subjects at different mental health facilities in California, but to their surprise Dr. Qaraite’s assistant came to Francs’ laboratory and handed them a list with only three names. All the while, Dr. Qaraite had been negotiating an agreement with the director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for the release of three prison patients who had answered the call for volunteers.

The patients, if approved by the Francs’ team, would be taken to the IBIM campus where they would live in three small separate interior apartments constructed in the same space where the selected animals were housed. It happened that soon after the last experiments, the orangutan, from whom they harvested the most information and images, became uncontrollable. Deemed dangerous by the institute veterinarians, he was put down. The second orangutan had lost the use of its arms and legs, and could not walk or eat; it, too, was euthanized. Elimination of these animals opened up more space for the three volunteers’ living quarters. Signatures on a formal agreement informed the subjects that participating in the memory probe would not release them from their obligation to the state of California to serve out their sentences in a state hospital until declared fit for trial. Yet, the possibility for a change in venue, even for an undetermined amount of time, seemed to override the risks of the medical trials. The three patients had been told that death was the ultimate risk.

The trip to northern California provided what the team didn’t know they desperately needed: a chance to get away from the IBIM campus environment. They rolled down the car windows to feel the cool air as they crossed the Golden Gate Bridge to Napa State Hospital, where the first volunteer waited. Dr. Qaraite had insisted that they ask few questions, simply try to ascertain if the patient responded with a sense of trust between them. An interview was a required formality for the Institutional Review Board. Having already vetted the patient, the Board had done its due diligence, informing the patient about the risks of the biomedical procedures and emphasizing that the experimental process involved invasive instruments.


Monica Sharon Sung Pullsan was housed at Napa State Hospital for the criminally insane. Monica Sharon, who preferred to be called by both names, was placed in the Napa Hospital because of overcrowding in other mental institutions. Dr. Francs, Dr. Cordelli and Dr. Stillman enthusiastically approved of her because at this stage of her condition and treatment she didn’t pose a danger to herself or others. Cordelli had read the files describing Monica Sharon’s state of mind and the treatment she had received from her first internment to the present and concluded that Monica Sharon was not sick at all. Of sound mind, she had pretended to be mentally ill for years in order to stay in a mental institution, where she felt safe. Many might see her as a victim of the California Prison Administration System’s inability to control the fast-growing prison population, but a state psychiatrist’s pronouncement had resulted in Monica Sharon being institutionalized, which kept her off the streets and away from her alcoholic parents. There had been only one incident of physical violence, that Monica Sharon neutralized by delivering a quick, unexpected surgical bite. Upon finishing the report of the incident, Cordelli yelled out “bravo” and called it “a creative act of self-defense.” It took three days for the team to be convinced that Monica Sharon was an ideal subject for their experiments. When Monica Sharon heard the news, she was overwhelmed, proclaiming, “I’ll do whatever you need me to do. I’m so happy to do good for the people out there.”

Nicolas Scato was diagnosed by State psychiatrists as a rare hypnagogiac: a person subject to sleeping and dreaming or hallucinating while awake. In a state of sleep during the day the individual’s eyes are wide open, yet he appears to function normally. Scato was assigned to the Security Housing Unit, or SHU, at Pelican Bay State Prison Level IV, where he had served twenty years of three concurrent life sentences for the murder of twelve men whom he called Jesus’ apostles. He murdered each one appropriately by crucifixion carried out in an underground bunker he had built. Scato recreated biblical texts of the passion of Christ, thrusting a sword into each victim’s right side and denying his request for water. The men died like Christ, as failures nailed to a cross. Shortly after their death Scato, attired like Mother Mary, held “the body of Christ” on his lap in a recreated Pietà. It took about a year before his closest neighbor, who lived about one mile away, finally complained about a terrible stench coming from the direction of Scato’s homestead. When the police arrived, they found repulsively filthy Scato, dressed like Mary, with long hair and beard, drinking tea and reading the Bible. Scato spoke a language they could not understand. Although not a tall man, he was very strong and fast in body movements. His hands were like vices. He walked hunched over, looking at the ground. It took police reinforcements to subdue him. These officers suffered crushed hands, broken arms, shattered ribs and dislocated shoulders and, worse, psychological trauma resulting from the nightmarish arrest. His neighbors described Scato as a loner who, according to rumors, made his living as a welder and plumber. No one seemed to have ever conversed with him.

Dr. Francs became interested in Nicolas Scato because of the way he lived in prison. He slept on the floor and refused to wear clothes, to bathe and to use the toilet. Whenever he needed to have a bowel movement, he simply stood or squatted right there. The prison administration allowed him to eat alone while squatting on the floor, usually in a corner. His cell was isolated from the other prisoners, who were deathly afraid of Scato and considered him possessed by evil. He had committed twelve horrible murders, but, strangely, he was never violent in prison. Throughout his short trial he spoke a few words that reporters claimed were Aramaic. Dr. Cordelli, who had done some independent religious studies in Rome, saw the phonetic spelling of the few words he had pronounced and confirmed them as Aramaic. Upon reading this bizarre case history, the team agreed that underneath this narrative resided a highly intelligent human being. Cordelli again argued in favor of his selection: perhaps in Scato’s human experience dwelled the proof they sought. Scato ended his interview saying, “Like Jesus sent his disciples, He sent you to save me.”

