*For the purposes of this record and continuity a transcript from Dram Johanessen (a close personal friend of Gage in his early life) original diary has been added to the text as a first hand account of events and Fords account has been removed as it was noted to be riddled with contradictions, over-exageration and outright fabrications.
September 13, 1848
Oh god’s it’s horrible, I saw it happen but I couldn’t believe it, I couldn’t believe she’d actually do it. As soon as that tall man walked away and got into his carriage I went to his side sure he was dead, his face, oh god his face. I prayed he was dead, his suffering could no doubt be immense.
But by god he lived, his breath in his chest. His heart beating like a steam engine’s hitting the tracks, his will to live reaching up out of hades to grab at life jealously. With the use of Madame Souchang’s carriage we got him into town as quickly as we could. He reacted to no stimuli the entire hours journey and I was sure he couldn’t hold on much longer.
But there was that steady breathing through the hole in his face. There was very little blood, the hole it seemed was quarterized at the moment of penetration. But who was to tell the extent of the damage it had done to the vital organ inside. He’ll certainly never see again out of his left eye, as far as I can tell it’s completely destroyed, oh god. My stomached kicked everytime I looked under the sheet we put over him.
Madame Souchang was inconsolable, she acted almost like it was her brother that ordered it. She claimed no responsibility and was reticent to speak at all about what transpired. Fearing my own head I pressed no further and thanked her for the use of her for the gracious use of her personal motor carriage.
We got into the town of Porterville proper. Which was at the time was simply two rows of wooden victorian style building facing eachother with a well trod dirt road inbetween them.
The sawbones of the town had a practice next to a large furniture store and a grocery on the otherside. It had big protruding castle like struts with what I could only assume were weathervains attached to them. Which to me reminded of something of those books written by Shelley of the monstrous man that came back to life through arcane scientific practice.
Me and a few other of the men took him down from the motor carriage as easy as we could. The large man we had come to call friend who was once as strong and tall as an oak was layed low and meak and lifeless as we carried him through the thin wooden door of the doctors practice.
The inside of the doctors smelled stale, the wooden floor was stained with splotches of god knows what. The doctor was sat with his back to the door at a small writing desk, we set Gage down on a large wooden inspection table of which he barely fit on with his legs dangling off the edge.
The nurse was hanging off the edge of the desk smiling at us as we came in.
The doctor took one look at him as we took the sheet off and his eyes got very narrow and curious his nurse let out a silent scream holding her mouth open. Covering it with her hands screaming quietly with her eyes and then rushing out of the room bounding clumsily into a cabinet stocked with oddly shaped bottles of medicine. Almost knocking it over as she evacuated the room with a loud sound of stair foot falls and doors slamming.
The doctor was a short squat man with bared hairy fore arms under a grey shirt with rolled up sleeves, all of the hair of which was white and grey. A stern appearance with a pair of circular glasses placed at a peak of a receding hairline. He looked confused and angry at first and said something like; “What you bringing that here for? The morticians the street over! Get!”
After we’d assured him the man was still alive (which took some doing) he told us to lift him up on the table as if to humor us. He must have thought we were mad or stupid and if I were him I wouldn’t believe it either for at the time it looked like a train had run over his head or a horse had stomped it in.
He took out his instruments with a sigh and an aggrieved air of wasted time and started to poke and prod at him and then was seemingly struck by a curious itch. He reached back to get his stethoscope which he was about to warm but then thought better of it and placed it on the man’s chest after ripping his shirt. He took it away and his face turned as white as a sheet and he mumbled something the exact line from Shelley’s story, or so as my memory recreates it.
After he’d got over the initial shock of it he started to lick his lips pointing and motioning hurriedly at a drawer one of the men was next to. A young man by the name of Gotfried.
“Get a bottle!” He instructed.
The young lad reached inside and pulled out a bottle of Kentucky bourbon and brought it over. The doctor wrenched it out of his hands like it was the last drop of water on earth and took a long drink and then slammed it down on the table. After he’d sighed and belched a few times he wiped his brow and went about collecting together knives various saws and articles I couldn’t quite identify as a layman. And he yelled for his nurse who was still in the back vomiting.
Eventually she came out and took one look at his face again and rushed back upstairs.
