Dr. Hurley’s Digest, Vol. II, Issue 49

We featured some good old Snake-Oilers, and some new ones this week. Check out what you missed!


Monday – Fiction

Wednesday – Poetry

Friday – Photography

Friday – Poetry


More to come this week!

First Reports on Tardive Dyskinesia Patients in Time Displacement Experiments

The first reported case of time displacement (popularly and somewhat inaccurately known as time travel) happened in the interior of a particle accelerator in São Paulo in 2112.

It happened entirely by chance.

As is the case with many scientific discoveries, sometimes you are looking for one thing, then another gets in the way, and with results you are most definitely not expecting. Viagra, for instance.

The time travel process (or, at least, its rudiments) was discovered by a researcher during the calibration of equipment between experiments.


Humankind had discovered the cure for many ailments and severe illnesses by the early twenty-second century. Most kinds of cancer, for instance, had been completely eradicated. But the common cold had not.

Neither had tardive dyskinesia.

Tardive dyskinesia was first diagnosed in the second half of the twentieth century. The development of this iatrogenic disorder, in medical jargon, is usually linked to the use of antipsychotic medications.

The word dyskinesia is Greek for erratic movement: people afflicted by that condition will suffer from involuntary movement of the mouth, tongue, and cheeks, resembling chewing motions with intermittent darting movements of the tongue; there may also be difficulty in performing voluntary muscular movement. Tardive dyskinesia is more common in women than in men and in the elderly than in the young. Symptoms of tardive dyskinesia can develop and persist long after use of the medication causing the disorder has been discontinued.

Dr. Mariana Lima was 55 and had been on antipsychotic drugs for eleven years. Even though metoclopramide hadn’t been commonly used for almost fifty years now, not every patient responded well to the current treatment, which combined transcranial magnetic stimulation and painkillers. It should be noted that Dr. Lima (from here on referred as Subject Zero) had never had a tardive dyskinesia episode before the afternoon of January 25th, 2112.

So, when Subject Zero started to tread on the catwalk crossing the accelerator and stopped to do the first calibration, she already noticed something was wrong but didn’t gave it much attention. “It was just a tic, nothing more,” she told the debriefing team later. “My left eye started to blink uncontrollably while I was walking, but when I stopped in front of the machine, bam!, it stopped. So I figured I must be nervous, you know, the thrill of the experiment…”

Right after Subject Zero started the calibration process, her right hand started jerking around between the motherboards. She cut herself. She cursed.

The two researchers who were supervising the process from the control room asked Subject Zero what happened, and asked her to return and let someone else do the calibration. Subject Zero agreed.

Then, when she turned to go back the way she came, the Subject Zero experienced the time displacement.

It was an unknown, impossible to control, and therefore terrifying experience to Subject Zero. Her body started to jerk and twist, to jump and swagger as if with a mind of its own.

Subject Zero went down the catwalk, sliding, sauntering, cakewalking, moonwalking. One step forward, two steps back. Baby steps. Turtle steps. Snail steps.

Then things started to change.

It was noticed that, upon walking along the particle accelerator in a state of tardive dyskinesia, Subject Zero started to experience slight changes in her surroundings, although no changes in herself. The two researchers that supervised the calibration, however, have stated that they noticed slight changes in her, such as: hair length and color, height, color and shape of shoes (most of her clothes were covered all the time by a lab coat).

(Which brought later to the minds of many the question: were they watching the same Subject Zero, or some alternate version/versions of her? This remains to be studied further.)

Upon walking ever forward on the catwalk, Subject Zero didn’t leave the surroundings of the particle accelerator, but, as she later told the retrieval information team in the debriefing, “It was as if lots of windows started to open at each side of the catwalk, as if I was walking on a train and could watch the landscape sweeping away by me, but different at every window…” She couldn’t be more specific.

The test didn’t take more than seventeen minutes in objective time, as seen from the point of view of outside observers.

The location of Subject Zero is unknown. There is currently a Subject Sixteen working in the premises. All reports relating the time displacement experiments with a possible rescue to the US Mars Mission are untrue.

* * * * *

Fabio Fernandes is a writer based in São Paulo, Brazil. Also a journalist and translator, he is responsible for the Brazilian translations of several prominent SF novels including Neuromancer, Snow Crash, and A Clockwork Orange. His short stories have been published in Brazil, Portugal, Romania, England, and the USA, and in Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded, The Apex Book of World SF, Vol. II and Outlaw Bodies. He is currently finishing the co-editing process (with Djibril al-Ayad) of We See a Different Frontier, an SF postcolonialism anthology. Fabio tweets at https://twitter.com/fabiofernandes.