Clearance Bardfields, an epileptic patient with brain electrodes already implanted, had ended up at Vacaville State Hospital for mentally ill prisoners. Bardfields was the only child of a wealthy Beverly Hills couple. After an assault and battery conviction, his lawyers abandoned him for being uncooperative. His father hired Junior Max Sopplon, a prominent criminal attorney, to take on his case. The court remanded Clearance for a psychiatric evaluation and declared him mentally ill. Once initiated into the state prison hospital system, his life story regressed from a bad place to a nightmarish existence. Clearance had served six months in the Orange County Jail, where he survived a flash beating by a group of felons who simply didn’t like the way he looked at them. On his second conviction he was sent to Metropolitan LA on a thirty-day hold for observation. His parents succeeded in getting the doctors to prescribe drugs to keep him under control. Clearance’s parents told him that when he reached his twenty-first birthday he would be on his own and that they would no longer help him. His third conviction came after Clearance beat a man and a woman whom he claimed had attempted to rob him. Both victims survived the brutal beating, but the woman incurred permanent brain damage. Again remanded to a mental institution, Atascadero State Hospital, Clearance, confined in the acute psychiatric ward, remained for two years. All the while his lawyer, Junior Max Sopplon, appealed his case but to no avail. Now that Clearance had turned twenty-one, his parents cut all ties with him and abandoned their son to his destiny. Junior Max became Clearance’s surrogate father, sending him money, visiting him regularly and petitioning for a transfer to a lower-level hospital.

On his twenty-fifth birthday, his parents were killed in an automobile accident. Clearance inherited millions and a variety of properties, and he transferred to Vacaville, where he behaved well and after a year was placed at the lowest security level of the hospital. He worked, studied, found God, attended services at a nondenominational prayer group that recognized and practiced the rituals and traditions of many religions. One Community Church prided itself in claiming no dogma and boasting total inclusivity. Francs decided that Clearance was ready to leave the hospital and join his team.


Nicolas Scato’s arrival at the IBIM campus came faster than anybody had expected. Francs’ laboratory raised their level of activity in preparation of the probe, and the three support laboratories surrounding the brain probing facility went into a frenzy, completing all preparations for the arrival, incorporation and comfort of patient Scato. Two weeks before his departure from the level four SHU at Pelican Bay, Scato was instructed to bathe, cut his hair, shave, dress and to start performing bodily functions in the proper bathroom utilities. The warden ordered him to join the first breakfast, lunch and dinner group of inmates. When the cleaned-up Scato walked the line to breakfast, the other prisoners didn’t recognize him. One night he was awakened by voices that quickly faded away into blackness; then he opened his eyes and saw sunlight coming through barred windows. Pushing down on the firm comfortable mattress, with difficulty he pulled his legs off the bed and sat at the edge. He felt wobbly and attempted to focus his sight when suddenly the door opened. Roberto Stillman and two orderlies entered, stood him up, helped him bathe, and dress, as he slowly began to understand where he was.

After extensive imaging and mapping of each subject’s brain, Francs’ team had developed a distinct plan for each case. Nicolas Scato was the first to experience the probe. Two weeks after his arrival, Scato had started retreating back to his primitive ways of living. Dr. Qaraite observed him for fifteen minutes, which was all he needed to instruct Francs to immediately begin probing. Stillman and the orderlies escorted Scato to the surgery laboratory. In twelve hours, all instruments, including Cordelli’s new endoscopes, were inserted with sixty-thousand-pixeloptic nano cameras never before used in the United States. Stillman and technicians integrated screens, scopes, light sources and brain nanoscanners. Dr. Cordelli inspected the three endoscopes she would use while the cranial surgeons completed three dime-size burr holes at the top, above the left eyebrow and at the left lower region of the cranium, where she would insert the endoscope reeds. Scato opened his eyes and made an effort to raise his hands as the many bright colors twinkling around him slowly faded away.

In ten days Scato experienced three brain interventions that harvested seven hundred thousand images sent to several synapse-imaging computers. Like images were sorted into bundles and processed through the IBIM’s high-resolution archives. Finally, Francs, Cordelli and Stillman had access to the images. Cordelli’s endoscopic cameras had taken so many photos that it would take at least a week to process them.

