Black-Market Procedure

A set of empty vials sit against a blue backlight

 

 

            • Reading time:  3 minutes
            • This story was written to the given theme of “memory.”

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Galen withdrew the needle from the back of the girl’s head.  He emptied the amber fluid into a vial and brought it to his face.  As the mixture approached, the prosthetic mandibles attached to his face began to pulsate like the tentacles of a frightened squid.

He inhaled, allowing the mandibles to do their work. 

The summer sun was warm on our backs, we had our pirate hats and bandanas pulled down low on our brows whilst we stabbed the earth with plastic swords, searching for buried treasure.

I desperately tried to scrub the wine stain from the carpet, whilst Kate looked around wide-eyed and pale, trying to find somewhere to hide the smashed bottle before her mother got home. 

Wiping hot tears and snot out of each other’s faces whilst I helped her pack up her stuff, and wave goodbye as she drove off to uni.

Sneaking away from our friends during a night out, just to scoff nuggets and chips.

Galen sealed the vial with a rubber stopper, then handed it to the hooded man.

The hooded man examined it, then pulled out a brown envelope.  Both men exchanged items.  Galen opened the envelope and quickly counted the stack of cash therein.   £5000. 

Galen nodded to the hooded man.

He nodded back, slipped the vial into his jacket pocket, then left, closing the door behind him.

Galen split £1000 from the stack and slipped it into his own coat’s pocket.  He resealed the envelope and handed it to the girl.

She took it, then began to stand up.

“Side effects?” 

“No, feeling fine doc.”

“I’m no doctor.” 

“I don’t get it,” she said whilst rubbing the back of her head.  “Why would someone want that?”

Galen looked down at her.  The girl was short and lithe.  She had pale skin, dark circles under her eyes, and brown hair that fell over her brow.  She wore converse, jeans, and her University’s grey hoodie with the drawstring collar pulled tight around her neck. 

“What was your name again?”

“Sam.”

“Well Sam, to be frank, it’s sadism.  Some people enjoy the fact that someone was desperate enough to sacrifice a relationship…  a friendship…  They enjoy it enough to pay for it.”  He reached into his pocket and withdrew a small thumbnail sized photograph.  “I almost forgot that you gave me this, thank you by the way, it made isolating the memories easier.”

Sam took the photo, her eyes scanning across Kate’s face.  She frowned.  “I don’t understand,” she said.  “I can still remember her…  I remember everything.”

“Ah, you misunderstand, the procedure did not remove your memories, that would be science-fiction.  It deprograms a range of emotional impulses with Kate being the common demon-”

Sam yawned loudly.

“To put it more concisely then.  You’ll keep your memories, they will just simply not land, not resonate, they’ll become facts, date and places, nothing more.”

Sam was rolling her chewing gum into the photo.  “Hmm,” she said, “interesting.” 

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