Elem

Reads: 143  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A Journey Through the Memory in Search of Redemption From A Lost Love.

Submitted: January 16, 2020

A A A | A A A

Submitted: January 16, 2020

A A A

A A A


Elem

 

Alex met Gennavieve in a vacant lot across from this old dilapidated barn that the kids used to party in. The barn was for the cool kids; the ones with the clothes, the letter jackets, and the cars.The lot was for those that liked to watch those that had more, and hate them together. Most Saturday nights, the high school elite would throw parties in the barn while the uninvited would sit on old couches in the lot, drinking and talking shit about the people inside. 

 

Alex was in that barn. He was drunk, but not drunk enough to put up with his girlfriend, who was puking and hanging on everyone. He walked out of the barn to catch some fresh air. He was standing there gazing at the stars when the lot came into view. There was a large bonfire and a bunch of kids laughing to the sound of beer bottles shattering onto the rocks of the canyon. There was the sound of someone howling at the moon, then gagging and throwing up mid howl.

 

He walked over to investigate because the lot kids were always intriguing to him. They always seemed to be having more fun than him. He approached Gennavieve first because she was beautiful and sitting alone. He didn’t want to start any fights. He knew he was hated there and wasn’t interested in altercations. He came over and asked her, “What’s the lot like?” She looked at him and paused for a very long time before answering, “It’s a lot like watching the hawks fly over the Grand Canyon. They are there and do whatever the fuck they want, because they have something the rest of us don’t. We walk right up to the lip of the cliffs and watch them soar, but if we jump to this place we don’t belong, we will  die. What’s it like in the barn?”

 

“I don’t know,” he said. It’s more like swimming in the middle of this lake and you can’t see the shore or touch the bottom. You don’t wanna stop treading because you’ll drown, but you also can’t see yourself paddling out of it. Can I sit?” “Sit,” she said. They both settled into the green velour couch cushions and looked up at the sky that was lit as bright as either of them had ever seen it. They didn’t say anything for a while; they just sat and stared up. 

 

“Are you high, man?” she asked. “No, just drunk. I don’t smoke that shit, it makes me anxious.” he replied. “Hmm, does the opposite for me,” she said. “I’m Alex,” he said and continued. “We have fourth hour science together.” “I’m Genna, and I know we have fourth hour science together. And for what it’s worth, I know you aren’t like those those dicks in the barn. You’re probably a different kind of asshole, but not that kind,” she said. He looked at her in the eyes and waited a moment, then replied, “I am an asshole, but you’re right: I’m not like them. I actually hate them, and I think I’m gonna break up with my girlfriend tomorrow.”

 

“Yeah, you probably should, she threw up on me once while I was peeing in the stall because she was wasted by third hour, She didn’t even acknowledge that I was on that toilet. To her I WAS the toilet.” she replied. 

 

Time passed.


 

There was so much more to this night in his memories. The day he met her. The day he fell in love with her. “We dated for two years. I was happy. Neither of our families agreed, but neither fought us too hard on it because I think we looked happy and our smiles were genuine,” he said to this man in a suit behind a keyboard. The man replied, “So what happened? What made the difference in your happiness to derail you?” “She got pregnant just before graduation,” Alex replied. My parents would have killed me. They would have cut off my future. She couldn’t have this baby.” He replied, “But?” “But she wanted it.” I didn’t feel good about what I was doing; pressuring her and being abusive about it, but she wouldn’t listen. She was going to ruin both of us. She wouldn’t listen to me, so I became more and more angry. I punched through my wall next to her and lost my shit on her. I called her a fucking whore. My girlfriend, the only girl I have ever loved, had to listen to those words cross my lips. She ran out of my house.

 

“So why are you here?” Asked the man in the suit. “Because she couldn’t take losing me or losing the baby. We thought she ran away. Everyone looked for her for weeks. We all believed she was ok, and with people that loved her, but she wasn’t. She had wandered back into the lot that we had met in that night, and never returned. We searched for her for days, all day and all night. I kept texting and calling, but my phone was devoid of her. I needed to find her. I needed to take back those words I said, and tell her it was gonna be ok and I was going to be the best father. My phone rang in the night and I rushed to answer. It was her sister, they had found Genna. She was raped, beaten, and killed...then thrown off the canyon.”

