Jamieson was somewhat unhappy with the results of the first experiment. He had hoped for a more conclusive reaction, but instead of breaking down the patient had somehow subverted the mental stimulus.
He had no doubt that it had been a strong memory, not that he knew why; he never probed too deeply into his patients' past. It just made him feel guilty afterward, when their minds were erased by the vigorous testing and their personalities were completely changed.
In fact, Jamieson often felt guilty. Sometimes it was just small regrets, almost inconsequential, but at other times he felt racked by mind-numbing pangs of sheer remorse: a feeling of sinfulness arose from the deaths of the intruders, the effective deaths of his patients (although, Jamieson told himself, this was for the greater good), and most of all from the whole incident surrounding his dead wife.
The doctor had never loved her; he did not think that he could; but if he had ever felt something akin to affection for somebody it had been for her. He respected her integrity, her wilfulness and resourcefulness, her capacity to care about somebody who could not care back.
Jamieson was not one for emotion in any sense of the word. He rarely felt angry, frustrated, annoyed, excited or indeed happy. Happiness was something almost alien to the doctor. On the rare occasion that he did feel happy, it was only a fleeting glimpse at something that could have been.
To distract himself from his evident lack of empathy and the problems that arose because of this Jamieson buried himself in his work. It was the one thing that he felt any sort of passion for – he was efficient beyond belief and above all surprisingly innovative. Science was Jamieson's medium. Without it, he suspected he would have committed suicide long ago, in some momentary teenage fit of despair.
The doctor's life was a strange one. The young Andrew Jamieson was born to a twenty-something couple (who worked as low-level assistants in the Guild of Artists' literary department) around three years after the infamous Fireman's Riots. His father had been a junior proof-reader, and his mother a tentative Assistant Poet.
They weren't rich, not by a long shot, and lived in one of the old robot-built apartments in the lower-class suburbs – cramped, claustrophobic blocks of rusty impure metal riddled with narrow low corridors and hundreds of tiny one-person rooms, barely a metre and a half in height and only just a metre across.
Jamieson's family weren't plebes, but they were just about as close as you could get. Their neighbours were plebes, their friends were plebes, their extended family had been plebes, but after all, the new recruits for the Guilds had to come from somewhere, and Jamieson's parents had passed the tests with flying colours. Jamieson himself was a fairly quiet child, by all accounts, but otherwise not abnormal.
Not, at least, until the fateful day when his apartment block burnt down. If the building had been constructed according to standard safety regulations, then more people perhaps would have survived. As it was, the weak metal on the building's roof liquefied, and while the inhabitants struggled with a collapsing doorframe that blocked their exit the old roof beams collapsed, pouring untold gallons of searing liquid copper, iron and lead down upon the fleeing people.
Andrew was the only one to escape. Some called it suspicious, others called it a miracle. But one thing was for certain: total memory loss resulted in an entirely new persona appearing in the place of the old. The new child who resulted was more outgoing, but far less social. He had maybe one or two friends at most; the rest of the time he just sort of drifted between acquaintances. The other children called him a freak, a speccy nerd, four-eyes, but Jamieson was oblivious.
In any case, they were soon made to shut up when the young stage-five graduate broke the record for the Guild of Scientists' initiation exam. Whereas other children tended mostly to achieve fairly even scores in all three tests, Jamieson flunked those for Art and Policy, achieving scores on average of around five percent in each, and gained an unprecedented score of ninety-nine point eight percent in the test for Science.
The student garnered the attention of none other than the Commander of Science himself, one Doctor Alastair Felton, who immediately granted him a place as a Private in the Spire of Science. Jamieson quickly rose through the ranks, his meteoric ascension becoming well-known among the inhabitants of the Spire.
Upon receiving the rank of Lieutenant, Jamieson was granted access to much greater funding, allowing him to pursue whatever scientific course he wished. The Lieutenant had often wondered about the accident leading to the death of his family and his own loss of memory, and decided that the solution was to be found within his own mind. For this reason he began research into the human brain, the logical pathways between consciousness and action, mental illness, and the subconscious.
Jamieson unearthed the ancient Department of the Mind, and for several months nobody saw much of him. The rumours circulating his mysterious background dried up. The Commander stopped monitoring his actions. Jamieson's old classmates let out the breath they had been holding in and began insulting him again. And meanwhile Jamieson worked.
It was sometime in May of that year that Jamieson emerged from the Department of the Mind with a stunning hypothesis, not to mention proof for said. Everybody in the world was mentally ill, said the Lieutenant, and he had the data to prove it.
The paper that Jamieson presented neatly to a shocked Doctor Felton stated the following: emotions were the by-product of a strange Neolithic mutation that gave no discernible benefit to the creature that mutated it, but had no downsides either, and by some strange chance had proliferated and eventually become the norm.
The Lieutenant was made a doctor on the spot, the findings were distributed among the news agencies, and overnight Jamieson went from mildly interesting record-breaker to major celebrity. He was hailed as a prophet by some, and as a blasphemer by others, but as always Jamieson weathered the storm.
'SCIENCE CLAIMS LOVE IS A DISEASE' was the headline of the day, but Jamieson was already moving on to bigger and better things. He purchased a new house complete with private laboratory, fitted the Department of the Mind with brand new state-of-the-art equipment, hired two new apprentices, and began work on his next project: Jamieson hoped to uncover the secrets of the subconscious, and thereby discover the truth about his parents.
Rumour spread that Jamieson had been tipped for Major, and one or two of his more suspicious peers sent thieves and reporters to Jamieson's new apartments in order to find evidence of wrongdoing and disgrace him lest he take what they perceived as their job.
However, Jamieson had anticipated this, and installed a deterrent in his private lab. When the intruders did not return to their patrons, it was decided that the doctor was best left well alone.
Jamieson now had more time to spare, so decided to make a habit of taking walks in the park. One day, while doing so, he began talking to a woman named Alice, who had heard of Jamieson's discoveries.
At first she was dismissive, but they grew to be friends, and unbeknownst to Jamieson she slowly began to realise that she cared for him and felt for him more deeply than she had before. Jamieson, surprised, decided that since a relationship wouldn't be detrimental to his work, if she wanted to marry him then so be it – it would make her happy, after all.
So they were married, and for a few years Jamieson lived reasonably happily with somebody who cared for him. After a while, he began to feel the beginnings of an emotion that he didn't recognise. The doctor felt affection for his wife.
Undoubtedly, had this gone on, Jamieson would have achieved some sort of emotional closure and managed to feel happier about himself. However, one fateful day an opportunistic thief broke into his house and was incinerated by the black-market defence mechanism. Alice, hearing a scream, went to investigate, and discovered that her husband had in fact killed somebody with his illegal deterrent.
Jamieson felt that he had no choice but to wipe her memory. He sedated her, connected her up to his cranial reading machine and attempted to remove the incident entirely. However, inexperience led to a fault in the code, and she woke up, broke out of her bonds, stabbed him in the neck with a scalpel and ran away.
Jamieson had inadvertently altered her personality irredeemably. After being bandaged, he made his decision, and activated the nanoexplosives in her bloodstream that he had vowed never to use. For the doctor, this was the end of his recovery. Instead he buried himself in his work more vigorously than ever, hoping to forget.
How far he had come! Andrew Jamieson, unremarkable child, had metamorphosed into a great scientist. But not only that – he was also a heartless murderer. And he knew it, in every fibre of his being. His wife's sightless eyes still stared blankly at him in his head, incriminating him.
Jamieson switched off the machine and sat back, exhaling. Enough was enough.