art by Tim Stewart
Trick of Memory
by D.A. D'Amico
Paolo was in the middle of it when Lisa walked in. He had been toying with the tiny gold pill for nearly an hour, pressing it against his thin trembling lips, tasting its burning sweetness on his tongue. He had been careful to allow just the tiniest of doses into his system--until Lisa returned.
She burst in unexpectedly, shooting into the room like a bullet through glass.
He jerked. The pill slipped from his fingers, snatched up by his tongue in the last second. He swallowed, gasping as the acrid tang ripped a path through his esophagus to lodge like a cancer in his belly. He clutched at the wall. He wheezed, panting for air; thoughts of deception lost in a flow of foul mucus.
"You didn't!" Lisa's first words were shrill and accusing. "Not again?"
Paolo dropped onto the metal-framed kitchen chair, clutching his belly. His long legs collapsed beneath him. He could feel the drug burning into his bloodstream like some intelligent acid. He hadn't really intended to use it--at least not a whole one. A taste, a dip of the tongue here and there to take the edge off, is all he wanted. Now he'd lose it all.
Lisa swam before his eyes, popping in and out of existence as she scurried around the room. She yelled, a shrill noise that sheered through him like razors and burst against his ears in acerbic bubbles she flickered across the living room.
He could really feel it kicking in now. The drug had reached his brain. It spread like a mold into his memory, stealing into his cells to leach away his thoughts. It was called Vive, a synaptic inhibitor that destroyed short-term memory. Taken in moderation it could dampen recent pain or tragedy. Taken foolishly, it could erase days, months, or even years from a mind.
Paolo had taken a very large dose.