 

“So you’re here to tell her what?” asked the man in the suit.

 

“I want to tell her I’m sorry. There are too many things that I’m sorry for to say more, just that I’m really sorry,” he replied. 

 

“Have you read the rules and watched the video tutorial we sent you?” asked the suit. “Yes,” Alex replied. “So an overview of the rules is in order anyway. You cannot change anything that has happened. You can interact, but nothing will end up different despite any efforts. Reality is skewed to the way you have stored it versus the way you remember it, so things may seem different or random, as this is your own brain. You can stay as long as you want, but at some point, if you don’t leave, you will become frustrated that the results do not change. It doesn’t matter what you do Alex, Genna will go missing and turn up dead at the bottom of a canyon.” 

 

Alex clenched his fists as tightly as he could as he sat in the chair. Electrodes were flowing like a spider web from his head, and streamed down his body to the floor, flowing into the great river that was called Elem. 

 

Elem was the invention of Dr. Elem Strome, a neurologist and metaphysicist from California, who specialized in stored brain data and memory recall. Dr. Strome believed that all data is stored from the womb to death and that recall is possible with enhanced perception and data mining software. He tried it first on his wife, who had Alzheimer's. He was able to mine her brain and restore her memory as if it were happening at the time. He was able only to do this during the procedure. Once the electrodes came off, she forgot everything. In fact, when she returned from her visit to her past, her memory loss had worsened and she passed away soon after.

 

This only emboldened Dr. Strome, as he was able to witness his mother on camera, totally conscious, and speaking from her sedentary bed, connected to machines that recorded her head...and her soul. He saw her at her most vibrant before she died. 

 

Dr. Strome made a billion dollars the first year his invention was introduced. Everyone wanted to change something. Everyone had regrets. No one could change a thing. The past remains in the past, but people were now able to go back and at the very least say or do something differently. It made it easier for them to live with themselves. It made it easier for some to let go and walk away with closure. For others: something different. Some reported agonizing pain and the complete distortion of their reality. Some reported finding people they had loved their entire lives reappearing much different than they knew them to be. 

 

All of these details were written clearly in the packet that was sent to Alex two weeks before initiation of the therapy. A packet he had only glanced at because, from the moment this technology was presented, he was determined to find her in his own brain; and tell her he was sorry. 

 

Alex gave notice of a two week sabbatical at his job, as a lawyer in Las Vegas. He left his office and went to his mother’s home to drop his dog for her to care for and didn’t mention where he was going. He then went to his apartment and grabbed an overnight bag and the necklace she had given him on his high school graduation day. It was a small and subtle silver necklace with a teardrop pendant. He had asked her once why she didn’t want to leave her hometown, and she replied only by dropping a tear on his hand. 

 

He entered the office afraid and nervous, but resolved to find her. He addressed the hostess, the assistants, and the technicians with gratitude and patience. Now he sat in a bed surrounded by glass walls, hooked up in an assorted array of colorful wires stemming from his brain. In the room, that was all white, was a crash cart that said “Crash Cart” on it. There was a bin with drawers, a table, and a tub full of linen that looked like tissue. Alex was left alone with his thoughts for a while. 

 

The man in the suit walked in. “How are you today Alex? Are you still looking to bring us with you into the journey of your mind?” “Yes, “ Alex replied. “Is there anything you want us to censor from our recorders, and stricken from our records before be begin? We can always do this after the procedure as well, but it’s good to have warning.” Alex replied, “I don’t think so. I think the only thing I would ever want deleted is me.” The suit replied, “Ok then, let us proceed!” 

 

The suit nodded down his head to the technician on the other side of the glass wall. The room dimmed and the sound of machines awakening and coming to life filled the room. The suit smiled as the energy seemed to pulse like a heartbeat. The suit began a countdown, “10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, go.” Alex heard “go” in a dozen whispers than trailed off into something that lacked light. He closed his eyes with the vacuum that seemed to suck all things from the room. He fell deeply asleep.

 

Red room. Big room. I feel myself squint my eyes to the brightness of the lights and colors. There are pictures on the walls, but all detail is blurred out, save a few small details, like the signature on the bottom right corner of the apple painting named, “Simon, 5th grade, 2035.” It isn’t like the video games I used to play. I know who I am and that I’m in the kind of library of my mind. I am seeing things first hand instead of from the second person perspective. I am sitting at a desk in school. I’m guessing I’m in the 5th grade based on the painting and the size of my hands and the shoes I’m wearing. Shoes were a big deal back then I remembered.

