Tag Archives: Lovecraft

Medical Microfiction: Coremorphosis

Apt Pupil

“Mommy, the doll in my eye hurts me.” Cora rubbed her tearful eye.

Amanda knelt and examined the little girl. “What do you mean, sweetie? You don’t have a doll in your eye.”

“Yes I do. You have one, too. Everyone does.”

Amanda opened her makeup compact and gazed at her pupils. Her reflection in miniature stared back. “Don’t worry, Cora. It’s just your reflection”

But the child rubbed her eye. “It’s hurting me!”

Amanda checked again. In Cora’s left eye, a dark figure oozed from the pupil. It seized the miniature Amanda and held a knife to her throat.

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English: Kewpie doll.
It’s cute until you get one in your eye. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Coremorphosis is the surgical formation of a second pupil in the eye. The Greek root for “pupil” is core-, which means “doll” or “girl”. The ancient Romans applied this word to the eye because they thought the little reflection you see when you look in another person’s eye resembled a tiny doll.

Incidentally, the name “Cora” comes from the same root.

So this is a story about a natural doll and an artificial one. Cora’s eye contains a double image: the true reflection of her mother, and an unnatural figure whose intentions must surely be bad. I for one don’t trust any reflections in my eye that don’t belong there!

Ever wonder what causes red-eye in your photographs? It’s your pupil’s fault .The pupil of the eye is actually an absence. It is the hole in your iris that allows light to enter, which through an astonishing process gets converted into nervous impulses that your brain translates as sight.

English: Glaring Red Eye
Red Eye, or vampire? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I used to think the pupil was an actual object that made up your eye. After all, it’s solid black! In reality, its dark appearance results from the fact that all the light entering it has been absorbed or reflected inside the eyeball itself. Red-eye happens when a sudden flash of light bounces off the back of your eyes too quickly to be absorbed. The camera captures the color of your blood coursing through the choroid behind your retina.

There are some conditions that will make your pupil change color. Leukocoria gives the pupil a whitish appearance, sort of like an animal’s eyes in the dark. Leukocoria is usually a symptom that something is malfunctioning in your eyes, so if you notice this symptom, make sure to get it checked by a doctor.

Happy Friday, everyone! What was your best accomplishment this week? What’re you looking forward to this weekend?

Medical Microfiction: Encephalic

Fireflies

Lights on.

I awake remembering the fireflies.

Brief consciousness. It’s probing my memories again.

I would scream, but I no longer have lungs. Or a face.

I remember everything now. Fireflies on the lawn of the graveyard. Then it broke from the mausoleum: a horror in flesh, studded with the mismatched limbs of the dead. They were still moving. As it groped for me, I glimpsed the inside of its putrid flank: rows of human brains embedded in rot.

Now it wakes me only when I’m needed. Another node in its processor.

I remember fireflies flaring and fading.

Lights off.

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neuron fractal 4
Neuron fractal. (Photo credit: Anthony Mattox)

Last time we talked about disembodied organs, I gave you a few suggestions on what to do you if you ever get to hang out with your liver. Today’s word encephalic means pertaining to the brain (not to be confused with myeloencephalic). Etymologically, it’s a nifty word because “en” means “inside” and “cephal” means “head”. To the ancient Greeks, the brain was “that thing inside your head”.

Well, I’m not one to argue with the ancient Greeks!

This story’s my attempt to write H.P. Lovecraft-style horror in 100 words. The problem is that Lovecraft never said anything in 100 words or less. As a writer, he’s known for his dense, descriptive writing style designed to evoke the feeling of terror.

Since the brain’s the name of the game today, I chose the central image of fireflies to suggest how an electrical signal brings a neuron in the brain to life. I’ll spare you the complex description of how neurons fire–at least for today–and anyway, it’s best done in person, with a pen and napkin and lots of hand-waving. We often talk about the brain using analogies about “wiring” because, at least to some degree, this is how neurons work. When a certain level of voltage is created in a neuron (called an action potential), the neuron “fires” and sends a signal down its long axon, or tail, which can have a lot of different effects depending on the type of neuron.

Human brain - midsagittal cut
Human brain – midsagittal cut (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this case, the poor narrator’s brain is being used by the monster of horror as a processor of sorts. Whenever an electrical impulse enters the now-disembodied brain, the poor guy becomes briefly conscious, just long enough to remember how he got there, before the monster switches him off again.

Fortunately, none of us will ever have to face such a fate. …I think.

Any other Lovecraft fans out there? What’s your favorite horror story or author?