8) The Past – Page 52
technique one of the doctors had taught him for managing pain. It was part of his regimen, along with physical rehabilitation and daily mitylpropicin. The drug had dulled his pain while sublimating his consciousness, pushing him underwater. He had weaned himself off it while hiding the symptoms from the people around him — not as well as he thought, apparently.
No, he didn’t need more time. The man reached under his desk and pulled out a report, pretending to peruse it in detail. Let’s talk about your evaluation.
The evaluation. The doctors had subjected him to a battery of tests from the moment he awoke from his singular dream: physical response; limb strength; pain threshold. The implant tests reminded him of his first year at Acquisitions. His control was as accurate now as it had been then — the tiny ceramic sensors had been recovered or reconstructed perfectly. Everything had gone well. The worry he had sensed from the lab coats that he would have to retrain his muscles or lose feeling over parts of his body dissolved as he progressed through the tests. He felt the strength in his body, as capable and useful as it had ever been. If it hadn’t been for the pain and the dream, he could have imagined that everything was just as before.
Then came the psych tests.
Sure, let’s discuss my evaluation and all the lies in it; how I’ve shown remarkable progress in rehabilitation but my body may not be able withstand the rigors of active service; how my knowledge of operations makes me admirably suited to data and intelligence work, as long as I keep up with my tests and therapy sessions. Chandrasekhar was silent while the old man read off the conclusions of the report.
Every weekday for the last five months he had spent the morning rehabilitating his body; the afternoons were for his mind. The first tasks he had been given were simple pattern recognition: naming colors and images. He had read long passages from magazine articles aloud to a silent technician. He had spent several weeks on mathematical problems spanning algebra, combinatorics and calculus. These were standard subjects for Acquisitions employees in his position. He performed on a level consistent with his past results, making the lab coats nod in satisfaction. They asked him to work on several disciplines he had not had any training in: category theory and affine differential geometry. He struggled, inexperienced with the concepts. The coats responded with diagrammed solutions, enabling him to complete similar problems without fully understanding what he was doing. The effort tired him, but he thought he could sense the technicians were excited with his progress.
He graduated to spatial recognition. He excelled at the tangram puzzles, though he could not help but conflate the shapes on the page with meaningless glimpses from his dream, as if he was seeing a film projected onto the same surface he was working on — a film of images and numbers sequenced together . The testers showed him more complex puzzles, puzzles like blueprints for machinery. He was asked to identify their purpose, to guess when he was unsure. He guessed wildly at every answer, not being able to understand how the objects worked. The lab coats had returned his answers with blank stares, and given him more complex diagrams.