Lost to memory

Submitted into Contest #206 in response to: Set your story in an eerie, surreal setting.... view prompt

22 comments

Drama Fiction Mystery

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

How did I get here? The question sounds new to my swirling fractured mind, yet I know I've asked it before. I must have. But how many times? Like memory, time has little to no stability in this place of shifting darkness, it flows as freely as the warm liquid that binds me. 


I can hear my captors through the constant, unending drumming. Is its purpose to torture me? Perhaps, but for what? What could I have done or know that I could possibly deserve this?


They laugh, no doubt mocking my cramped confinement, the sound crashes over my head like rolling thunder. Startling. Deafening. Godly. Through the writhing walls of my ever shrinking cell I have never seen their faces. Noise and foreboding are my only companions in this unknowable strangeness.


Pulsating nutrients rush via a feeding tube telling me I am not imagining my jailers, they are out there somewhere. And for some reason, keeping me healthy. But for what? To what end?


The fleshy pipe crawling with pustules and snaking veins begins to throb. It surges. Feeding time.


If not for the rancid texture of visceral fluids filling every corner of my being it would almost be welcome, for it brings with it a glimpse of the before. 


I look up from a green checkered tablecloth, a man in a white shirt is placing a bowl of food before me. Pale worms splattered with crimson chunks. Something wells up from deep inside telling me it is my favourite. Or was. I eat hungrily, slurping, chewing, and smiling at the woman opposite. A sister? Mother? Wife? All I can be sure of is her green eyes, so familiar they say they have always loved me, and will do so forever more. Who are you?


A chanting erupts, sizzling the edges of my vision into clarity. The table is long, impossibly so it disappears beyond the horizon. Flames flicker from atop wax covered bottles, and shapes of varying sizes wrapped in striped and spotted paper call out for me to open them. Most worrying however are the leering faces of all ages, they stare unblinking. I am transfixed as the rhythm of their song grows into a raucous applause. 


White shirt returns, proffering a huge cylinder of gloop festooned with burning, crackling sticks. They tell me to blow, urge me to make a wish. I do.


Darkness.


What was that? Was that me?


My cage rattles as if in answer, or anger. The void squeezes, my eyes widen. I twist, the tube wraps about my neck. I struggle, fight, kick, but I cannot scream. The walls of my moist dungeon close in around me. I was not meant to see that, not meant to remember and now my unseeable god's punish me. My body is racked with pain, crushing pressure tries its best to force me down deeper into this pool of night.


She is back, the woman with green eyes, she is holding me, squeezing me. A hug. Mother? I am a small boy, my arms filled with boxes wrapped in crinkling metallic paper. Gifts. We are outside the restaurant. I am happy. We are happy. We say goodbye to everyone and leave. I drop a parcel when crossing the road and stop to pick it up, lights, blinding lights….


The thunder booms louder and more quickly, galloping like a great steed across the inky heavens. It brings the wrath of my distant deities. Everything constricts. Suddenly the fluid that held me prisoner for an immeasurable time streams away. Gummy jaws wrap around my skull, envelope my head and press down. I am doomed to be squashed to death. Doomed to leave this strange place with no knowledge of who or what I have become. Why am I here! What is this place!


Mother's gaze widens in shock, light illuminating every crevice of her blanched expression. She tries to push me away but she is too late. For both of us. Tyres shriek. Brakes hiss. Our bodies crumple, snap and dash the grill of the speeding lorry.


It all comes back in horrific flashes. I was just a boy. My tenth birthday. Father had...father had died overseas wearing a green uniform. Mother said he died with honour, for peace, for us. All of us. It was my first birthday since we had lost him so all that remained of our small family had come to his favourite restaurant - Mario's Pizzeria. We stayed late, too late. It was dark…we…


The toothless mouth gnaws me further, chewing over my head, then shoulders in slow laborious movements. A scream curdles in my tiny throat. My captors are near, I can sense them, hear them. But it's different. They are scared.  


The world shudders and breaks. Light explodes and I am spat into the world. I roar, and scream, and flail. For the grief of my memory, for the pain as huge wheels crushed my spine, for the family I'll never see again.


Trembling and cold I am scooped up by a giant, wrapped in something soft and handed to a woman. Her face is red and drenched in sweat and tears.


I am pressed to her chest and hear that constant thundering once more. No longer torturous, but a constant. That beating kept me alive, kept me safe from this cruel world. Her laughter shakes our bodies as one and I know, she is mother. A different mother.


