An Inside Story
When Saturday morning comes, many people enjoy to sleep in. You probably do. After a whole week of work at a nine-to-five job, there’s nothing better than waking up knowing that you can just go right back to sleep. No dragging yourself across a cold floor at six am, taking a cold shower in hopes that that will somehow get yourself up a bit, and then trying to focus on what you need to do, trying, usually in vain, to ignore the images of that nice warm bed that you just forced yourself out of. At six in the morning on a Saturday you could just turn right over and keep on dreaming.
But, not everyone was like this. While it may seem odd to you, some people actually enjoyed waking up bright and early every day. Some people were even upset with themselves if they didn’t. These people usually woke up early to get started on chores or, more often, go for a run around the block. This was precisely what Miranda Walker was getting ready to do this early Saturday morning when her alarm clock went off. Quietly, so as not to bother the other two people who shared the room in her on-campus suite, Walker got dressed into her exercise clothes, a t-shirt, short shorts, and tennis shoes. She then stepped out into the commons room. Not much here. The university had already installed a couch, two cheap armchairs, a few night stands, and a small wooden table with four chairs. Miranda and the other girls had placed two small fridges, each with a microwave on top, and a big screen TV on the two nightstands.
The suit had two bedrooms, A and B, with the commons room in between them. Each bedroom held three students. Miranda was in bedroom B. One girl from bedroom A, Sarah Mitchell was already sitting on the couch, eating cereal out of a paper bowl. She smiled tiredly at Miranda when she walked in.
“Going for a run?” She asked.
“You know it,” Miranda replied, smiling back.
“I wish I had your discipline,” Sarah said. “I couldn’t run every morning. I can hardly get out of bed, and I have an eight am class!”
“It’s not so bad,” Walker shrugged. “I guess I’m just used to it.”
“Hey, some of the other girls and I are going out tonight,” Mitchell announced. “We’re thinking of going to dinner out in town. You wanna come?”
“Sure,” Miranda replied, eagerly. “Sounds fun.”
“Alright,” Sarah said. “I’ll let Linda know you’re coming then.”
Miranda went over to the fridges and knelt down by a small tote bag sitting next to them. In it was an array of snack foods and other dry things that weren’t supposed to be refrigerated. Rummaging through them, Miranda found the box of granola bars. She reached into it and pulled out a bar and began to unwrap it. It was never really a good to go run on an empty stomach. She felt weak when she did that.
“I’m off,” She called to Sarah.
“Have fun,” Mitchell called back.
Miranda walked outside and then guided through the Apartment complex until she was out on the sidewalk. She stood next to a bench that sat in front of the complex and began to do her stretches to limber up for her run. First she started simply by touching her toes. After that, she placed her right hand on her hip, and raised her left arm over her head, while she leaned to the right. Then, she did it inversely. When that was done, she did fifteen jumping jacks. Then, she began to open the wrapper of her granola bar.
When it was open, she lifted it up to her mouth and took a big bite.
When it comes to the mouth, it is like a dark cave with a small ocean of warm saliva, dominated by the powerful tongue, dotted with its many taste buds. The white teeth line gums like massive stalagmites, the uvula dangling like a punching bag. There is a constant rushing sound as oxygen is sucked in and carbon dioxide expelled out from the lungs below. This is a place of constant activity, though it generally comes in degrees. Sometimes, the tongue just sways around, and the teeth just rise and fall in rhythm with the breathing. Occasionally a build-up of spit is swallowed. Other times, the place is chaotic as the tongue goes mad trying to be in the right place to form words and sentences. And then there are times when meals occur.
The darkness of the cavern is pierced by the light as the jaws open. The front end of the granola bar peeks inside. The teeth then clamp down, the incisors slicing through the treat. More saliva starts to flow from the walls and the ocean level begins to rise and the waters commence raging. The tongue guides the chunk of granola to the molars, which begin to crush and grind it into bits. The flow of saliva picks of the small pieces and flows them across the mouth, bouncing over the taste buds, and eventually over to the other molars. The teeth repeated slice, dice, crush, and grind as the jaw opens and closes. This process continues for about two minutes. Then, all of the mush is navigated to the back of the mouth and swallowed.
