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Suspense Mystery Science Fiction

His eyes are ocean-blue, deep, mysterious, and focused tightly on me. Shaggy brown hair is pulled away from his face, tangled in the back like he cared not for how it appeared. I don’t know who he is. I don’t know where I am.


“Do you see it?” I pulled away, his breath stinking heavily of peppermint failing to cover up the smell of smoke. His fists clenched with such an intensity, I felt small and insignificant and unworthy of his attention. 


I found my mouth to speak, my throat so dry I couldn’t remember the last time I spoke. In fact, if it weren’t for his prompting, I wouldn’t have even tried. 


“I-I-” I sputtered, testing my voice and forcing down a cough climbing up my throat. “Where am I?”


His eyes glinted with pride at my question, and I fought the urge to vomit. I wasn’t safe, that was clear. But even though the dark, dingy room seemed to hold me captive within its walls, I was not restrained. I could theoretically stand, if my legs would hold me.


The man turned toward his computer, leaving me to contemplate my situation on my own. “It will come to you.” He smirked. “You’ll know before I even have to tell you.”


I contemplated standing, but another part of me knew it would end up in my falling to the ground. The concrete ground would scrape my knees, my hands would reach out and falter under my weight. The unknown man in the corner will turn toward me and hiss for me to be careful, or I would ruin his hard work. Injuries, minor or major, were not allowed.


His hands, rough and calloused, would lift me up and back onto the chair by my waist. And I would try and shrug him off, hissing with a weak voice I did not need his help. Of course, he knew I did and would not leave me alone.


“Who are you, and what do you want from me?” My voice will be demanding and sharp, but the throatiness and weakness of it I could hear easily. I reeked of the fear that came with the unknown. Shivers ran down my back, and I will think of how cold and hard the bleak room was.


I retreated from the memory quickly, the transition jarring and sharp. Bolting up from my chair, I tumbled to the floor in front of me, my hands reaching out to shield my fall and crumbling under me. A familiar sting to the knees overcame me, and I struggled to stand and ignored the sigh of the man at his computer.


What on earth?


His voice came in a low hiss. “You have to be careful, injuries, minor or major-”


“Are not allowed.” I breathed, trying to wrangle away from his strong hands, lifting me up by the waist. A thin smile blossomed over his face, making him look much older in an instant. Yet he carried the enthusiasm of a child who had gotten just what he wanted for Christmas. Giddy and excited, the expression seemed unnatural.


“Who are you, and what do you want from me?” I recognized my voice, the words slipping out before I had time to think about them. Deja vu washed over me in waves, this was the second time I had experienced this series of events. I remembered it before it even happened.


The memories became faster, rushing through my thoughts before he even had a chance to respond. I knew the answer, and more. Images and feelings coursed through me like lightning, heat flashing through my body while the memories came hot and fast.


His voice, double-speed explaining how I was an experiment. My eyes focused on the picture frame hung up on the wall beside his computer, a girl in a loose red shirt smiling with purple paint splattered on her face and hands. My legs wobbling as I took a few shaky steps, until I managed to keep my balance, the man hovering nearby in case I tripped up. 


The taste of an apple, crisp and sweet against my tongue. A hunger I didn’t know was there fading, questions flying out of my chapped list irritating the man who claimed if I was patient I would learn soon enough. He knew, the thought was future me and past me jumbled together. He knows this is happening, he wants it to happen. 


With a spell of dizziness, I was catapulted back into the chair. I wiggled my fingers and felt my toes, I felt completely normal despite my weakness. And the man was still talking. Whatever paradox he had thrown me into, it was not fun to be bounced around in my own head unpredictably.


But I couldn’t interrupt him and tell him I already knew, could I? Because then the future I saw would be incorrect, I wouldn’t get the explanation. My thoughts ran rampant with the possibilities, the concepts and theories. It all came back to the memories from the future.


“Essentially, your brain has been tweaked to work in reverse-memory. You can remember the future, but not the past.” I inhaled, the memory of it fresh and a reminder of the time loop I had going. “It will last forever, it is non-reversible. Though, of course, you already know that.” 


The fury and frustration I had hearing him tell me the first time made sense, it was like being goaded with a treat and then being told you already had it. But this time I understood. He understood. But it didn’t mean I liked it any more. 


“I’m going to be stuck in this cycle of deja vu forever.” I repeated, my knuckled tightening around the armrests so tight my knuckles went white. I didn’t recall asking the question - it seemed like my memory wasn’t perfect from the future either. 


His brows furrowed, and he pursed his lips tightly together. “I’m afraid so. I’m going to need for you to share with me what it is like though.”


My mouth fell open. I was sure I had not been asked this the first time, this was new. Not just a slip of something insignificant, I would remember this. “But I don’t remember -”


He waved his arms for me to stop. “Time will almost never play out exactly how it did before. It is ever-changing, hence the paradox is taken out. You didn’t need to actually hear me explain the concepts again, you would still remember, it’s just time would break off down a different path.”


