The Bottleneck Years by H. E. Taylor - Chapter 36

The Bottleneck Years

by H.E. Taylor
Chapter 35 Table of Contents Chapter 37

Chapter 36

Neurolin, March 17, 2056

Edie was changing. I didn't know how, but she was no longer the shy retiring mouse of a woman she had been. A week later I happened across a clue.

As a matter of course, we segregate our garbage into compostable, recyclable, paper and junk. I was throwing some paper away, when I noticed a flattened medication box. I picked it up. It was labelled Neurolin. "Clarify, deepen and solidify your thoughts," it said. I knew there were cognitive enhancers on the market, but I had never heard of Neurolin.

A quick web search took me to a CPS listing. Rather than mess with neurotransmitters or amphetamine derivatives, Neurolin increased the supply of precursor polypeptides, proteins and enzymes required for memory, neural processing and neuron growth. Of all the cognitive enhancers, it allegedly had the fewest untoward side effects. A very few people became more prone to seizures, otherwise it was relatively benign for adults. It was not recommended for those under the age of 18.

I sat back looking at the monograph. Edie had not mentioned Neurolin to me. And she had never ever given me the impression she was intellectually ambitious, but she was definitely changing.

I wasn't sure if I should ask her about it, but decided it would be best if everything was out in the open. The only question was how to raise the subject.

As it turned out I didn't have to do a thing. A couple of days later, at breakfast, Edie said, "Luc, there's something I want to talk about."


"I've registered for some distance education courses."

"Interesting. In what subjects?"

"Microtech, business administration and..." She paused, waiting for me to raise my eyes. "...and climatology. I hate not knowing what you are talking about."

I raised an eyebrow. I thought I had been careful to speak plainly to her. But maybe not.

"There's something else too."

"What's that?"

"I started taking a neural enhancer last week."

"I know."

"I wondered. I noticed you'd been in the recyclables."

I nodded and for a few seconds we just looked at each other. Then I asked, "Why?"

"I told you about taking the course. I'm old enough now, that I can judge fairly well how smart I am in relation to others. I'm clever, but not what you would call gifted and I want to learn a lot quickly. I think this is the way to do it."

"In my experience, most people do well because of their willingness to work. You know what Edison said. '99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.'"

Edie was shaking her head. "There is a certain amount of truth in that, when focusing on a specific task, but there is such a thing as general intelligence. I've met people who have to think hard to square four."

She turned sideways and gave me a penetrating look. "Do you think you are smart?"

I was a little taken aback by her question. "In some ways. I'm not very good with people. I have no musical ability. I test high on logical-symbolic reasoning."

"Oh, so you believe in multiple intelligences?"

I nodded. "That seems to be the most useful way to look at it."

The sense that something larger was going on had been building in me, a growing pressure that crystallized in a question. "Why are you doing all this?"

Edie sat back. I think she was a little surprised that I was taking her seriously. "I don't know what is coming, but I'm worried. That is my daughter sleeping down the hall and I'd like her to have half a chance to live a decent life. The more skills, the better equipped I am, the better it will be for her, for me, for all of us."

"Okay, that makes sense. How long are you going to be taking the Neurolin?"

"Six months. That's all I could afford."

"Have you told your doctor?"

"Last week when Anna got her checkup."

"It sounds like you are being responsible. I'll do whatever I can do to help."

Edie got up, gave me a peck on the cheek and went to check Anna. I drank the last of my ersatz coffee and walked to CCU, my head spinning.

Excerpted from _The Bottleneck Years_ by H.E. Taylor

For further information see:
A Gentle Introduction.

Last modified April 16, 2013

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