The large lump of goop is squeezed down past the pharynx and into the esophagus. Going past the pharynx one can see a sign, that read “WELCOME TO THE CITY OF MIRANDA”. After it goes a little further, the mush finally reaches the cesspool dome that is the stomach.
A voice over the loud speaker begins to speak.
“NOW LANDING: A GRANOLA BAR. REPEAT, GRANOLA BAR NOW LANDING. THANK YOU.”
The mounds of gush float in the stomach juices. The Gastro-Air Workers extend the Departure Tubes and jab them into the gooey heaps. Soon, those inside begin to depart, carrying small travel bags and guiding their children. They exit the Departure Tubes and are guided by the officials of where to pick up their luggage. Overhead, a new loudspeaker voice brays:
“WELCOME TO THE CITY OF MIRANDA! WE HOPE YOU ENJOY YOUR VISIT IN OUR HUMBLE CITY!”
Once their luggage has been retrieved, the new arrivals of the City of Miranda will go one of two places. Some will take the Venal bus to the kidneys and depart the city for their next destination via the bladder. Others would head to downtown, where they would either find a place to call home, or find a place to stay while they did their business in the city before eventually making their way to the bladder.
More bits of the granola bar continued to slide down into the stomach. When all of it was in, and all of the passengers escorted off, the Departure Tubes were withdrawn and the fluids that the filled the stomach began to have acids added to them to further break down the vessels. Then, the workers would dump the remains down into the small intestine, where the factory workers there would break them down further and load the important pieces onto trucks to be taken on the Circular Highways to be delivered throughout the city. Any pieces that weren’t necessary would be thusly discarded into the large intestine, where it would remain until it was expelled from the city.
Downtown Miranda was flowing with activity this morning. The streets were filled with cells and bacteria that hustled and bustled to go on about their day. White blood cells patrolled to keep an eye on the situation. Downtown was Immune’s territory, while other regions of the city had small forces. Occasionally, the Immune Depart had to send assistance to these smaller forces when a particularly troublesome gang of bacteria or viruses showed up, but, fortunately, those days seemed to be pretty far and between.
The Circular Highway was also very lively, its passengers getting a good boost from the heart. Everyone in the City of Miranda knew it was good to get on it early in the morning, since that was when it moved fastest during the early parts of the day when everyone had to get to work. The heart beats usually picked up. Sometimes a news stations would broadcast a report from the brain that the Circular Highway would be slow, but that too was rare.
Life in the City of Miranda was pretty good, all things considered. Folks who visited were usually quite impressed with how well kept the place was. Some other cities were quite dirty and junky. But, Downtown Miranda was clean and in great shape. The Immune Department was well equipped and well-funded. Very few things managed to creep past their watchful eye. Occasionally, few viruses managed to cause a cough or a runny nose, but other than that, more troublesome gangs were caught and dealt with.
The city’s cells were pleased with Mayor Serosal, who had taken office two years ago. She was a strong supporter of Miranda’s current goals, and assured everyone that she was hoping for continued beneficial communication between her administration and the Prefrontal Cortex. Past administrations had always had good relations ships with the cortex and made good use of the Prefrontal-Parietal Network, which was usually referred to as The Network. Serosal proudly said that The Network’s dominance of signals from the Limbic Hub still ran strong. Expert brain cells reported that Miranda had achieved an eighty-nine percent success rate of inhibition, keeping her successful on a healthier lifestyle, which meant a good life for the Downtown area.
“We still strive to help Miranda improve!” Serosal said in a recent interview. “My staff has worked with diligently, and more innovations from deliberation of both The Network and my administration continue to flow through the stream of consciousness.”
The cells worked diligently to maintain homeostasis in the City of Miranda. It seemed that prosperity and peace was the status quo around here. And that was good enough for everyone.
Miranda balled up the wrapper from her granola bar and tossed it in a trash bin. She rubbed her stomach gently, feeling the empty rumbles down below slowly soften as it was filled. Then, she raised her arms above her head, did one last big stretch of her whole body, from head to toe, and then took off running down the sidewalk.
It was perfect outside. Warm, but with a breeze that felt great against Miranda’s skin and kept her cool as she jogged. It was mid spring and the dreary months of the winter season had long been over, thank god. The sky was clear and bright blue, the grass was green, and the flowers were full bloom. The park near the apartment complex was her favorite place to jog. It lifted her spirits to see the flowers there. How could one be down after beholding such natural beauty? It just didn’t seem possible. Miranda crossed the street, making sure both ways were clear of course, and turned the corner to head for the park.
