The Oft-Perpetuated Myth

Image via Gawker

When entertainment-news giant Variety posted “Scarlett Johansson Goes Superhuman in ‘Lucy’ Trailer” I knew I had to check it out. I’ve been inhaling superhero stories ever since I decided to make Click Your Poison #3 a superpowered tale. Check out the trailer below, then get back to me.

 

Looks pretty cool, and I’m excited for it to hit theaters, but I did get a chuckle out of the “It is estimated most human beings only use 10% of the brain’s capacity” line. Yeah, that’s not really a thing. This myth even has it’s own Snopes article and a page on Wikipedia listing examples (where ‘Lucy’ will undoubtedly end up one day).

What’s the point? Well, the point is…Science! But beyond that, there’s a reason it made me personally chuckle. Let me explain:

I strive to make all my works as accurate as possible, while still keeping the fiction fun. Whether it’s genetic manipulation to make zombies in INFECTED, the oxygen-annihilating bomb in MURDERED, or the incredible feats in SUPERPOWERED, I go for fact when and where I can. I even poke fun at the 10% myth in the 3rd book’s opener. And, since I promised I’d do so, I’ll now show you that very sample. It’s unedited, a rough cut, and I’m the sole owner so don’t steal my words, blah blah blah.

I know you’ve all been thinking, “Man, I wish James would blog more often…” Here’s the reward for your patience:

 

SUPERPOWERED

The air hums with static and there’s a burning wire scent just beneath the haze of ozone. An electromagnetic field crackles harmlessly between your teeth, leaving a sweet, lemony aftertaste. Your skin is titillated with gooseflesh and your hair almost floats towards the machinery. Something inside you feels as if you could simply take off and run a marathon. It’s a contagious sort of power that, although clearly artificial, feels oddly healthy and natural. You could get used to this.

At the wall of hardware—the source of all this delicious energy—a man finishes adjusting a dial, then turns to address you. He is handsome in his lab coat and wears a reassuring smile; that of a doctor featured in an infomercial, complete with stylish thin-rimmed glasses that sink into graying-at-the-temples hair. After powering up a tripod-mounted camcorder, he readies a clipboard to aide in further documentation.

“Please state your full name and reason for participating in the experiment,” he says. As he speaks, his voice takes on the electronic reverberation of the room.

You turn to look at your two companions. Both strangers you’ve never seen before today. The first is a woman in her mid-thirties, classically attractive in a blue-collar sort of way, though there’s weariness in her saltwater eyes. She’s dressed in a tight-fitting tank top despite a softness about the waist, wears blue jeans, and green, reptilian cowboy boots. Alligator, maybe?

“Catherine Amanda Woodall,” she says. “Why I’m here? The five-hundred bucks. I do all the ads in the paper—hand creams, shampoos, weight loss pills. You name it, I’ve tried it.”

She holds up her left arm to reveal a rash on the forearm, evident proof of her past experiences in clinical trials. The doctor nods, jotting a note onto his clipboard. How many lotion swabs does one have to endure to afford alligator boots? Maybe there’s a “frequent tester” punch card…

The other candidate is a young man, perhaps not even twenty years old. He has coarse, black hair and thick eyebrows that rise slightly when he glances your way. You gesture for him to go first and he nods.

Looking back to the man in the lab coat, he tugs at his backpack strap, slung over just his right shoulder, then clears his throat.

“Nick—Nicolai—Dorian. No middle name. I, uhh, saw the pamphlet pinned to the campus message board. Say, does participation count for any credit hours?”

The scientist looks up from the clipboard, presses his glasses further up his nose. “I’m sorry, no. But that is a good point to bring up. Participation in this experiment—which is completely voluntary—is not a sanctioned event and neither Mercury University nor its staff should be held responsible for any… unintended outcomes. Human Infinite Technologies is the sole proprietor of this lab for the purposes of the test, despite being a rented location on campus grounds. Mercury City and the City Council have no foreknowledge of the activities listed on…”

He consults the clipboard, then adds, “Ah, good. I have each of your signed waivers already.”

“Okay, then I’m just here for book money,” Nick Dorian says.

All three turn your way, waiting for you to speak. You introduce yourself, but then hesitate to explain why you’re here. Was it the money? Simple curiosity? The “Unlock Your Potential” advertisement? A dare? As the hidden, electric majesty reaches out to you, it’s hard to remember why you stepped through those doors in the first place.

“I’m not sure,” you finally say. “Can you tell me what it is we’re about to do here?”

“Yes, of course,” the scientist replies, and that reassuring grin returns.

He walks past the three of you to the other side of the room, stepping over thick, black cables that snake their way from the electrical rack to the platform he approaches. There’s a gymnasium-sized tarp draped over three pillar-shaped objects. Suspended above each are what look like the giant electromagnets they use to lower cars into compactors at the junkyard, but these are only the size of a manhole cover.

“The oft-perpetuated myth about using only 10% of our brains, while unfounded, is an intriguing concept. I believe this to be true—not for the mind, per se, but for that of human DNA. So many of the genes we carry are turned off. Dormant. Waiting for us to evolve. The purpose of this experiment is to ‘supercharge’ your humanity and see if we can’t extend human potential. I will guide you through these new changes as both mentor and scientific observer.”

He pauses, his eyes wide and manic. In a grandiose gesture, the scientist pulls at the tarp to reveal three identical pods: glass with metal bases, each the size of an old telephone booth.

In pulling the tarp, he unintentionally reveals an emblazoned “Ex” hidden beneath the lab coat; the symbol ornamented to look like an element in the periodic table.

“So you may call me…” he stalls, turning back to you, then cries out, “The Experi-Mentor!”

Nick Dorian stifles a laugh, but the abrupt shift from assuring doctor to mad scientist leaves you unsettled. It’s hard to read the woman with the alligator boots’ reaction, but from the silence you can tell you’re not the only one on edge.

“Is it safe?” she asks after a time.

“Absolutely, one-hundred-percent,” he reassures, his smile positively radiating.

“But you’ve never done this before on people, right?” the college student asks.

“Also true.”

Another silence. You look to your fellow testees, then back to this ‘Experi-Mentor’ character.

“What do you need us to do?” you ask.

“Just step into one of these three pods. Each pod is calibrated slightly different from the others, but you may pick any of the three.”

You look again to the other two test subjects.

Nick shrugs. “Rock, Paper, Scissors?”

“Works for me,” Catherine answers. “On three?”

“There are three of us. How will we know who wins?” you ask.

“Huh, I guess that’s why it’s not a three player game,” Nick says. “We could set up a bracketed tournament. Single or double elimination…”

“Or draw straws?” Catherine suggests.

“No, just—Rock, take the left. Paper, center. And Scissors on my right,” the scientist directs.

“Yeah…that’s not how the game works,” Nick says.

The scientist waves him away and goes back to the machines. He punches a series of commands into a control console and the glass pods open, each rotating on its metal base and revealing a seamless door you’d have never noticed on your own.

“Just do it!” he cries.

Standing in a triangle, you look to one another.

“Ready?” you ask.

“Ro—Sham—Bo!” Catherine calls out.

 

[Rock]

[Paper]

[Scissors]

* Make your choice *

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