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The Teeny, Tiny, Enormous Battle

Looking for a short story to read in all the spare time I'm sure you must have this week? Sure you are. :) This is one I came up with while pondering how the inside of my body operates in it's ever-present fight against Lyme Disease. (Don't worry, it doesn't get gross ;) ) This is mostly imaginative, but the places and names with an asterisk mentioned in this tale are indeed real.

So while you're in between celebrations, just sit down in a cozy corner by the tree and read a story...


 

Based on true events




Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Cuckoo!

            I lifted my head from the pillow and counted. Nine, ten, eleven, twelve. I sighed and flopped down again. I had gone to bed at 9:30. The little bird in the distant room had re-entered his house, and the silence that I had been laying in returned. Frustrated, I adjusted my position, considering getting up and star-gazing out the window. I felt like I was about to fall asleep any minute, and that any movement would just wake me up even more. But then, I had felt like that since 9:30, and I could see how close I’d gotten to actually sleeping.

            “Five minutes,” I thought crossly. “You have five minutes and if you don’t cut it then, I’m rebelling and getting up!”

            I wasn’t sure who I was talking to, but surely someone must be to blame for this re-occurring issue! Ultimately I had sin and the devil to thank for my Lyme disease and resulting symptoms, but wasn’t anyone in control on the inside of me paying any attention to the fact that I was losing valuable sleep?

            Little did I know…

                                                                                                                                                           

       

            “Sir! The enemy is attacking the right hemisphere*! We need reinforcements, now!”

            The commandant spun around from viewing the transcription of vital DNA to face the lower-ranked officer. “A front-on assault?” the commandant raised an eyebrow in disbelief.

            “Yes sir,” the messenger nodded assuredly. “One would think they’d have learned something from their last onslaught.”

            “Never underestimate your enemy’s ability, lieutenant,” his superior barked firmly.

            “Yes sir.”

            “At what point is the attack?” the commandant asked as he rapidly climbed down from the stand overlooking where the transcription was taking place.

            “The temporal lobe*, sir. Memory Base.”

            “With what force?”

            “A Chaffeensis* troop under command of Captain Vitore, 45 strong.”

            “The Ehrlichea* company,” The commandant muttered under his breath and grabbed a passing electron. “Find Captain Resistant. He’s on shift somewhere in the Vision Center. Tell him to take 20 loose body cells to barricade the right temporal lobe*.”

            The electron saluted and disappeared at a speed fast enough to leave sparks in the cytoplasm*. The lieutenant shook his head. “Their pace will never cease to amaze me. He’ll be reporting to the Captain right now!”

            Climbing out of the frontal lobe into the association cortex* (the top layer of the brain, in a matter of speaking), the two officers stepped onto the nerve bridge* connecting the right and left hemispheres*. On the bridge was a mass of activity. The only pass between the two sides of the brain, it was almost the busiest spot in the body. Electrons* whizzed by at lightning speed, neurotransmitters* jumped from neuron cell* to neuron cell, making ways for the nerve impulses* behind them, and great divisions of cells* and proteins* marched across. The nerves making up the structure of the bridge were not just there to be stepped on, either. They were kept busy passing messages back and forth, over and under. Great precautions were taken to keep the bridge open and running smoothly. If it were to jam, the entire body would be put on halt.

            The lieutenant stopped to let a jumpy dopamine transmitter* pass in front of him, then stopped again for the electric current* behind it. Electric impulses were ones to avoid running into. Quickly moving past the neuron cell behind the pair, he scrambled to rejoin his superior, who had paused on the border of the right hemisphere, waiting for him.

            “Keep up lieutenant,” the commandant spun on his heel and strode forward.

            “Yes sir.”

            As they passed through the Association cortex into the Motor cortex*, the traffic lessened and the hum of hundreds of sensors and nerve impulses filled the cytoplasm. The commandant slowed slightly, carefully sidestepping various small workers. Most of them were aware of his presence and moved out of his path, but one nerve stumbled straight into him, on his way to a sensor station.   

