The Memory Thief
Published February 1st 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 stared at the wall of dark monitors for a while before lifting they keyboard. Underneath was a folded piece of paper. Hands trembling, I took it and carefully unfolded it.
A name was written upon it.
I stared at the word for a while before the reason for its presence dawned on me. It was no ordinary name. Nor was it random. It was my name.
Heart racing, I read it once more, this time aloud.
“My name is…
Option 1: …Alex.”
Option 2: …Maximus.”
Option 3: …Spyder.”
NOTE: Click Here to read the full chapter.
Option 1: 4 votes (17.39%)
Option 2: 7 votes (30.44%)
Option 3: 12 votes (52.17%)
This chapter is dedicated to James. Thanks for voting.
“My name is… Spyder.”
The word felt strange in my mouth, but the more I said it, the more I grew to appreciate it. Soon, I had grown accustomed to it, and being called by anything else would have seemed odd.
“I wonder if my friends call me Spy,” I muttered, but then it occurred to me I didn’t even know if I had friends. From what I could gather, Lily was the only person I interacted with, and now she was missing, no doubt taken by the same person who was stealing people’s memories.
I now had a basic understanding of what had happened, yet I remained just as lost as I once was. To make things worse, I now had the responsibility of uncovering the identity of a thief who already bested me, the knowledge that Lily—a girl I didn’t even remember knowing—was waiting to be rescued, and the seemingly impossible task of freeing an entire city from the depths of a great depression. I would probably have been amused if I weren’t so annoyed—and terrified.
I stared at the wall of blank monitors for a while before the sense of overwhelm that filled me began to fade. Curiosity gradually replaced it, and I soon found myself wondering what my former self had uncovered. There was no guarantee I would find anything, but I couldn’t bear the thought of spending the rest of my life not knowing what had happened.
My legs were sore from my recent run-ins with the drunken men who tried assaulting Finger, and the scaled dogs that attacked me, but I ignored the discomfort and made my way to the dwelling’s main—and only—entrance. The lush décor called to me, begging me to stay, but I knew I would regret not picking up where my former self had left off.
I headed out.
I travelled the length of the narrow passageway that stretched before me. The mud felt cold against my bare feet, and the dimness of my surroundings forced me to squint, but I quickly grew accustomed to my new surroundings. I hesitated when I reached the heap of toppled desks, but there was no sign of the scaled dogs, so I climbed over the roadblock and cautiously continued my journey. Every noise, from the squelching of my feet in the mud to the distant echo of an animal in pain, made me jump, but I kept going. It took a while, but I finally reached the intersection where I had almost lost my life. Soon after, I emerged from the dingy alley.
The city was just as I recalled—filthy and pieced together in the most haphazard of manners—but the once busy streets were now deserted. Here and there, I caught glimpses of light emanating from curtained windows and ill-sealed doors, but most dwellings were dark.
An eerie silence enveloped the city, as though the once bumbling metropolis—if you can call this shithole a metropolis—was holding its breath, terrified of what lurked in the darkness. Speaking of which, further scrutiny revealed dozens of creatures skulking in the shadows. Most remained hidden, but every now and then, I caught glimpses of glistening scales and glowing eyes.
I considered returning to the hideout and waiting for morning, but that would only delay the inevitable. The memory thief only struck at night. If I was to identify him, I would have to brave the darkness and search for clues. Still, it was with a high degree of unease that I began my search.
I had no idea what I was looking for, but I suspected I would know when I found it. My former self knew I wouldn’t remember anything, so he would have made the clues obvious to spot—at least, I hoped.
I wandered through the streets, sticking to the well-lit areas and giving the shapes lurking in the darkness a wide berth. More than once, I became convinced someone was following me, but whoever—or whatever—it was never made its presence known. It wasn’t until a good hour or so into my search that a beast finally revealed itself.
The scaled dog emerged from the darkness, its crimson scales glistening in the light of the nearby streetlamps. Its fangs were exposed, and its hackles—razor-sharp scales the likes of which I’d never seen—raised. Its paws were so massive it travelled across the muddy expanse with ease, its claws ready to strike. Its tail sliced the air behind it, whistling softly.
The beast was huge—easily twice as big as the ones that chased me earlier—and its purpose obvious. It wanted blood—my blood. I remained still, well aware that any sudden movements would trigger the beast’s primal instincts.
I scanned my surroundings, desperate for an egress route or something I could use as a weapon, but neither were present. I was alone, trapped, and defenceless.
“Crap,” I muttered.
The creature growled and leapt forward, halving the distance between us. It was now so close I could smell its fetid breath. Stumbling backward, I retreated until my back bumped into a wall. Trapped, I watched as the beast stalked forward, eyes narrowed and fangs exposed.
The whistling of its tail intensified. Once barely noticeable, the high-pitched trill was now all I could hear. In fact, it was so loud the beast itself seemed distracted. Coming to a standstill, it halted its tail’s movement.
The whistling continued, growing more intense with each passing second. Perplexed, the beast cocked its head and tilted its ears upward. By the time it noticed the massive shape speeding toward it, it was already too late.
The blurry shape slammed into the vicious predator, crushing it with a sickening thud. The item in question—a massive wooden crate—shattered, and its contents spilled out onto the street.
“What the…” I muttered, staring at the smashed crate and the hundreds of rice-filled bags that now littered the road. A scaled paw could be seen sticking out from underneath the heap of supplies. It twitched for a moment, then grew still.
The beast was dead.
I remained frozen for a while, unsure how to react. It wasn’t until another crate fell from the sky and landed nearby that I remembered what my former self had said.
Just when it seemed like all hope was lost, supplies rained down from the sky.
The Others—whoever they were—unwittingly saved my life. I still had no idea why they were helping us, but I was grateful they had chosen to send us supplies when they had. Without their help, I would be dead.
I considered continuing my investigation, but the plummeting crates made navigating The Slums safely impossible. There was no telling when—or where—the next crate would fall. The safest place to be was next to a house. Or so I thought until one of the crates hit a dwelling. Too weak to withstand such trauma, the structure collapsed, turning the once sturdy home into a heap of rubble.
The bad news was I wasn’t safe—no one was. The good news was I now knew why so many of the buildings were pieced together in such a haphazard manner. Keeping my gaze on the sky, I quickly vacated the premises. Though the downpour of supplies was random, the brunt of it took place in the city’s least populated area. As soon as I left it behind, the threat to my life was extinguished.
Or so I thought until the earth beneath my feet started to shudder. Faint at first, the convulsions intensified until the mere act of standing became a chore. Just when I thought all hope was lost, the tremors ceased, and the calm of night returned.
It didn’t last long.
The shaking resumed, now more potent than before. It intensified until, finally…
Option 1: …a strange vehicle slowly rose from the depths of the mud.
Option 2: …the earth opened and swallowed me whole.
Option 3: …a metallic arm emerged from the muck and grabbed my foot.
NEXT CHAPTER: Click Here to read Chapter 6.
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RELEASE SCHEDULE: New chapters are released on Saturday.
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