The Memory Thief
Published March 14th 2020
What is The Memory Thief?
The Memory Thief is a collaborative book. Each week, I write one new chapter and provide three possible options for what could happen next. Readers vote for their favourite and watch as the story comes to life. Click Here to learn more.
Last week on The Memory Thief…
No one spoke for a long time. Finally, a voice emerged from the surrounding darkness.
“I know how to find the Others,” it said.
Jumping, I turned to find a shape standing in the shadows. The stranger remained still for a moment before stepping forward, revealing their identity.
Option 1: …Piggy.
Option 2: …Finger*.
Option 3: …Lily**.
*Finger is the little girl who first guided Spy across the city. She was supposed to be mute, but nothing is as it seems in The Slums.
**Lily is the girl Spy’s former self was in love with. He doesn’t recall meeting her, but there’s no doubt in his mind it’s her.
NOTE: Click Here to read the full chapter.
Option 1: 1 votes (5.26%)
Option 2: 7 votes (36.84%)
Option 3: 11 votes (57.90%)
This chapter is dedicated to Brian. Thanks for voting.
It was… Lily.
The young woman was exactly as my former self had described. A broad smile curled her lips, and the glint in her eye told me she was bubbling with excitement. Yet glimpses of darkness lurked beneath the surface, telling tales of secrets known only by her. Her voice was soft and fluty, and the mere sound of it caused me to fall madly in love.
Lily was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. She was built like an athlete yet possessed the curves of a supermodel. Her clothes were immaculate and hugged her frame with the utmost care and perfection. Her long, dark hair glistened in the torchlight, and her piercing gaze was alive with specks of gold. I couldn’t tell whether it was a naturally occurring phenomenon or the result of a surgery, but I was unable to look away.
“Who are you?” asked Squid, shattering the silence that had settled upon us.
Lily chuckled ruefully but didn’t answer.
“Her name is Lily,” I whispered. “She’s here to help us.”
Squid and the other members of The Cluster stared at me.
“How do you know?” asked Lom. “Have you met her before?”
I hesitated for a while.
“Sort of,” I finally said. “She spent a lot of time with my former self before he lost his memories. She was the one who convinced him to investigate the memory thief. If it weren’t for her, we’d still think there was but a single thief.”
A heavy silence followed the explanation. Lom eyed Lily suspiciously, no doubt worried she had come to steal me away. The twins and Maggot seemed unimpressed by my new/old friend’s presence. Only Squid had entirely accepted Lily’s arrival. He smiled broadly, thrilled to have a new friend by association. As for Handy, well, it just stood there, staring blankly ahead.
“It’s nice to see you,” I said after a while, “but why are you here?”
“I’m here to help,” she said, echoing my previous statement. “It’s time for you to meet the Others.”
“It’s about time,” muttered Lom. “We are in desperate need of answers.”
“Yeah,” agrees Squid. “I can’t wait to see the old world.”
Lily stared at my friends, momentarily perplexed.
“You misunderstand,” she said. “Only Spy will get to meet the Others.”
Squid’s expression grew dark, and he crossed his arms.
“That’s not fair,” he grumbled.
“He’s right,” agreed Lom. “We deserve to know the truth.”
“It’s not up for debate,” said Lily. “Only Spy gets to accompany me.”
“But—” I began, but she cut me off.
“We don’t have time for this. Follow me.”
She turned and walked away but skidded to a stop when she realized I wasn’t following.
“I can’t abandon my friends. They risked their lives to help me.”
“I’m not suggesting you abandon them. I merely ask that you follow me so I can show you the truth. Once you understand the severity of the conspiracy, you can decide whether you wish to further involve your friends.”
I considered her words for a moment. I didn’t want to leave my friends, but I couldn’t risk turning away the only person capable of shedding light on the situation. Not to mention the fact that I longed to be alone with Lily. Still, it was with a slight sense of unease that I turned to The Cluster.
“Listen,” I said, deliberately avoiding eye contact. “We need answers, and Lily is the only person capable of providing them. I wish things were different, but they’re not. I must do this. Do you understand?”
My friends didn’t seem pleased, but they begrudgingly nodded.
“Good,” I said. “Lom, you’re in charged while I’m gone.”
Squid tried to protest, but I didn’t allow it.
“Handy,” I said, turning to the imposing robot. “You’re in charge of protection. Watch over my friends, and don’t let anyone—or anything—hurt them. Got it?”
Well, I thought as a heavy silence descended upon us. I guess this is it. I turned to Lily and nodded, indicating I was ready to depart. Smiling, she took my hand and led me out of the hideout.
We travelled in silence for a while before the presence of Lily’s hand in mine failed to keep the plethora of questions that plagued me at bay.
“What happened?” I finally asked. “My former self said you vanished. Were you taken?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“One day, this will all make sense, but now isn’t the time for such questions.”
We continue in silence until we reach our destination. I stare at the triangle carved into the wooden door. I still have no clue what it means or why it was etched into my arm, but now that Lily is here, I’m one step closer to uncovering the truth.
“Come on,” said the beautiful young woman as she opened the door and entered the dwelling.
The home was just as I recalled, though Lily’s presence made the luxurious décor appear less austere. Unimpressed by the lavishness of our surroundings, she approached one of the many statues that adorned the entrance hall and began examining it.
“What are you doing?” I asked as I approached and studied the sculpture. It was life-size and depicted a young woman dancing to an imaginary tune. While skillfully chiselled, the artwork was devoid of emotion, and the stone being’s eyes were dull and lifeless.
“You’ll see,” said Lily. Having found what she was looking for, she grabbed the statue’s left pinky finger and twisted it. At first, nothing happened, but then a soft click filled the air, and the finger spun, performing a full rotation.
“What was that for?” I asked, staring at the finger.
“Wait for it.”
Nothing happened for a few seconds, then the ground started shaking. Subtle at first, the tremors grew in intensity until the mere act of standing became a chore.
“What’s going on?” I asked, panicked.
“Don’t worry. We’re perfectly safe.”
Sure enough, the tremors quickly subsided, and only the distant hum of gears grinding together remained. Still, my sense of unsteadiness remained until I finally understood what was happening.
The house was rising.
“Blank,” I muttered.
Lily launched, her chuckles light and fluty.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“The old world.”
It was such a foreign concept I didn’t know how to react.
“Am I going to meet the Others?”
“What are they like?”
“Let’s not ruin the surprise.”
“Listen,” she said. “I realize you have a lot of questions, but answering them now would be pointless. Let’s wait until we reach our destination, okay?”
I sighed and grudgingly nodded.
The rest of the trip was spent in silence. Every now and then, the house shuddered, but the trip was without incident. After an hour or so of slow travel, the structure slowed to a halt and, with a final shudder, grew still.
“We’re here,” announced Lily. “Beyond that door lies the old world.”
I stared at it with a mixture of excitement and dread.
“Is it safe?” I asked.
“Why don’t you find out for yourself?”
I nodded and approached the door. The handle felt cold against my skin, but I ignored the shiver that ran down my spine. Twisting it, I pushed the door open to reveal…
Option 1: …a futuristic city.
Option 2: …a lush, paradisiacal landscape.
Option 3: …a robot.
NEXT CHAPTER: Click Here to read Chapter 12.
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