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Memory Replay

Tim Boiteau lives in Michigan with his wife and son. He is a Writers of the Future winner and author of The Drummer Girl, a dark fantasy novel.

Once Memory Replay was affordable, Francine signed up. The tech inserted a nanowire into the corner of her eye socket, where it wormed into her neocortex. A wave of warmth spread throughout her body as the creature branched out in its preprogrammed manner, reading the detailed cortical map, hooking its filaments into stellate cells, and tracking activity through the thalami.
The tech presented Francine with a slideshow interspersed with novel "false" memories, and the wire, reading the patterns of her responses throughout its vast, growing network, made various adjustments to its brachial morphology and firing rates.
When the training phases had concluded, the tech blandly recited his script.
"There's basic, slow, fast, and double modes," he informed Francine.
"Double?" Francine asked.
"Superimposing two memories over one another. Can be quite good fun. However MnemoCo advises against juxtaposing nested memories."
"Sorry?"
"A memory where you are thinking about another memory. Computer models running such scenarios have created server-crashing feedback loops. Sign here, initial there, date there--There's basic, slow, fast, and double modes," the tech informed Francine.
"What/Double?" Francine asked.
"Superimposing two memories over one another. Can be quite good fun. However, MnemoCo advises against juxtaposing nested memories."
"Something's wrong/Sorry?"
"A memory where you are/Superimposing two memories over one another. Computer models running such scenarios have created/Quite good fun. However MnemoCo advises against/Sign here, initial there, date there."
"What/Double/Something's wrong/Sorry?"
"Superimposing a memory two superimposing memories where you are over one another. Can computer be models quite running good such fun scenarios. However however MnemoCo MnemoCo advises against advises against juxtaposing sign here nested initial there memories date there."
"What what/Double double/Something's something's wrong wrong/ Sorry sorry?" / "STOP IT!"
The multiple overlapping sounds and images and intensifying antiseptic smell suddenly coalesced into a single manageable construct. Wide-eyed, Francine was afraid to move or speak, fearing the return of that kaleidoscopic monster of sensation that had nearly swallowed her up. The room, everything, seemed to be spinning.
The tech gave her a sober look. "Having second thoughts?"
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, June 8th, 2022


Author Comments

This story was inspired by my time spent running cognitive neuroscience experiments in grad school. When faced with the prospect of spending a half an hour or more inside the bore of an MRI machine, a fair number of participants get cold feet. I can only imagine how many test subjects bailed during the development of the device in "Memory Replay."

- Tim Boiteau
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