Ballad of a Memory Addict – Pt. 1: I remember, don't worry...
I'm going to try to get this all down, words and my rough pictures, because either I am going to be dead soon or, later, a vegetable, because I'm all out of memories and cash. The Lethe is moving faster now, removing memories quicker than I can replace them. Not long now, it will eat my memories of reading, language, bladder continence, and everything else that forms the basis of 'me'. I can't emphasize enough how screwed I am.
I could point to everything from the past and say 'This is why I'm here.' but that doesn't work for entertaining stories. I need this story to be interesting, entertaining, otherwise you won't read it. I need you, who ever you are, to read this, its all that's left of me by the time you get this...
I woke up with a spike in my arm, the rig shot dry, the tie still on tight enough to hurt. Most folks react the same when the memories hit them, they blackout as their brain tries to organize the new engrams into a memory-narrative. Actually, I only know what humans do, I haven't heard what happens to the other races; I don't really care either.
I pulled the works out of me and undid the tie, acting quick before the new freight came crashing in. Sometimes it requires a certain stimulus, a particular event, which meant I had to get up and move around like an old man when the memories didn't come to me on my bed. It was the mirror above the sink.
Another mirror, seeing myself
Blood dripping off fingers, hair, blouse
Silver hammer in my hands
Beating her head in
THOCK, CRICK, SHPLIT, DAP
Been watching her for weeks, gotta know who I go for, can't get interrupted
Holding her from behind with one arm, pressing the barrel into her back with the other
Standing over her, head's a flat ball now
Looking in the mirror again
I gotta make the gesture, can't NOT do it
Won't do it this time
Not an animal
I wait, can master it this time
Left hand over mouth, right over right eye, saying the words into my palm
Bang Bang, Bang Bang, Bang Bang
Push hard with hands
Gore in my long hair
I look good in blood
Gore on my hands
I've got blood on my breasts
I vomited for an eternity, dry heaving in the sink, tears rolling from my eyes, fifteen minutes gone by, I was done. I curled into a ball on the cold tile, and was there for the true hours marked by clocks instead of the mind. Daylight crawled across the wall as I watched.
When the memories get in you, its you in them, its you seeing yourself in those yesterdays. It doesn't matter that these people, the other you, are nothing like the true you, identification with the memorizer is inevitable. Thus, I had been a middle-aged woman who had killed another woman, it didn't matter I was a thirty-five year old man.
I was paranoid, sopping with guilt, crying on my bathroom floor, convincing myself that I really hadn't killed anyone. With the hours on the floor, I eventually sorted out myself from myself, intellectually convinced that I hadn't murdered anyone, though still jumping with every sound outside my roach-house apartment, ready for the police to take me. With what few memories that were in the junk I shot-up all sorted, I got up and tried to vomit again. All I managed to do was blow out a few blood vessels in my eyes.
My life had been a sack of crap up til that point, and looking back it doesn't surprise me that things happened the way they did, but at the time I felt that angry self-pity of 'Why Me?'. Honestly, everything that's happened to me was my fault.
I was a mail courier, and as most people feel, I wasn't getting paid enough. So, I took to raiding the dead-parcel room, grabbing handfuls of letters to take home. Most of the other employees did it from time to time, I just made it more of a habit than others.
One night I open a letter, its address smudged to illegibility, and that's it, no more memory for days. My next memory is laying on a table, staring up at a bright white square moving away from me. A Mnemosit doctor had been talking, but I just started paying attention a moment before. They told me what had happened.
I had opened a weaponized chain-letter, a left over from a war fifteen years past, a set of symbols or words (the government won't tell anyone the particulars) that rewrites the imperatives of the brain. One moment you're opening a letter you think is from your aunt, next you're reproducing the chain-letter until your hand cramps into a useless claw. Once at the 'claw' phase, you root out every last bit of money you can, like a junkie needing a fix, before rushing off to the courier's office to buy postage to send all your closest loved ones a big surprise.
They had caught me in the 'claw' phase, having emptied my savings, back at work trying to buy postage, dressed in: my nicest shoes, mismatched socks, a pair of woman's undergarments, and a dress shirt. I can only assume, or hope, that the knickers were from a previous lady-friend who had left them at my place by accident.
The Mnemosits buy and sell memories, though the memories they do sell are the non-specific talent or skill types, they don't do the personal and emotional stuff. Flying around in a city that is half urban pileup and half monster fetus, they go about the world providing their services. They also figured out a way to fix idiot mail-couriers that open dangerous chain-letters, though the 'fixing' isn't perfect.
See, the clever bastards that made those first letters created a memetic disease that is transferred through symbols or written language. Read, or see, the wrong thing, and you're scribbling brain-death as fast as your hands will allow. But, that's not all, the disease also starts consuming sections of your memory, starting with the ones most charged with emotion/pleasure/pain and working back until you've forgotten everything while laying in a puddle of your own excrement.
The Mnemosit fix-up allows a person to do things other than chain-letter writing, but doesn't get rid of the memory burn. It's called Lethe, and it'll take everything that makes you who you are, leaving a sack of drooling meat in its wake. Mnemosits, being heartless and weird, don't do identity memory transfers, the emotionally charged ones, outside of the resurrection-dubbing process. This was a problem for me, because if you can keep dumping other people's memories into your own brain, you can give the Lethe something else to eat besides yourself. They fixed me only to allow for a much slower, and much more demeaning, process of forgetting myself to death. I've been told its not all that bad.
After convincing my employers that I had come in contact with the letter as part of my normal, and much more lawful, activities, they were very willing to grant me a stipend of money that would allow for me to see out the rest of my short days in relative comfort. All of this marked the beginning of a life dedicated to buying illegally acquired memories with the majority of my money, while using the rest to buy cheap food and roach infested accommodations.
People, the avant-garde and thrill-seeking, use these illegal memories as a form of entertainment and compensation for being generally worthless. If you can't be what you want, at least you can remember being someone else. Those desperate enough to risk the possibility of wiping out their memories, can sell them on the black market for quite a bit of money.
All of this ties back in to how I got where I was, and why, for the most part, I deserved everything that I got.
I was losing my mind from the memory of murdering a woman with a hammer while getting a form of sexual gratification from it. I was vomiting because I recognized my behavior at the end of the memory; covering my eye and mouth, whispering bang-bang to no one at all, having to do it every time I stepped in front of a mirror.
I had a friend growing up, really my only one. Looking back, I can see how messed up he was, but up close he was normal enough for me. Though I only learned this later, he liked doing awful things to animals and starting random fires. He would hold his mouth with one hand and his eye with the other every time he came in sight of a mirror. He told me he had to do it otherwise something bad would happen, he just didn't know what.
His name was Gilles, and while he wasn't the me I saw in the mirror, I could feel his echo in the memory. While vague, I remember thinking about another face in another mirror, another yesterday, a face of a younger man holding his eye and mouth the same.
I loved Gilles, as one outcast might love another that accepted them, and that's why I decided to find him, despite the fact he was a murderer. I had nothing left really, just a life of buying other memories. Not sure if I was planning on joining him, or killing him. Still not sure even now.
I went to find my dealer, Stella...