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The End of the Line · Original Minific ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 400–750
The Memory Palace
“Sorry to keep you waiting, Mr. Crosier.” The doctor shook my hand and sat in the chair across from mine. “What kind of memory can we help you with today?”

I didn’t have the courage to meet the doctor’s eyes. Instead I glanced around the office, a small but comfortable west-facing studio that drank the afternoon sunlight. Diplomas and certificates hung from the walls, alongside an artful, colorful depiction of Mnemosyne’s corporate logo. It was all very soothing.

“It’s silly,” I mumbled. “An old thing. I was bullied a lot as a child, and… well. I’d like it gone.”

“That’s not silly at all,” the doctor said. He tapped something into his iPad and checked his watch. “It’s actually quite common. We can do the procedure today if you want. That way you only get billed for one session.”

I swallowed drily. “Sounds good.”

There was some shaving, though only two dime-sized patches behind my ears. Electrodes and cold gel wriggled through the rest of my hair like worms. My scalp tingled as the nurse checked the connections, and when everything was settled she gave me a little pat on the shoulder and left me alone with my thoughts.

I heard a tiny click, and the doctor’s voice came over the speakers. “Okay, we’re ready to start here, Mr. Crosier. On your left is a tray with a sugar cube. Put it under your tongue and let it dissolve.”

The sugar cube was in a sealed wrapper. I tore it open and put the cube under my tongue; the wrapper I put back on the tray, but not before reading the tiny words above the barcode. Lysergic acid diethylamide, 50 µg.

“I’m going to lower the lights the rest of the way." The cubicle, already dim, fell into full darkness, but at the edges of my vision tiny flashes of color popped off like fireworks. LSD was an amazingly fast hallucinogen.

“Imagine you are in a palace,” he continued. “A huge palace with millions of rooms. Its hallways are so long you can’t see the end of them, and the ceiling so high it is lost in the clouds. See this palace.”

The doctor’s voice, a somber baritone, was perfectly suited for narration. As he spoke I saw the palace appear around me, so real I tried to take a step onto the marble floor. The velcro restraints withheld me.

“You walk to a room,” the doctor said, and I did as he asked. “You open it, and inside you see the child who bullied you. You see him push you, insult you, hit you. Everything he ever did, you see in this room.”

But I did not see the bully, for there was none; there never had been. Instead a beautiful woman, the most beautiful woman who could ever live, appeared beside me in the empty room.

“Hello, Anna,” I whispered. My heart ached to see her again.

“George.” She smiled at me, then ran her hands up her bare arms. “I’m cold. Where are we?”

“Somewhere safe. Would you please hold Katie for me?” I passed her our daughter, swaddled as I remembered. A tuft of dark hair poked up from the blankets.

“Of course.” She took Katie and hugged our daughter to her chest. “George? I’m scared.”

“I know,” I said. “I’m sorry.”

The doctor’s sonorous voice droned on, about bullies and bad memories, and I ignored him. I filled the room with memories of night, of black ice, of a young man in a Toyota S-10 pickup who had too much to drink. I put Anna and Katie in our Honda Civic, and when the memory was complete I walked out of the room.

“Close the door,” the doctor said. “Close the door and bar it shut.”

I did, and my scalp began to tingle, then burn. Current flowed through the electrodes, searing, shaping. The doorframe glowed white hot.

“Leave your memories in there, and wake,” he said.

And I did.

“Welcome back, Mr. Crosier. Can you tell me about the bully?”

I put on a puzzled look. I knew what he wanted to hear, how to sell the lie. “What bully?”

The doctor smiled. “Nevermind, just checking. The procedure worked.”

Hours later, as I was reaching for my house keys, I found a note in my pocket. It had a message in my handwriting.

Do you remember your wife and daughter?

I didn’t.

And I’m not sure why that makes me sad.
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