6:07 AM: Femoral Artery in Miranda’s Left Thigh
Corti Lorensky was just pulling onto the Circular Highway. He could tell that it was moving very fast, he thought he could practically hear the heart from his humble abode in the thigh. It meant that he’d have to be careful getting on. It was very useful when the Highway was moving as fast as it was, but it was also dangerous. You didn’t quickly get with the flow and it would run you over so quick that it would make your membrane spin.
His cellular phone went off just as soon as he got on safely. Naturally, being a white blood cell, he knew better than to pick it up. Fortunately, his car had a system that would let him take calls through the radio. He pushed a button and replied:
“Hello? Corti here.”
“Hey, Corti!” It was Stria. She sounded excited. “Are you on your way?”
“Yeah, yeah,” The white blood cell replied. “What’s up?”
“You gotta hurry!” Stria replied. “You’re gonna miss it if you don’t get here soon! She’s just turned the corner!”
“Aw, phlegm!” Corti replied, leaning on the pedal. “I’m going as fast as I can! How much time do you think I have?”
“About two or three minutes!” Stria called. “She’s really moving!”
“I know, I know!” Lorensky repeated. “I can tell! The Highway’s going like crazy! But that’s good! I just might make it! I’m already passing through downtown and I can see the lungs in the distance. I should be there before she gets to the park!”
“For your sake I hope so!” Then a click as his friend hung up.
The white blood cell drove as fast as legally possible, hoping that the highway would go through for him, like it usually did. He was just passing the stomach, where the granola bar was being digested, and the lungs, rapidly inflating and deflating, were indeed insight. It might be a close call but he would get there. He had to. There was nothing worse to start the day than by being late…
The park was in sight. Miranda continued towards, taking slow controlled breaths as she jogged. Her heart thumped good and strong in her breast, her long black hair flowed in the wind behind her. She was feeling pretty good. No sign of being winded and hardly a bead of sweat at this stage in the game. There was still a ways to go on her route, of course.
Miranda stopped as she heard the wet noise. There was a smooching sound and a sticky feeling under her right tennis shoe. Lifting the shoe behind her, she saw, to her annoyance, that she had just stepped on big, wet wad of gum that someone had left.
“Ah, gross…” Walked sighed. She wavered there, unsure of what to do for a moment, since, clearly she didn’t want to touch the stuff. Then, she lowered her shoe against the edge of the sidewalk and scraped it as hard as she could. Fortunately, the gum came off easily enough, but it looked even more disgusting as it got stretched out. “Euck!”
Miranda scraped as much of the gum off as she could. When that was done she continued on her way, making a mental note to wash the bottom of her shoe when she got back to the apartment.
6:10 AM Miranda’s Right Eye
Croti had been pumped through the heart and had gone through the jugular, listening to the loud, deep breaths that came in through the Larynx. It was a straight shot through the cheek and pretty soon he saw it. The sign in the distance read “See World” with the subtitle “View the world as Miranda sees it!” It was the City’s prime amusement park. The kids especially loved it. Many schools took field trips to the eyes to show the students the world beyond. Everything that came through the Miranda’s eyes was a breathtaking spectacular for the cells, which was why Lorensky was in such a hurry. He worked as a security guard here.
The white blood cell parked and quickly speed into the amusement park grounds. Fortunately, being staff, he was able to cut past all the lines at the gate and make it inside the eyeball. Once in, he hurried to his post, where he found Stria Downes there.
“You are soooo lucky!” She began as he got there, out of breath.
“What…did…I…miss?” He gasped.
“Nothing!” Stria replied, happily. “Like I said, you got lucky!”
“Why’s….that?” Croti managed.
“Not long after I called, Miranda stepped on something,” Stria explained. “It looked like gum. It was really gross! She had to scrape it off and eeeewww it was sooo nasty!”
“So I didn’t miss it?” Lorensky asked, gratefully.
“Nope!” Stria said. “In fact, I think it should be…”
“Oh my gosh!” A young cell cried exuberantly. “Mommy look! Look!”