His other contributions to Snake-Oil Cure can be found here.

The Girl in the Bubble

his is what happens when the girl teleports for the first time: the nulltime bubble forms and expands fully around her. Then, darkness. An utter envelope of black surrounds her; the cold is so intense she feels like she had just been thrown out a hatch of a ship to the void instead of passing through an ten-dimensional window.

Hopefully, not for long. If the running protocols of the system are fully functional, then she will jump to her destination, and everything will be just fine.

But now she is curled upon herself and helpless in a bubble outside physical reality. She draws a deep breath and fights back the tears. It doesn’t matter how many times you experience this, she already knows it will never be easy. It’s not only her first time, but the very first time a human being is teleported.

Teleportation is impossible for objects in the macro scale. Only quantum particles can be successfully teleported.

The Calabi-Yau Manifold (from now on referred as CYM) is a topological structure composed of ten dimensions. Since the reality in which we live in is composed, as far as our senses can tell, of three dimensions, the other seven are “tucked in” or, as we shall say from now on, projected in other “planes” that do not register to our senses.

That does not mean, however, that they do not exist.

The only way to manipulate CYMs is to open bubbles and to wrap macrostructures with them. Then you can teleport virtually anything.

The smaller the bubble, the less energy you expend and the faster you go. This is why the girl travels in such a small space. She needs to get to where she’s going fast.

The girl can’t tell how much time has passed inside the bubble. It feels like a long time before she finally opens her eyes. The black-on-black of the initial moments seems to have acquired a lighter shade.

Nobody knows why this happens. One of the theories states that to traverse a manifold is to cross over membranes; a quite similar effect can be observed if you put several sheets of translucent paper between your eyes and a sun.

Other theory states that the manifold is like an origami which unfolds in at least ten directions, according to the original Calabi-Yau principle. And a paper can be folded several times.

No matter what the reality is behind the theory, there is a slight pale, ghostly luminescence when we are reaching a refuge. In her training, the girl was told this is a good sign: she will arrive soon.

She takes a deep breath and start going automatically through the routine drilled into her head: first, the integrity of her body. Apparently okay on the outside, no limbs missing, no time displacement syndrome of any sort affecting her insides or her perception – as far as she knows.

She tries to kneel, but even though the bubble seems very hard to her touch, she can barely move, and she’s afraid she will sort of puncture the nulltime envelope. But that means the bubble is holding as it should. When she gets back to normaltime, though, her training officer told her she could expect fire and brimstone oozing from every orifice.

But the girl in the bubble doesn’t think of it. She only breathes deeply. And she waits.

* * * * *

This week, we’re featuring a new collaboration between photographer Naama Sarid, whose work we’ve featured in the past. Naama has been kind enough to share her work with some of our other contributors, and they have been writing and creating based on her wonderful photography. This piece is inspired by Exposure № 068: Butterfly. See Naama Sarid’s other Snake-Oil Cure contrubutions here.


Fabio Fernandes is a writer based in São Paulo, Brazil. Also a journalist and translator, he is responsible for the Brazilian translations of several prominent SF novels including Neuromancer, Snow Crash, and A Clockwork Orange. His short stories have been published in Brazil, Portugal, Romania, England, and the USA, and in Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded. Another story is forthcoming in The Apex Book of World SF, Vol. II, ed. by Lavie Tidhar, later this year. Fabio blogs here and tweets here.

Before Someone Else Screamed


he last humans take too long to die at the cross.

It’s not easy. I don´t derive any special pleasure from doing this. I didn´t ask to be the deliverer.

But something had to be done.

I supervise personally all the crucifixions.

Some of the men and women nailed to the crosses scream, some moan, some have no more breath left in their lungs even to gasp. Some are dying, some are dead, most of them are already rotting. I watch them closely as my armored car leads the silent motorcade along the otherwise empty avenue.

I don’t wear armor. Not even a uniform. And donning any kind of special costume would simply be ridiculous. I´m not a whining six-year old bourgeois kid whose rich parents were killed in a dark alley (what were they were doing they in the first place after all?) and years later dons a hood and a cape in order to arrest criminals. Anyone who keeps focused in revenge after so much time is a sociopath, and as such should be treated.

