Sharing Minds

short stories collection - a compilation of my short stories.

summary

We had just met and she knew everything about me: where I'd come from, job, favorite books, hideaway where I went to think, special Sunday bike routes, time of day I woke and slept, first time abroad, family members' names, secret hobbies, wants, desires, people I abhorred, my first love...everything.

What if you could access all of another's memory? What would you do?

We had just met and she knew everything about me: where I'd come from, job, favorite books, hideaway where I went to think, special Sunday bike routes, time of day I woke and slept, first time abroad, family members' names, secret hobbies, wants, desires, people I abhorred, my first love...everything.

"So, tell me about the time you slept with a prostitute from Orchard Tower..."

I looked into her bright, turquoise eyes–small black flecks filled her iris and she stared with an intensity that burned. A tad short, bit flat chested and ample hip size gave her a slightly contorted look, but she was beautiful, that couldn't be denied. She carried a slight tan and her lips were a bit puffed, she swore she'd never had surgery and her record indicated as much–but people had gotten good at hiding things from the mind link.

"Hmm?"

"The prostitute, who was she?"

It was a bit scary, this new...thing. I knew more about this girl than anyone else in the world, even my parents or siblings. She'd been to Antarctica, slept with lions in Tanzania, seen a man blown to bits in Jordan, loved to draw pictures of the night sky, hated tomatoes (of all things), was a raging conservative with an unusual liking for both Rand and Keynes, used to piss out behind her middle school for fear of having to deal with other girls in the bathroom, saw her father beat her mother on various occasions and lived through a highly acrimonious divorce, had both nipples pierced then decided the better of it a week later, and...oh god, there was so much more. Everything. I could wade through it, hold it, smell it, whatever I wanted. The feeling was like no other.

"You know exactly who she was," I said in a tone laced with a bit more acid than intended. I hadn't slept with her, even though the mind link implied that I did. It did that sometimes, I swear it wasn't as objective as those CalCOM engineers made it out to be.

"No, I don't, it isn't in the mind link...or it is, but you're actively blocking it..." she mumbled. I stroked my hand through her hair, down the back of her neck and traced a path along her spine. She shivered a bit but gave in and leaned over to give me a kiss...

"WHO WAS HE!?" I said, jumping back several feet. I'd been distracting her by putting the prostitute in a prominent position within my mind link to allow me to wander about hers more freely. I wanted to know who she was before we got...involved. The CalCOM engineers had been smart, I'll give them that. They designed the system to be flexible and malleable in terms of how the content was presented to other users. The content was kept locked down...supposedly. But I just found something deep in her mind link that disturbed me ever so...

"Wha..what was that...you just ruined the..."

"No, get away from me!" I shouted, pushing her back then stumbled out of the bed, reaching for the door to the apartment. Her intense stare from earlier returned, only this time it hide something else. I severed the mind link and began turning the doorknob.

"Holy hell, calm down. What're you talking about?" she said, crawling out of bed. She wrapped the sheets around her and strolled over to the kitchen.

"I saw that memory, why? What did he do?" I was sweating a bit now and the door seemed locked from the inside.

"Oh, are you talking about Charlie?"

"Who the fuck is Charlie? There aren't name-tags in memories."

"Jesus, just tell me what you accessed."

"The guy you were cutting up, WHO WAS HE?" I finally got a solid grip on the door and flung it open. She'd poured herself a glass of orange juice and walked back toward the bed, sitting down. The entire time her eyes never left me. And she was as calm as a lion stalking its prey.

"That isn't my memory," she noted rather plainly.

"Yes, it is. How else did it get..."

"You're a plumber, right? District 58, Lot 9, Housing Unit 47? Parisian style blocks with beautiful facades and a leaning toward Corinthian capitals? Rich place. Nice place. Heard you've only had one violent crime in the last..."

"We're no longer mind linked, you can stop now," I said, half-in, half-out of the doorway.

"And I'm a certified nuclear physicist with training in electrical engineering and computer science with several years studying hippocampal activation of the prefrontal cortex. Do you understand how mind linking works? Do you realize I changed your memory as we talked?"

Someone had told me this, a customer I had briefly mind linked with to get a complete history of the housing unit. I had a dream the next night and thereafter couldn't remember if I had actually been to Orchard Tower or just dreamt it.

"You couldn't, they're read-only. Only the user..."

"...and certain others have read-write access. Probably wondering who the others are, right? That guy isn't part of my memory, someone put it there to ruin every future relationship I tried to have. They locked it in an easy to find place and I don't have permissions to delete it. I swear, that memory isn't mine!"