Stria and Croti both turned towards the sound. And then, there breath was taken away. Flowing in from Miranda’s vision was a paradise. Long stretches a bright, luscious green, dotted by shining blossoms of colorfully flowers, all enhanced by a bright blue sky and giant glowing ball. The crowd at See World oohed and aahed, amazed. Croti couldn’t look away. There was place in the City of Miranda than the woman’s own eyes. It was why he loved working as a guard here. Very few people could see this spectacular sight everyday. He was one of those very privileged people who could. Stria stood beside him, her hands at her mouth, speechless. Such beauty, such tranquility. It was hard for a single cell to imagine the world beyond. Yet, thanks to Miranda, they got to see it.
Walker continued jogging through the park, taking in all of its sights. It truly was a great place to jog, and she honestly didn’t know how Sarah could not find motivation to jog with her. She would get to pass through here every day and what more motivation did one need? Still, in a way, it was good to be alone. It made the moment more personal, and thus more special.
Miranda circled the park about five times. After the last round about, she became aware of the urge to pee. She set course for the bathrooms at the park. When she got to them, she slowed to a walk and placed two fingers against her jugular and looked at her watch.
“A hundred and fifty five,” She breathed, wiping her brow, as she stepped inside the restroom. “Not bad.”
She quickly went into the stall and urinated. When she was done, she went to the sink to wash her hands. Looking in the mirror, she saw that her hair was a little frizzled and her face was sweaty and parts of her white t-shirt had sweat marks, notably around the collar and under the armpits. Another mental note: shower back at the apartment.
7:01 Miranda’s Right Eye – See World
The crowd at See World erupted in a great cheerful applause as the reflection of Miranda’s image in the mirror came through her eyes. It was a treat for the cells to see a full on view of the body they inhabited and served.
“Mommy, look!” Kids shouted. “Look! Look!”
“Is that her?”
“Yes! That’s her!”
“She’s so pretty!”
“That’s our Miranda!”
“The Big M!”
“Wow…” Stria said, watching through Miranda Walker’s eyes as she ran her fingers through her hair. “Isn’t she something? No matter how many times I see her, it’s just…wow.”
“Yeah, I know.” Corti replied, equally amazed.
“I mean…” Stria continued. “Just think about it. We’re all here because of her. All of us together. Without her, you and I wouldn’t even exist…”
“Yeah…” Lorensky said. “Makes you want to be a better cell, doesn’t it?”
“Totally,” Stria nodded. “I’d do anything for her. Just look at that face!” The face in question was picking something out of her teeth with her fingers. “Isn’t she just remarkable?”
“Yep.” Corti replied. “The reason I’m proud to be a white blood cell. Our duty is to protect her at all costs.”
“Right!” His friend exclaimed. “And we will! Not one germ is getting through this eye on our watch, right, Corti?”
“Definitely not!” Lorensky answered, slapping her five. “You know oath: To keep Miranda happy, healthy, and at homeostasis!”
Miranda’s hands were washed and she headed back out to the apartment. Casting the park and good-bye glance, she turned the corner and jogged up the street. Pretty soon, the complex was back in sight. She went up the steps quick and then walked towards her door, holding her arms above her head to open her lungs a bit more. Though she got to the door of her suite soon, she walked past it to keep walking. It was good after an exercise to keep moving. Suddenly stopping was bad for your muscles. After a few minutes she walked back into the room.
Sarah was still there, although her cereal bowl was now empty.
“How was your run?” She asked.
“Great…” Miranda breathed, smiling. “You really should come with me sometime, ya know. It really makes you feel good during the rest of the day.”
“Yeah, I know…” Sarah admitted. “But…you just get up so early! Six in the morning!”
“Well, you were up that early today…” Miranda pointed out.
“Yeah, but today doesn’t count,” Downes replied. “I feel asleep real early last night for some reason. So, today was abnormal.”
“Well...I’m gonna go take a shower,” Walker said, heading to her bedroom.
“You better,” Sarah told her. “You’re dripping with sweat.”
“I know, I’m gross,” Miranda agreed.
She went into the bedroom, quietly shutting the door, for her two other roommates, Macy and Brenda, were still asleep. Gathering her clothes for the afternoon, Miranda stepped into the bathroom and was soon in the shower.
An Inside Story