Death is not the end

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A woman wakes up with no memory of her past life. It is not regular amnesia - her memory was destroyed by a neurological weapon. Now she has to decide to go back to her previous life or to start anew.

Submitted: July 01, 2015

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Submitted: July 01, 2015



"You died." I tried to focus on the words instead of the bored face of the young nurse sitting on the other side of the white glass. What did she mean I died?

"Well, legally speaking the person that you used to be died when your learned cognition was destroyed by a neurological weapon." My confusion must have shown on my face because the nurse stopped and gave me one of those cold, medical looks. She thinks she knows what in on my mind. At least somebody does.

"The AX2 chemical component affects high level cognition by destroying the memories accumulated by a person during their life span. A typical human brain relies on neural pathways created by the sum of life experiences. These pathways constitute memory. Thus, legally speaking, once the memories and related neural paths are gone, so is the person they have created."

I stared at my hands neatly arranged on the desk surface. These were my hands. This was my body. I studied it with acute curiosity when I woke up in the white, brightly lit recovery room surrounded by rows of complicated medical devices and a team of doctors.

My body was fascinating; it felt different sensations, and it had its own needs and desires. My body was all that I knew about myself. Beyond that was nothing but silent emptiness—the void created by the AX2.

"According to our scans your brain activity has restored to its baseline," the nurse continued in a bored voice. "That means you have to decide if you would like to officially terminate the previous legal entity associated with this body."

I looked up at the nurse.

"What do you mean officially terminate? It sounds like I am killing somebody..." I mumbled to myself still unable to process the meaning of this strange conversion. Everything seemed strange and confusing ever since I woke up in the recovery room.

"We need your signature to produce a formal death certificate for Sarah Jones. So, yes, in a way you are killing someone. If you decide that you don't want to go back to the legal space this body occupied before the AX2 incident, you are finalizing Sarah Jones's death."

Sarah Jones. The name was empty to me. Was it really who I am?

"Sarah Jones," I said quietly listening to every sound of the name. Nothing.

"So," the nurse continued obviously impatient to be done with me, "are you ready to sign the papers now?"

So the nurse wanted me to sign the death papers for the person I once was. She was in her early twenties, blond and pale skinned. She would have been pretty if not for the bored, irritated look on her face.

Her carefully groomed eyebrow moved up her smooth forehead. Yes, she was ready to be done with me.

"How do I know if I want to sign?" I asked the question that popped in my mind. The nurse sighed.

"You are allowed thirty eight hours to make your final decision," she answered. "You can also go visit the place Sarah Jones's used to live, but you are not permitted to meet her family."




Two hours later I was climbing into a matte black vehicle. I was going to see the place Sarah Jones had called home. I used to live there. I tried to imagine myself as Sarah Jones, but the name fit awkwardly, like a piece of clothes you didn't wear since high school.

"Hi. I am Kyle," my stream of thought was interrupted by a guy in a militaristic uniform. He opened the car door and sat on the seat opposite from me. "I am your escort on the trip to Sarah Jones's place."

I looked him up and down trying to decide what I think about an escort like this. His hands were painted with what looked like prison tattoos, his ears and eyebrows were decorated with multiple wicked-looking piercings. But what really caught my eye was his hair - colored and styled black hair fell bellow his shoulders. Kyle parted it on the side to reveal a cleanly shaven triangle starting at his left temple and pointing to the back of his head.

I stared at him for a long few seconds before our eyes met.

"Yeah, I am a little different," he answered my unspoken question smiling. I could not help smiling back. There was no anger or aggression in him, just a strange childish energy that hid in the spiderweb wrinkles around his eyes.

"It is not a problem," I said, then added "Hi Kyle. I am..."

I stopped, forced to face the question - who am I? Sarah Jones? Or?..

"Yeah, I know," Kyle answered giving me another of his well natured smiles. "You are one of those AX2 victims. I've seen a bunch of you lately."

"Um..." I mumbled unsure what to answer.

"There was a massive AX2 attack in Chicago a few weeks back. The government is still unsure if it was the rebels or the radicals, but the fact is that almost 12 thousand people died. Only 200 are biologically dead, the rest are like you. Dead on paper but alive otherwise."

"Oh," I said grimacing. No response came to my mind, and I felt like a fool—a fool that could not even form a complete sentence.

