Lost Memories

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


A traumatized man is helped to regain his memories, but at what cost?

Submitted: March 22, 2018

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Submitted: March 22, 2018

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The explosions rippled across the night sky with an intensity reminiscent of an Old Earth, fireworks display; before plunging to the earth with devastating force. Instead of inspiring awe and wonder, there was nothing but a deep-rooted fear and expectation of what was coming. Corporal Jonas Madigan of the 5th Mars Brigade and the remaining five soldiers of Fox Company sat shivering in the icy water at the bottom of an old bomb crater.  

The red dust rose high in the thin atmosphere, before descending and covering them with a second skin.

The sound of the onslaught continued to build, before a final earth shattering crescendo left their ears ringing.

A silence hung over the battlefield; more intimidating than the barrage.

Jonas lay flat, hugging the ground. A small tremor rippled the mirrored finish of a puddle, which still reflected the dying lights in the sky. …then another and another. The ripples grew more erratic with every passing moment. Jonas turned to his companions. With a final nod and a grin, he acknowledged the fellowship that only survivors could understand. Many of their comrades had died around them. There would be no retreat this time. They had to slow the Nexos to allow the evacuation of the civilians.

Rising from the crater like red ghosts, they watched the spectral shapes moving in the darkness. The dawning light grew stronger and the advancing enemy materialized before them. Jonas nestled his gun tight to his shoulder and waited. There was no difficulty in selecting a target, but he held his fire. The weapon was more effective at close range.

***

The Nexos appeared above Mars without warning. A two kilometre wide mirrored sphere that hung high in a geosynchronous orbit above the Capital. Attempts at communication with the new addition to the Martian sky were unsuccessful. Months later and without warning, hundreds of smaller spheres spawned from the mother ship. The invasion had begun. The Nexos, a nightmare vision dragged screaming from the recesses of man’s dark fears. Spider like in shape and three meters tall. Their two hundred kilo mass, protected by a natural armour of layered chitin.  Six legs for locomotion and two more for fine motor control and manipulation; agile in spite of their size. Their bodies had three segments. A sensory array of ocular, auditory and olfactory organs. A middle segment containing the brain and the final segment providing the power source for the creature. It ingested food through a large orifice in its lower region. Man had become their staple diet.

***

Madigan and his survivors fired as one at the Nexos. The front line staggered and reeled, but still kept advancing. A second volley sent others to the ground like puppets with their strings cut.

A third, fourth, fifth and sixth volley echoed, stopping more of the nightmarish creatures. Jonas ordered his men to switch to grenades as the distance between them began to close. The red surface rang once more with the sound of violent explosions, flashes of light and geysers of red dust. Nexos, though injured, dragged themselves forward towards the defiant few. With grenades exhausted, Madigan switched his gun to automatic fire. The harsh chatter added to the hell that surrounded them. Jonas looked around. His men still fought with desperate determination. It appeared that survival would not be an option.  Jonas struck by a flailing claw, flew backwards into the crater. His gun continued to spit at the black arachnid shape that loomed above him. It fell, crushing him into the wet red soil.

The war was not going well for the people of Mars.

 

***

 

A small man dressed in sky blue scrubs, entered the room. His outfit contrasted with the crisp white of the orderly beside him. He was of indeterminate age, pale skin and thinning white hair. His face was ordinary; that is, till you saw his eyes. They were a rich blue of an Earth sky and electrifying with their intensity. A single patient lay in the bed. They stopped and the orderly glanced at the clipboard before passing it to the little man.

“This is Corporal Jonas Madigan. He was the only survivor from the latest conflict with the Nexos; minor injuries, but catatonic.  We have tried, but we cannot elicit a response from him. Maybe you can help.”

The little man’s head was shaking as he listened and scrutinised the reports.

“The combination of psychiatry and telepathy is new and dangerous. There are few of us. We PsyTels enter the mind of our patients and work with them at a level of intimacy, never achieved before. Success is high, but so is the danger. We face the risk of their world of memories and experiences over whelming us, so that we cannot leave their mind. For this reason, we evaluate whether we accept a patient on a case-by-case basis. This soldier’s encounter traumatised him. I do not think I am prepared to risk the consequences. “

He returned the clipboard to the orderly and turned to go.

“Help me. Please!”

Hands clutched to his head, he staggered and swung to face the man on the bed.

The orderly seeing the man’s pain, grasped his arm to steady him.

“Please find me a comfortable chair. I need to consult with my patient.”

The orderly looked at him in amazement. “You’re going to attempt to help him?

“Yes.”

“But what changed your mind?”

“Because he was polite,” was the reply to the puzzled orderly.

 

***

 

The little man sat relaxed in a large armchair by the bed. His head and torso covered with a variety of sensors, which in turn connected to many and various machines. Termination of the session would follow if any danger registered. He contemplated the man who lay beside him. This was to be no easy task. The soldier, although traumatised by what he had experienced and frozen into a state of immobility, was still aware of his surroundings. He shook his head. The Corporal had a glimmer of telepathic or empathic power. His cry for help had touched him on many levels. It was no use prevaricating, it was time. He settled his right hand between the pillow and the junction of Jonas’ neck and skull to form a contact. Three deep breaths and he settled back and merged his mind with Jonas.

 

***

Jonas knew he was in the hospital. He could sense those around him and hear their voices. Drips were carrying life-giving liquids into his frozen body and the monitors were registering his vital signs. In his mind, that final battle continued to replay itself. He knew he needed help; that was why he had screamed. It still surprised him that the man had heard him, when so many had not. He sensed the hand at the base of his skull. A warm comforting wave spreading outward. His awareness of the world faded. A voice sounded in his mind.