            “Are you all right?” the commandant steadied himself and the nerve, glancing anxiously at the unusual whiteness and dazed look of his companion.

            The nerve jerked about, wincing with every move. When he saw the rank of the commandant, he jumped back, clumsily coming to salute.

            “N-n-nerve n-n-number 41 sir,” he said shakily, “from the left arm. Could you point me in the direction of that sensor station by any chance?”

            “Straight ahead and two down,” the commandant answered promptly. “Why the white face?”

            “I can’t feel a thing and I’m tingling all over,” Number 41 called over his shoulder as he staggered toward the station, “our arm fell asleep!”

            Smiling wryly, the commandant continued on but stopped so suddenly that the lieutenant ran into his back. The commandant spun to look at the nerve again, but he had disappeared in the many moving workers.

            “What in blazes was a nerve doing up here?” the commandant turned in amazement to the lieutenant. “Everyone knows nerves can’t move! They have to communicate through electric currents!”

            The lieutenant shrugged his shoulders. “We’re in a story, sir. The storyteller can do anything she wants.”

            The commandant stared at the lieutenant, then blinked. “True.”

            They started on again through the Motor cortex straight into the temporal lobe. The two passed thousands of memories, neatly stored in chronological order and ready to bring back at a moment’s instance. Finally arriving at the border of the temporal lobe, they climbed up to view the situation from the Association cortex. Here again was a busy scene. A band of bacteria, armed to the teeth and wearing angry expressions repeatedly rammed against the outermost of the three protective walls surrounding the brain. On the inner side of the wall a group of cells were arranging themselves to provide extra stability against the battering. Captain Resistant joined them on the cortex. He was a big bacteria, strong and hardy. He saluted his superior, acknowledged the lieutenant and then turned to observe the attack.

            “It’s nothing serious,” the captain stated firmly. “Just another annoyance band. There’s no way they can get in unless the wall cracks, which has never happened and never will happen, in my opinion.”

            “True,” the commandant nodded, “but the more spies they get working from the inside the weaker our defense will be.”

            “Oh! that reminds me sir,” Captain Resistant turned to face the commandant, “one of my men picked up another one.”

            “What?!” the commandant exclaimed. “How did he get past the blood-brain barrier?”   

“Dressed up like a Ciliophora* he was,” the captain explained. “And quite convincing too, but he made a slip up in climbing a ladder. Forgot how they move, apparently, for he climbed that ladder like an Amoeba*. When my man saw a Ciliophora moving like an Amoeba, he decided to take a closer look, and sure enough there was a Chaffeensis* under that coat. He’s being held in visual memory at the moment.”

            “Very good, Captain, I’ll go interview him,” the commandant spun on his heel to leave and came face to zap with a nerve current on her way to report.

            “Excuse me, sir,” the current moved past to Captain Resistant. “N.C. serving under Nerve number 79, sir,” she saluted the captain. “Here to transmit the damage report.”

            Captain Resistant nodded the go-ahead and the nerve current pulled up a screen. “Setting you up for communication transmute. Testing, testing, N.C. to Number 79,” the current paused and the screen flashed. The face of a nerve appeared and waved to the current. “I hear you, N.C.”

            The current turned to the captain. “Connected, sir!”

             The nerve on the screen saluted. “Number 79 reporting, sir.”

            “Carry on, Number 79,” the captain ordered.

            “The wall is standing firm with the aid of the cells you brought. Not even the dura mater, the outermost barrier, is cracked in the least. However the enemy is hitting hard and we nerves are feeling it badly.”

            The commandant groaned. “So their mission was successful.”

            “Meaning…” the lieutenant prompted.

            “Meaning She has a headache,” the nerve current whispered to the lieutenant.

            The lieutenant didn’t have to ask who She was. Everyone in the body knew that. She was the body, and it was the lifelong duty of each worker to help Her live and function smoothly.

            The captain hit his head with his hands in frustration. “I was trying so hard to avoid that!”

