I left my lab one bleak afternoon, extremely frustrated. We had tried the experiment 12 times, and nothing worked. I was determined to find the answer, the missing link. We were so so close I could feel it.
I spend my days as a marine biologist. I spend my nights thinking about the days. My amazing team and I were on the brink of a scientific breakthrough. Trial and error became a repetitive phrase in those first three years of the endeavor. It was also three years of challenging ourselves to leap forward.
Family and friends call me Danny; my full name is Daniel Toliver. I've been studying sharks for about ten years now and have to say they don't live up to their bad reputations. Sharks are smarter than we know. Yes, most of them have a one-track mind but some species can actually be taught a few simple tricks. We successfully taught a grey reef shark how to identify a certain color. He learned that orange was where the food was. I would place 3 different colored soccer balls tied to weights so that they float in the tank without surfacing. They were spaced about twenty feet from each other. It took him 15 days to figure out that every time he interacted with the orange one food would be dropped into the tank. Now it takes less than 2 minutes for him to start circling the orange one and even trying to bite at it. He doesn't bother with the other colored balls. The final test was to place 3 balls in, with none being orange. As predicted, he did nothing to any of the balls and the experiment was a success. We taught him how to recognize a color which was huge in the scientific community.
It was 9:30am on a Sunday morning when it came to me. I was just having a cup of coffee and reading email when the idea hit. I quickly went to my desktop and opened the Tread X Initiation file. It's the name of the experiment we've been working on. Imagine this, a camera spliced into the visual cortex of a shark. It will allow us to see what the shark is looking at all the time. It’s also equipped with navigation so we can track the shark. The apparatus is about the size of a penny, doesn't need a battery, it works off the shark's own electric body currents.
There was something that I had to try, so even though it was my day off I found myself driving to work. I didn't bother telling the team. I was the project manager and didn't need any clearance. Plus, it was also their day off, let them enjoy it.
Once inside I went straight Samson's tank, a Black Tip shark. He was the center of the experiments. He was also the smartest of all our sharks and the most receptive to humans. I fired up the equipment then fed him so he would relax a little more.
What I realized that morning is that we never tried to connect a human to the interphase while it’s connected to the shark. Up until then, we had never caught any recordable images from the Tread X device, but we knew it worked. Why it wouldn't transmit images was the problem. So, I wondered if it would transmit images to a human brain instead of a monitor if I was connected at the same time as the shark.
Everything was set in place. I routinely checked all the settings, a few times. I attached the Interphase input to a helmet with nerve sensors in it. I would wear it during the experiment. We used it to measure brain waves of sharks, but since I would be using it for input instead of output, I wasn't sure what would happen. I had to know...
All that was left to do was push the black button that sat there idle, staring at me... As soon as I did my brain felt like it was tightening. I clutched the sides of the chair and tried to relax. I wasn't going to give up that easy. After a couple minutes I began feeling tingling, it started in my head and slowly overcame my whole body. What was happening to me? I closed my eyes and thought to myself that I still felt coherent and had to continue. Next thing you know I got a sharp pain in my spine followed by the sensation of riding a roller coaster with steep hills. Now I was starting to worry. I wasn't seeing any images so wanted to stop the experiment. I went to hit the black button again, but it was too late, I couldn’t move and slowly blacked out...
When I came to, I opened my eyes and was surrounded by water. I instantly went back into panic mode. What Is this? or where is this! was a better question. I WAS IN THE TANK, but how? I tried to move and all I could do was wiggle, so I wiggled myself to the surface, that's when I saw it... I could see Samson's snout. I was in Samson's body, somehow taking over his consciousness. I was completely aware of my own mind but was definitely in the shark’s body. I wanted out. I didn't like it. It didn't feel right.
This was bad, very bad. How do I get myself out of this situation? I did not plan for it, so I had no way of knowing the solution to reverse it. I also have no way of knowing how much time has elapsed. One thing was for sure though, I finally got to see what a shark is looking at. It was quite amazing, it's like looking through light fog; as you swim around more things in the tank are revealed, I couldn't see pass 20 ft. in any direction and colors are a little dull. I could also detect the shark's sense of smell. Salted fish and rusty nails are what I recall the water smelling like.
