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by PK Brannon about a year ago in Sci Fi
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Sometime in the future, perhaps the past or maybe now.

You might not be able to unhear this later......

Jack was more on edge tonight than usual. He paced back and forth over the same 6 squares of the linoleum floor of the tiny meeting room . Then suddenly he would dart about in another direction. His speech patterns followed his movements first to the edge of the table , then back to his chair and cross to the window placed much too high for viewing. He began a thought then another would enter as he changed positions, his movement batting thoughts away that were trying to escape through his mouth.

He sat at the chair, head in hands rubbing his forehead putting pressure on the sharp ache deep inside. "This was a memory, I know it wasn't a dream." he said quietly, but adamant, repeating a well-worn statement. " I'm not crazy. I don't know why I must stay here...stay locked in a cell , like a criminal. Why am I here? " he demanded, standing abruptly as his fist came down on the table.

Lights flashed and the door opened. Two guards burst in, their size intimidating and gaze more so. " It's alright," Dr. Martin said, holding her hand up in the air as a signal to go no further. " Jack is a little over-stimulated by last night's nightmares. He meant no harm to me." The guards backed out of the room silently , but the gaze stayed trained on Jack.

"Over-stimulated?! Is that what I am? And I just said these are not nightmares. I was not asleep. I recalled these things - I wrote them down." Jack said, offering a crumpled sheet of paper. Dr. Martin covered the paper quickly with her hand and slipped the paper onto her lap and then motionlessly into the open pocket of her lab coat.

She had placed her other hand on the pitcher of water in front of them and began to poor into one of the plastic glasses to distract from the paper. Smiling a little too broadly, she whispered, "Jack -look at me and smile." She fiddled with the necklace she wore nervously-the little heart locket from when she was younger-her mother gave it her. Then louder, " Now Jack, how many times have I told you not to write things down like this? I am trying to control your treatments, but if this were to fall into someone else's hands they might take you off of my rotation and-" She lifted her head mid-thought, breathing in an all too familiar aroma.

Suddenly the lights went out completely. Complete darkness. No light from the wired opening in the door, or from the too high window that faces the parking lot. We can hear a soft hissing sound, a calm sound not unlike those tapes that let you fall asleep to a summer rain. Moments later the sound stops and the lights come up full. Both Jack and Dr. Martin sitting motionless in their chairs, heads down and slumped slightly forward. Two orderlies came in and carried Jack away, one had his feet and the other his arms. A nurse was behind Dr. Martin. He disconnected the wire from the syringe and then broke a small vial under Dr. Martin’s nose. With a large intake of air she straightened quickly and began to cough. The nurse put one of Dr. Martin’s arms around his own neck and with his opposite arm wrapping around her waist he helped her to her feet and sluggishly she walked out of the door. "It's alright Doc... it will be gone soon, cough it out. That's right."

Sitting on the side of her bed, Dr. Martin opened a bottle of painkillers and took 2, then 2 more, placing the bottle on her nightstand. She held her locket in her hand now, the clasp broken when she unknowingly pulled it from her own neck." You didn't have to use the gas on me," she said aloud. Although she appeared alone in the room, she continued to have a conversation as if someone was there with her. " What was the reason for that? I would have destroyed it- I didn't want him to be punished any further so I was simply removing the evidence. The scrawling on that paper were illegible anyway. They would simply be determined to be the disconnected thoughts of a disconnected man. A broken man. A man who is remembering all of it little by lit-" she looked up from the floor to straight ahead, then to the ceiling, " That's it isn't it? You know he is remembering too much so you ended our conversation. Am I right? Am I?"

A voice from nowhere, responded. " You are to blame for this Dr. Martin. You have been encouraging his memory."

" I never called it a memory! I wanted only for him to get it all out. I thought if he put it all together and thought it to be just a recurring nightmare, I could help him put it away, help him be done with it once and for all." She began rubbing her forehead, pushing back the residual pain left by the gas she inhaled. She stood up slowly, knowing the answer to the question she was about to ask. Not from logic, but because the question was familiar, the conversation known to her like a script. Looking at the ceiling again, she allowed the words to fall out of her mouth almost on their own, " What have you done with him?"

The voice took a deep breath, exhaled, and said, " Dr. Martin- you know what happens to him now. We cannot allow the end of his story to surface. Hey- at least he will have no more headaches, right?"

