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Fruit of the Forbidden Tree

By LESLIE BURTON BLADES
Into the infinite they hurled their brains, to solve the ultimate mystery

I READ the scrawled note attached to a bulky manuscript that I had just received, with a sudden sense of disaster, vague and terrifying, for I knew these men well and I could not but accept the half-mad note as reality.

Carry has gone out, vanished utterly, and in a moment's time. I am alone in the laboratory among all the psychological apparatus with which we have experimented so long.
Would to Heaven we had never attempted this last mad project. But it is too late to regret, for he is gone. In the room a vibrant, unseen force, like an unbodied will. is forcing me to complete what I began.
When you receive this it will probably be over, but I want you to come to the laboratory, do what must be done, and give this report to the world. It is our last great contribution to science, and both Carry and myself desire it tn be published.
As ever,
Davis.

Something had happened at the laboratory of my two friends, the great experimental psychologists, which had resulted in tragedy.

Hastily collecting the report, I called my car and drove at once to the laboratory as Davis had requested.

Save for the vast collection of experimental appliances for testing brain force, the books on the mind, a few disordered papers and its usual furniture, the place was empty.

I submit the report mailed me, without explanation, Nothing I can say will be of value and the document must speak for itself. What it declares is true. I knew both men and I have seen the laboratory where they ended their work. For the rest, psychologists must attempt explanations which a mere novice like myself could only clumsily propose. It follows:

REPORT OF EXPERIMENTS
IN ANALYSIS OF THE
COMPOSITION OF
THE HUMAN SOUL
Experimental Psychologists,
Davis and Carry
A. and S. Laboratory, February 3, 1939

The laboratory was heavy with cigar smoke and the big incandescent in the center of the table flared through the gloom, lighting Carry's face oddly as he sat opposite me.

"Davis," he said slowly through his veil of smoke, "we have succeeded in telepathy, we are skilled in hypnosis, and we have demonstrated the ability of consciousness to turn into itself and observe its own inner workings. Why not go on to an analysis of the human soul? We might discover its composition—the soul stuff."

I stared at him in amazement for I knew that his entire scientific career had been that of a materialistic psychologist who denied soul, asserting that the mind was a mere cooperation of living nerve and muscle cells.

"Of course you are surprised," he remarked casually for I had allowed him to read my thought telepathically. "I don't believe in the soul any more today than I ever did, but I am a scientist and therefore willing to assume its existence till we can test it."

"We can never do that," I asserted positively. I was always opposed to Carry's wild hypotheses. "That is the mystery which science cannot explain."

He smoked in silence for a moment, then I was allowed to see his mind. We rarely talked aloud at such times, preferring to communicate telepathically as a quicker and clearer method of understanding.

"You know," he was thinking, his lips closed around his cigar, "we have made larger leaps in our work before. This seems simple. We can go at it from our separate points of view. You believe that mind is an ethereal pure spirit in touch with the body by some non-material attachment. I don't; but we can accept your belief as a starter. I will go at it my way, you by yours."

"I do not see the method," I answered though my voice was silent.

"I will take the evolutionary view and go down into the remnant nerves of my spine and sympathetic system. They are after all the heritage of man from his beast ancestry and if I could get my consciousness into them I might discover what this life energy—soul if you like—really is."

"But to get down into them is not possible."

"I think it is. We could do this: You hypnotize me and direct my mind into them. I will report back telepathically what I find. I m...

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