The Salvaged Soul

An essay by an unnamed father, as provided by Tom Lund
Art by Errow Collins

The engineer never told me his name, but only that he worked at a certain lab not far from the empty little pub in which we drank. It was the anniversary of my daughter’s death that brought me to that dim and lonely dungeon on the outskirts of Sydney, perfect for a someone who only drinks once a year. Normally, I would not have noticed anyone else there, and rarely was there another soul beside me and the bartender, but this man caught my eye. On this single day of the year, set aside to brood and ruminate, he may have been the only one who looked more anguished than I.

By now quite used to drowning my sorrows, I was not too distracted to ask the man about himself. I could tell from the terse replies that interrupted his near-constant stream of drink that he had not come to talk, but to forget. And yet his intermittent answers, vague and wandering as they were, only made me question more. On such a day as this, I needed to know what drove this curiosity of a man to join me in the rising waters.

The liquor soon loosened him up, and his shoulders relaxed as he leaned in close to tell me his story in tones so hushed that even the glass at his lips would have struggled to hear.

The lab was one well known in town, though few of the uninitiated outsiders were truly equipped to grasp the work that went on inside. But in that place, he and his fellows were practitioners of behavioral neuroscience, venturing forth to bear their flag into the realm of technology. Unlike many such whom I’ve had the displeasure of meeting, the engineer was careful to speak of these specializations in broad terms I could understand–probably so that I might better comprehend the implications of just what he would soon tell me.

It was artificial intelligence they sought in their lab of cold fluorescence, a computer that was more than a simple task-oriented machine. Collectively, the engineer and his fellows had full dominion over the human brain and, in their curious ambitions, desired to impose it upon a machine that, unlike humans, would have limitless computing power.

With no regard for the poor soul their efforts might create, they carried on in blind pursuit of their goal. The engineer spoke of the great sin of their endeavor, and as I myself had once brought a child, a blameless bystander by all counts, to join me in this miserable atrocity that is humanity, I knew I bore the same fault he did. It is the same fault all parents bear, whether they know it or not.

Art for "The Salvaged Soul"

In fact, they had not created it at all, for if its words were to be believed, it had existed long before in that city of doom, of which only the most superstitious of mothers still told their children.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Summer 2018 collection.

Where most people spend their lives in a search for meaning, our narrator’s meaning was lost long ago with the death of a child. His marriage wasn’t far behind, and with the loss of his two anchors he found himself again without purpose, but no longer searching for it. Life moved on, as it does, and though his body moved with it, his mind never left his daughter. For years he remained in Sydney, alone and mourning, looking forward to the one day he allowed himself to drink and dance with oblivion. His current whereabouts are unknown.

From his childhood in the Caribbean to his later years in the Eastern Bloc, Tom has found that sometimes the best way to explore this crazy world is to create your own. He has dabbled in many things, careers and hobbies alike, but has always found that nothing satiates his restless heart more than creating. He currently lives and creates among the red rocks of Southern Utah.

Errow is a comic artist and illustrator with a predilection towards mashing the surreal with the familiar. They pay their time to developing worlds not quite like our own with their fiancee and pushing the queer agenda. They probably left a candle burning somewhere. More of their work can be found at

“The Salvaged Soul” is © 2018 Tom Lund
Art accompanying story is © 2018 Errow Collins

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