All I could do was swim around and wonder if this was it. Have I become that which I love so much? Will my days be spent trying to get onlookers to notice that it’s me? It was too much to think about. Then I remembered that I set the experiment to 2 hours. After the 2 hours is up it begins to sort the data. I was hoping and praying that it would automatically close the program and I would regain consciousness back in my own body. The tank was 30ft deep and 40ft across but only 7ft of that was above ground in the lab. I swam to every edge of the tank to see if I could see a clock on the outside. I could find nothing.
I must have swum around for miles, wondering what to do next. I know it had been at least two hours of living as a shark. The program didn't automatically close. I was completely lost as to what comes next. That's when I saw a light come on in the tank. Someone was there. I swam back up near the surface to look around. At first, I didn't see anything, but when looking towards the other side I could see an image walking adjacent to the tank. I swam as fast as I could to the other side and poked my head out of the top, sending water to the lab floor, this got their attention. It was Joel a colleague of mine, he came over to the tank smiling, his mouth was moving but I couldn't hear what he was saying. He tapped on the tank then started walking again. I followed him, going the same speed he was walking. I stuck my head out the top once more and again splashed water, this time on him. He looked annoyed but just kept walking. Then he stopped in his tracks, his mouth dropped wide open. He was reacting to something he was seeing. It had to be the sight of me sitting in the chair unconscious. I kept circling the area where I lost sight of him hoping he would come back. A few seconds later I began to hear his voice in my head. He said,
"Danny man what are you doing, can you hear me, HELLO HELLO! C'mon get up, wake up! Why do you have the helmet on? Look, I don't know what is going on but you’re starting to scare me. I'm stopping whatever you’re doing."
He shut down the program and whatever magnetic hold it had on my consciousness was lifted and I was returned. I opened my eyes as Daniel and began to laugh deliriously in relief. Then I jumped out of the chair and ran over to the tank, Samson was heading down toward the bottom of it. I turned around with my back to the tank and just stared at Joel. He was looking at me with 100% confusion. I anxiously spoke,
"You’re not going to believe me, I'm so glad you came, what are you doing here?"
"What are YOU doing here?" Joel answered, "I came because I got an alert on my phone that the Chain Diffuser was being used. I tried to figure out what was going on remotely but couldn't, I called you 10 times but didn't get an answer. I had to see what was going on, so I came here."
All I could say to that was "Thank God!"
I told him the complete story, starting with my morning coffee. After I was done, it was silence while he processed what I told him. Then he spoke,
"Really! you are a mad man, I don't believe any of this, how could you be inside the shark?"
Determined to explain myself I replied, "Trust me! It happened. I don't fully understand but I know it has to do with magnetism, I can prove it! I splashed water intentionally twice to get your attention. Has Samson ever done that? No, he has not. I swam around for hours trying to figure out how to stop it but couldn't. I’m so so glad you came. According to this printout, a scheduled backup may have made it permanent, I don't know for sure though I will have to look at all the data. Anyway, I did it man! Well, I did something, not quite sure what."
We combed through the data for the next hour. He finally started to believe me when he discovered that the electrograph recording my brain activity flatlined at 12:30pm and didn't go back to normal until he ended the program. He said according to it I was brain dead for the time in question. He wanted to try it to see if he could do it, go into the shark’s body that is. I cautioned that he shouldn't since there was little known about it. He insisted.
Two weeks later we tried it again with the entire team assembled to watch but it didn't work. To this day we have never been able to duplicate the experiment, making my story less credible. I myself have never tried it again. As much as I appreciate what happened it was a one-time deal for me, the desire was just not there.
On September 20th, 3 months after my Integrated Illusion, we got our first ever recorded images of Samson's vision. It was almost equal to stepping on to the moon for the first time. All our hard work finally paid off. We could now equip any species of Black Tip sharks with Tread X and send them back to the deep. We still have a lot to learn about sharks. This research is a step in the right direction.
Again, I give thanks to all involved and the sacrifices we had to make in order for this to become a reality, and a special thanks to Samson who has become a champion, my hero, he's like a son to me. I want to keep him forever but know the right thing to do is release him. That day is coming up soon and it will be a sad one indeed.
About the Creator
Creative writer in the Northeast US who loves the paranormal, mystery, true crime, horror, humor, fantasy and poetry. Take a chance, you'll be thoroughly entertained.
"Life is Love Experienced" -LW