I have been here before, many times. All of us have. There is a reason we forget the trauma of birth, to remember would be to remember your death. And the countless lives lost. Countless hearts broken.


My crying stops and a man presses close, kisses us both. Father. I have a father again. It is all so strange, so familiar and yet I can feel who I was before fading away.


Time flows once more and carries memories off with it. 


I am hungry and tired. I look around at this strange world of bright lights and brighter smiles and wonder…


How did I get here?




July 13, 2023 20:48

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22 comments

Ken Cartisano
03:33 Aug 02, 2023

-Wow. What a cool story. Beautifully written and engineered, the way it did the same thing that it described, a circuitous self-perpetuating, but not repeating loop, or, as you intended, re-incarnation. The plausible, bio-mecha-genetic error of a soul whose memories don't get erased. I didn't find it creepy, scary here and there, but the feeling I got was more mystical and the ending confirmed the feeling. Really excellent story. Intense.

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Kevin Logue
07:23 Aug 02, 2023

Cheers Ken, so glad you enjoyed it. I'm happy with mystical, when writing it I almost wanted to lean towards the idea of alien abduction before the birth but it just seemed wrong. I'm in no way a planner so I'm always along for the ride too, so its interesting to see where it ends, ha. Always great to see others appreciate it 😁

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Lily Finch
22:15 Jul 13, 2023

Kevin, such a distinct look at the creepier side of reincarnation. You definitely nailed the prompt -- it's eerie. To be reborn and to remember one life while you are in another sounds like you might catch up with yourself at some point. Thanks for the good read. LF6

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Kevin Logue
06:49 Jul 14, 2023

Thanks very much Lily. You've actually tapped into something I was toying with, the idea that he would recognise his new mother as a relative so he would be his uncle nephew ha. Or something like that.

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Lily Finch
15:12 Jul 14, 2023

Yep. I see it. LF6

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Amanda Lieser
06:06 Aug 11, 2023

Hi Kevin! What a stunning piece! It felt terrifying and beautiful and horrible and like something I would die just to experience. You captured all of the horrifying part of birth while nodding to the beautiful moments of connection. Your use of “mother” was poignant and brilliant. Nice work!

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Kevin Logue
07:41 Aug 11, 2023

Terrifying, beautiful, and horrible, were just want I was aiming for in this piece. Thanks for such glowing feedback, it's always nice to have others appreciate your work.

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Angela Ginsburg
14:27 Jul 21, 2023

A great take on the prompt. Everybody thinks about reincarnation, but the journey of what it is like never gets flesh like this. Very interesting.

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Kevin Logue
16:33 Jul 21, 2023

Thanks very much Angela, I had fun with it tbh, originally I was going to hint towards a possible alien abduction root then reveal the rebirth, but it just work out the way it did. First time ever I was under the minimum word count and had to fluff it up a little ha. Hope all is going well with your current projects.

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Marty Logue
17:44 Jul 17, 2023

Great story. Had me gripped the whole time..Nice one

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Kevin Logue
18:06 Jul 17, 2023

Cheers, glad you enjoyed.

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John Werner
17:37 Jul 17, 2023

Wow! It felt like I was in the sidecar on some dark and wild ride. You really nailed that prompt! Great read, Kevin! Thank you!

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Kevin Logue
18:05 Jul 17, 2023

Thanks very much John, glad you enjoyed.

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Shahzad Ahmad
16:47 Jul 17, 2023

Kevin great use of similes and very creative use of the prompt. The sense of mystry is also evoked. Well done!

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Kevin Logue
16:49 Jul 17, 2023

Thank you very much Shahzad. I wasn't sure if I was going to do anything for this prompt but then the idea formed from nowhere and here we are lol.

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J. D. Lair
18:11 Jul 14, 2023

Got me choked up Kevin!

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Kevin Logue
18:19 Jul 14, 2023

The highest honour my friend! I'm going to suggest it's them new father hormones lol

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J. D. Lair
18:38 Jul 14, 2023

Most definitely! Lol

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Mary Bendickson
22:27 Jul 13, 2023

Couldn't wait to get to end to see what it was really about. Then got it. Looking into possibilities.

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Kevin Logue
06:51 Jul 14, 2023

Ha, if you find out let me know! Cheers for reading and commnet as always, you're a star! 😁

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Unknown User
21:33 Jul 13, 2023

<removed by user>

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Kevin Logue
21:45 Jul 13, 2023

Cheers for reading A.G and leaving the feedback. Damn typos always slip through, I'll have to give it a look over in the morning, if there is any of the sentences you want to point out I'd appreciate it. Always looking to improve 👍

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