 

I look around and don’t recognize the kids around me yet. It takes a moment to figure each person out. The teacher is up front teaching about the history of Israel and the Middle East. In my recollection, this was my favorite subject then. The teacher up front is going on and on and I am feeling bored watching myself be bored from inside. It’s a strange feeling. It feels like there are two of us inside. I can still feel the longing for sleep from him as well as the desire to find out what this memory is about from me now. I’ve got to find a way to distinguish between the two of us because this has become confusing. I’ll say “him” or “he” for me in the past, and “me” or “I” for me now. 

 

He falls asleep. I try to wake him by shouting. It’s strange. He doesn’t seem to hear it. It’s like I’m screaming against a glass window right in front of him and he cannot hear a thing. Dr. Strome said I would learn to interact once I connected with the memory. I don’t remember this one, so I guess that’s why I don’t have a connection to it. He said the brain stores all things, but we can only recall the things that give us a pretty damned good reason to. The rest of the memories will be stored untouched until our energy is released. He warned that I would have to wade through these memories like noise in a concert, while trying to focus on one person speaking across the room. 

 

It’s just a meaningless day and I don’t want to stay here, so I press the button I have just realized is in my hand to move another random memory. 

 

I remember bits of this. It smells like home a long time ago. It’s my mother’s perfume. She’s holding me and rocking back and forth while talking to someone in a yellow dress across the room. The sun is shining into the room through a gap in the shades and it blinds me from my surroundings. I can hear her voice vibrate through her chest. I have a sense of longing. In the real world, she’s been dead for almost a decade. She seems so happy. The lady in the yellow dress is talking about things I don’t understand. In fact, I don’t understand anything anyone is saying at all. Of course, I’m a baby. I wouldn’t understand would I? I press the button.

 

I hear shouting. I’m in a dark room listening to muffled fighting from below me. I look around to assess where I am in my brain. I see the photos on my mirror of my friends. It occurs to me how much I miss them, as I scan the rest of the room. I’m in high school. I remember all of that. This is my parents breaking up that I’m listening to. I can now make out the slurred words because I know the outcome. He cheated a lot and she had enough. This was it. The day they split up. Why did I recall this? The first two memories seemed random, why this one? This one I remember so well. I don’t want to relive it, so I push the button. 

 

I’m sitting at a small desk. The room smells of paste and pencil shreddings. This smell could only be elementary school. The smell brings me back to the memory that I suspect I am currently in right now. This would be the day my friend hung himself after school and just after we had played video games online. This one makes me very uncomfortable, but I’ve been pressing the button so much and I haven’t discovered a pattern yet. So, I need to stay in this one for a while. If nothing else, to see if I can communicate with my friend. 

 

He is sitting behind me to the left. I watch the past play out. I watch myself turn around while the teacher is turned and ask what he’s doing after school. He says, “Nothing. Probably games.” “I’ll log in after homework,” I reply. I realize as I’m watching that there is a small wheel on the side of the remote that I’m holding. I move the wheel forward, and it moves me forward through the memory. Backward takes me back. I move the wheel backward to see my friend’s face again. Up at the top right hand section of my view, a message appears that tells me, “Rewind 1 of 3 recorded. 2/3 rewinds remain.” 

 

“Shit! I can’t do that!” I say out loud as if in an empty theater watching a movie that will always be what it is. I move the wheel forward with my thumb and move us along, out of school and me into my living room. I put on the headset and log onto the virtual gaming world of Psibox. “Hell yeah, that game was fucking great. You got to pretty much do anything you wanted with your psychic powers.” I move the wheel more until I hear the sounds of audio tape being fast forwarded. I stop and listen to Chris invite me over for dinner. God I want to rewind. But I may need them, I know I’m going to need them.

 

I know what’s coming next. This is a moment I cannot unsee. I move the wheel and watch myself walk through his front door. It’s only his mother staring out the kitchen window in front of the sink. She isn’t moving. I listen to my past say hello to Mrs. Hughes. She doesn’t respond. I could swear she did, but she seems to be shaking a little, and I don’t remember this either. I walk up the stairs to Chris’ door and pause the memory by pressing in on the wheel. This was done instinctively and I realize this controller is modeled after the gaming remotes I had as a kid.