"Yeah, you are one of the worst cases given the timing. It took them all these time to bring you back to being a human. Total brain wipe out. No wonder they want you to sign a death certificate." He tapped at the small screen on the armrest of his seat. "The nurses must be pissed that you want a probation period."

"Yeah, my nurse was rather unhappy," I answered, smiling internally at the complexity of my answer.

The car started moving quickly gaining speed.

"Nevermind her. You’ve got a right to think about this," said Kyle. I was thankful for his reassurance.

"First some weirdoes pump you with AX2 then other weirdoes drown you in chemical cocktail to reverse AX2’s effects, and at the end of it, they expect you to decide if you are dead or alive!" He chuckled and actually winked at me. "You know what the AX2 antidote does to you? It puts your brain back into rapid growth mode, same like it was when you were a child. So it doesn't actually undo AX2 effects, it just lets your brain to survive the loss of high level neural paths."

"You seem to know awful a lot about AX2 for an escort personnel," I answered bitterly.

"I do," said Kyle, smiling. "I read a lot about it after it happened to me."

"It happened to you too? When?" Now he had me interested.

"Three years ago. I signed the death certificate for the person before me," he replied without a tint of hesitance.

"Oh," I said lost for words again. "Why did you do it?"

"What do you think a person is?" Kyle gave me a comforting glance. "A body? A DNA sequence?"

I opened my mouth, but Kyle spoke again.

"These bags of meat and bone do not make a person. Did you know they can print a human body nowadays?" He gave me one of these "could you believe this" headshakes, then continued. "A person is something more than just a body. A soul, maybe. Or collection of memories. With all your memories gone are you still the same person? I don't think so."

The car flew silently down a crowded highway. Thousands of bodies moving around locked inside of the slick silent vehicles. Who were these people? What were their most treasured memories? What do they believe in? Did they know how easy it all can be taken away?

"Don't worry about it," Kyle touched my shoulder nodding reassuringly. "You got a second chance. Not everybody gets one."

I nodded back at him once more, admiring the lightness of his smile. His eyes shone with a light particular to a deeply content person.

"Do you remember anything at all?" I asked. "I mean from before?"

"Not a single thing," he replied chuckling.

"How was your life since then?" I could not stop the question even if I wanted to. Kyle gave me an understanding smile.

"Best three years of my life!"




I stepped through a heavily set door. The room beyond was small and stuffy. Old coats wore on the metal hooks. Shoes littered the floor. I walked pass all of it and entered much cleaner and airier living room. It was decorated with modern, sturdy-looking furniture—a couch, a couple of chairs, and a coffee table. I walked to a bookshelf that contained multiple rows of framed pictures. I picked the closest one and studied the family preserved by the static image.

A father, a mother and a little daughter. The mother was Sarah Jones. I looked at her and her family hoping to feel something - a recognition, a strike of familiarity, anything. But the people of the picture remained strangers, no matter how deep I dug into my head. I felt nothing for them - not even pity. They were like a group of strangers you meet on the street - you would only acknowledge their presence for the short second it takes you to pass them by.

I heard the sound of the door and turned around, expecting Kyle to follow me inside. Instead of the escort officer I saw a large-mouthed man that I looked at me from the picture I was still holding in my hands.

"Sarah..." the man said, relief clear in his face. "Oh Sarah... I know I am not allowed to come here but I missed you so much!"

Before I could reply he crossed the living room and wrapped his arms around me. I jerked away, my body quailing with anxiety. This man was too close, the smell of his cologne and sweat filled my nostrils, making me nauseated. I pushed on his chest as hard as I could, breaking from his uninvited embrace. The picture I held in my hand fell to the floor; the frame cracked at the corner.

"Sarah, please..." his face tuned grey as he saw my expression. "Don't leave us, Sarah. Lilly misses you so much..."

Lilly. The name bore no meaning, but I guessed it was the girl on the photo. A primal overwhelming sadness rolled over me.

"Sarah, please..." the man begged. "Say something."

"I am sorry," I answered too cool for my own comfort. "I am not your Sarah."




The nurse was still bored and irritated. I held her up for a whole day before doing what she knew I would do anyway. I pressed my finger to the indicated area on the display in front of me. It blinked green for a brief second then an official-looking document replaced the identification screen. I glanced at it quickly then stood up.

"Have a good day," I said to the young nurse. She nodded a quick response, and I walked out of the room in to a glass corridor that overlooked the city horizon. The sun was slowly rising above the picks of the skyscrapers. A new day was beginning. Sarah Jones was officially dead.


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