The Memory Thief
Published May 9th 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…
“Well?” asked Artemis. “Have you decided?”
I sighed. The freakish expulsion from the MAT had allowed me to contemplate my options, but I still felt unprepared. Unfortunately, the time for contemplation had passed. Sighing, I reviewed my options and picked one.
And the winning option was:
Option 1: Joining The Triangle of Justice and overthrowing Titus.
Option 2: Returning to The Slums and pretending none of this ever happened.
Option 3: Finding Lily and convincing her to run away with me.
NOTE: Click Here to read the full chapter.
Option 1: 11 votes (57.90%)
Option 2: 1 votes (5.26%)
Option 3: 7 votes (36.84%)
This chapter is dedicated to John. Thanks for voting.
And the winning option was: Joining The Triangle of Justice and overthrowing Titus.
A smile crept onto my face, and a sense of pride spread through me. Though I had yet to fully grasp the implications of my decision, I was confident I’d made the correct one. Still, part of me wondered if Lily would have agreed to run away with me. Not that it mattered. A choice had been made, and it was now time for me to externalize it.
“I’m in,” I said. “I’ll help you take down Titus.”
A broad grin spread across Artemis’s face. Though she had silver hair, she still possessed the beauty of a woman ten years her junior.
“You made the right choice,” she said. “Welcome to The Triangle of Justice.”
“Thanks,” I muttered. After a short period of silence, I added, “I don’t mean to be rude, but what will I be doing exactly? Do you expect me to fight?”
She smiled warmly.
“Don’t worry. I’ll explain everything. But first, how about a tour of The Sub? I’m sure the news of your arrival has spread, and the citizens are eager to meet you.”
I gulped, suddenly terrified at the prospect of leaving the room. But the time for doubts had passed. It was time for me to accept my new role as… well, I wasn’t entirely sure whether my duties came with a title, but I chose not to let that stop me.
“What are we waiting for?” I asked, hoping the brazen approach would assuage my worries. “Let’s go.”
Artemis beamed and motioned for me to follow. She started toward the door but only made it halfway before the earth started to shudder and a high-pitched scream filled the air. I couldn’t tell where it was coming from, but it ended abruptly, indicating whoever had produced it had been interrupted.
“What’s going on?” I asked as the tremors intensified. Soon, the mere act of standing became difficult, and the pounding of my heart got so loud it seemed to drown out all other noises. Then, just when things seemed like they couldn’t get any worse, the far wall exploded in a blast of noise and shrapnel. Ducking to avoid being battered with concrete fragments, I covered my face with my hands and waited for the downpour to end.
It took a while—it felt like minutes, but it was probably mere seconds—but the airborne shrapnel finally collapsed upon the now filthy floor, and the grinding noise that had once filled the air receded. In the ensuing silence, I allowed myself to believe the mysterious assault had ended. But such hopes were dashed as soon as I studied my surroundings.
The wall had been completely obliterated, leaving nothing but a gaping hole. Wedged tight within it stood the most monstrous beast I had ever seen. Made entirely of metal, the mechanical being was so massive its bulbous head was the only part of its body I could see. Shaped like an oversized boulder, the glistening mass was box-like with rounded edges and a long, pointy nose. More horn than snout, the protuberance was wide at the base, but quickly thinned to a fine point. Made of interlocking blades, the metallic tusk was alive with movement, indicating it was responsible for the chewed-up fragments of the once-solid wall that littered the chamber.
“W-What is that t-thing,” I stuttered, my once sturdy legs so weak they could barely support me.
Artemis and her two companions remained frozen for a moment before one of them screamed a word that was foreign to me and ran off, bashing through the building’s front door as though it were made of cardboard. Moments later, his companion followed.
“What’s a narwhal?” I asked, but Artemis was already gone. Now alone with the behemoth, I studied it a moment longer before taking flight. Turning my back to the eyeless beast, I dove through the open doorway and raced in pursuit of my sole remaining ally.
“Wait up!” I called. Artemis slowed her pace just enough for me to catch up, then started running once more. Though logic dictated I focus on the road ahead, I couldn’t resist the urge to look back.
The beast was even bigger than I’d initially realized. Easily three times as big as the largest building in The Sub, the monstrosity had a bulky forefront that gradually narrowed to metallic tail that split into two massive flukes. Two equally imposing fins protruded from its midsection, indicating the mechanical animal had been designed to travel underground.
I was about to look away when the leviathan reared and, propelling itself into the air, angled its head downward and, using its oversized drill-like node, burrowed into the earth. Though seemingly slow, the process took but a few seconds. Soon, all that remained of the monster was a gaping hole.
We kept running for a while before Artemis slowed to a stop. Skidding to a halt next to her, I took a moment to catch my breath before asking the obvious question.
“What was that thing?”
“A narwhal. It’s based on a real-life creature of the same name that supposedly lived in the northern regions of the old world.”
“Where did it come from?”
Artemis’s eyes narrowed.
“Titus,” she said. “He created it to find us.”
She nodded. “He has known about The Triangle of Justice for a while, but he never knew where we were located. Until now.”
“Is that why the narwhal retreated?”
Artemis was about to reply when the earth started shuddering. Moments later, an explosion of dirt bloomed to our right and the beast came flying out of the ground. It rose high into the air before slamming into the earth, nearly crushing us in the process.
“Run!” she yelled as she scrambled to her feet. I did the same and, soon, we were racing through the village, dodging shacks and terrified citizens. But, as destructive as the narwhal’s path across The Sub was, none of its citizens were harmed. It seemed to have only eyes for us.
“Why is it following us?” I asked after we altered our course for the umpteenth time. Once again, the narwhal course-corrected and came barreling after us, swimming through the earth as though it were water. Sometimes, it vanished beneath the surface, but it always surfaced, tusk buzzing and fins gyrating.
We kept running until, finally, we reached the mouth of a tunnel. Diving into it moments before the beast reached us, we scrambled to our feet and raced along the dark, earthen passageway. An occasional torch jutted from the wall, but they were few and far between. Still, we kept going. And going. And going. Finally, after what felt like ages, we reached a cave. Big compared to the tunnel, the orifice was jam-packed with dozens upon dozens of heaps of various supplies. I had no idea how they had gotten here, and I couldn’t care less.
“Are we safe?” I asked.
“I… don’t… know,” panted Artemis, her advanced age making it difficult for her to recover from the recent sprint.
We waited a few minutes, but there was no sign of the narwhal.
“Do you think it’s safe to go back?” I asked, but the earth began shaking before Artemis could answer. Moments later, the beast surfaced, its gargantuan frame blocking the one and only exit.
We were trapped, and the narwhal knew it. It stared at us with its unblinking eyes, daring us to attempt an escape. Nothing happened for a while, then the beast shuddered softly and…
Option 1: …attacked.
Option 2: …retreated.
Option 3: …exploded.
NEXT CHAPTER: Click Here to read Chapter 20.
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