The Kafka Syndrome

Author: Susan Graham

Contact: sgrahc594 (at)

Pre-TOS, original character, rated PG.

Summary: Scientists develop a cure for another undesirable form of diversity.


As I write this, I am living underground.

In days gone by there was no remedy, but in the year 2250 miracles were about to happen. Now there was a choice, and I was determined to make the best decision. For too long I lived with it hanging over my head, in my head, and the brain waves had proved it. In three dimensions I could see the twists and turns of the giant insect’s path as it circled round and round, and then periodically would lie on its back and the legs would flutter. All this the doctors could see on the complicated four dimensional Geodesic Resonance Replicator, or GRR, an invention that was upgraded periodically with advanced robotics; and which eventually would be able to be programmed to perform the intricate neurosurgery deemed necessary to eradicate a certain diversity plaguing certain members of the human race. I read with alarm that recent research was at the point of experimenting on human beings; animal studies were somewhat inconclusive due to the fact that there were no natural cases of my difference in non-humans, including the higher apes. For the so-called lower creature, there was no bug that had crawled up into the neo-cortex.

And yet? Sometimes I had a wish: If I only belonged to the human race! For too long I and others like me were never even seen to share the same planet. Now, illnesses and their accompanying prejudices come and go. First we hated a certain gender, then religion, then culture, then overpopulation, then it was skin colour, then economic class, then politics, then religion again, then gender, then sexual orientation, then victim-blaming ailments, then developmental challenges, then poverty…all these, in no particular order, and yet there definitely was a pattern. Did the neuroarchetypes think we all wanted to be like their minority tribe? The answer would seem to be in the affirmative, because nowadays there is a cure for all of these maladies and more.

At this time, the middle of the twenty-third century, our planet seemed to now be in a state of almost utopia. So much had been done, so much peace and harmony! Because all the negative and divisive elements have been eradicated, there is nothing at present but peace and harmony in our world.

But now, I learned we must eliminate the very beings that were deemed to be the architects of all those maladies in the first place, just in case there was ever a resurfacing of such social and medical evils. I know that I am part of the next big purge on that which is diversity unfit for life. I mentioned that there was a choice. I meant to say that this choice is one in which the alternative is somewhat unpleasant, at least for the first generation. Am I looking forward to the cut-away cure which will finally destroy that which keeps me from joining my fellow human beings? My answer is by no means easily explained, and below I will attempt to explain exactly what I mean.

I had always tried to pass as a normal neuroarchetype, as I was not considered particularly gifted. I am not a Gates, nor a Grandin nor an Einstein, and I would never be a Calvane Datan, the inventor of the GRR! Now that expensive and amazing piece of medical and scientific hardware was going to be used to fix the last plague tormenting Earth. Skilled surgeons were waiting in line to be chosen to assist the GRR. They spoke of their excitement in the same way doctors from the twenty-first century cheered after Nobel Prizes were awarded to those who discovered cures for all forms of cancer, spinal cord injuries, and Down Syndrome, to name but a few.

My neuropathologist had a name for my sickness: The Kafka Syndrome. This name was chosen because of the peculiar intertwining of the millions of brain cells that make up the cerebrum, the cerebellum and the brain stem. Certain configurations in certain regions of the brain literally resembled the famous cockroach described in Franz Kafka’s novella The Metamorphosis. My specialist, who had read the story in college, explained that in the story the other characters had to overcome their fear and revulsion in order to kill the vermin, the loathsome insect into which Gregor Samsa had been transformed. “His metamorphosis was not compatible with life, and so it was eliminated. It would have died anyway, so the other family members just helped it along.” My specialist thought he was doing that what he had to do, and so reported my condition, even if there was no danger to society. According to statistics, there were supposedly thirty-five million of us in the world, out of a population of seven billion. “Even one is too many,” declared my specialist. I could just envision all thirty-five million of us listening to the same excuse, the same vilified diagnosis and the same drastic surgical remedy.

Then my specialist asked my when I was going to get in line for the eventual procedure. I would not be the first, he explained, nor would I be the last. I might be waiting for close to two years. “Two years!” I looked at him briefly, but incredulously. “This is not enough time to make a decision!” Now for too long it had been hanging over my head, and now the noose was going to make its way around my neck. The best decision was to wait no more than twenty-four months! Even on Death Row the sentence was often longer. Once I signed on the dotted line, the time bomb would be ticking away, and as always, the noise would be deafening. The organism in my head might even grow larger! I saw my specialist nodding his head.

When I left his office, I knew only one thing. The explosive device was armed, and I decided to go underground. Where The Others were gathering together. Where the Gregor Society would now take a stand, and not end up a flailing insect on its back. Where eventually we would resurface: larger, strong, proud and free, because we would not succumb to the nuclear neuroarchetypal winter.