Dr. Martin covered her face with her open hands, shaking her head softly, and said quietly, "We were so close. I could feel it...just one more session, and ..." she trailed off. She took her hands away from her face, turned them over and found the tiny dot in the veins on the backside of her left hand. The red dot were blood had been reached by a syringe. Then the odd burn marks in that lightning type pattern leading away from it. Maybe it wasn’t the gas. She opened her hand and held up her heart shaped locket, tracing the M monogram lightly with her finger. “Would you at least see that my daughter gets this?” she asked. She arched her back and breathed in the familiar smell that came along with the rushing sound of a spring rain...a heavy, mist really. The way they used to water the vegetables in grocery stores. She didn't fight it this time , she breathed deep as the lights went completely out.

A light came on in a high part of the room, letting you know the ceiling was at least 30 feet above the bedroom, now empty. The light came from a windowed room above and to the left not unlike that of a light booth in a theatre. Jacob and Marisa were reciting the last few sentences Dr. Martin spoke in unison very dramatically, "We were so close. I could feel it...just one more session, and ..." They laughed.

"Same story, just another night." said Jacob.

"Night after night after night." responded Marisa, followed by a bored sigh. "You would think she would remember saying it right? I mean we do!" said Jacob. He was disengaging cables, rolling and clipping, putting things away and back into place.

Marisa looked around, glanced through the observation windows while she appeared to busy herself putting things back in order. She leaned in to Jacob and said softly, looking like her mouth didn't even move. " I think she remembered tonight," she whispered. Jacob pretended not to hear her , giving only the slightest glance her way to let her know he had, then shook his head slightly to try to stop her from continuing. " Oh, c'mon- her movements were different, even with Jack- she went off script. She KNEW she was off script."

Jack interrupted, " Oh, Marisa! You had me going for a minute there!" He laughed, a little too much. " Whew! Yeah- you are such a kidder."

But it was too late. She went on, speaking too quickly and tugging at her necklace nervously-pulling the little heart locket back and forth. "And then in the bedroom, you could see the moment she knew- she looked straight at us-before she was supposed to-did you see it? Why are they doing this Jacob? I mean, Jack lost it weeks ago, I don't know why they didn't end it then. Dr. Martin hadn't realized what was happening at that point. She didn't know-"

"Marisa, stop. Please stop." Jacob pleaded. He rubbed his forehead, somehow trying to prevent the pain.

"Jacob, she didn't know last week. She didn't-it's like they knew she would figure it out and, they let it happen anyway." She began to cry, still holding onto her necklace we hear the locket go back and forth along the chain a couple more times then we hear the sound of the mist. The lights go out, and come on again quickly both in the booth and below in the bedroom and in the meeting room. We can see now that it looks more like a set than actual places. There are cameras, and technicians, and maintenance crew members everywhere. Too many to have moved into place in the short time the lights were out. There were other rooms like the ones Marisa and Jacob were being carried out of. In another close by are pairs of technicians, moving about-carrying out individual tasks.

"They never learn do they?" asked one.

"No," replied another as he marked things off on a clipboard." But we knew that now didn't we? RESET everyone." He spoke into a microphone attached to his collar than he pulled toward his face to speak. He put his hand to his ear hearing from a device we cannot see. "I said what? Well, yes - I mean no, " He stammers skimming through pages on his clipboard. "I thought it was a part of it today- but no, I don't see it...I'm - I'm sorry."

Everyone looks up at once as the hissing sound more like that of a snake than a rain now seems to crescendo and the lights go out. When they come back on the stage is vacant, only the set remains.

A light from just outside our peripheral illuminates the perimeter of the 'set area'. We hear voices from nowhere, yet everywhere. They are neither male or female, neither expressive nor monotone. As they speak the voices grow fainter as if they are walking away, the light follows them. Or surrounds them-or comes from them, it’s hard to tell.

" They don't ever learn." the first sighs.

"After all, they are only human." the other chuckles slightly.

" I do wish you had never coined that phrase-I've grown tired of hearing it." scolds the first.

" Does this mean we can put this tired experiment to bed? I am bored of it. I told you from the start that they are not able to separate their own thoughts from those we implant." said the second.

" I know-I know. For as weak a species as they are- that human spirit is such a pesky issue." inferred the first.

"Oh, I know this argument- those sideways compliments cloaked in false critiques- you aren't fooling anyone." number 2 replies.

We can only hear soft rumblings of the faraway conversation now, we can no longer decipher the words. Soon it is replaced by the soft rain sound-no longer the hissing snake, but ever so much more engulfing - a surround sound effect. Then the lights go da-

Sci Fi

About the author

PK Brannon

I am a transient New Yorker (always in that New York state of mind) living in glorious southern California. I am currently working at a private K-12 school where I teach theatre outside of the box and am the Artistic Director.

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