Elongated Memory

The moment elongates even more. It is the only way I can explain what it is like. Everything is just happening in minute detail, slowly. They are making the memory take longer. I can still hear the voice but it’s like my brain is writing a picture…read more

I sit there with my hands in my lap. The drugs are supposed to calm my body. There will be a discord between what my brain is doing and how my body will react. I am prepared for that. They have explained it to me.

I have been the victim of a crime. One of several people over the past week. Nothing too serious, just a theft of my bag and I was shoved into a wall. I bruised my shoulder, banged my head a bit. I don’t really remember it. It was on the stairs coming out of the tube station.

It is not how it used to be with all that CCTV.

I am here at the police station with a headset on, a VR headset. They will recreate the tube on the night it happened and the software will integrate with my brain as I remember it and it will create the whole scene over again. It’s like CCTV footage but with me actually making it. The signals from my brain will lay down the images. I don’t quite get how it works. It’s very clever. I will re-live it for the technology and they will get a very clear idea of what happened. It’s like my actual memory will be transferred into some kind of code and appear before my eyes in a virtual word.

Of course it won’t be perfect because I know what is going to happen and I didn’t know at the time that it was going to happen. So they will talk to me up to a point and then I will re-live it, in virtual reality as if it is actually happening to me again. I will get all the emotions again, I will re-live its brutal horror. I know it could have been worse but it is still horrible. That’s what the drugs are for, to calm the physical effects of it, to ensure I don’t feel the pain so much. When they first started doing this, the result was so real that people’s bodies reacted and there were allegedly actual bruises again. I don’t know if that’s true or not. 

They are doing this with each of his victims. They will use it to track him down and if the quality of our memories is good enough we won’t have to appear in court. They will simply show the playback of it, but the memory has to be slightly elongated to get the detail. It is a weird process.

The drugs are to keep my emotions in check but only up to a certain point.  I need to re-live it, they need to know how I felt to make it authentic. I need to feel it to make it authentic, so its only the pain that is really dulled.

The thing is they no longer have CCTV at stations, now they are simply scanning people’s mind as they pass through, collecting maps of their brain activity and keeping the data. My brain activity that evening will stand out from the rest as I was scared, hyper emotional at some point and they will pick the pattern from all the data. My brain pattern will be easily ascertainable from the milieu because of the heightened feeling. They will then compare this session I am doing now, this re-living with that scan of emotion from the actual night to see how accurately I have remembered what has happened. They accept that memory is not perfect, but it is proven that if the emotions match, then it is likely to within 10% that the visual presentation of a recreation will be correct. It saves a lot of time in court.

If the crime were really violent, it is even possible they could put the perpetrator in my shoes so he would know how I feel. It is meant to be restorative but I don’t much care for that.

It starts slowly. I am nervous, but I can feel the drugs calming my body. I am relaxed. The headset is quite heavy but I try not to think about it. I hear the moderator introduce themselves, and tell me to try and remember what I was thinking as I walked up the stairs that evening. It was less busy than usual, because I was later than usual. I was worried about walking home alone. There are the sounds, the exact sounds from that evening, how do they do that?

I had my hand in my bag searching for my keys-something I should not have been doing I think. But the moderator-the speaker, tells me not to think like that. I should be able to get my keys out of the bag whenever I want. The memory pauses while I work through this idea. I did not do anything wrong. They have to wait for my brain to process that bit because that thought about not doing something, about being right or wrong, that thought is from after the event, from the present and I must stay in the past. I focus again. The moderator is telling me to focus again.

I am walking up the steps. My feet hurt and I am thinking about slumping on the sofa when I get home. It is Friday. There are still people milling about and they start to come into focus. There is the lady ahead of me in the pink jacket with perfect matching lipstick. I noticed her on the tube. It was the brightness of the jacket and the matching lipstick. I want to be able to dress like that. I like that jacket.