I looked at all the knives and saws that he collected in a metal dish. He coughed and then looked around for something before letting out an aggrieved sigh and bathing the instruments in a splash of his bourbon.
I asked him what they were for and he said almost with an air of incredulity “Surgery, he needs surgery.”
I was confused, not a man of great learning especially not of the medical variety so I asked again, “surgery for what?” thinking he didn’t need to lose more of himself and then it struck me as he said it.
“Goddamit can’t you see the thing sticking out of his damn head?”
Oh god his head was such a mess it didn’t even cross my mind that the rivet would still be lodged in his skull. It was shot right up under his chin and the spike of it was coming right out of the top of his head through his left side and out the top right out of the front like a horn.
“Oh god” I said.
The surgery took hours, but it felt like days, we sat in the doctors while Gage was worked on without anaesthetic in the surgery in the back room.
We didn’t see any of it but we could hear it, the sawing and the smell of hot bone. The shock of it sent some of the men outside and some who were lodged in town decided to head back and rest leaving just me and Gotfried.
20th September 1848
It was a week before he opened his eye again and I would swear in front of a jury it was not the same man. It was like someone had plucked our Phineas Gage and replaced him with another man entirely. He’d been sleeping, fed only liquid solutions administered to him by the nurse. His face mercifully bandaged. Unmercifully the doctor was unable to remove the rod itself. Fear further damage remove the thing might cause. And the black metal horn tip could be spied sticking out of the bandage.
Besides all that there was something about him that was just not right. The way he spoke, the way he looked at me. I’d never known of him to have a temper or a violent streak but he brought one back with him, from wherever he’d been. He snapped at anyone and everyone and I feared that if he were not unable to move he might do injury to himself and others.
I was almost hesitant to wire his wife in new Hampshire. Would it have been kinder to tell her her husband was dead than introduce her to this misshapen shadow of the man she loved. I wondered about their children, without the money he sent how would she care for them?
The doctor said the changes in mood were the result of his injuries, his brain was damaged. Specifically something about his nerves were severed he’s lost almost all sensation in his body. He can’t feel heat or cold or pain or even touch. The affects to his mood he did not further elaborate on. But it’s as if all his other non-tactile senses are heightened and his mental state is not comparable to the man we all knew.
2nd October 1848
His wife Catherine came up from new Hampshire today although I had told her to leave their children with their grandparents. The shock of seeing their father mangled like that would have been too much for them. But when she arrived Gage wouldn’t see her. He outright refused. I thought about what she would think about his face but not just that. The room he occupied had been fitted with a tubescope to keep him occupied during his long recovery but he’d smashed it almost as soon as it was installed. I’d noticed also all the newspapers I’d brought him he’d shredded. And it seemed like any knowledge of the outside world enraged him enough to put him in fits of unadulterated anger.
3rd October 1848
I put Catharine back on a train this morning, she’s a lovely woman, delicate in features and manner. It is truly saddening to see her go without meeting her goal of seeing her husband, but I honestly didn’t know what to tell her. All I could do was assure her that he would be well enough to work soon and we both hoped that once routine took hold he would return to the old Phineas Gage we once knew.
31st October 1848
After nearly two whole months of convalescence the doctor says Phineas should be well enough to continue his life and more imporantly his work. The doctor even made up for him a remarkable prosthesis to cover his scars so as not to alarm the general public. It was a piece of a light wood and some waxen substance painted and moulded to resemble a part of a mans face. He made it from a picture of Phineas we had supplied to as closely resemble his face as possible. Although minor changes had to be made, he was never a spectacle wearer but now a lensless pair was used as a frame to hook the prosthetic on so that the arms of the glasses would hook around his ears to hold it in place. To cover the horn he was instructed to wear a wide brimmed hat at all times.
The rest of the scars and missing hair could be easily covered in the same manner. It looked a lot better than I expected and from a distance you could be mistaken for thinking it was the man. But up close it gave the illusion up as the one unblinking staring glassy eye seemed to follow you around the room.
I felt for the man I truly did. It must have been even more of a crushing blow that his injuries and the time spent off work had resulted in a demotion and I had taken over his role and would do so for the foreseeable future.
