Experimental Protocol for the Coronal Sectioning and Assessment of a Human Soul4 min read

Resize text-+=
Animal cruelty or animal death, Death or dying, Terminal Illness
1. POSTMORTEM EXTRACTION
a. Ensure physical vessel is secured in the supine position. Proceed only after confirming vessel is unresponsive by lightly striking facial area.

when I was fifteen my younger brother slapped me hard in the face to prove to us both that he was the stronger faster meaner one. in my twenties I took up boxing pretending it was for self-defence but the whole time I was thinking of how my fist would feel against his face even though he was in the army and halfway around the world by that time


b. Cut the vessel from sternum to pelvic area to expose the seat of the animus and related organs. Secure opening with tape.

in kindergarten I used to lie on my back lift my shirt and dare boys to put marbles in my bellybutton. I never forgot the cool glassy weight of them against my skin and later when my boyfriend put his flesh in mine I wished it too was small and see-through and made pleasant sounds when rolled across a hardwood floor


c. Insert needle into heart and inject the appropriate amount of decorporealizing agent (see table 5.2). Let sit until soft tissues are dissolved.

when after the first scare they told me I had a weak heart my mother joked it meant I fell in love too easily and also I should avoid drinking ice water. I said mom that’s crazy boomer talk and she changed the subject to when are you moving out and I said soon as I’m back on my feet and she said why don’t you get one of your gentlemen callers to help out and I said that didn’t work the first six times which made her laugh


2. PREPARATION OF CORONAL SECTIONS
a. Gently lift soul from ribcage with forceps. Use small scissors to sever any remaining phenomenological attachments.

there was one really good afternoon right at the end I was outside and there were birds. I don’t remember what they were doing or how the ice-cream tasted or the colours of the leaves falling off the trees or the music (if there was music) or what the sky smelled like or what those skateboarders yelled when I fell over sideways on the park bench and stopped moving. I don’t even remember my own name. all I remember is I was alone in a different city with a new job and fresh haircut and it was all going to be different


b. Place specimen into a 35 mm dish and fix in a cold bath overnight.

this time—where is this?
am I back in the hospital? does my family know?
white light, white coats… angels? or has hell frozen over


c. Transfer specimen to embedding compound. Cut into 0.4 micron thick slices along the coronal plane.
Note: Sectioning may result in temporary disassociation. Let animus fully settle before proceeding.

contrary to popular belief, a soul is not a thin dribble of gravy on a marble counter top nor an insect’s leg stuck to a bit of grey fluff in the corner of an abandoned room. a soul is not the spokes on a bicycle wheel spinning backwards nor a half-eaten box of crackers. a soul is not a tight pair of shorts, a man in the parking lot who won’t stop yodeling, a conversation that stops as soon as you walk in the room, a movie that’s an hour too long, a bounced cheque a stomach ache a cat meme a vegan cupcake a baseball cap with the word DADDY a rose gold phone case chapped hands wet upturned face bright shapes underfoot

the smell of yellow


3. PROCESSING AND FINAL ASSESSMENT
a. Mount slices, then treat with visualization fluid at room temperature. Label regions accordingly: emotion (red); intellect (green); habit (violet); will (yellow); identity (blue); memory (black).

wish it had been laid out like this from the beginning so much easier to see all the different ways it could have gone. if I’d had kids. if I’d majored in something I actually liked. if I’d stopped biting my fingernails and talking over people at parties. if I’d stayed in touch. if I’d just apologized


b. Use imager to examine slices for positive/negative signal strength over total lifetime. Minor transgressions may be amplified with saline.

actually I have nothing to apologize for except that one time I ripped the wing off a butterfly just to see what would happen and when I wasn’t immediately struck by lightning I decided there was no god. after that whenever I did things like stay up all night chatting online with a depressed stranger so they wouldn’t do something stupid I think it was to make up for that single moment of


c. Place dissected soul in receptacle A if signal strength is mostly positive, or receptacle B if mostly negative. Safely dispose of remaining organic waste.

pure evil—wait, I’m not finished!
there was so much left of me, so many plans
so what if I wasn’t Gandhi? who gave you the right to judge?
all those stupid lovely moments and for what?


ALL METHODS DESCRIBED IN THIS DOCUMENT ARE IN FULL COMPLIANCE WITH THE GUIDELINES APPROVED BY THE AFTERLIFE CARE AND ETHICS COMMITTEE. QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS MAY BE ADDRESSED TO THE LAB SUPERVISOR.

But wait, there's more to read!

Short Fiction
Mari Ness

Carnival Ever After

It had all sounded reasonable enough, and she had privately welcomed the break from the crowds and the terror and horror and, far worse, pity

Read More »
Support Apex Magazine on Patreon

Apex Magazine Ko-fi

$4 funds 50 words of Apex Magazine fiction!