The Memory Dive Experience

Submitted into Contest #102 in response to: Frame your story as an adult recalling the events of their childhood.... view prompt

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Drama Fiction

“Hello everyone, welcome to Memories untethered. My name is Dr. Ian Bailey, I am a psychiatrist specializing in memory loss and brain cognition and I will be your instructor in this study.” the man said.

He was standing in front of the class at about six feet tall wearing khaki slacks, a white shirt and a blue blazer that had a golden lapel collar pin. His black rimmed glasses complimented his fair complexion, matching the thin well combed black hair on his head. When he stared around the room his gaze was as blue as the ocean. 

“In this study we will try to trigger or train the brain to remember events and recall experiences that have long been forgotten.” He continued.

“Just a disclaimer if you have or think the experiences maybe traumatic I highly recommend you reach out to me and not participate in open class exercises we can always accommodate and work with you privately in separate sessions as need be.” Dr Ian added.

I was immediately shaken by the statement. I knew what I wanted to remember was somehow a traumatic experience. I needed to understand the nature of the exercises first. Before I could finish my thought, someone raised a hand.

“Hi Dr Ian, I am Maria Stepanopolis, we spoke a lot during the early selections and my question is how do you know if you’ve had traumatic experience?” a woman at the front asked.

I could describe everything about the woman but nothing stood out most like her shoes. They were high heel shoes that glowed with a crimson red as if they were bleeding. The lines on the edges appeared black but it could be the shadow from where I was seating. She wore a black floral dress that was vividly decorated by red flowers. She looked like she had an expensive taste.

“What could she be doing in this class?” I wondered.

As I was lost in my own world of psycho analyzing other members in this class, Dr Ian was responding to her question.

“That’s a very good question Miss Stepanopolis. I think some people know and some don’t know if they have had such experiences. We will go slowly following a step by step program and if we see some symptoms of trauma we will advise you accordingly. I hope that answers your question.” He said.

Looking towards Maria Stepanopolis she nodded politely and he turned around facing the rest of the class adding, 

“If there’s any other questions please feel free to ask as the lessons continues.”

“Today we will only be doing simple exercises of remembering things that have happened throughout the day, what we had for breakfast, how we felt about something during the day, what calls we received and so forth. Very straightforward and simple things.” Dr Ian continued.

The rest of the exercise was not quite different. I did not speak that much. If there is one thing I have learned over my forty years on this planet is being a fly in wall. I find watching others a more pleasurable experience than participation.

 At the end of the session Dr Ian stood by the door and called out the names of each member in the class reaffirming the practice of repetition.

“I forgot to thank you all for participating. We, here at the Nueroworks Lab are very glad you signed up for this study. I know most of you are getting paid but we are happy to have you and thank you again for participating in this study, it means a lot to us.” He concluded.

If first impressions were meant to impress the study had so far failed in this case. I was contemplating quitting to save my trip back the following week. 

I was a little bit hopeful this was going to help in regaining some missing pieces of my past life, but I did not see much hope. I have tried regaining most of my childhood memories but nothing has prove to be a success so far.

I walked past the lobby and towards the parking lot when I noticed the lady from class. It was Maria Stepanopolis standing by the edge of the building having a smoke.

I passed and waved trying to be a little polite. She looked at me and her lips curled in a tube motion as a stream of white air flushed out and disappeared in the night air. 

“Hey you” she said.

“Are you here for the experience too?” She continued.

I stopped mid way down the steps and looked at her her dark eyes fixed at me. A little surprised, her question had thrown me off guard but I figured she was talking about the study.

“Yeah.” I replied hoping my brief response will cut our conversation short.

She walked towards me dropping the smoke butt on the floor and pressing the light with the tip of her red heels. 

“Follow me then.” she said with authority and some disdain at the same time. 

I stared at her still confused at what she was talking about. I must have missed something in class. I stepped back allowing her to pass in front of me. At the end of the stairs she stopped and beckoned with her hand for me to follow her. 

I hesitated before my legs betrayed my conscious and succumbed to the curiosity of this encounter. She walked slowly and smoothly, allowing each leg to glide on the path with her body carefully treading the heels on her feet. 

A small door was located at the side of the building with a sign “Authorized Personnel Only”. She knocked three times and the door was opened by someone from inside. It was an old man with a white coat like a scientist with bushy eyebrows covering his eyes. He led us through a narrow corridor which walked into a large center room full of computer and chairs and beeping monitors.

 I could not tell if Maria and the old man knew each other because they had not spoken at all. It was getting to be very strange and the awry silence that was in the room was interrupted by machine noise and intermittent beeping left and right. 

Moments later the doors swung open again and Dr. Ian Bailey appeared with two familiar faces from earlier. They greeted Maria Stepanopolis briefly and it appeared they were all connected or knew each other before today.

I stood there still confused but less nervous now that I knew a few people from before. I was also pleased to see Dr Ian and the experience seemed to be less shady than before.

Maria Stepanopolis turned pointing at me and said, 

“He is also here for the experience.”  

Unprepared I stood there watching everything with my eyes swinging left and right. They all looked at me and nodded.

“Don’t worry about it. The first time is always hard but you’ll be fine.” Dr Ian Bailey said while he handed me a scalp cap and pointing to the seat behind me.

