Unwinding is my completion of a short story begun by Harlan Ellison, who wrote the first few paragraphs. It was the winner of UnEarth magazine's short story contest and was published in the Second Anniversary Issue, along with the likes of Philip K. Dick, Fritz Leiber, Hal Clement and Michael Moorcock. Can't beat that for lofty company.
For Science Fiction fans, Unearth was a unique and wondrous, if short-lived, publication. Subtitled "the Magazine of SF Discoveries", it published mostly new writers, along with the "first sales" of some of SF's greatest.
Excerpt from "Unwinding"
Godfrey Sorel positioned Morty on a low flat table and concentrated on adjusting the dials of the neurodynatric stimulator. Morty rolled his eyes to the right and watched the receptor box come to life -- dials, needles, wires and bulbs, all primed to zap him into perfection. Inside the receptor were all the things he didn't want to be -- his list of flaws, updated biweekly.
Sorel fit the conductor cap over his head. On the other side of the table, the transmitter began to blink, sputter and whir. It was full of brain wave cartridges, imprints of the ideal Morty Reagan. The two parts worked in conjunction, feeding through his brain like the old reel-to-reel tape recorders, unwinding his character from one side to the other.
This was his third session. Morty closed his eyes and waited for the doctor to give him the injection. These visits had set him back two months in alimony payments, and so far -- nothing. No guarantees. "Oh, it'll do something," Sorel had promised. "At the very least you'll get some basic subconscious programming. My hope is that it'll do more ... much more!"
Copyright ©1979 Rachel Canon