I was startled by the change that took place once Wisela was out of the picture. Another woman, Rokun's lab assistant (the one that had brought such an unexpected end to my lesson) took over the session. Unlike Wisela, she clearly knew exactly what she wanted to say and how to say it.
"We know that Rokun downloaded a Virrin mind into his own," she began. "The question is precisely what happened as a result. We think we have a good idea at this point." She entered a command into her keypad, and the wall behind her, doubling as a display screen, lit up with a large diagram.
"This is a schematic representation of a human brain," she explained. I looked at it curiously; it didn't look anything like a brain to me. Instead, it resembled a complex flowchart, with numerous rectangles of various sizes, connected by an intricate network of straight lines. I'd seen enough electronic schematics to know that depicting a complex system (such as a computer or a brain) by function rather than by structure would produce results that only vaguely resembled the real thing.
"We don't exactly understand how the Virrin device works," she continued, "but our exploration of the code contained in the files seems to indicate that each unit of data is in two parts. The first represents the physical location within the brain of the stored data, and the second is the data itself. Since the brain stores data as a complex combination of networks of dendritical connections and molecular configurations within the cell bodies, the form in which the data itself is encoded remains unclear. But we have been able to create a complete catalog of all the locations encoded, even though we can't yet determine what physical locations they represent."
She keyed in another command, and a complex series of colored rectangles appeared, overlaid exactly onto the original schematic. "Let's say for the sake of argument that these colored rectangles represent the locations encoded in a human neural engram file, and which obviously correspond exactly to the physical locations in a human brain. Each piece of information has its destination, and everything works as it should."
"We've also created a catalog of all of the location codes in the Virrin mind file." She touched her keypad again, and a new set of rectangles overlaid the original schematic. This time, instead of each colored rectangle fitting neatly over a corresponding one beneath, there was little or no relation between the two, with colored rectangles overlapping two or more underlying ones, and some spilling far off the sides of the schematic.
"What we found was that many locations in the Virrin file have no equivalent in the human ones, and those that do appear to be storing completely different forms of data, presumably for functions that the human brain has no equivalent for." She paused.
"Sort of like a computer memory overrun," I blurted out. She looked at me in surprise.
"Yes, exactly like that. And like a computer memory overrun, in which the data is larger than the memory allocated to it, the extra information overwrites something else unrelated and causes serious problems." At this point she turned the floor over to one of the other researchers, a young man who identified himself as the bioneurological specialist for the group.
"It appears that this overrun is the reason that the overlay damaged Rokun's original personality," he said, "instead of simply becoming part of his memories and knowledge. Essential parts of his personality have been overwritten. We don't even know if any of his original personality is intact. It's obvious that some of his memories are still accessible, though, as he was able to dress and leave the building without attracting attention."
"Why the attack, then?" Brinkman asked. "And why so brutal? I knew Rokun quite well. He was one of the gentlest of men. I can't imagine him doing such a thing, even now."
The speaker shook his head sadly. "Apparently among the areas badly overwritten were the centers governing emotional responses. We'd already seen evidence of serious deficits there once we were able to reduce the level of sedation. Laughing and crying at inappropriate times for example, which are indicators of damage to these centers."
He paused significantly. "In effect, Alan, we may now be dealing with a dangerous madman." And on that ominous note the meeting was adjourned.
Little did we know at that point just how dangerous he was to become.
This page last updated 2/5/2010.|