 

I know what’s beyond that door. I know that when I turn that handle, I’m gonna see him hanging again. I’m gonna look into his empty eyes and wonder where he had gone. I consider pushing the button. But something tells me I need to hold on to the important moments to differentiate the machine to the ones that aren’t. I push in on the wheel again and open the door to what would be one of the most mentally haunting moments of my life. I stand by him and witness my past self screaming and Mrs. Hughes racing upstairs to her own agony. I walk past my anguished little self and use my fingers to try and close Chris’ eyes to no avail. I whisper to him “I forgive you.”

 

The room becomes blurry and I feel a sucking feeling in my stomach as I am being pulled from the final moments of stored data from this memory, and dropped into another.

 

I’m in a ball pit at an arcade. I’m wearing a track suit. Skip

 

I’m staring at a velvet painting of horses in some leather and wooden office. Right, my therapist. Skip.

 

I’m in jail. Shit, this one is recent. I’m drunk and swaying to something with my eyes closed. I had gotten into a bar fight. I look like shit. I stay for a little while just to observe just how pathetic my life has become. I shout at him, “Clean yourself up you God damned fool!” He looks up at me. Directly at me, then closes his eyes again. I could swear he just looked at me in response. “Alex!” I shout again. Nothing. He gets up and vomits into the toilet in the cell. I push the button to give him his privacy. 

 

There she is! She’s making me a book cover for Spanish. God she’s so beautiful. I watch her for a while, wanting to use my rewind so much. She tells me about Thanksgiving at her mother’s house, and how her father’s is always better because no one but her shows up. The way her hair hangs and flows in the sunlight coming from her bedroom window catches my eye and also past Alex’s eye. Same expression. I don’t want to leave and I consider doing this now. But I can’t. I need her to hear this after I’ve broken her. The memory ends. The sucking out feeling. I disappear from here to another here. 

 

This is a place of silence, but I can hear my mother crying. I push the button. 

 

Here is a penguin. He’s prancing around and I’ve got a little cup of popcorn that I throw into his home. I laugh watching the penguins ignore it and past me get upset. Dumb shit. Button.

 

There she is again. “Genna,” I say. She doesn’t look. She just keeps crocheting as past me yells at her. He shouts at her about the guy that left his phone number on her locker. The guy who he used to be friends with. A barn person. I didn’t see my problem then, but now watching it from two feet and ions of miles in time travel, I understand that I was mad because I was the barn person in her life. There could not be another. I get between them and look at myself in the eyes. “You are the dumbest person to ever live. Stop this shit. Calm down and hug her. I can’t watch any more of this.” I step away and press the button.

 

It’s evening, just before dusk. I’m on the beach listening to the waves crash against the rocks next to me. This was a bad day, the day of her funeral. I had just been slapped in the face by her mother right in front of her casket. This was the first time I had seen her since the phone call, and the first time she got a chance to try and kill me after finding out Genna was pregnant from the medical examiner. I left the funeral hating myself and decided to make it worse and come to the bottom of the canyon, the place she was found. Watching this is making my stomach hurt. I sit down in the sand next to him, and stare off together as I listen to Alex weep into his hands. My stomach is in knots. The irony of actually feeling sorry for myself is the only distraction from the desire to expel my guts.

 

“It doesn’t get better Alex. They’re all gonna tell you that it will. Just know it won’t. You fucked up permanently.” I get up and walk over to the shoreline until I am knee deep into the water, holding back tears. I press the button and feel the knot in my stomach dissipate and I’m no longer here nor there. 

 

It took dozens of pointless and trivial memories before I loosened the grip on the remote. I almost drop it when I see her. I’m here. How long have I been searching, I wonder. Days? Hours? Years? I walk over and sit in the chair across from the bed Alex and Genna are sitting at the foot of. I don’t even look at him, just her. It occurs to me that I can skip this. Just hit pause right now and keep her pretty face exactly as it is right now unharmed. I can skip this agony. 

