by Eric Brown
So... today is when I edit myself.
I should be through in an hour, maybe two. I have a lot to get rid of.
It's a process I go through every fifty years. The medics at the Institute warned me of the consequences should I miss a wipe.
I'm doing it for my mental health.
I glance into the kitchen. Mr. and Mrs. DuBois, from the agency, are sitting at the table, drinking coffee and waiting patiently.
So here goes.
The device looks like a silver skullcap, with a chinstrap to keep it in place once it's activated.
I place it on my head, fasten the strap, and activate the control in my right hand. I'm aware of a faint buzzing at first, and then a pleasurable warmth passes through my head.
Dr. Evans appears before me, seated in the recliner. He's smiling. "Good to see you again, Ed. Are you ready to go?"
The image of Dr. Evans always makes me sad. He's a hundred and fifty years dead, now. Ironic, isn't it, that one of the medics to work on the project at the Institute, in the early days back in 2150, was unable to undergo the treatment and in consequence died when he reached his allotted five score.
"I'm ready to go," I say.
"Very well." He looks down at the screen in his right hand, then smiles up at me. "I'm getting high scores--way up in the nineties--for some emotional trauma dating from 2280 and emanating from someone called Ola. Shall we take a look?"
"Let's do that," I say."
The simulation is more vivid than my memory.
I'm at the party where I met Ola, forty years ago. We hit it off immediately. She's tall, blonde, Scandinavian, a violinist with the Swedish National Orchestra. We have a love of classical music in common. We meet again a week later, and after that are inseparable for two years.
We marry in 2282, and it's downhill from there.
Dr. Evans appears, overlaid on a stilled image of Ola arguing with me at breakfast.
"Okay..." he says. "She was a bad choice, Ed. You should never have gone there. I've warned you off the domineering, alpha-female types before, and taught you how to spot them. But you keep on ignoring me, even though you know I'm right, and even though you know how dangerous it is for you. It's that Oedipal thing again, Ed."
Despite myself, I groan.
"So," Dr. Evans says, "I suggest we Wipe, agreed?"
"Let me see..." He refers to his screen and nods. "That's the two years you were together, and thirty-eight years of consequent memories." He taps the screen a few times, murmuring to himself. "Laying down the tracers, implanting the erase command. Commencing the Wipe in five, four, three, two, one... Now."
I wince in anticipation. A fierce heat blasts through my head, a synaptic firestorm. I rock in my chair, cry out loud--and then it's over.
And I feel great.