I watched as the others put on their scalp caps and noticed each one was hooked to a separate monitor. I did not do anything because I was waiting for instructions but no one said anything.

Finally after setting everything up with the chair and the monitors, Dr Ian turned around to face us and the old man gave each of us a glass of water.

“The memory dive experience you are about to have is totally your own. Try not to fight anything just observe your brain and watch as the images come. Don’t focus on anything specific pretend like you are watching a movie. and just watch. I will be here if any problems arise and we will pull you out” Dr Ian said. 

Somehow I had accepted an invitation from a stranger and now I was about to go into a memory dive experience. I hesitated and I was about to stand up and leave when Maria, who was seating beside me grabbed my hand.

“Don’t worry, drink the water and then close your eyes and relax. Don’t be afraid it’s safe.” she said.

I watched as the other two drank their glasses of water and reclined back with the scalp caps on their heads. We were positioned in such a way that each chair faced each other and formed a small arc. I could see the others reclining to almost sleeping position with their eyes closed.

A little part of me was curious but fear was also creeping in my gut. I was convinced the process was safe enough however the hesitation was still there. Being a little late for reconsidering and I was already in the room, I decided to go with it.

 I put on the scalp cap on my head and felt a light buzzing noise coming from all the attachments. I picked up the glass and started seeping the water cautiously. It tasted a little sweet with a hint of sugar or a sweetener. I drank about half the glass of water and put it down.

I leaned back and the chair started to recline just as the others had done before. Soon my eyes felt heavy and I could not keep them open. My body was also becoming harder to move. My hands felt numb and I was unable to lift them. And the light from the top of the room started fading until it vanished completely.

The first images I saw was at the graveyard. I remember this day because it was the oldest memory I have. They were rows of people dressed in black, each one dressed in black. I remember the priest was also in a dark attire.  

I turned around and the weather changed from a clear sun day to a rainstorm. I saw my grandmother coming towards me lifting my hand covered in a yellow coat. The flashing continued to go with random faces showing up. I think some of the people were from my high school class.

 A series of flash images came to me. I could not tell the order or the time. Things started to change when I noticed a burning house. I was standing outside the were lights flashing and men were trying to put out the flames. And then immediately in another flash I saw only the flames, a bright yellow with intensive heat flowing. I was standing in the house and it was burning. 

The heat immediately subsided when a cold hand lifted me. Now the fire had died and the house was no longer burning. I could see the large hands of a man holding me up high. I could not make out his face. 

The images suddenly changed again and the flames were back to full view, a full raging red. Everything was engulfed in the flames. The walls were falling apart. A woman was laying on the floor in front of me but I could not see who she was. I could feel the heat around me and my blood was began to turn.

“Hey Robert?……. Robert?” the voice echoed as a I saw a blurry face that turned out to be Dr Ian looking at me. 

“Are you okay?” he continued.

“Your brain waves are erratic and your heart rate is extremely elevated we had to pull you out” he said.

I stared blankly trying to regain my composure. I turned around and saw everyone still reclines and sleeping in the memory dive experience. I looked back at him trying to understand what he was saying.

“Hey Robert, do you know where you are?” he asked.

I nodded wiping the sweat of my face and neck. My whole body was burning hot.

“Wat….water please” I mumbled.

 He brought a bottle of water. I took a seep and looked at him. He was standing next to me still concerned about what had happened. 

“I’m okay just a little tired.” I said catching my breath.

I knew right there that I needed to come back again. The experience had worked. It had worked very well indeed. I remember now about that night. It’s starting to get clear, including how I was the one who started the fire. 

July 16, 2021 21:46

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7 comments

Kendall Defoe
01:28 Nov 12, 2021

Well done, sir! 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' in reverse!

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Robert Cherny
19:58 Jul 23, 2021

Greetings Lunny, This is a compelling story. It is marred by some grammar issues and some awkward constructions. I would suggest revisiting it and turning it into a full-length work. I was at first confused as to whether this was a man or a woman talking. I doubt the man would notice the shoes. He might notice a lace blouse, but even bright red shoes with glitter might not jump out at him. You might wish to employ a Catch 22 sort of approach where the fire appears as flashbacks, and only in the end does it motivate action.

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Lunny Muffin
17:51 Aug 04, 2021

Thank you so much. I have been out of sorts lately and this was done in a rush. I will do my best to revise it with the comments in mind. Much appreciated on the perspective of Catch 22, I didn't really see it before. Thanks again!

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Stevie B
10:50 Jul 23, 2021

Lunny, you write with a great deal of confidence and a strong sense of direction. I especially your very descriptive style. What you set about to accomplish you've done done extremely well!

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Lunny Muffin
17:46 Aug 04, 2021

Thanks you it means a lot to me that you read it.

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Sue Marsh
15:56 Jul 22, 2021

Hi Lunny, I enjoyed the storyline very much it is very creative. I noticed a few grammar mistakes. A writer once told me that if you read your story out loud you will hear the mistakes and they are an easy fix. I have done that ever since. I also noticed that this does follow the prompt somewhat. Keep writing. If you have a chance please read Poopie Drawers and leave a comment.

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Lunny Muffin
17:45 Aug 04, 2021

Thanks Sue I will give it another look I submitted this in a rush. I appreciate the comments and will definitely read Poopie Drawers. Thanks again!!

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