The Memory Thief
Published April 4th 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…
“We can’t go back,” she said. “We must find a way…”
Her voice trailed off when a soft hum filled the air. Distant at first, it grew progressively louder. I couldn’t tell whether it was an electrical buzz, a low growl, or the sound of feet hitting the cobblestone pavement, but whatever it was, it was growing increasingly loud.
It took a while, but a large shape finally emerged from the shadows. Though difficult to make out, it advanced until the streetlamp that stood directly above us illuminated it.
Option 1: …a colossal, solitary robot.
Option 2: …a hideous, snarling beast.
Option 3: …a sleek, mysterious vehicle.
NOTE: Click Here to read the full chapter.
Option 1: 9 votes (39.13%)
Option 2: 3 votes (13.04%)
Option 3: 11 votes (47.83%)
This chapter is dedicated to Stuart. Thanks for voting.
It was… a sleek, mysterious vehicle. Suspended a foot or so off the ground, the car glided forward, silent but for the low hum that accompanied it. Every inch of its dark, glossy body glistened in the light, so bright it was almost blinding. Devoid of headlights, it advanced until it was but an arm’s throw away, its tinted windows keeping both the driver and the passengers hidden.
“I didn’t know vehicles could fly,” I muttered as the car came to a standstill.
“It hovers,” corrected Lily. “And this is the only one of its kind.”
I frowned, suddenly realizing this was the first vehicle I’d seen since arriving in The Virt. There was also the issue of how I knew what a car was when I’d never seen one before, but I had long since ceased questioning how my mind worked. My memories had been stolen, yet I remembered how to talk, eat, and recognize all but the most advanced of objects.
I stared at the car for a while, waiting for something to happen, but the mysterious vehicle just hovered there, immobile.
“What does it want?” I finally asked.
“It’s here for me,” she said.
“What…” I began, but my voice trailed off when the car’s rear door swung open. Akin to its exterior shell, the vehicle’s insides were dark and bathed in shadows.
“I have to go,” said Lily, stepping toward the vehicle.
“Wait!” I cried out, fear surging through me like a bolt of lightning. “Don’t leave me.”
Lily stopped and turned around.
“Don’t worry,” she said. “I’ll be back soon.”
I stared at her in disbelief for a moment.
“What am I supposed to do while you’re gone?” I finally asked.
“Explore the city. There’s much you have yet to see.”
I had to admit, the prospect of exploring The Virt enticed me, but I couldn’t bear the thought of doing it alone.
“Are you sure you have to go?” I asked. I was tempted to ask who the vehicle belonged to and why she was being so secretive, but I knew it would be a waste of time.
“Don’t worry,” she said. “I’ll come find you as soon as I’m done.”
“Done what?” I wanted to ask, but I abstained. “Fine,” was all I muttered.
Smiling, Lily leaned forward and placed a kiss upon my cheek.
“Be careful,” she whispered as she pulled away. Winking, she turned her back to me and strode toward the vehicle. Moments later, both she and the car were gone.
What just happened? I wondered. Why did I let her leave? I should have gone with her. I should have… I let the thought trail off, well aware that regret would accomplish nothing.
I stood there for a while before deciding to do as Lily had suggested. Travelling along the same narrow alley the hovercar had taken, I began my search of the city. It took a while before I reached a main road, but I didn’t mind. I enjoyed the solitude—it gave me time to think.
The first thing I’m doing when Lily gets back is make her promise to tell me what the blank is going on, I decided. Then, I’m going to kiss her. It felt strange to plan such a thing in advance, but I was tired of letting other people control my destiny. Lily and I shared a deep bond, and though I didn’t recall the many moments we’d shared before my memories were stolen, I could tell I cared deeply for her.
Smiling in anticipation of the forthcoming kiss, I ambled down the cobblestone streets, dodging bots whenever I encountered them and watching in a mixture of awe and disgust as people rushed to and fro, carrying stolen memories.
Don’t they know what they’re doing is wrong? I wondered, yet I knew all but a few knew the truth about the vials that powered their precious MATs.
Sighing, I continued my journey across the rusting metropolis. Every so often, I came across a triangle, spray-painted on various surfaces using red paint. Though few and far between, they appeared to be quite fresh. A few had been scrubbed away, but most remained intact.
“That’s odd,” I muttered as I approached the latest one. Akin to the mark that adorned my left arm, the triangle was equilateral, but unlike all other such symbols I’d seen, this one was facing down, its tip hovering mere inches off the ground. I stared at it for a while, once more reminded that I had yet to uncover the significance of the symbol or why it had been carved into my skin.
I stared at it for a while before continuing my journey. Every so often, I encountered a symbol, but I forgot all about that when I came across something of far greater interest.
Similar to the one I’d seen when I first awoke to find my memories had been stolen, the statue towered high above me. Unlike the damaged, graffitied sculpture from The Slums, this work of art was in pristine condition. Not only was it made entirely of shiny, polished metal, but it towered high above me, its summit soaring above the nearby buildings. Though hard to make out, the metallic man’s face was identical to that of the other statue.
“Who is he?” I wondered as I studied his square jaw and piercing gaze, but the answer remained hidden. It wasn’t until I tore my gaze from the statue and studied its immediate surroundings that I finally learned the truth about the mysterious figure.
A plaque stood by the statue’s left foot. Though small, the name that was carved upon it was impossible to mistake.
Who’s Titus? I wondered, suddenly aware that a name was of no use to me without an explanation. Unfortunately, there was no one to answer my question. Or so I thought until I noticed a man heading toward me.
He was in his mid-twenties, and his hair was short and dark, yet his face was plagued by crease lines. I couldn’t tell whether they were the cause of excess joy or unending sorrow, but I wasted no time pondering the pointless issue.
Should I run? I wondered. He didn’t seem dangerous, but his obvious interest in me worried me. What if he wanted to hurt me? But what if he was a friend of Lily’s, come to take me to her? I couldn’t risk passing up an opportunity to reunite with my only friend in The Virt, so I stood my ground.
“Good day,” said the man once he reached me. He was smiling, yet the way he carried himself told me he was nervous.
“Who are you?” I asked. “What do you want?”
The grin dropped from the man’s lips.
“My name isn’t important,” he said. “As for why I’m here…” His smile returned. “…well, that depends entirely on whether or not you’re the person I’m looking for.”
“Who are you looking for?”
“The person I seek bears a symbol on his left forearm.”
My heart skipped a beat.
“What kind of symbol?” I asked.
The man scoffed.
“I think you know. I also think you’re reticent to show me because you’re worried I can’t be trusted.”
“There’s no need to be afraid,” he said. “I’m a friend. Show me your arm, and I shall take you to a place where all of your questions will be answered.”
I hesitated. Part of me was worried this was a trap, yet I couldn’t pass up such an opportunity.
“Fine,” I muttered, revealing my arm and the triangle that marred it.
The man studied it for a moment before nodding.
“Very well,” he said. “Please follow me.”
He turned to walk away but stopped when he realized I wasn’t following.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“How do I know I can trust you?”
“There’s nothing I can say that will convince you. This is a decision you must make on your own.” He gave me a few moments to think, then added, “Are you coming, or shall I tell the person who sent me you refused their invitation?”
I hesitated for a moment before answering. Sighing, I…
Option 1: …nodded.
Option 2: …shook my head.
Option 3: …punched him square in the face.
NEXT CHAPTER: Click Here to read Chapter 15.
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