Sorry guys… Took me a while today, but I actually really like what I ended up with. Happy Friday, everyone!
It was a little surprising… any job could get boring eventually. She hadn’t thought this one ever would. After all, she was working with an exciting new technology and she was helping people, right?
Helping them to experience the best part of their lives again. For a price, of course. Although pricing wasn’t really her department – that was handled well before they ever walked through the door.
Nah – she was more security and maintenance. What you’d call a maintenance technician.
It wasn’t a hard job, really. Just monitor the individual chambers. Make sure the people in the pods were comfortable, that they weren’t reacting badly to the injections. Or to their own experiences.
That happened more often than she’d like to admit. People freaking out over their own memories.
Mostly, though, it was quiet.
She turned her big, white, standard-issue mug around in her hands. It had left a coffee-ring on the white desk. The coffee stain and the less-than-clean mug were the only dingy things in the semi-dark control room, and those were her fault.
They were really very good about keeping everything pristine. It wasn’t a medical procedure, exactly, but it was close enough. And the clients still felt better coming into a sterile environment.
Everything was kept clean, even if the clients never saw her little control-room-cubby-hole. She kept the lights dim as well. The chambers were kept semi-dark – it was more conducive for the experience, and she found that walking into the brightly lit control made her head hurt.
The wall of streaming video showed each of the chambers live, each occupying its’ own square of the screen. She could see each of the residents, tucked inside a cushioned, white pod, eyes closed, seemingly asleep. If she looked closely, zooming in on their faces, she could see their eyes leaping beneath their eyelids, as though deep in REM sleep.
It was not exactly dreaming, but it was very similar, so the body reacted the same way. Most clients found the experience restful. Frequently, an entire shift would go by without encountering any problems. She would greet the clients only when it was time to show them out of the pods, walking them out of the rooms, sleepy-head and stumbly. Usually they were docile.
The ones who caused problems were mostly the sleep-walkers. Or those whose memories were particularly volatile – you never really knew what to expect, even from your own mind. And that was why she had emergency button – just one little push and big, burly security guards would come crashing through those white doors to subdue any unruly sleepers. She hadn’t encountered any truly violent ones, but a few of the other techs had.
The technology was relatively new, but it appeared to have no adverse effects. It wasn’t exactly time travel, but it was the closest they’d gotten, thus far.
She focused on the man in Chamber 4. She’d noticed him entering the facility, and now she pulled up his visuals, allowing him to fill the entire screen. He was an old man, with gray hair tufting around his head like a strange, disarrayed halo, and a cane that he’d left leaning against the outside of the pod.
This was the best part. This was why she had taken the job, although, as a lowly technician, she wasn’t really supposed to look…. She always looked anyway. She hit the button and the image flipped.
She could no longer see the old man, which seemed reasonable, since she was seeing from his point of view. A broad green lawn filled the screen, covered in white wooden folding chairs. The breeze ruffled the big white bows tied on each of the chairs, as well as the hair of the guests sitting in them, lifting bangs off foreheads and making the loose ends of ladies’ wraps twirl like banners. People were dressed in their finest – pastel dresses and sharp navy suits, and every face was turned expectantly towards her.
Or him, rather, since it was the old man’s memory.
And, of course, in it, he was no longer old. No longer bent.
He was a young man, walking down the aisle on his wedding day, forty-eight years ago, with his wife, then wife-to-be, smiling a nervous smile, wearing the white gown that he’d hand down to their granddaughter someday.
The technology might be new, but it was quite fantastic – the entire experience was simulated, pulled from the man’s memory.
She knew, as she was watching, that he could feel the breeze against his cheeks, that if he looked up, he’d be squinting against the sunlight. That when he took his wife’s hand he’d be able to feel her fingers against his own, feel the long-ago softness of her skin.
It was moments like these that made her job worthwhile.
She watched as he set one foot in front of the other, walking slowly, solemnly down the aisle. She couldn’t see it, but she was fairly certain he had a big, wide grin on his face. He looked at his wife and saw that she had tears in her eyes, glimmering bright blue on the sunny day, as she looked at him.
This was the moment he had wanted. To see her again, smiling and young and happy, at the beginning of everything. It wasn’t that he hadn’t loved her at the end – he’d loved her beginning, middle, end and beyond. But he wanted this; to see her again. To feel the flutter in his stomach on his wedding day, knowing all that was to come.
He breathed deeply and he walked, moving forward, in the memory, with more ease than he’d had in years in the real world, and taking her hand in his.
It had its’ limits, of course. You could only re-experience the original memory. You couldn’t, for example, decide you didn’t want to get married and go bolting off down the aisle. The serum simulated the memory perfectly, but you could only experience that memory, as it was.
There were people who were disappointed. The things that had seemed so bright and wonderful in retrospect… well, they seemed less-than-great when experienced again. Maybe you’d find that the cake from your seventh birthday wasn’t as sweet as you’d thought it was. That your first boyfriend wasn’t as kind as you’d remembered him being. People usually found that Disney World was a lot hotter and smellier than it had seemed when they were eight.
It wasn’t perfect.
You couldn’t simply say you wanted to be sixteen again. But you could go back to your sixteenth birthday. Or your first kiss (she wouldn’t recommend that one… it never turned out the way you wanted it to).
You couldn’t go back to your childhood. But you could go back to the time you visited your Grandma’s farm when you were seven.
The injections were….. they were complicated. They didn’t always work. And they didn’t always bring you what you wanted when they did.
A lot like life, she supposed.
But every now and then…
when they worked …
when you picked the right memory….
It was something beyond magic, the ability to stop time, to go back to a moment of pure happiness, for however long that happiness lasted.
Every now and then, it was perfect.
And that was a lot like life, too, she thought.
(write for) 10 minutes * description * lost in my memories
(obviously exceeded the time on that….)
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