            Number 79 winced and timidly spoke up again. “Please don’t sir. It won’t do any good sir.”

            Taking his hands from his head, the captain looked curiously at the nerve on the screen. “What won’t do any good?”

            “Hitting your head sir,” Number 79 clarified. “Giving yourself a headache won’t help us get rid of Hers.”

            Captain Resistant laughed. “I’m a bacteria,” he said, “I don’t feel anything!”

            “Oh,” Number 79 smiled sheepishly. “I guess I forgot. All of us nerves are a bit unsettled at the moment. Whenever we have too much to feel we get somewhat rattled.”

            “I know. Thank you for your report, 79. You’re dismissed.”

            The little nerve saluted and faded away as the current hurried off to resume her post. The trio of officers descended the view point back to the temporal lobe*. Captain Resistant led the way to Visual Memory*, the place where sights were stored. Rounding a corner they saw one of the captain’s men holding a Chaffeensis in Ciliophora’s clothing. The enemy spy was scared, but defiant.

            “I am the commandant,” stated the commandant with strong authority. “Chief over the top levels of occurrence in the brain. Where did you get past the blood-brain barrier?”

            The spy sat in sullen silence.

            “How many are there like you?”

            The spy shook his head and didn’t talk.           

“How long have you been in?”

            When the Chaffeensis still wouldn’t open his mouth, the commandant turned to the lieutenant. “Call in a white blood cell.”

            “No!” the spy jumped out of his seat. “I’ll talk! I’ll talk! Just don’t get one of those monsters!”           

“Very well,” the commandant smiled slightly. “Talk.”

            “T-t-there were ten of us altogether,” the spy said nervously. “We were sent in thirteen hours ago, under the command of Captain Deceiver. He’s the one who designed the disguises.”

            “Where did you get past the blood-brain barrier?”  

            “Left hemisphere*, frontal lobe*. We split up after that. I don’t know where the rest of our team is.”

            “What was your mission?”

            “To get in.”

            “Yes, I figured that part out myself. What was your mission after entrance?”            The spy’s eyes darted back and forth, but he didn’t speak. The commandant nodded to the lieutenant, who saluted and turned toward the entrance.

            “Scout and report on the cerebellum*,” the spy blurted. “I don’t know why.”

            “Thank you,” the commandant said dryly as the lieutenant stopped. “You can take him away,” he said to the guard. “But he’s been cooperative, so no white blood cells, understand?”

            The guard saluted and led his relieved prisoner away.

            “That’s the third spy scouting the cerebellum in two days,” the captain turned to the commandant. “What do you make of it?”   

            “They want another way in. She’s had a serious increase of dizzy spells over the past months. Since the cerebellum is the Balance Center, as well as being the monitor of every other kind of movement, I should think they’d have many missions focused on that point.”

            “True,” the captain agreed.

            “In fact,” the lieutenant added, “She had a dizzy spell four minutes ago when she sat up to check the time. I saw it reported while we were going through the Motor cortex.”

            “What!” the commandant exploded. “Do you mean to tell me She’s still awake?”

            “Yes sir,” the lieutenant said confusedly.

            “Good heavens! When did She go to bed?”

            “Two hours, thirty-two minutes and fifty-seven seconds ago,” reported the captain.

            “Oh for goodness sakes!” the commandant started out of the room at a run. “I’m going to get myself fired!” he grabbed an electron in mid zip. “Quick! Go to central control and tell them to cease activity!”           

            The commandant’s two officers caught up with him as the electron disappeared. “What can we do, sir?” they asked simultaneously.

            He turned to his companions with a mortified smile. “Good work, men. You can call it a day and shut Her down.”

 

                                                                                                                                                           

           

 

            My eyelids drooped as I looked at the clock. Twenty seconds until the five minutes was up. But suddenly I was very tired, and I struggled to remember what I was thinking about. Something about a story I could write. If I could only remember what it was … but I couldn’t.

            Finally giving it up, I closed my eyes and fell asleep.


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