The Memory Thief
Published January 18th 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…
I stood up and turned away from the improvised dam. Feet sore from all that running, I continued along the narrow passageway until I reached a dead end. Unlike the last, the wall that stood before me was manmade and came equipped with a door. Carved into it was a triangle.
This must be the place, I thought, glancing at my left arm. The lighting was poor, but I could still make out the triangle of scar tissue that adorned it.
Glancing over my shoulder to make sure my pursuers hadn’t somehow found a way past the roadblock, I turned my full attention to the door. Hand trembling, I reached for the handle. Twisting it, I pulled open the door, revealing…
Option 1: …an old, rundown apartment that stunk of mould and mildew.
Option 2: …a lavish, well-lit dwelling with polished floors and fancy artworks.
Option 3: …nothing. A brick wall was all that stood behind the door.
NOTE: Click Here to read the full chapter.
Option 1: 4 votes (22.22%)
Option 2: 8 votes (44.45%)
Option 3: 6 votes (33.33%)
This chapter is dedicated to Andrea Beatrice Reed, who had the courage to speak up even though I was rude to her. Sorry, Andrea. 🙁
Author’s Note: It was brought to my attention that some of you may have felt cheated by the fact that I included an attack by scaled dogs in the previous chapter because it implied your opinion doesn’t matter. I assure you that wasn’t my intent. I value your viewpoints and, from now on, I will do my best to avoid including elements from the options that didn’t win. Also, everyone who votes will be entered into a random lottery, and the following week’s chapter will be dedicated to the winner.
Twisting it, I pulled open the door, revealing… a lavish, well-lit dwelling with polished floors and fancy artworks.
Where am I? I wondered, cautiously stepping into the strange dwelling. The door swung shut behind me, making me jump. Ignoring my racing heart, I turned my attention to the décor.
I stood in a vast entrance hall. The stone floor had been polished to a mirror-like finish, and the walls were magnificent. They twinkled in the light, like a star-filled sky. Paintings of all shapes and sizes hung from it, imbuing the décor with an aura of lavishness. Every now and then, a statue interrupted the landscape. Unlike the one I’d seen upon awakening, these sculptures were beautifully chiselled and devoid of scuffs and graffiti. Moving on from them, I let my gaze travel up the imposing staircases that lined the far corners of the room. Leading to a stone balcony, they had been carved with great care and symmetry. Countless more details jumped out at me, but I ignored them. Seeing such extravagant beauty left me feeling inferior, as though I weren’t worthy of witnessing such splendour.
I considered retreating, returning to the filthy but somewhat familiar world I left behind, but I could not bear the prospect of leaving such a precious finding unexplored. Whoever wrote those notes wanted me to find this place, and I owed it to them—and myself—to investigate. Still, it was with a growing sense of unease that I ventured deeper into the dwelling.
I began with the ground floor and worked my way up. There were dozens of rooms, each one more impressive than the last. More than once, I found myself wondering why the owner chose to keep such magnificence to themselves, but I moved on, searching for signs of life. I found none, but I eventually came across something of far greater value.
One glance at the mirror was all it took to convince me to postpone the remainder of the search. Slipping out of my muddy clothes, I hopped into the shower and let the warm water wash away the filth. It was such a relief that I lost track of time and stayed under the downpour until the hot water ran out and my skin began to wrinkle. Shivering, I dried myself using one of the many towels hanging from the wall rack and stepped out of the shower.
The first thing I noticed upon peering at my reflection in the mirror was that I was far more handsome than I’d originally assumed. My jaw was square and, though it had been broken more than once, my nose was still relatively straight. My eyes were steely grey, and my teeth mostly intact. My body was toned, and the countless scars and burn marks imbued me with an aura of danger and mystery. Not recognizing the young man peering back at me, I quickly slipped into one of the bathrobes I found hanging from a row of hooks and, leaving my filthy clothes behind, continued my search of the mysterious dwelling.
It took a while, but I finally came across a bedroom. A quick search revealed its resident was roughly my size. Picking an outfit that was both comfortable and would allow me to blend in with the filth of the city from whence I’d come, I got dressed and continued my exploration.
The next room was packed with books. Shelves lined every inch of the wall, and all but a few spots were jampacked with tomes. A massive table stood at the centre of the room, dozens of books scattered haphazardly across its surface. Ignoring the chairs that accompanied the table, I approached the reading area and quickly inspected the books. All were worn by time and use and shared a common theme.