 

The story plays on, like some fucked up symphony of rust and metal playing themselves. “You haven’t even considered me in any of this!” she shouts and continues. “You’re afraid you’re going to lose your precious fucking money and your perfect education and upset your daddy. You’re a pussy Alex!” I do not remember her saying this. It hurts. I look to Alex for an expression and he just sits there, looking at his shoes. “I do think about you,” he says. “I think about you more than I think about anything. I think about what this will do to your life too. Genna, you’re the smartest person I’ve ever met. This is going to take everything from you.” “That’s my decision asshole! I don’t want anything but you and this baby. That’s it. Stop projecting your infant success fantasies of power and wealth onto me. This is what I want!” she said. 

 

This memory isn’t right. Things didn’t happen this way. “And while we are talking about our futures, why don’t we mention the fact that your mom and dad don’t even sleep together anymore. Maybe it’s all that money and success that have made them so happy together. Maybe the money is why she’s fucking like everyone. Maybe that’s the life you’re looking for Alex, not me.” Genna gets up and stands across from him, next to me. “You can’t even look at me! You’re not a man. You won’t be anything until you stand up and do man things, like be a father, and stop running from hard things, and stand up to your God Damned parents. Fuck you Alex, just fuck you!” 

 

“Fuck you Genna! You think you’ve got it all figured out now? It’s easy to shit on my dreams when you haven’t had any of your own. And you can keep my parents out of this. Look at your parents! They couldn’t wash my fucking carpets. Fuck you! You think a baby is the answer to your lazy uninspired life? You know who fucks people so they don’t actually have to work? A fucking whore!” Alex leaps from his spot on the bed and smashes his hand into and through the drywall. 

 

I pause. Those words sound worse than my memory of saying them. I look at Genna and move the dial to rewind to the exact moment she heard him say that. Rewind 2 of 3. I pause and look into my only love’s now broken porcelain eyes. I step between her and Alex and look directly into her brokenness. I can feel my hands shaking and I’m careful not to touch buttons on the controller. I am searching for the courage to speak the words I’ve recited in my head for so many years. 

 

“The next time I will see you, you’ll be pale and caked with make-up, lying so still and quiet in a box. The whole world will have changed. I will lose everything that you loved about me. All good things will have faded out of me and I’ll become someone else entirely. Someone you would never have loved. I gave them up because of what I did to you. This isn’t what was supposed to happen to us. 

 

We were going to wake up and throw everything in a car and drive to wherever our money would take us and stay there, and start over. We would get married and I’d find a good job and you could paint and see friends for coffee in little nooks. We would make love every night because we truly wanted to and couldn’t sleep without being close to each other. You would have babies and we would raise them to be just like who we wanted ourselves to be. We would see them off to school in the morning and make love again before I went to work. We would age together but never grow old. Our hearts would be knit together for always. You would die first, and I would hang on a few days and come be with you wherever you are. 

 

I would have given you everything. Every hope and sadness, every excitement and disappointment. I would know everything about you. I’d make you happier than you were the day before. I would have given you the very best of me. All bad memories of your life before would fade away and you would be truly happy. You would never have need for anything. 

 

Instead of all of those things, I sent you to the bottom of a ravine. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry that our future didn’t happen. I’m sorry your future won’t happen. I’m sorry for the way you died and the pain that was inflicted on you. I’m sorry I said those terrible things to you. I’m sorry that I was a coward. I love you always and no one else.”

 

I’ve said what I came to say. I sit down at the foot of the bed behind where Alex is plunging his fist through the wall. I look at the remote and glare at the eject switch at the bottom. My way back home. My stomach still hurts. Something isn’t right about this. This didn’t help me. I’m feeling worse than I ever did before. There is no way I can go back there and let her go. I can’t remember her broken. 

 

I slide my thumb down to the rewind button and move the dial back in time until I see her smiling on the foot of the bed with Alex. Rewind 3 of 3. I pause there. I walk over to the desk chair and place the remote under one of the legs and sit down as hard as I can, shattering it’s circuit board. I go back to the chair across from Genna and look into her hopeful eyes. This is home. 

 

I’ll live here long past the closing of Elem. I’ll be placed in storage and the machines will be set in low power. The buildings will change around me, presidents will come and go, wars will be fought, music will evolve. Then one day, I’ll take my last breath and go wherever you really are. 
























 


© Copyright 2020 Thegrizzlybear . All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

More Science Fiction Short Stories