"Whose? What crowd did you hang around with?" I demanded, my eyes narrowing a bit. She sure knew how to create red herrings.

"My ex. That was the memory I found in him and left him because of it," she started, a tear rolling down her eye. "He forced a mind link when I was sleeping later that night...before I left. He wrote that memory and more. He was a CalCOM engineer. He knew all the tricks..." She had begun to sob terrible at this point and I had a hard time keeping myself from walking over the comfort her. There was a trap in all of this, that memory was too raw, too visceral, too terrifying for it to have been a copy.

"How'd he know where to write when you were sleeping? The system can't work..."

"It can! People don't realize this. Why do you think spies never had mind links, even though they'd be a super valuable asset in the field? The moment they fall asleep, BAM, someone has ALL their secrets. You ignorant twit, why do you think they created the mind link."

"Is this what happens? I've only had it a month, but is this what happens to us?"

"What? What do you mean to us, there is no us!"

"Not you and I," I hissed, she had begun to irritate me even more. "I meant mind link users. Do we all become paranoid like you? Making up lies when people probe too deep, trying to rationalize their way..."

"Shut up! Naive dimshit, you didn't probe at all, he left it..."

"What about the little child you drowned?"

"What?"

"The little girl? She was far away from, and much better hidden than, the man you cut up. Who was she? Who're you?"

There was a brief silence and her whole body went rigid. She stared at me with a coldness that sent a shiver down my spine then with precision and speed I hadn't seen since watching some Team Six members train, she glide across the room and before I could react had her hand on my mouth. She didn't say a word as she slide her free hand up my neck and pressed ever so gently on my Adam's apple, causing me to cough a little. Her hand didn't budge. For what seemed like an hour, she stood there, still as a rock with her hand pressed against my throat. A bead of sweat began to roll down my temple and I clumsily tried to reach up and shove her away, but to no avail. The edge of my vision began to blur then all of a sudden she backed off and just as quickly bound onto the bead and covered herself again. The whole experience was almost erotic, what with her naked body pressed up against me and her face inches from mine, but the ice in her eyes kept me from getting even slightly aroused.

"What the fuck...ack...was that!?" I burst out, coughing a little.

"Check you're memory...Julies," she quipped, the sudden change in her tone at the name confused me.

"My name is..." and for the briefest instant, I saw a gun flash before my face then a burst of blood and a man was lying in front of me, his guts spilling out as he clawed desperately for life. He looked up at me and a hand that wasn't mine pressed a gun to his temple. There was a slight graininess to everything.

"Julies, please! Julies, what did I ever...

"Shut up Tom, just shut the fuck up. Your going to die here and now, in this sorry back-of-the-woods town in the middle of fucking nowhere. Your family will never know, the police won't find you, and your piece-of-shit memory will be taken and your body cremated. Do you hear me? DO YOU HEAR ME!"

And then I was back in the room with her. I gasped for air and realized I'd simultaneously shit myself and puked all over the floor. She stared at me and smiled, but there was a sadness in it this time. And that scared me more than anything.

"Look Dan, I don't want to be any harsher on you, but I wasn't lying. We could have been sexing it up right now, but instead your laying in your own pool of piss-n-shit instead of on me. Those aren't my memories, and now maybe you understand."

I just continued to stare at my hands wondering what to do, to say, to feel. All around me I could see flashes of death, murder, rape, and things that I didn't even know one man could stomach doing to another, no matter how deranged. It was all too much, too much. I tapped my skull and shut down my mind link completely.

"That won't help you Dan. You really don't know shit about how this thing works, do you?"

She was right. Ghosts walked around me: men maiming one another, curb stomping left and right; men cutting women open as they reached orgasms inside them; a small girl left hanging from a cliff before the rope was cut...it was absurd and all too real. Too real. I looked over to her as tears rolled down my eyes.

"Why?"

"Some people need to learn the hard way," was all she said and rolled out of bed, the sheets slipping off. Gliding over to the closet, she pulled out some fresh sheets and threw them at me. "Get some rest. Tomorrow's going to be even worse. And same with the next day. And the day after that. Welcome to my world."

"I...there are..." I blurted out, incoherent and inconsolable.

"All I wanted was to be comforted for one night from the nightmares, but you had your new fancy little mind link and just had to be nosy."

Edit: About half-way through writing this, I realized it has a similar concept to 'jacks' from Forever Peace, a great novel by Joe Haldeman.

-biafra

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©2006-2017 | biafra ahanonu | updated 19 june 2017
biafra ahanonu