“Would I remember the new path?” I asked, my hands loosening from the arms of the chair. 


He sighed. “It will come more naturally over time, and it won’t always be so clear. Right now, your brain is figuring out how to access these memories. Eventually it will be more dull and you will know more vague ideas you can call upon at will instead of being sucked into it.”


“You knew I had already seen the future.” I ran my fingers through my hair, surprised when they fell through it easily without knots. It was such a blasphemous statement to say, one I would never have imagined letting fall from my lips without a second thought. 


“You finished my sentence, and you were visibly bored when I went through the explanation.” He shrugged as if it were perfectly normal for him to know such things.


“I can’t control it, it’s got a mind of it’s own I can’t-” I stammered, my words tripping over each other until his heavy hand came over my shoulder in a strangely paternal gesture.


“Idaya, it’s mind is your mind. You will come to control it, not the other way around. There is nothing to fear here.” I fought the urge to jump up and run, opting instead to take a few shaky breaths and calm down.


In that moment I lurched into memory again.


It was less chaotic, slow, rather. Different from the previous events, these had a layer of fog separating them. The clarity had reduced, leaving only vague imprints of events, feelings, and thoughts.


Me and the man, in deep discussion about what travelling through memory was like. Discussing the impermanence of it - I could not remember individual words but rather what I gleaned from them. I remember eating an apple, not the acidic taste on my tongue but the concept of eating it. 


Removing myself from the memories came easier this time, for I had never truly disconnected from reality. I remained aware and conscious in the room, the memories taking over my subconscious and filing themselves away without my control. 


He was right. It would sort itself out


“You just returned?” His voice lifted at the end in question, his hands glossing over papers sprawled over his desk. Pausing over a frame of a girl in a red dress. 


“I never really left this time.” I swallowed hard, nodding to myself. “It’s getting easier.”


He nodded, and his smile was smaller as he walked over to the chair and offered me his hand. I glared at it. “Why did you do this to me?” The question was sharp and accusatory, but he did not seem to take offense.


“Oh, you already know.”


And I did, I realized. The mere thought of it summoned information taken from the future, beyond consciousness. He had made me this way because I would be a tool for him. And the prospect of escape would never be an option, unless I wanted to spend my life in a lab with my brain being dissected. And I knew this with perfect certainty.


Begrudgingly accepting my fate, I put my small hand in his and allowed him to lift me up. 


“Nice to know you, Jason.” I taunted, my mouth turning up into a crooked smile mirroring his. “I just have one request.”


He nodded, hesitant, not knowing how big my demand would be. But it was nothing big, just a tiny desire.


“I would like to have something to eat.” His face flooded with relief, and reaching into his bag, he pulled out a shiny red apple and handed it to me.


“Thank you.” I said, biting into it and tasting the crisp, sweet flavour against my tongue.







October 08, 2020 14:56

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8 comments

01:18 Oct 19, 2020

Hi Lara :-) Having just discovered your stores, I chose this as my first. I am so in awe that you were able to write about this prompt. I was confused along with the protagonist, and curious as to her reason to consent to participate in this experiment (having a background in mental health research myself, this would never happen with our ethics constraints). She obviously has an interesting back story!

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Natalie Dafoe
18:59 Oct 19, 2020

Thanks for commenting! The protagonist's past is sort of a mystery, even leading up to when the 'procedure' was done. Perhaps she didn't have much of a choice whether to consent or not at all! I added in "He had made me this way because I would be a tool for him. And the prospect of escape would never be an option, unless I wanted to spend my life in a lab with my brain being dissected. And I knew this with perfect certainty." To clarify that this was not a government done process / alluding to her not really being known to exist by the o...

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Sam W
01:27 Oct 15, 2020

Crazy-you executed the prompt wonderfully, Lara, and left me with the perfect amount of questions (which I’m sure Idaya could answerXD). Just one thing, though. Why doesn’t she ask about the past?

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Natalie Dafoe
17:19 Oct 15, 2020

Thank you!! Idaya probably didn't ask about her past because before everything fell into place she was likely panicked about where she was and what was going on. I can imagine she would ask after the story ends, but would already know the answer because he explained it to her in the future. It didn't seem to be completely relevant.

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C. Jay Loren
10:14 Oct 13, 2020

Very smooth and well-written and had me super interested from start to finish so well done! :)

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Natalie Dafoe
18:59 Oct 19, 2020

Thank you!!

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Paul Myer
04:29 Dec 15, 2020

Hmmm... "Days of future passed" The Moody Blues. "I've seen the future. It's a man with a bald head!" Albert Brooks. Our past was once our future. It's all just a conundrum wrapped in a mystery.

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Ari Berri
15:32 Nov 10, 2020

This is awesome! Great use of the prompt!

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