“Jonas. Please relax. I’m here to help.”

These words echoed and reverberated in his mind. It provided a warm, soothing sensation throughout his being. “Who are you? Can you help me?”

An image of a small man appeared to him.

“I’m going to try, but you must help me to help you. You must do what I say, no matter what. Do you understand? Can you do this?” The voice was insistent on this requirement.

 “I’ll try.”

“Your memories are trapped in a loop. Your mind is protecting you from something. We need you to break out and accept the validity of your memory, no matter how painful it is. If you can achieve this, I believe you may wake.”

Jonas felt that he was hiding something from him. He could sense strength and resolve within the man, but also an underlying fear.

 “Is it dangerous?”

“There is no life without risk. Let’s begin.” was the reply.

 

***

 

Jonas was standing at the top of a crater.  The sounds of battle raged around him. His senses enhanced in every way. Colours rich and vibrant in the morning light. The scarlet of human blood, contrasting with the green of the enemy. Pungent ammonia of dead and dying Nexos mingled with the smell of human sweat and fear. The gritty feel of the dust enveloped him. Covering his face, he fell to his knees shaking. He drew comfort and strength from the voice in his mind. It reminded him that he was nothing but an observer, a ghost, a phantom. What was happening was a memory and it could not hurt him.

 A soldier was firing his gun at the approaching spiders. They were almost upon him, when he centred his weapon for the last time. The Nexos died, pinning the man. He stared hard at the figure squirming beneath the creature’s dead weight, trying to get free. That was his body under the alien. He waited for his nightmare to repeat…

This time though, it did not.

***

There had been five others with him. He had forgotten that. A sense of foreboding sent a shiver through his body. The Nexos had no weapons other than what nature and the devil had supplied them. Vicious scythe like hooks on their manipulators collaborated with god like strength and a virtual invulnerability, made them the perfect soldier. He watched as that lost memory that his mind had tried to protect him from, unfolded. The first man tried to parry a mighty swing of a scythe with his gun. With no diminishment of speed or force, it cut the weapon in two and separated the man’s head from his shoulders. It fell to land in front of my pinned self with a splash. Its eyes were still open and the horror and pain of those last few microseconds mirrored within them; but it did not end there. Two spiders picked up the second man; they pulled him apart with as much effort as a child pulls apart a Christmas cracker. The blood poured from his body in a crimson tide and the coppery stink of it pervaded the scene. The drawn out screams that came from him drowned out all other sounds on the battlefield before dissipating like a clockwork motor running down. The third man received a scythe to the lower abdomen and raised high into the air. Gravity pulled his body down and eviscerated him. His internal organs fell from him. No sound escaped him. The fourth and fifth men were not in sight, but their screams chilled me to my very soul. The Nexos preferred living flesh. A high-pitched moan that grew ever louder emanated from under the fallen spider. It was my voice. Human voices cannot sustain the outpouring of fear and grief these horrors had wrung from me. The voice cracked and gave out just as the shadow of a Nexos passed over. With a mighty thump, a scythe slammed down and speared the head that lay in front of my pinned body. My mind closed and retreated deep within itself.

 

***

 

“Jonas. Jonas. Everything is all right. You’re safe now.”

I was in a darkened room with cobwebs from a giant web web surrounding me. Blue flashes pulsated and leapt through the webbing as I rotated. A face appeared before me.

“Where am I? What’s happening now?”

“As I said before Jonas, you are safe. You are in your own mind. The lights that you saw are your synapses firing; they are your thoughts and memories as they flash through your mind. We need to discuss something while we have the time. Soon you will be awake. ”

“Can’t we do this when I am awake?”

The little man shook his head and took a deep breath before answering.

“I won’t be able to. I have invested most of my energies into getting you to face the ordeal that you just went through and I now have little left to return to my body. Every PsyTel has the option of handling or not handling a particular case. We know our limits, but sometimes we take a risk and push beyond those boundaries. This is one such case. Jonas, you have an incredible mind. You are an untapped resource of incredible potential. With training, you will be able to help those we do not have the strength to treat. Time is short. I still need to do one more thing and it is dependent on your answer. Will you lay down your weapons of war and devote yourself to helping people by using the weapons of your mind? Will you strive to help others in difficulty, like yourself?”

Jonas looked at the other in dismay. This was going too fast. He owed him and he was a person who always paid his debts. He considered and then nodded his agreement. A smile spread across the other man’s face.

“So be it.”

 Turning towards a corner of the room that seemed darker than the rest, the little man pointed and from his finger came a dazzling white stream of light. It dwarfed and replaced the blue light with its intensity. The light became stronger and the other man’s shape diminished, faded and disappeared.

 

***

 

Jonas sat up straight in his bed, awake and aware. A cacophony of noise from the various monitors strapped to the little man sitting beside him, reached a crescendo. Hospital staff hovered above him disconnecting the machines, giving multiple injections and forcing an oxygen mask over his face. They moved the still figure from the chair to a waiting gurney and rushed him from the room. Chaos followed the retreating figures and silence reigned once more. Jonas considered all that had happened.

He owed the little man. He could not have returned from the depths of his own mind without his aid. The only way to honour, his sacrifice was to pay it forward. He regretted not knowing the name of his benefactor.

 

***

 

From deep in his mind came the sound of a chuckle.

“You had better call me Peter. Life is what we make it and you and I have a long way to go together”


© Copyright 2018 Shawlyn. All rights reserved.

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