I jolt awake in a stark white room. A bright anodyne light on the ceiling bathes everything with an ice blue tint. I have no idea where I am. I have no idea who I am. I am bonded to a royal blue synthskin suit. There doesn’t seem to be a way to remove it.
In the crook of the synthskin suit’s right elbow I see a series of thin white lines. They remind me of a barcode. I straighten my arm and hold it under the light. I’m not sure why I do this, but as soon as I do an inflectionless, mechanical yet female voice pierces the oppressive silence. Aside from my own heartbeats, I’ve heard no other sound since coming to.
“Subject identified: Unit Nine Seven Omega Three. You may continue to the processing center.”
Then, once more silence descends. The designation the voice assigned me is not who I am. Or at least it is not who I was. I had a name once. If only I could remember it. I disobey the impersonal order. I choose to remain in this white chamber rather than enter the ominous sounding “processing center.”
Clearly, some “processing” already happened to me. Memory erasure, dehumanizing clothing and bar codes don’t come standard to humanity. I feel a breeze above as air conditioning blows across my now shaven scalp.
The far wall irises open and a slender, also bald, man in a purple synthskin steps through. His bar code is a mere two stripes. He held a meter long silver tube with two gloved hands. Ribbons of lightning crackled across the tube’s surface.
“Nine Seven Omega Three, I am Beta. Come with me.”
I declined Beta’s offer and stayed where I was. Beta came around behind me and rammed the silver tube between my vertebrae. White hot electrical pain slammed through my nerve endings. Accompanying the pain came something unexpected – memory. I knew me again. I wrenched my body away from Beta’s tube weapon. My movement upset his equilibrium enough that Beta dropped the tube and it began to roll. I picked it up before Beta could and rammed it into his temple. Beta’s eyeball sizzled into jelly as the flesh of his head blackened and puckered. He dropped to the floor, dead.
I took the communicator from his collar and spoke into it.
“Alpha reporting. Memory erasure procedure has failed once more. Delta is now Beta. We’ll have to try again.”
It was the fifth failed attempt that week.
As followers of this blog are no doubt aware, back in March of this year, I participated in a Flash Fiction writing challenge known as “Four by Flash,” which had the goal of producing sixteen flash fiction pieces (four a week for four weeks) in a single calendar month. However, the full extent of that challenge was to repeat that schedule four times in a calendar year for a total of sixty-four pieces. I had earmarked June as my second month to attempt this feat, vowing to do better than I did in March, where a late start meant that pieces were still dribbling out in April.
I clearly failed miserably on the actual deadline thing, but I’m still determined to get all the sixteen pieces out. This piece is my sixth of the set and I still have ideas for the rest.
My “prompt bingo card” provided the inspiration for this 419-word piece, which combined with my last few pieces means I have four squares marked off. This piece was prompted by the square reading “What is identity?” . This means my card currently looks like this:
Stock photo courtesy of Barun Patro.