Culture Shock, Part I

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Culture Shock

A hand holding a blood-soaked knife.

I was lost, asleep, caught in a nightmare, until Professor Andrews rescued me. His treatment was new, radical and no-one else had thought of it, let alone tried it. I was the first successful guinea pig – all the others had 'died' or remained unchanged but I was saved. The current was too strong, too weak or the condition of the others was too far gone. After the series of shocks, I started to remember who I was, who I'd been before and then I was slowly able to communicate this to others. "My name is Charles Ward," I said, stumblingly.
"I used to live in Acacia Avenue, Fulham. I was married with two children, until the illness took me. My family – God no! Were my first victims (I would have cried, had it been physically possible but my condition stopped me).

"It's alright, old man. Steady on. It's perfectly understandable. The horrors of your previous life," said the professor.

He was the only one who treated me with kindness. The others in the establishment called me a monster and didn't trust me.

"Once one of them, always one of them," they intoned behind my back.

"You just can't trust them – I wouldn't turn my back on him for a second."

I was still a monster, a misfit to them and would revert to type, given half a chance. Maybe they were right – how could I tell? I could be fine one minute and slide back into bad habits in an instant – who knows? Even the professor can't be sure, which is why I'm monitored so thoroughly. The cameras pan me. Eyes follow my every move. If it wasn't for the recovered memories of who I was, I might become paranoid.

My beautiful daughters! My wife! How could I do this horrible thing to them? I was a monster alright. A creature not to be trusted. I was an addict of human flesh and the professor had saved me.

They give me insulin and feed me nutrients, intravenously because they say I cannot digest food normally yet. Apparently all the dead flesh is returning to life and I am becoming 'human' again. They say the return to conscious awareness is the first stage and that they might be winning this war, if they can turn me back to normality. The professor believes that consciousness is what keeps the animal urges under control and stops me – us in fact, from being condemned to a life of mindless cannibalism, eternally. I hope he is right. He further believes (and the evidence seems to suggest it, strongly) that once you've captured the mind and got it in thrall, the body will follow. He says, like criminals and addicts, it's a question of reprogramming the being. I really hope he is right.

The guards wanted their revenge on me – not for my crimes against my own flesh and blood but for those they had lost to 'my kind.' It gave them a sense of closure and of power, to beat the hell out of me. It made little to me as I felt nothing and was broken already, in mind and spirit, and as the professor said the body just followed down the mineshaft of terror.

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