Although this did not seem to anger him as much as effects of his surgery. His lack of tactile senses made it very difficult for him to complete the simple tasks I had set him. Many times he would injure himself and others and not even notice. It became very off putting for the men and resulted in vicious conflicts in which Gage was invariably the bloody victor. It was a horrifying sight, he seemed to have reverted to some earlier state of man, a vicious throw back to an earlier age.
His physical presence was also off putting yes but he also seemed to have strange new idea of life and the ruling government which was very unsettling for the men and struck up tensions between the men and the luggers.
He seemed to have gotten it into his head that there was some grand conspiracy of some sort. And that all the news was manufactured lies concocted to keep humans from rising up or some such nonsense.
15th December 1848
Unfortunately today at the behest of the company I had to let Phineas go.
The doctors had cautioned him about drink but he did not care. The great stress sent him deeper into the bottle and unfortunately I had no choice but to fire him.
It has burdened me with a heavy heart but he had become too much of a liability to keep on.
Nevertheless the company has awarded him a sizeable severance package and an early christmas bonus, although I fear he will only drink that.
I feel responsible for all of this I really do. When I told him he was to be let go he didn’t even seem angry, he almost seemed like he expected it.
A great melancholy grips me as I doubt we’ll ever meet again. I suspect he’ll return to his family in new hampshire and grow old and die a happier man now, I hope for his sake he does.
*Ford’s journal continues from here.
After that Gage fell off the face of the earth, he didn’t feel human, he wanted the earth to swallow him up.
He became a wanderer and a thief and a rogue, a bad gambler and a cheat only making enough money to keep his belly full of whiskey and his head dulled and stupid. Returning to his family would have been a lie for he did not feel like the same man. The old Gage was dead and in it’s place this man shambled on.
Sometime in the start of the new year He found himself in a small mining colony in Arkansas, in a town called Rush. They mined zinc up there, the stuff is used in certain alloys they use to make weapons for the capitol.
Needless to say it was a fairly rowdy town without a conventional form of law enforcement but people ususally kept to themselves. a It wasn’t in any great threat of bandits as zinc wasn’t high on their priorities to rob. And most of the miners money was pissed away on booze or women or just gambled.
Miners are off a disposition that any day there could be a cave in and kill them all, so they live each day as if they could be buried under rock the next.
Something Gage seemed to admire, moreover it made it easy to blend in with the revellers who on a good day couldn’t see further than their own feet. Not enough to notice a stranger with an oddly mask like face and a horn on his head.
Although on this night they were especially jovial as a recent election had taken place. A new president had been appointed, A man named Zachary Taylor, a hero of the Spanish American war. It was amusing to them as he had been somewhat of a colourful character before his presidency. Not only that but he’d riden a rising wave of anti-alien sentiment and people were sure that this would mean things would improve for their kind. To them he was the warrior messiah they had hoped to pull them out of their perdition. Although all alien media at the time had done their best to assure humans that things were better than ever for them and they were exceedingly priviledged. There had been a growing resentment formenting in the humans. As although they could fill their bellies for the most part and they were kept distracted with sportsball and a dull harmonic suggestion given off through their tubescopes. They had on an instinctual level felt control of their destinies slipping out of their hands. Sadly they were right but completely unable to understand how right they actually were. And not being smart enough or awake enough as a group to realise this it fell to petty concerns about their jobs. Replacing humans with luggers or with the coming of the industrial revolution high tech machines who would work for less. Bringing the prices down of all goods but destroying the class of people that could buy them. But it was to mask the feeling that they were no longer at home in their own world. So this election had given them hope for some kind of change and reversal of fortune for them and theirs.
The alien media had cemented this notion in them by elevating Taylor up to the level of a mustache twirling villain. A speciesist who would round up aliens and un-normals and send them to die in quarries. Bringing up the history of their supposed persecution Cyclon had underdone from the humans of the past who were to them barbaric and cruel. But this resentment the media had for him and their attempt silence him made the public clamber for him all the more to know what they were not meant to know.
But Gage could not share their optimism and joviality as to them this was a sign that the system was not corrupt. For how so could it not be a democracy if this man who the system hated could be elected to lead it? Sure that proved to them that the system was indeed impartial and this man could free them of corruption.
