"Shitting, pissing, coming, farting, belching, sneezing, coughing, crying, bleeding, hiccupping, puking and sweat dripping from every pore."

That's how Professor Carson always said he wanted to die, in one final release of the life giving force he liked to call, "the great expulsion." He'd been saying that for twenty years and it had become the running joke in the faculty lounge of the Physiology Department.

"Excuse me, I have to use the restroom," says Professor Carson.

"Well don't sneeze John, you have a class this afternoon." Chuckle, chuckle.

But it would be all over soon. The Professor was sick and wouldn't last another ten months, maybe not another ten weeks, maybe tomorrow he would . . . and what was behind him? An unpublishable doctoral thesis? A textbook he had coauthored that only received one printing? And was he now to endure an obscure, perhaps celebrated death? He couldn't stand for it and had little to lose. His flight of fancy was to become his final physiological experiment.

But how? He didn't have the slightest idea where to begin. His practical knowledge and research skills had been dulled by twenty years of tenured professorship. Most of the grad students were better equipped to handle this type of work. Undaunted, the Professor decided to focus his initial research on the most difficult of the releases to control.

Now coming on command is no easy trick, but during his first late night of research the Professor remembered a book he had browsed as an undergrad. The title escaped him but he recalled the numerous mind-probing experiments performed by the CIA in the late 1950's (in the hopes of finding the drug or method that would lead to mind control, of course). In particular he remembered reading of one ambitious young post-doc who worked extensively with electrical pulses on the brains of living monkeys. One experiment had an electrode secured to the monkey's orgasm control. When the monkey was placed in control of these spontaneous orgasms via a push button in it's cage, the animal would push the button every two to three minutes until it collapsed from exhaustion.

The Professor took the first flight to Washington to meet with Doctor Benjamin.

"Excuse me sir, do you have an . . ."

The Professor rushed past a woman who looked suspiciously like a secretary but whose nameplate was titled "Laboratory Documents Coordinator." After quickly shutting a rather heavy door, the Professor found a huge but uncharacteristically spartan room. Empty dusted tables. Equipment in storage. Bookshelves neatly arranged with binders and reams of computer paper. Absent were the expected microscopes, Lewis rats and EKGs. In one corner, however, was a chattering huddle of lab coats around a small wire cage, apparently unaware he had entered.

In the cage was a football-sized monkey on its back quivering in orgasmic convulsions, it's left hand clutching a tiny red button. The lab coats gawked pointed and giggled.

"Umm . . . excuse me . . . is one of you Doctor Benjamin?" asked the Professor.

"I'm Doctor Benjamin." The voice emerged from behind a door at the opposite end of the lab along with a short, hunched, clean-shaven man also in a lab coat. Perhaps the Doctor should have considered a beard, to soften the wrinkles placed generously on his pale face and to frame those wide hypnotic blue eyes. "And who the hell are you? No, actually I don't care. Listen, here's the deal: NO it's not for sale, NO you can't try it out, NO I can't cure your impotence, and NO I don't want to probe your brain. Okay! Good day!"

"I don't think you understand. I just . . ."

"Answer me one question, you're here because you want to induce spontaneous orgasm, right?" asked the Doctor.

"Well, yes but . . ."

"You and a million other people, pal. I'm not in that business. I will you ask you leave me alone." The Doctor had memorized this conversation years ago.

"But this is professional business. I'm Professor Carson from . . ."

"I told you I'm not in that business!"

"Then what the hell is that!" the Professor pointed an accusing finger toward the mob around the cage.

The Doctor the abruptly turned back into his office, flustered, throwing a hand over his shoulder for the professor to follow. Before the Professor had finished closing the door the Doctor piped in.

"That, sir, is called my income!" Taking a deep breath he continued, "I've been receiving grants from various governmental agencies for my work with monkeys since grad school. Unfortunately, most of my projects were absorbed by the CIA, whoops I mean the FDA." The Doctor gave the Professor a slow bitter wink. "My monkeys stirred up quite a bit of interest and it seemed like everyday someone new would be escorted in to observe my work.

"Anytime I would make a proposal to move on to more theoretical pursuits or mention actually trying to achieve the psychoactive drugs that were my FDA veil, a letter, if not an agent, was sent to remind me that only my empirical field research on the brain would be funded. So I took the probing as far as could. It wasn't long before it occurred to me that all they really wanted was to watch my monkey. As for those people out there: four FDA officials, a Cabinet Member and a Congressman. The women, I presume, are prostitutes." The Doctor sighed and turned to talk to the window. "Slowly my work slackened. But so long as the monkey stayed hooked up the checks kept rolling in. So I keep that wretched device operating. I tinker a little when a change of monkeys is needed. Right now I have an electrode on its Broca's area so it chatters a little extra for the Congressman. Hell, if I had access to the latest MRI or PET scanners I could probably make the damn thing sing the Star Spangled Banner."

"I'm so sorry," the Professor sat stunned.

"Oh, it ain't all bad. I get my grants. I finally have time to do my theoretical work and when I do need monkeys there's always a steady stream. Good ones too. The feds pay off the handlers not to beat them or sedate them or anything. The down side is that my work is mostly for self-gratification because they don't let me publish much."

The old men got to talking. Comparing notes. When the time was right the Professor said what he had come for. The Doctor's reaction was surprisingly positive.

"Wait. Run through that list again," said Doctor Benjamin reaching for his pad and pen. "Okay, got it, got it, got it . . . with sweat dripping from every pore. And you want to die this way?"

