Flash Showcase: The Memory Within by Aaron E. Lee

“What happened?” Yun asked the two scientists standing in front of her.

“The Memory War was almost fifty years ago now, I think.” Dr. Reyes raised her eyebrow, but Dr. O’Quin neither confirmed nor denied.

Instead, Dr. O’Quin said, “Genetic testing revealed the true form of memory in biology, and while the processing of those memories indeed took place in the brain, they were stored throughout the body in our DNA.” Yun nodded. It was a theory she had heard, but it seemed a confirmation of this would be pretty big news.

“Once we figured out how the body stored and processed this information, people started to get creative with that knowledge. Medication came out to improve memory, restore lost memories, and even to help people forget.” Dr. Reyes started unbuckling the clasps that held Yun down on the table.

Dr. O’Quin proceeded, “The medication was only half of the delivery system. After eight hours the patients had to be exposed to a low dosage of radiation, which triggered the Mnemonic Molecules. The medication was cheap to make. We didn’t go to war over the profits of the Memory industry. We went to war over the memories themselves.”

Dr. Reyes unbuckled the last strap, and Yun stepped off of the examining table, testing her balance and strength liberally. Dr. O’Quin turned, embarrassed for the first time, and Dr. Reyes offered Yun a hospital gown. She didn’t know why she wasn’t already dressed, nor did she remember how she got here, but she was certain these two were about to explain it to her. It must have something to do with memory loss. Instead of asking any of the obvious questions, she laughed, thrilled that her body was working the way she wanted it to without any pain or discomfort.

Dr. O’Quin chanced a look over his shoulder, saw that she was dressed, and pulled out a chair for himself. “The Mnemonic Molecules were supposedly introduced into the greater population. We didn’t know the true extent of it at the time, but everyone was scared. Tools were made soon after … and weapons.” He paused, as if waiting to see if he had triggered some memory within her. She raised her shoulders and laughed again. She didn’t know what she was supposed to remember or say. The doctor continued, “If one person could change everyone’s memory, they would be the only one to know the truth.”

Dr. Reyes closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “It was chaos at first. Everyone felt like they were defending themselves, yet attacking all others in the process. It became clear that not all of us had been exposed to MMs but that some had. A lot of people stopped fighting and started studying who had been infected, but the war didn’t come to a complete stop. There were two main factions that held onto their fear. After six months it was only the Re-Members and the 4-Gets. Their numbers weren’t certain, but it was estimated to be about a hundred thousand in each camp, spread across the globe. Their war became a cold one. The casualties started adding up, and the people researching the event decided it was only about ten percent of the population who had been dosed with the MMs.”

“Do you know how these Men… Meno…”

“Mnemonic Molecules,” Dr. O’Quin enunciated.

“Yeah, do you know how they were spread?”

Dr. O’Quin nodded. “There were particular products that carried the MMs, and those products were recalled. Lawsuits were abundant. It wasn’t just the warring factions that were infected, it was whoever had gotten hold of those products over the past year – maybe longer.”

“That’s not the worst of it,” Dr. Quin added. “A few years later we discovered the MMs were passed down to the next generation. The cold memory war went on for almost two decades. Conspiracy theorists say it never ended. Because the MMs were passed down, there were always new cases arising.”

Dr. Reyes finished the story. “The casualties of the war were not dead or physically injured. They had memory problems. Some of them confused reality with their memories. Others had simply lost their identity. They were called the No Ones. A lot of people thought their memories could be restored using the same technology that hurt them, but it hasn’t helped yet.”

“Are you telling me … I’m a No One?”

The doctors looked at each other, then at Yun. Dr. Reyes spoke up first. “No, dear, you’re the one who knows the truth. The only one who remembers it all. The war ended when one soldier took the memories of everyone else.”

“How can that be? I don’t remember any of this at all!”

“You can’t process the memories, dear, but you are storing them all. In your body. In your DNA.”

“And you …”

“We’ve been charged with finding a way to take them back.”

“War? Memories? I don’t remember anything!”

“But you do, Yun. The information is all there.” They both drew small, metallic, pistol-looking devices. “We don’t have the technology to pry it out of you, but then again … we don’t really need you.”

“What do you …”

“We just need what’s inside you. If you’ll take a look right over there … you see her?”

“What? Who … how?” There was a tank behind her. Inside the tank was a familiar face: her face. A copy. A backup.

“It will be so much easier taking care of our home grown copy while we wait for the technology of extraction, won’t it, Dr. Reyes?”

“I believe it will.”

Then she pulled the trigger.

At least, that’s how I remember it.

Aaron E. Lee has three collections of short stories available on Amazon. Recently he has been accepted into the anthologies Remnants created by Stephen Coghlan and 100-Word Horror: Beneath edited by A.R. Ward. His work has also appeared in the blog at Orchid’s Lantern. You can read his blog at www.LeonianAmbitions.Wordpress.com. Follow him on Twitter @BOCArnie.

Details on how to submit your own flash pieces to feature on Flash Showcase can be found on our submissions page.

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