I am on the stairs and pink jacket lady is ahead of me. I can still hear the busker down below. It’s the same busker who is always there. I am not around the corner of the stairs yet. I didn’t have any change tonight so I put nothing in the busker’s tin. I feel bad because perhaps he won’t eat tonight because of me.  I feel that again, the same pattern as if I am right there on the steps, thinking that thought. The steps go around the corner and I hold the rail as I go. I am not close to the rail, my arm is stretched out to it and my other hand is rummaging in my bag.  The rail is cold and metal but firm. I feel safe at the moment. I did not know it but I felt safe holding that rail.

There is someone coming up behind me. I hear his footsteps. He is moving faster than me. I move closer to the rail, to give him room. I am turning the corner. Somehow he catches my momentum, on the corner as I move inwards. He is wearing a hood. The moment elongates even more. It is the only way I can explain what it is like. Everything is just happening in minute detail, slowly. They are making the memory take longer. I can still hear the voice but it’s like my brain is writing a picture. He said something or grunted, I cannot make it out. Perhaps it was my voice.

They tell me to focus on the face, to focus hard on his face, because I saw his face. That is a moment that goes on for a long time. I focus on his face.  I see it clearly, even though I was certain that I hadn’t, for just a moment I did. I see it, the way I saw it then, but for longer. I can make out his features, his nose, his eyes, his mouth, the hair underneath the hood, even the skin tone. I think, which I didn’t think before that he and I- we made eye contact. I can see the colour of his eyes.

I clutched my bag momentarily. For a moment I was going to fight, but his other hand is reaching up to shove me. I can feel the wall on my back and my head going back. They slow it even more. How tall was he? How strong was he? What did his hand look like?

They are right, I can see the tattoo on his hand. I am looking down at my bag as my head goes back. I am looking at my bag and trying to control my head. I can see his hand, the fingers, the grimy dirt under the nails. He hasn’t washed those hands recently. I can see a shirt poking out from under the sleeve. There is a pain in my shoulder as it hits the wall, I know there is but I don’t feel it. The memory has a sequence but all the bits are happening separately. I focus on every bit. His face, his hands, I even search in my head for his smell, but the technology is not that good yet.

 My head hits the wall and again I don’t feel the pain of it, the drugs are working. But I see him. I feel the fear of him. I feel my body let go of my bag. I think I might be screaming and still this memory goes on. The moderator tells me to scream. I see him take the steps ahead of me. I see my bag disappearing into the darkness. I see the soles of his trainers, really clearly- I see the muted yellow on the bottom of his shoes. The woman in the pink coat is turning now. I see people coming towards me to see if I am alright. A man who came up the stairs behind me, I see him. The busker has stopped singing. I see the thief push past the woman in the pink coat as she turns, as I slump to the ground. I see the soles of red trainers as someone chases him. I am not sure if I am still screaming. I hear people yelling and then talking to me. I feel fear in my head but my body is calm. It is the oddest experience.

There are police officers, and then it is over. I am just sitting there in chair.

I am calm. I have done it and I am calm.

I feel someone remove the headset. I see her smiling face.

‘We got quite a lot. You saw him quite closely. ‘

I smile half heartedly. I think they have stolen my brain, my memory. How do they do that? How do they take my brain activity and use it to draw a picture? How do they make that happen? It is an idea beyond me. It terrifies me. Puzzles me.

She looks at me. ‘Everyone feels that way’ she says as if she can read what I am thinking. I remind myself she has just read what I was thinking. The machine has taken my thoughts and made it into a visualisation of my memory.  I want to vomit.

‘Don’t worry’ she says, ‘we can only get a visual representation of your memory, we can’t implant anything’

That wasn’t a thought I’d had. Now it’s a thought I have. I look for signs for the next week, signs that I have been implanted. Nothing happens. I see on the news scroll, that my thief is caught and convicted and I had to do nothing but let them elongate a bit of memory. I am not certain, not sure. It does not feel right. Like something has been taken, more than my bag but I don’t know what.

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