"I'm dying soon anyway Doctor. I want a release. A final release. We exert pressures on ourselves so great that the body over time cannot maintain its own integrity. I just think that if I could orchestrate one final release of the pressures caused by the life giving force, through what I like to call 'The Great Expulsion,' there would be something of value to be learned. The necessity of performing these expulsions day in and day out, and the stress caused by having to delay the release of these pressures; that's what kills us. Those are the so-called 'natural causes.' Well, if you had a human specimen who was known to have died by these 'natural causes', in a controlled environment, I think you could work from the bottom up to find why the body cannot regenerate its itself perpetually. A true definition of the problem is the first step towards immortality."

"The Great Expulsion. Hmmm, I like that. So what is it you want from me?"

"Well, I'm just an undergrad prof. I don't know any more than the textbooks. You on the other hand, you know the hardware of it all. Can you induce these things? Simultaneously, I mean."

"And what if I could? How do you know you'll die?"

"I don't. But I have to try."

The Doctor took a long look about his sterile office. He heard the lab door slam as his guests departed. The doors of monkey cages clinked softly outside of his own office door signifying calm again. He rubbed his winkled chin and looked squarely at the Professor. He nodded only once.

What followed was a flurry of activity that began with relatively simple, though still brutal skull surgery on the Professor. The brain itself has no pain receptors, so as long as his scalp was anesthetized the Doctor was free to probe as he wished. An "ordinary" day saw the Doctor researching in the morning, probing a monkey or two in the afternoon and testing his results on the Professor in the evening. This went on for five weeks before the Professor's health noticeably began to fail. The surgery had taken its toll. If it was going to be done it would have to be done now.

"This is it Carson, the final mock up." The doctor's voice dripped with excitement. "The last monkey went 11 for 12. I just couldn't make the little bastard cry. That can be improvised though. I'll just tweak your nose before I hit the switch or something." The Doctor gave a good chuckle at his own wit but Professor Carson only sighed listlessly.

"Alright then, let's do it now." The Professor stripped himself of his clothing and stood on shaking knees in the middle of the lab, his arms outstretched. The crying had already begun. He was sweating profusely.

The Doctor, taken of guard by the sudden action, rushed to connect the multitude of electrodes necessary. Jabbing in needles of local anesthetic, he ripped out stitches, wire, and pre-cut bits of skull.

The Professor didn't flinch, just stood in the middle of the lab, arms outstretched.

"You're all plugged in. All you have to do is swallow this. It will make you vomit. When you do I'll hit the switch. Then . . . well . . . we'll see what happens. You okay?"

The Professor said nothing and extended a hand for the vile.

"Whenever you're ready then Professor." Doctor Carson took his place at a control panel behind a makeshift protective barrier. If he was already startled by the distorted image he saw through the plexi-glass refraction, he did not yet fully appreciate his own handy work. The Professor downed the vile. The Doctor hit the switch.

Electricity on copper tracks bore down on Professor Carson. Bonobos and monkeys screeched in the background. Then BANG! a direct hit! 12 for 12. Crack. Snap. Splash. It was all over. Dr. Benjamin measured vomit and urine at over nine meters from the body. Feces and blood at over six. Specks of mucus were sprayed throughout the room.

Aside from the desired effects, some interesting side effects were found. It seems that every hair follicle on the Professor's body expelled its store of proteins, some hairs growing more than 80 millimeters. Finger and toenails likewise jutted forward up to 17 millimeters. Stress fractures were found in eleven ribs and the pelvis. The jaw was severely dislocated and the Professor laid on the floor a hairy hideous mess engaged in a silent scream.

After he had dropped to the floor the Doctor paused a moment, unable to remove his eyes from the sub-human monstrosity obscured by the heterogeneous spray dripping slowly down the plexi-glass barrier. Three minutes worth of eternity passed before he got up enough nerve to approach the body. He tiptoed all the way, aiming for the dry spots, his pant cuffs sloshing through the ooze. Gloved and masked, the Doctor immediately checked or vital signs. No breathing. No pulse. Pupils dilated. A complete success. And physically speaking it was undeniably a complete success in the fact that Professor Carson was indeed very dead.

However, in the course of designing a perfectly sound death in the physical- mechanical sense, the poor soul of Professor Carson was never considered. Be certain that the soul does exist. Call it Self or Mind or Consciousness or Psyche or Atman or Ruh and it exists all the same. Had either scientist stepped back to consider this perhaps they would have modified their experiment slightly.

You see, consideration of the possibility of the soul leads quickly to certain assumptions. If the soul exists, it must exist somewhere. It is presumable that this somewhere is in the body during life and not in the body after death. Thus, at the moment of death (characterized by the cessation of all hitherto self-sustaining bodily mechanics) the soul must be released, expelled, or in some other manner exit the body. The body's final physical function is ejection of the soul.

Despite the stress it was under the Professor's body was able to work through the rigors of that action. However, due to the occupation of every orifice, opening, crack, pore and crevasse at the moment of death the soul had no passage by which to leave the body. The body died, the soul remained inside.

The consequences were disastrous.

Due to the finality of death the body was unable to try again to eject the soul from out of itself. Similarly, the body could have no further interaction with the soul and provided it no sight, sound, touch, smell or taste or any other input. All the Professor obtained from his body was the realization of a barrier.

After Doctor Benjamin had completed his study of the corpse, Professor Carson was laid to rest near his hometown of Chapel Hill following a charming closed casket service. The consensus among Souls was that it was quite a shame that the Professor was unable to hear the Doctor's moving eulogy. But still, this sympathy felt for the Professor's unique condition was overwhelmed by the sheer absurdity of it all. And even that was soon forgotten. To this day, from the Professor's decaying body, his soul flecks off in bits like the shedding of epidermal layers. Incomplete, scattered, less than alone, it wanders about the universe in search of itself.

   
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