At his birth they thought he was dead. The way the doctors exchanged glances as they pulled him out, heads visible above the curtain that concealed her incised belly. There was not a sound.
She began to cry. Then, as the doctors waved frantically no no no that’s not what we mea– so did he. He was wrapped up, passed to his mother. And then she knew. The concern had not been at his lack of life; no, the concern had been at the abnormal size of his cranium.
His skull was so large it could not be possible that it was full of brain. Yet it was. Scans were carried out, tests completed: all confirmed that the baby boy’s brain was huge. Already the size of a full grown adult. Good job we opted for a Caesarean, they joked, and the baby laughed, as if to say: yes, already I understand everything.
Years passed, doctors’ interest remained undimmed. His head, his brain, continued to grow; this was no simple anomaly at birth. By his tenth birthday his brain exceeded 2500cc. The biggest brain in the world, the experts said, it must be the biggest brain in the world. He listened, and liked what he heard.
He did ok at school, a good all-rounder, but nothing special. Averagely popular. Sure, he looked a little odd, but no one heckled him; he was a killer with one-liners. Instead they dubbed him Wonderbrain. Not Wonderkid, he noted, just Wonderbrain.
And, all this time, he remembered those words: The biggest brain in the world.
But this, he knew, was just speculation. To be acknowledged he would have to prove it. That was when his work began, his life’s work. Of course, he knew he could not compare himself to every brain in the world; the thought was ridiculous! No, he would target his search, would limit it to those most likely to have particularly large brains: the academics, the entrepreneurs, the creators; information wizards, world-beaters, world-generators.
They were not forthcoming, but he was persistent. Medical journals, the internet, underhand – some might say criminal – means were used to the full. Data was collected, results analysed.
He was now an old man.
His brain was still abnormally large; in fact, appeared even larger, for his eyes had sunk, cheeks hollowed so that his whole head was no more than a taut cerebral vessel, pulled paper-thin.
He had never given up; he was persistent. At last he was ready to present his research. To confirm his superiority.
The presentation was almost over. He turned off the projector screen, folded away his hard copy, looked up expectantly at the panel of experts.
‘So, to conclude: I hope you have found my evidence convincing. I have researched meticulously for many years to prove my case, and I believe that I have shown beyond reasonable doubt that I have the largest human brain in the world.’
The Chair – picture an old academic and you will visualise him precisely – looked to his right, to his left. Nobody spoke.
‘But what have you done with it?’ he said finally.
Wonderbrain met the man’s gaze for a moment, his expression blank. Then he looked at the floor and began to cry.