On the other hand, being a run-of-the-mill dictator wouldn´t do either. Hitler redux? No. Milosevic? Definitely not. This is not about hate nor ethnic cleansing. This isn’t even about revenge.

This is about results. This is about getting things done.

When the limited nuclear and biowarfare conflagrations started all over the world, there wasn’t a single place where we could hide. Humankind was doomed. It was just a matter of time: in a few generations, mutations, cancers, every DNA-related disease would wipe it out of the face of the Earth.

Humankind was doomed. But there was still a chance for us post-humans.

We were so few then. But young and full of hope. We want fix everything that was wrong with the world. All we wanted was peace.

But then things changed.

And people started dying.

In the middle of the chaos that ensued, I saw a chance and took it. With a group of my peers, I managed to take control of a small country’s arsenal and made good use of it.

But, even eradicating a few more major cities out of the globe, the example I wished to set couldn’t be attained by surgical bombings or by game-like distance shootings.

My first edict after making myself Ruler Supreme of the World was to ban all guns and firearms.

Many complained. I arrested the most vocal for life.

I executed the most violent.

I resurrected old instruments of execution. Gallows, guillotine, and, finally, the only time-honored, proved, one-hundred percent execution foolproof method.

The crucifixion.

It took a long time for the remnants of humankind to accept it. But they eventually did. They accepted the awful truth.

Someone had to do it.


hy me?

I had a dream.

In this dream, I was being chased by a beast in a jungle. I ran, ran like crazy, ran like my feet never touched the ground. I felt my heart thumping wildly, almost as if I was going to have a heart attack.

I never saw the beast.

A psychotherapist once told me that I was the beast in the jungle. It could be. I stopped seeing the shrink anyway. I still didn´t know how to deal effectively with things which bothered me then.

Now, after much pain and suffering, I learned. If it had happened today, I would have shot her the moment she told me those words.

The most important lesson I learned in all those years: at some point in a chaotic situation, someone is going to scream. It doesn´t matter who the scream is aimed at – it may be a person being robbed, a victim of a car crash, an eviscerated victim of a shot in a trench in the middle of a war.

It may even be a patient in a psychiatric ward.

But someone will scream. And everything will run out of control.

So I did what it had to be done. I screamed. Through my actions, I screamed louder than anyone else in the room, and the room was the world. Before someone else screamed.

* * * * *

Fabio Fernandes is a writer based in São Paulo, Brazil. Also a journalist and translator, he is responsible for the Brazilian translations of several prominent SF novels including Neuromancer, Snow Crash, and A Clockwork Orange. His short stories have been published in Brazil, Portugal, Romania, England, and the USA, and in Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded. Another story is forthcoming in The Apex Book of World SF, Vol. II, ed. by Lavie Tidhar, later this year. Fabio blogs here and tweets here.

His other contributions to the Snake-Oil Cure can be found here.

The Stuff Dreams are Made Of


nce, a well-known Nobel Prize winner – a Portuguese writer – , when asked what, having won all the major literary prizes in the world, he could still ask for, said: “Time. All I wanted was time so I could write more stories.”

For at the age of 653 years old, he was dying.

It turned out that the Portuguese writer had a very rare condition called cancer, caused in part by the same cellular division that renews our bodies. Every time our cells divide, the telomeres (regions of repetitive DNA at the end of the chromosomes, which protect them from deterioration) shrink. But, when they get short enough, our cells can no longer divide and our body stops making these cells. Over time, this leads to aging and death.  As a cell begins to become cancerous, it divides more often and its telomeres become very short. If they get too short, the cell may die.

Fortunately, due to the enzyme telomerase, which rebuilds telomeres, this was not a problem for most people. Death wasn’t unheard of, but it was so rare that people often forgot it and lived like immortals.

That was for the best: if burdened with thoughts of mortality, how could humankind have united and conquered the empty spaces of their home planet first, then go to the Moon and Mars? The colonization of the solar system was in full expansion now, and the Portuguese writer was craving the opportunity to go and see Uranus and its moon Miranda.

(He had met the Bard in his youth; it would have been nice to meet him again and tell him the satellite was called that because of one of his plays. But now he would never be able to go. Besides, he thought, Shakespeare was dead and so would he be in a matter of months, and there was no such thing as an afterlife. Who could believe in stuff like that, anyway?)

All in all, it was a good life, the Portuguese writer thought on his deathbed. If too short.