Live Amygdala Extraction: An Excerpt from Defragmenting Daniel

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“You feel that, son?”

“No siw,” Daniel mouthed. His tongue was numb. Had been numb since they’d replaced it with the generic a year ago, but it felt more swollen than usual. Clumsy against his palate.

“That’s good. Try to relax.” The surgeon’s voice was deep and quick. Like a scythe. “Music, nurse.”

With Daniel’s head turned the way it was, he looked directly into the surgeon’s crotch. He tried to turn away, but his head had been immobilized.

A beat Daniel remembered from somewhere rolled through the operating theatre. The bass vibrated along the legs of the steel table, up, into the brace that pierced his skull, down, through its metallic fingers, and into his brain. It tickled.

The surgeon shifted. A nurse’s masked face replaced the crotch. “Don’t move.” Only her eyes showed above the mask. The doctors and nurses all looked the same with their masks on. How did they tell one another apart?

A grainy woman’s voice hissed through the beat.

We had you cleaned
We had you eat

The high-pitched whine of a bone saw echoed in Daniel’s skull. “We’ll have you open in no time,” said the surgeon.

Daniel felt pressure against his temple, above his right ear. The whine of the blade morphed to a lower, choppy grind.

We had you bathed
We had your feet

Yes, he remembered the song now. It was all the rage in the cafeteria on Friday nights, when they cleared the chairs to make room for an ad hoc dance floor.

“How the kids?”

“Good, thanks doctor. Jordan’s starting school next week.”

“Already?”

Daniel tried to swallow, but lying on his back with his head fixed at this angle, most of the saliva dribbled onto the operating table.

We ate your lungs
We heart your beat

The bone saw slowed to a toothy stop.

There was a hollow metal twang, as something red dropped into a metal bowl on the edge of Daniel’s vision.

“You doing okay there, boy?”
“Yeth, ma’am.”

The surgeon bent down. Peered into Daniel’s eyes. “We’re in. Won’t be too much longer now.”

We love your toes
We love your meat

Daniel watched the surgeon. The nurses. Sniffed the antiseptic air. It was all outside of him. He was behind his eyes, behind his nose, behind his ears. And the surgeon, the nurses, the antiseptic and the music were outside of him. Except, that was changing. The doctor was fiddling inside of him now. Inside his brain. Crushing. Scraping. Carving him out. Dissecting him.

The outside was inside.

“Incision along the middle temporal gyrus. Entering now. Which school?”

The room wobbled. The doctor’s legs bowed. Receded.

“Heartrate increasing, doctor.”

“Calm down kid.” The surgeon’s voice dropped. “Administration will kill me if I lose another one today.”

We had you cleaned
We had you eat

“Sacred Hearts. Hardly a mile inside the Bubble’s edge. Ten minutes transit from here.”

Cinnamon and smoke found Daniel’s nostrils. The pale taste of Mopani sushi filled his mouth. The way it had tasted before they’d harvested his tongue.

“Good school, that. My niece went there. Great options on torso organs if the kids need them … I’m at the parahippocampal gyrus now.”

Daniel was under the Birch again, gazing into his mother’s hazy eyes. The leaves above her head ruffled this way and that, driven by the beat of a distant song. She lifted him to her cheek. He inhaled her. Pineapple.

“Cauterizing the bleed now.”

The acidic scent of the pineapple shifted. Grew sweeter. Acrid. The aroma of burning flesh stroked Daniel’s cheek.

We ate your lungs
We heart your beat

“Prepare the generic replacement.”

Daniel blinked. He was back in the operating room. The nurse held up a pink, almond-shaped mass between her fingers.

“Heartrate steady.”

We love your toes

“Mapping is done. Put him under. I’m almost finished here anyway.”

We love your meat


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7 stolen organs. 1 vengeful victim. A gruesome sci-fi thriller.

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About the Author

Human. Male. From an obscure planet in the Milky Way Galaxy. Sci-fi novelist with a PhD in philosophy. Likes chocolates, Labradors, and zombies (not necessarily in that order). Werbeloff spends his days constructing thought experiments, while trying to muster enough guilt to go to the gym.

He’s written the best-selling short story anthology, Obsidian Worlds, and two novels, Hedon and The Solace Pill. His books will make your brain hurt. And you’ll come back for more.

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