Gearhead

The first night after the surgery you noticed two things: you were expertly humming a classical song you had never heard but knew every note of, and you were no longer afraid of the dark. You didn't mention either thing to the Doctor when he checked on your cell, but there were enough machines inside and around you that anything you might have said would have been redundant.

The second night came the voices, screams from nowhere pleading in Italian for horrifying things in detail you understood despite never having spoken it. You told this to the Doctor the next day.

He nodded, looking at his tablet instead of you. "That's good, language is more complex than music or fears. Are you afraid of the dark again?"

You had to think about it for the first time in years. "No. But I don't know the music anymore."

The Doctor nodded again. "Good! It's working better than we thought." He left, and the hate you felt at him was both new and yours.

She had asked the Doctor details of the procedure, knowing that he liked and wanted to impress her (you hadn't, but the memory was yours, for a night; the next day you had the memory of the memory). Had they cured her of her schizophrenia? 

Not quite, the Doctor had answered. They had just redirected it, putting wireless connections between parts of her brain and parts of other patients´. It was impossible to create circuits that worked quite like human brains, but you could reuse the good parts of other people's, even other patients, and that way help each other.

She was an engineer, so she understood the idea better than you could have, and your memory of her understanding was clearer than your own thoughts. Alien but true.

You remembered, two nights later, her working out of a way to figure out how many patients they had linked to each other. Three nights later you remembered the answer: a third patient had had her engineering knowledge and your card-counting skills. That night you had been afraid of the dark again, but it had been easier, knowing it was something you shared with eleven other people, just not all at the same time.

Every step of planning and executing the escape would take a certain set of skills, but I knew the pattern in which they shifted, and different brains — I no longer cared which one — would have the necessary ones to get one step closer.

I would be free. That I knew with certainty. It was taking a long time because I wanted to take with me two neuroengineers. One to perform surgery. The other so I would know how to do it myself.

There was so much I wanted to learn.