Days later in his room, Scato awoke, dressed and started heading for the door. Stillman immediately activated the implants in Scato’s legs, bringing sudden pain and knocking him to the floor. He got up and charged Stillman. Two orderlies and a nurse grabbed the patient and quickly sedated him. As he struggled to break heavy straps, he screamed in a strange language. At 3:00 a.m. he suffered a massive hemorrhage that killed him almost instantly. It seemed that his brain literally dissolved. A complete autopsy of Scato’s body was ordered by Dr. Qaraite.

“It was the instruments or a problematic path into the hippocampus, not the procedure.” Cordelli broke the silence as one of the pathologists waved to the orderlies to take Scato to the crematorium morgue.

“Can you explain it?” Stillman asked.

“I have no definitive answers as to what caused this. All three patients had complete physicals; they were surprisingly healthy, ready to go through with the probes. Electrical impulses, maybe after thousands of images taken in such a short time, caused chemical reactions that burned the brain. There was not much left up there.” The pathologist stood silent. “But what you are finding is amazing. You can’t stop.”


At the urging of Dr. Qaraite, the team initiated Monica Sharon Sung Pullsan into a preparation phase that was more closely documented following the Scato project.

“I hear Nicolas contributed so much!” Monica Sharon nervously spoke, trying to hide her fear when she entered the surgical suite for the first time.

Stillman and the team followed the same procedure they had used for Scato. Monica Sharon participated in three probes. The team took approximately three million images from her. After the third recovery probe she went through two months of physical therapy and started to talk incessantly about places and adventures she had around the world that she never previously knew she had experienced. Francs asked her if she wanted to continue with the project.

“I have seen enough.”

Monica Sharon requested to be sent back home to the Napa State Hospital. The state refused to take her back; no beds were available at the site was the official reason. Days later a Sacramento judge signed off on her release from the California Department of State Hospitals, to IBIM. Dr. Qaraite opted to hire Monica Sharon as a secretarial assistant in his office. Her future was guaranteed: hands-on training, housing, food, a modest salary, medical care and career advancement classes. The corporate campus became her safe zone and its residents her life support.

Dr. Cordelli added one more endoscope to the procedure, making it four that would penetrate Clearance Bardfields’ brain. Being the third patient to undergo the experiment, he had waited the longest. In that time Clearance complied with the regulations and earned the privilege to walk, with escort, around the campus grounds. When Stillman accompanied him into the laboratory, Bardfields had been converted to a complete devotee to the Francs team and had decided to participate as much as possible. After his first probe experience that lasted seven hours and produced more images than his previous probe colleagues, he volunteered for as many additional probes as the team needed. After millions of images were collected from Bardfields, Dr. Qaraite ordered a halt to the harvesting to view and analyze the images then currently available from the three patients.


Francs, Cordelli, Stillman and Dr. Qaraite began exploring the first bundles of preselected photographs identified by the computer technicians, photos that seemed amenable to magnification and clearing. The team and Dr. Qaraite viewed the first selection from Nicolas Scato’s brain. On a large screen they brought up photos that revealed nothing to analyze. Another batch of one hundred was shown, yet nothing came up. This painstaking process took hours to search every inch of the photo in hopes of finding an object, a shape of something. Even after magnification, again and again nothing worthwhile was detected. Finally, in the late afternoon, in the seven hundred and fortieth photo, something appeared.

“Magnify it more!” Stillman called out excitedly. As the magnification increased, something took shape.

“A tree, and there’s another and another.”

Dr. Qaraite asked to view a different bundle and found images of sand dunes. In another bundle there appeared in the distance human figures crossing a desert. Cordelli stood up. It was one in the morning.

“It worked! We’ve captured historic memories!”

Her eyes welled up as the team and Dr. Qaraite realized what they had accomplished and started to congratulate each other.

“This will take months, years to carefully view and study all of these photos,” Francs offered on the third day of viewing.

“Yeah, we’re going to take even longer,” Stillman responded.

Cordelli walked in with pastry and cups of coffee.

“Maybe a lifetime of work ahead. We have hundreds of thousands from millions and they are all digitized, computerized. Who knows what we are going to find?”

Dr. Qaraite paused and looked at each one of his colleagues.

“Today, I’ve requested more of Clearance Bardfields’ photos.”

The lights dimmed and they took their seats.

“There are millions of images from Bardfields’ sessions. I asked the techs to give us bundles from the fifth or sixth probe,” Dr. Qaraite explained.

The team applauded and applauded when they saw images that clearly came from a different century, one in which Bardfields could not have lived. The photos were rich in views from distinct historical periods. In the images appeared streets, housing and horses, carriages and figures of women attired in eighteenth- or early nineteenth-century wardrobes.

It’s incredible. What we’ve done is achieve the miraculous, Stillman thought.

“Can we do it again?” Francs asked.

“Of course we can. We follow the same procedures and continue to improve my instruments,” Cordelli said loudly and clearly.

“What does this mean? How is this going to affect history? Us?” Stillman asked cautiously.

At that instant, entirely unexpected images formed on the screen. When magnified, it was obvious the objects were crosses, hundreds of crosses.

The End

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