“Hello, Kramer.” He stepped out of the shadows behind the officer, taking the security officer’s gun from the holster before he could reach for it.
“Dales.” He said curtly. “You are under arrest.”
“I don’t think so.”
“Have you completely lost it?” Kramer sounded incredulous. “The chief backed you, gave you a chance, and you shot him. We’re going to throw away the key.”
“He told you that?” Matt asked. “Yeah, well I guess he would. I would have thought, being his dog and all, that he’d at least have been upfront with you. Guess you can never tell. However, just for the fun of it, I’ll tell you the truth. That should be a nice change for you.”
“Chief was right; you are crazy.”
“He shot himself.”
“Sure he did.”
“The man has all the grace of a hippo, got himself with a ricochet.”
“Have you lost all your marbles?”
“No worse, for him, and you, I found them. All of them and some that aren’t even lost yet.” Matt said. “Now, give it to me.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The fantasia in your pocket, you have six doses. I want them all.”
“I don’t have anything.”
“I will shoot you in your chip first so that they think you died. Then some other organ so that you wish you had. Do we understand each other?”
“You wouldn’t…” Matt aimed the gun at his hand, sighting carefully down the barrel. “Okay. Here, take them.” The officer pulled out a package of small capsules.
“Give me your belt.”
Kramer complied and let it drop.
“Now, walk forward. Do not look back or I’ll shoot you.” Kramer obeyed, turned, and walked away. Matt pulled the radio out of the belt and stomped it into the ground. The belt would be useful. He pulled out the tangler grenades and first aid kit and dropped the belt next to the broken radio. “By the way, not for nothing, but he’s keeping a lot of really damning information on you. When it is convenient, you’ll go down.”
By the time Kramer looked back, Matt was long gone.
He made his way to the maintenance section. No one there knew what he looked like, and in the maintenance uniform the station gave him, it seemed appropriate. Recollections continued to rise unpredictably. He tried to focus on Jill, but the memories wouldn’t fall into order. He could feel the haze caused by the drugs the psychiatrist had been feeding him. They were impairing his ability to remember. Residual effects would eventually fade, but not soon enough.
The men who attacked him had injected him with fantasia. They hoped it would make him docile and forget everything; it didn’t work as it was supposed to. Instead, it weakened the drugs that hid all his memories. To obliterate the wall and get them all back, he needed more. He needed a safe place to go, where he could take the drug in peace and ride out the cyclone that followed. It wasn’t a choice that brought him back to the den; it was a memory. The shelter was where he remembered taking the drug that freed his mind, so that was where he headed.
“Become, Evolve.” Jill’s words rang in his ears as he walked into the shop.
Go to sleep and go insane,
Past and future all the same
The woman behind the counter agreed to give Matt a room for the night, and some food, in exchange for four of the vials. The room was small, with no windows. The only air came from the ducts. He sat on a small bed, ate a couple of soy burgers and a vanilla shake, and then injected himself with both doses. He lay back on the bed, humming the song the children had been singing: “the screamers.”
The effect came upon him gradually, and less chaotic, this round. The last time it had been as though he were hit with a million, lead, jigsaw puzzle pieces. His brain could only make sense of the ones he had most wanted to remember, those of what really happened to him in Dallas. Now the drug started placing all the memories in order, sorting them into a coherent whole.
Matt remembered the next seven years of his life, all of it. There was no longer any question for which he wouldn’t have the answer. What he didn’t know, the rows of blank faces would tell him.
Matt remembered a conversation that he would be having quite soon. He figured the discussion would be a charade as he could already remember the answers to the questions. Still, when the time came, he would pace back and forth before the people strapped to the chairs and ask. “Why did Jill kill all those people?”
“Because she had to.” They would intone.
“I don’t understand. Why?”
“For you.” They would say.
“To save you from your mistake. You shot the dome. It was damaged. It was going to break. Jill remembered how to stop it.”
In his mind, he saw himself shooting the gun in the park; he saw bullets ricocheting off the metal, except for one bullet, which chipped the dome, weakening it. The dome was ready to crack like an egg.
“Remembered? Was Jill exposed to the Mind Rip?”
“Yes,” the voices answered in unison.
“Why didn’t she end up a screamer?”
“She accepted what she saw.” The faces in the darkness explained.
“All those people, why kill them?”
“Because she remembered doing so,” they whispered.
“How did she know how to kill?”
“She remembered,” they said.
“How did she know when?”
“She remembered.” They intoned again.
Jill’s voice rang in his mind. “I have always loved you. I have waited for you my whole life.”
“She killed those people because she remembered killing them?”
“She had no choice.” The voices intoned.
“There is always a choice.”
“Not for her. Each step led to the next, leading to you, leading to saving the dome and the colony. Change one thing, and the chain breaks.” They said.
“So, to save the colony,” he remembered how the lump would form in his throat as he spoke, “To save me, she had to kill?”
“Because she remembered.”
Matt didn’t want to remember any more of the conversation. His chest hurt, and he had important things to do. He felt the drugs losing control of him. Soon he’d be awake,
When he finally came out of his drug-induced stupor, Matt saw a note on the pillow written in Jill’s handwriting. The same handwriting on all the notes on his door. “I’m waiting, my love; I’ve always been waiting.” She would be waiting, and now he knew where. Matt pulled himself together and ran out of the drug den to stop Jill from killing her last victim.