Holly woke up with vision that was glazed, a stomach that was nauseated, a body that felt too heavy to move and a mouth that was dry and stuffed with, what, cotton balls? She was at the dentist waking from anesthetic. No, that it was not right. It felt reminiscent of that, yes, but that couldn’t be right. No, Holly no longer lived at the Order of Writers where dentistry was a covered expense. Right, she was grown up and poor, so she couldn’t afford such luxuries now. So, if not at the dentist, where was she? Had she been in an accident? She did not feel right. Nothing was painful though, aside from a mild throbbing in her head and general achiness .
Focusing her mind, she threw her mental anchor out into the sea of the intermind. She dredged for information, but was instantly blocked: connected, but with limited access. Refocusing her mind, (which took considerable concentration due to the brainfog she was experiencing), she scoured the information in her local banks and found the time, (0800), a message from her GPS (‘Are you heading to the Order of Writers?’) and files of recording from the Author.
Memory began to clear away the fog. Holly was the recorder. But she wasn’t at the Tower. She had left and followed someone. And then, what? The face of the monster-man sprang into her thoughts like a creepy jack-in-the-box, instantly making her recoil.
Wait, it was 0800? Had the app gone off? It had woken her from sleep at 0600 for the past thirty years of her life. Thinking of the devotional caused her memory to play it now anyhow in perfect tone and articulation because after thirty years, the words were imprinted. It was part of her.
Memories slowly drifted back into her mind in the ebb and flow of her self-talking anthem. The Creator, her recording sessions, the guards, the courtyard, walking outside, following a man, the monster-man.
She had been kidnapped! Adrenaline surged through Holly’s body until it snapped her into wakefulness. She was sitting in a chair, her hands bound and her mouth gagged. She looked around at the walls of computer monitors and gently humming electronics and was slapped by a sudden resurgence of a dormant memory.
She was in this chair, bound, but not gagged, crying pitilessly. Holly was young, maybe four, maybe younger. At the same time, Holly was an adult, watching herself in wonder as the memory formed. She was in this same room with the computers and buzzing, but older looking tech. There were two men from the Order, men she recognized, but did not know the names of and they were talking, buy Holly could not understand what they were saying. She was crying for her mommy over and over. Nothing she said was being understood by anyone, or maybe they just didn’t care.
There was an image of something on a screen. Young Holly did not know what it was, but her older self knew it to be a brain. It was her brain, she realized. It was her brain and the men were discussing it. A man approached young Holly, asked her a question, but, still she did not understand what he was saying. He slapped her face. It stung and she cries harder. She cried until exhaustion eventually overtook her and she fitfully fell asleep, with snot and tears intermingling down her chin.
Holly watched herself as a child and was horrified by this memory and confused why she had not remembered this before. One of the men was speaking, recording, and she heard him with her adult ears this time, ‘Subject IP number: 055fkS;f5l’5wN, Route: Jd5553609: Brain shows classical signs of a partial DNA merger into the electronic cells of brainchip type, Basic-T3. As typical of previous subjects, the DNA component is dormant. Test number 35121 has produced zero effects.’
Holly bent down and looked at the tiny face of her younger self. Longing for her mother filled her heart with a terrible pain she had forgotten until now. “Mommy.” She said aloud, while reaching for her own tiny face and stroking the wet cheek. The young Holly snapped her eyes open and looked into Holly’s eyes. Holly jumped back. The monitor started beeping loudly, but the men did not seem to hear it. Brain matter surrounding the brain chip glowed, as if sparking to life for a moment, then dissipated so quickly, Holly wasn’t sure if she saw it correctly. In the same instant, young Holly was asleep and the alarm fell silent.
Holly reeled back to the present moment in time and knew she had been here before. She knew where she was. How had she wound up at the Order?
As if on cue, the Creator walked into the room.