Who are you? What are you? By the time you're sixteen, you should know—right? But what if a routine medical procedure revealed that you're not only not normal, you may not even be human!
Robert Smith was having stomach problems, and needed to be checked for an ulcer. The doctor scheduled him for an endoscopy. They'd insert a fiberoptic tube down his throat and into his stomach so the doctors could examine him. Robert wasn't concerned—it was a perfectly standard procedure. He didn't even need his foster mother to be there, and he took the bus to the hospital by himself. The anesthetist explained that the anesthetic they were going to use was very light—he might be conscious through all or part of the procedure. The needle went in, and Robert fell into darkness.
Later — he didn't know how much later — he heard voices, mumbling at first, and then clearer as he woke up more and more. "Let me see those pictures again. My God. What is that? What the hell is that?" Robert was awake, but just enough awake to hear voices. He couldn't move at all, and the doctors were sure he was still unconscious. Another man came in, and the doctor explained the procedure and ran the tape of what the camera had seen inside Robert's body. The reactions were the same.
"What the hell is that?"
"That is what's inside this boy's body."
"It looks like some kind of plastic."
"Damn. What was that? Rewind it."
"What is that? Look there. And there. Those silvery filaments. They're moving. Oh, God."
Then a man leaned over Robert, and Robert heard his whispered words: "What the hell are you?"
"Why didn't this show up on his x-rays?"
"The ones taken a month ago showed up perfectly normal." There was a pause as the man examined the x-rays. Then...
"Right. We need to do it now."
"I don't understand."
"Open him up."
"You have to."
"No, you listen. You cut that thing open, and you cut it open now."
Robert Smith grew up in state orphanages and foster homes. No one knew who his parents were. He was normal. A regular sixteen year old kid. Until the doctors discovered he wasn't. Who was he? What was he? And most important, why was he, and were there others like him? Robert knew he was the only person he could trust to find out, and as soon as he could move enough to leap off the gurney and grab a gun to defend himself, he started looking for answers.
This booktalk was written by university professor, librarian and booktalking expert Joni Richards Bodart.