"Captain Andy of Alaska" by Nat Hutt, November 2017
Disclaimer: All characters presented here are the product of a fiction. Any resemblance to real characters is of a pure coincidence. No intention was made to insult anyone for any reason.
AN: This story is an act of fiction. No one is should attempt to plan, do or act in the same manner as it is depicted in the story.
Summary: Successful multi-sensory integration is the cornerstone of corporeal awareness, you know bro. And experimental investigations of body ownership usually require the embodiment of additional non-bodily objects, cuz. Like gold, for example.
Captain Andy of Alaska
Hi. My name's Evan M. c. I used to be fisherman in Dunedin, New Zealand. Now I am just a background stage performer – a lifeless individual whose basics were occupied by the government.
It all began on September the 25th, 2014.
As we were finishing our daily catch, I sat tiredly with my coworkers, singing some old song we all knew by heart.
And as the boat rocked on the waves, amidst all that merriment … my right hand just … vanished!
At first they all thought it was some kind of a cheap trick, laughing like crazy, wanting me to repeat it again. But when I told them I did not know what the hell they were talking about, they nodded at my right hand.
I jumped up like crazy, staring at the nothingness where my right hand was!
I could still feel it, move my fingers, lift up any objects, but … it was simply gone! Vanished! Transparent like glass!
It reappeared minutes later, leaving irrational explanations fill our fishermen's heads.
After paying a visit to the doctor, I was offered some further tests. I refused since I had three children and a family to feed.
Yet the unusual occurrence happened a few more times.
By now I was already known as the "Almighty Evan". I did not object to the nickname and my coworkers did not mind much my hand being translucent and transparent either.
But the word got around …
Three months later I was "kidnapped" by the government who placed me into some undisclosed underground facility "for my own protection", performing various tests on me.
It seemed like years have passed by before I was officially released and then given new identity and a new job. My family was told I suffered some accident on the sea and I was officially dead to them.
Year later, all depressed and lonely, I accepted an offer from the rich curmudgeon from the USA.
Now I live in a secluded area with all the privileges of a recent lottery winner, letting my beneficiary's scientists perform various experiments on me.
It's not a life I bargained for, but at least I live in a decent luxury and my children will one day receive a full scholarship should they choose to enter the University of any kind. Furthermore, my wife's been already lucky at some lottery-like games, winning a substantial sum as a grieving widow.
Then on July the 15th of 2016 I have received an unusual e-mail.
It was from some Danh Ngo, living on Hoa Hung street in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam.
Apparently he suffered similar problem as I did and begged me to visit him since he has not been leaving his apartment for almost a year.
After explaining my boredom and desire to visit new places, to my surprise, I was let to visit Vietnam.
I knew very well that I was being followed closely as I walked to the given address on Hoa Hung street. So many motorcycles and bicycles passed by.
After I rang the bell, Danh Ngo, who was smaller than me, offered me full hospitality.
His apartment had curtains and lacked fresh air.
After introducing each other, I found out that Mr. Danh Ngo, in his mid forties, used to work in one of the hotels in the area.
All until his head started to vanish!
"Your head?!" I almost laughed, un-gloving my right hand.
I did not know whether my hand will disappear again since I had no control over its behavior; scientists from my welfare's estate area told me it usually happened when I was very tired.
"Yes." Danh nodded sadly, crevices on his face showing how tired and desperate he must be from his condition. "… It all happened one day when a rude customer insulted me in the hotel." He sipped jasmine tea, looked at the TV and then continued. "… You see Mr. Preston … I used to have a wife and a daughter." He paused, tears watering his eyes. "… But after the incident …" He looked up in expectation, reminding me of a street dog I sued to feed once. "… I thought it was better to separate from my family."
"Did anyone else notice your … condition?"
"My head going transparent?"
"Luckily … no." He chuckled and then smiled at me. "… But no one believed my story of the customer passing out on her own."
"They all accused you of …"
"Of insulting and then attacking her! Yes." He shook his head and played absent-mindedly with some paper napkins. "… I felt so terrible and lonely. No one to talk to!"
"Did you … I mean … were you aware that your head was 'transparent'?"
"Oh, yes. You see … I was working as a janitor help in the hotel … it was late night and not many customers around." He sipped more tea, looked at the framed photo of his family and then narrowed his eyes, clenching his teeth. "… After the lady in front of me passed out, I eased her position on the floor and then went into the bathroom to wet a towel and help her." He shook his head sadly, staring at the ground. "… But then … just as I was about to leave … I glanced accidentally in the mirror." He swallowed dry. "… What I saw made me tremble and shake vigorously. I could see my body but my head … it was … gone!"
I nodded and then tried to discern whether he was telling a lie or not. I still had some suspicions about the whole idea of him having "vanishing head". After all, it does not pay not be weary nowadays with all the charlatans around. Mind you, it was ME who had all the money.
"How …" Telephone rang and he waved to me in apology, answering it.
"I am sorry. Go on."
"First of all, where did you learn English so well?" It just occurred to me I was in the communist state.
