Finding my demons

Madness

Madness (Photo credit: Dark Botxy)

I don’t know how I lost my memories, but I know I want them back. I pull against my restraints once more, testing them for no good reason other than nervousness. The man in the white coat is approaching once more, no doubt with yet another dour warning. I know that whatever made my mind shut down may be horrific, but I have to know otherwise what am I? Just an empty shell.

I find myself nodding in response to his questions, but if you asked me what those questions were, I would struggle to repeat them. I just want it over with. Give me my memories.

He fills a syringe, squirts out the excess, taps to eliminate any bubbles and bends over my supine form. I feel the sharp pain as the needle pierces my skin and everything goes black.

I start to hear voices at first, then I can smell the clinical smell of the treatment room. I eventually open my eyes – they feel sticky, my vision blurred. I can just make out a man in a white coat. He is asking me a question. It takes me a while to focus, to tune into his words.

“When you think of a flag burning, what do you remember?”

My head spins. Suddenly, I am no longer in the treatment room. I am in my student digs, looking out the window at a teeming mob below. A peaceful protest march suddenly is peaceful no more as violence breaks out. My eyes fixate on a flag which is now burning. As I watch, I become aware of my girlfriend’s arms around me. I can remember her name, Karen. She pulls me back to the bed and starts to delicately undress me. I cry out as I feel the pleasant memory drifting away from me as once I again I lapse into unconsciousness.

I slowly come round. Again, the man in the white coat is speaking to me.

“When you think of a Christmas tree, what do you remember?”

The disorientation sets in once more and I find myself in the lounge of a house, my house, no – our house. Mine and Karen’s. She’s now my wife. I slowly scan the room before resting my gaze on the charred Christmas tree in the corner. There is a letter addressed to me on the mantlepiece. I recognise Karen’s handwriting. Inside, she tells me of her love for another and I can hear screaming. It is me screaming. I beg the man in the white coat to put me under again and after an eternity, I drift away once more.

I awaken. The man in the white coat is still there.

“When you think of a butterfly brooch, what do you remember?”

Nausea kicks in as my stomach lurches. I feel my physical self vomit. I’m at a church. It’s my daughter’s wedding, but I’m not invited. I’m carrying something, a bottle. In horror, I realise that I intend to use the bottle to harm my daughter. I try to drop it, but I am a passenger of my memories. I can change nothing.

As she emerges from the church, I open the bottle and run towards her. Suited men rush to block me, but not before I launch the contents of the bottle at my daughter. She screams and so do I – at least my physical self does. The men in suits set about me. I feel physical pain, but it is nothing compared with the mental pain. Just before I mercifully slip into a coma, I notice my daughter’s butterfly brooch on the floor. It is badly damaged by the acid.

Gradually I come round. I feel exhausted and horrific memories fight for my attention. The man in the white coat is saying something to me.

“Congratulations Mr. Tomkins. Your treatment is now complete and you will in time regain all your memories. I have to ask you if you wish to keep them – if you would rather they were erased once more – it is a simple procedure.”

The more I remember, the more pain I feel. But is it worse than the emptiness of having no memories? I slowly make my decision. In a shaky voice, I make my request. For one last time, I feel the sharp pain of a needle and I drift off to sleep.

***

The man in the white coat walks over to his desk and picks up the phone.

“Would you please come and pick up Mr. Tomkins.”

The disembodied voice responds.

“Did he choose to keep his memories this time.”

The man in the white coat slowly shakes his head before answering.

“No, I’m afraid not. Maybe next time.”

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A helping hand

Noir

Noir (Photo credit: Ontario Wanderer)

He stepped down from the train onto the snow encrusted platform, impeccably coiffured and dressed in expensive Italian clothes. The steam from the engine swirled around him, mingling with the surrounding mist. He stood waiting for the other passengers to clear as the train noisily forced its way out of the station. Unlike the other passengers, if he felt the cold, he gave no outward sign.

Surveying the single platform, he marked the Soviet propaganda posters and the taped up windows. His gaze fell upon a vagrant sleeping on a bench under a pile of untidy newspapers. He took slow deliberate steps across the platform and sat down next to the supine figure.

“You don’t smell any better” the man announced as he removed his wide rimmed hat.

The vagrant sat up sending the newspapers sliding to the ground. “All part of the act old chum, all part of the act – how long has it been?” he replied as he scratched his unshaven chin.

“A hundred years – same as last time Jim” the man said as he pulled out a cigarette case.

“Doesn’t time fly Captain.” the vagrant said as he took one of the offered cigarettes.

The Captain tried and failed to bring his lighter to life. “Technical problems sir?” Jim asked cheekily, chuckling at his own joke whilst pulling out a box of matches from somewhere. The man smiled in reply, taking a big drag of the cigarette before blowing out a series of perfectly formed smoke rings.

“How are things going?” Jim asked – genuinely curious.

For the first time, the Captain looked at his companion, “Not good. Sometimes I wonder about this planet. Do you know they haven’t even got nuclear power yet?”

“I see – well behind schedule. What are we going to do?” Jim said, concern lacing his voice.

The Captain stubbed out his cigarette in the snow whilst blowing out a long jet of smoke. “Nothing else for it, we’re going to have to give them a helping hand.”

It took a while for Jim to take it in. “Oh. Who’s it going to be this time?”

“It’s either you or me this time Jim, you or me. I’m feeling generous… and… tired. Let’s toss a coin. Don’t worry, I never win.”

He reached inside his coat, pulling out a silver coin. “Heads or tails Jim?”

“Tails” barely audible.

The coin span through the air before settling in the snow at their feet. They looked down in tandem before sitting slowly back. Wordlessly, the Captain handed Jim his briefcase and then a pistol.

“So long Jim.”

Jim didn’t respond as the Captain stood up and walked slowly down the platform. He’d barely taken 10 paces before a single gunshot pierced the otherwise still night air. He froze for a moment as a single tear dribbled down his cheek, before resuming his walk into the mist.