Some dealt with the mechanics of building robots, while others focused on programming. More still discussed the moral issues of building artificial beings. One even claimed to be The Ultimate Guide to Building Sentient Robots. Intrigued, I picked up and rifled through. Though technical, the concepts were incredibly fascinating. Clearly, I had more than a passing interest in robotics. Hoping to trigger my memory with further study of the subject, I tucked the thick volume under my arm and continued my search.
The next few rooms were uninteresting, and I quickly found myself getting distracted. My stomach was growling, and my energy supply was running low. Wary of what would happen if I ignored my body’s warnings, I made my way downstairs. After a few wrong turns, I found my way back to the kitchen I’d come across during my initial search. Searching the cupboards, I finally found what I was looking for inside a large metallic pantry. The air within was cold, and the shelves overflowed with fresh produce. Retrieving what looked most appetizing, I carried the improvised feast into the adjoining room and set them down on the dining room table. Returning to the kitchen to retrieve my borrowed book, I settled in for what I would grow to think of as my first meal ever.
The food was delicious and The Ultimate Guide to Building Sentient Robots fascinating. The concepts discussed within were complex, yet I had no trouble grasping even the smallest of intricacies. Clearly, I had a knack for robotics.
Have I read this book before? I wondered after catching myself predicting what the author would discuss next. It seemed unlikely given the primitive, filthy state of the city in which I’d awoken, but there was no denying I was incredibly familiar with all things robot.
I kept reading until my stomach was so full it felt like it was about to explode. Letting out a powerful belch, I stood and tucked the book under my arm. Stuffing a few goodies into my pocket for later, I made my way back upstairs and finished my search. As it turns out, there were only two rooms left.
The first seemed to be some sort of workshop. Shelves lined the walls, overflowing with tools and supplies of all sorts. Workbenches with half-finished projects littered the open space. In a corner of a room stood a half-finished robot. The upper portion of its body had been removed, and its inner workings were fully exposed. Intrigued, I inspected the gears and cogs. Though complex, the mechanism didn’t impress me; it was rudimentary at best, and two of the pieces had been switched. Acting on instinct, I switched and watched as the gears began to turn.
The robot shuddered and came to life. Taking a halting step forward, it lost its balance and fell over. Displaced, the gears groaned and whined until a loud ping echoed throughout the room. Moments later, the robot grew still.
“That was weird,” I muttered. Turning away from the now worthless hunk of metal, I quickly made my way to the final room.
Stark and devoid of all but the most basic of furnishings, the chamber appeared to be some sort of technological command centre. Dozens of screens hung from the far wall, forming an intricate mosaic of flickering lights. A thick, black line cut through some of the screens, forming an all-too-familiar symbol.
Heart racing, I approached the desk that stood across from me. Atop it were a few metal boxes with a handful of glowing buttons and dozens of papers riddled with strange scribbles. A flat, rectangular device stood near the edge of the desk, a handful of letters marking its many protrusions. Next to it stood a small, oval device. Though both seemed foreign to me, my mind provided me with the appropriate names.
Keyboard and mouse.
Ignoring the mouse, I inspected the keyboard. All but six of the keys had been erased, leaving only the following letters:
E, Y, P, A, L, and M.
I studied them for a while before the solution presented itself.
Reacting on instinct, I grabbed the mouse and shook it. Immediately, the wall of screens came to life. Shrinking, the triangle tilted sideways, and a circle appeared around it.
I stared at the new symbol for a while before muscle memory intervened and forced me to click the mouse’s left button. Immediately, the logo disappeared, and a figure appeared. It was…
Option 1: …a beautiful young woman with long, dark hair and piercing eyes.
Option 2: …the stern-looking man from the old statue I’d seen when I first awoke.
Option 3: …me.
Author’s Note: Oops! I did it again. I included elements from one of the options that didn’t win. I debated whether to go back and revise the chapter, but I opted against it because the “robot” option came in close second, and I felt many of you wanted to hear more about it. Still, I’ll be MUCH MORE careful in the future. I hope you can forgive my transgression (I’m only human, after all.)
NEXT CHAPTER: Click Here to read Chapter 4.
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RELEASE SCHEDULE: New chapters are released on Saturday.
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