"Oh …" He waved, smiling at me. "… My grandfather was a rich tradesman on this very street. Before the communists took everything from him …" He sighed and then smiled again. "... It is not that strict like it used to be. All those working in the hotels and restaurants are offered free language courses."
I nodded, accepting his statement as the true one. After all his hospitality was a sincere one. Tea, refreshments and food were probably of the highest quality. One he could afford, that is.
"You wanted to ask me something?"
"Yes. How long did your transparency last?"
He thought it for a while, looking around as if searching for something.
"Not long. A couple of minutes perhaps."
"And your head …" I chuckled a bit, remembering my first scare when I missed seeing my hand. "… Did it come back?"
"Oh, yes. But … by then the other employees found the woman lying on the floor and, being of rich origin … you know …"
I only imagined the ordeal of being accused as a "lesser communist" and then being accused of not heeding to the customers and all. With the world-wide unemployment as it is …
"Did it happen again?"
"Yes. After I tried to explain my reasons to the unbelieving wife, I went to a washroom to clean my face." He grinned. "… I could feel my face, my hands, my eyes, nose, everything, only … I could not SEE my face, if you know what I mean."
"How about the water though?"
"What do you mean?"
"If you wet your face … do you still contours?"
He shook his head in a negative way.
"How about you?"
I shook my head as well.
We looked at each other and then laughed.
"You know … at first when my cousin told me about you … I thought it was some cheap capitalist trick to lure me into some underground laboratory where my body would be put under scrutiny and experiments of various kinds." I nodded and laughed, remembering how the government of New Zealand reacted to my new condition.
"And now? …" I offered carefully since I was, after all a full capitalist by-product by now.
He looked at me, noticing my well-tanned skin and clothing.
Finally he shrugged.
"I don't know. How did YOU feel?"
I told him my story and resentment toward the country I was born in.
Surprisingly, despite us having similar experiences … we still did not trust each other in full.
We continued to talk about various other things, enjoying the afternoon as much as we could in such a confound space his rented apartment was.
He noticed I was already tired, so he offered to help me in any way he could.
"Help me?" My suspicions grew stronger again.
"We both experienced the same, so …"
"Oh … I see …" I was surprised at his sincere offer, realizing that the capitalist society by-products think about the money while in Asia and elsewhere they think more … humane-like. "… Perhaps I can help you?" I noticed a flicker of hope in his eye and realized his true plea for contacting me.
"Perhaps …" He offered back humbly, nodding at me as I was Buddha statue.
I felt touched and moved, wishing I never came to his apartment.
At the door, he looked up at me and then asked in some hopeful manner.
"Why do you think it is happening … to us?"
"I don't know …" I shrugged, remembering all the medical tests I had so far. "… Perhaps it has something to do with the survival instinct? Or perhaps it is just some kind of atavism, you know?"
"Atavism?" He repeated while his forehead wrinkled.
"Yes. Look it up on the internet." I was tired and annoyed of the unhealthy conditions, wishing to end our conversation sooner.
"Yes. Perhaps my cousin could help me."
"And … no one saw your … condition?"
He shook his head in a negative way.
"Are you sure?"
He nodded, smiling.
"Mr. Preston … I would not be standing here with you if ANYONE had. This is ..." He paused while one of his neighbors locked the door nearby, leaving the apartment. "… This is still NOT a free society!" He nodded once more, forced a grin and then almost shut the doors.
Perhaps he did it to show to the other Communist Party members lurking around that he resented "men from the Western World". Perhaps not.
Either way, after spending some unusually pleasant moments in his home-city, I returned to my private paradise in the USA.
Unable to hide anything from my sponsor, I told him everything.
Howard T. H. S. Wall just waved with his white hat at me, laughing.
"Don't worry, my dear friend, he's been taking care of."
"So … you know?"
"Of course I do!" He mocked my words.
I felt silly. Like a pupil before a scientific genius, caught in unexplainable paradigm.
"It's just …" He rubbed his nose while accepting tea from the servant. "… It is way harder to bring men from the communist countries without anyone noticing anything suspicious, you know."
I nodded, remembering the "Cold War" era between the Soviet Union and the USA.
A year or so later, to my utter surprise, I met with Danh Ngo in a research facility in San Diego, California, USA.
He was by now looking fully recovered and refreshed, perhaps even younger.
We were both been given special roles within the facility, cooperating in full with the government officials.
The only condition was that were not allowed to leave the country. Neither of us minded much since our backgrounds were not like of my sponsor – Mr. Howard T. H. S. Wall.
Soon we discovered that were not alone. Just from the English-speaking countries there were Sophie S. Ehrsson, Catherine Leeds, and to my surprise, Kim Andrews from New Zealand!
All of us had wonderful time during our recreational breaks, laughing while having lunches in the cafeteria, getting to know other cultures and background from all around the world.
But until this very day, neither of us could figure out why was that happening to us.
As one of the sub-nuclear particle physicists working on the compounds would say:
"It is probably just some space-time displacement anomaly. But as long as your pecker is still active and 'working' … who cares?!"
There was some truth in it, you know … cuz … bro?