Gage who could see and was far more cynical and could understand. This was exactly the kind of move the system would make to assuage the fears of corruption in the populace. That this entire conflict was manufactured by the system itself. The previous eleven presidents They’d had were at least partially or ambiguously human. And each time promised the humans whatever they wanted and when their vote was assured carried on whatever policy the president before him had carried out in an unbroken chain of control.
How could there ever be a true democracy when the freedom of choice was between two alien puppets. The freedom to choose being an illusion created for this very feeling the miners were feeling now, of hope and change and a brighter future. And then within the next couple of years they’d be cursing this new president and blaming him for all the problems the system created. And then before anyone could notice they’d swap him out for someone else and the whole thing would start over again.
One thing that was key to the Cyclon agenda was that humans had a short memory and could be conditioned to forget the past. Dooming them to repeat it, allowing them to be kept in an ideological stasis. Never moving forward and always being just on the cusp of acquiring everything they wanted but never fully being able to realise or bring it into reality.
This election was different only in that it was a false triumph. A move calculated by the Cyclon to make the humans think they had beaten the system entirely by simply engaging in it. Thus deflating the rising tensions between human and aliens by making the radical human element think they’d won. At which point the majority of the useful idiots in that movement would think the fight was over and stop entirely. Leaving the more radical elements without a force behind them which meant they could be disposed of without causing too much of a fuss. The radical voices asking for changed would be exposed and defeated by their own victory. The normal people would happily put their heads back in the sand safe in the knowledge that the future for their children would be sunshine and roses from then on. Purely for their signing their name on a piece of paper.
Gage knew better than that, he knew as all men instinctually knew but had been bred to forget. That no change worth having comes without blood, torrents of blood, rivers of blood. Human and alien alike, mountains of corpses that a king would set his throne atop and then and only then would his people truly be free. Only when the system was entirely torn down and burnt to ashes and every alien and human traitor lay dead would there be hope for a brighter tomorrow. And it was this reluctance to accept this price that found Gage living like Jonah but instead of being in the belly of whale he was trapped at the bottom of a bottle.
He could not hope to see his wife and children again because he was not the same man they knew. And he would not burden them with this new terrible knowledge he had. He would forever cloister himself away in the cave of his consciousness with whatever booze he could get his hands on. For fear of what his realisations could bring about for the world and for himself and his family.
By that time booze had become his only comfort, without it he feared he might go mad. Although another man might blurt out what he had come to realise about the world he lived in, he did not. But was secure in the idea that even if he did, it would be considered the raving conspiracies of a mad drunk with a pickled brain.
Later that night he found himself in a card game with a number of these ruddy faced miners who were or at least reaching the same level of drunkiness as Gage himself. Gage was cheating, badly, but everyone at the table was too drunk and happy to notice or care.
All but one man who silently seethed under a firm cowboy hat that looked new and unused which covered most of his face. He was an odd little man with a slightly tanned aspect but with very deep blue eyes that seemed to behold everything with the most profound disdain and curiosity. Through clasped hands he rested his rounded unstubbled chin.
His manner of dress was strangely costume in it’s appearance. Resembling what a cowboy of the previous age might look like in one of the serial fictions they had in new york that cast cow chasers as these romantic figures. Killing villains and romancing farm girls in between eating lots of beans by the campfire. He wore a long black duster a white shirt with an indio looking pattern and a brown waistcoat below it with a necktie with a steerhead clasp. With his hat pulled down he smoked long black cigarillo’s that must have been imported. Nobody paid him any attention least of all Gage who was a long ways into a raging drunk almost falling over himself to spend his ill gotten winnings on more whiskey.
The man with the piercing blue eyes in the unusually tanned face that made him look like a spaniard eyed Gage vociferously. He stubbed his cigarillo out to chew a wooden toothpick in its place. Never once taking his cruel cold steely gaze off Gage who laughed and cracked up with the other drunkards happy for a fleeting moment in their meaningless existence.
After the man had lost a great deal which didn’t seem to bother him all that much. He got up from his chair and bid everyone at the table goodnight with a tip of his rigid cowboy hat before clasping his hands behind his back in an unnatural gesture and clomping his way out of the saloon.
The room went silent for a moment as they watched him go and then burst into uproarious laughter as they assumed he was out of ear shot on the otherside of the saloon door. Which to anyone but a drunken man made perfect sense.