Forge Netting 14: A Headache

He’d ditched Jonas two weeks before – Jonas had been shaky since the prognostication; he’d been pretty shaky himself. He couldn’t be out in the open because he didn’t know who he could trust – the kind of resources those after him could pull on meant that every motherfucker with a clue from coast to coast had their eye out for him and the meal-ticket he represented.

The food was bad, the habitation was bad, and the occasional company was bad. His hands shook as much from the bad nutrition and the lack of good sleep as it did from nerves – he was not a good advertisement for being on the run; the glamour quotient was definitely not very high.

He walked across the seasick floorboards and looked in the rust infected mirror – memory seemed stitched into the lines in his face. The irony that the plague carrier who had blanked out the world now couldn’t forget a single thing. Things had come back to him unbidden – he didn’t go searching for memories, now they just swam to the surface … bloomed in glorious colour, announcing themselves in waves of pain.

The penalty for memory wipe drugs was so stiff that a once thriving subculture was crushed – the few addicts were having to raid old stocks and those stocks were being guarded jeealously by those who had managed to obtain them – it was a dangerous situation; one he was glad he was at least sane enough to step back from.

He clutched the side of his head and lurched toward the bed. Being sane and not being involved in the scrabble for a few pills did not, however, make him any less susceptible to the pain. He buried his face in the lumpy pillow and stifled the screams which this unnatural migraine pulled forth from him.

He knew that at some point the run would end – it would either end in freedom, capture, or death. He suspected one of the latter two options. Only heroes ever stood a chance of getting away and that wasn’t him – he was most definitely no kind of hero. Not that he was calculated enough to be any real kind of villain; no, he was just an accident that had happened … a careless man who had broken everything he touched just because he was too blind to see past the selfish needs which consumed him.

He secretly cherished the idea of an ending – and to be honest he diddn’t care which one; just as long as it came and came swiftly.

Forge Netting 13: The Quantum Possible

His mother, so it was said, had been a severe addict – that her addiction had shaken him loose in the time stream. Causality had become tangled around her and things stopped seeming to follow the pattern of cause an effect. No one remembered his birth but they did recall when he appeared – that kind of thing was a little shocking. Even more shocking was his inability to be the same age from one day to the next. It was said that his was the most extreme of cases and he served as a precautionary tale for more than one person.

Ruebeau and Jonas heard tell of him as they moved through the smaller villages and approached the city. The word guru was not a safe word to trust in but both of them were curious – wanting to see whether they might discover something about themselves and the nature of this new universe.

‘This is what time is like – logic gates built out of questions and answers. I am able to build new gates into the system because what I am defies logic. I may be an escape route or I may be a cul-de-sac; I do not know yet. Everything I view escapes the distortion of linear progress; I see the frozen moments and the river of time and can offer you words of enlightenment from that.’

He aged and grew younger before them and the words went from a to b with no hitch; as if he, across time, were piecing a jigsaw of vision together.

He paused for a moment and stared long and hard at Ruebeau.

‘You did this. You are the insane god of this universe.’

Ruebeau sat there dumbfounded. He had been the Typhoid Mary of this place – the origin of the disease according to those who had studied his genetic structure and determined his mutation as being responsible for the mutation of the virus, but now he was being hailed as some kind of insane god? He felt totally sane – hmm, well that was a little unsteady as an assertion. He had been cured of his amnesia and here he was out in the world looking to forget it all once again.

‘Yes, I see through the dissembling, paper man. You are a modern disease of turn away and face the other direction. The world is easy to forget when its behind you.’

He turned to Jonas.

‘And you in the belly of the wail – don’t try and shirk your responsibility in this. You have enabled this coward to walk away from people who were trying to save him and save the world.
‘You can both keep running but you will trip yourselves up, and they are not going to stop chasing you.
‘I have travelled out into the quantum possible and returned and there are many choices made by you two that will determine the shape of the world.’

Forge Netting 12: Freedom Into What

Burning books. His face was black with soot – this was hard work. All these idiots trying to resurrect a corrupt world for a corrupt species. What was the fucking point? Were they all retarded or something? He just didn’t get it. Not that he wanted to forget anything, but he didn’t want to remember what they had lost either.

He watched this engineer and his efforts and he despaired that hope could make someone so blind to the reality of what was going on. He had come to the edge of the encampment and he had talked to someone called Ruebeau and he understood his posution more.

Ruebeau was a prisoner to all intents and purposes – not on the side of the people he was forced to live with but not necessarily against them either; just wishing to extricate himself from the whole mess and go away somewhere and live his life peacefully by himself … Jonas empathised with that. Jonas could get behind an idea like that.

Before he gave Ruebeau false hope he had to work out the logistics of the whole game. He needed to get out here without attracting attention and needed to leave the same way. He could be inconspicuous when he wanted but having a vehicle and doing that in this day and age when most people had forgotten how to drive was not going to be the easiest thing.

What he decided to do was to be around a lot more in the car he owned – make it less unusual; let them get used to him. He fell into a rhythm with the whole thing and it became as natural as breathing for him to be there and for others to see him.

Ruebeau seemed to cotton on to the idea pretty quickly and also became very comfortable with the whole routine.

The day it happened neither of them could really believe how easy it was and the nerves which had been absent throughout the proceeding months suddenly swelled and rushed in on them like an unexpected tide. But they were doing it – they were driving away: Ruebeau was free again.

Jonas, now slightly confused at his own motives, was still pleased he had done what he had done, and besides, there was no turning back now.

Forge Netting 11: Old Memories, New Thoughts

Strategic attacks were carried out on government protected Nostalgia Dumps; vast informational archives that had been preserved in case of something like the disaster that had currently befallen the world.

Colin led the frontline attacks, pulling behind him an army of those from similar professions to himself – attacking with an almost suicidal ferocity.

The engineer continued to put back together those who had been in the first wave which had gathered into the following tsunami, building himself a force with which to reclaim the world.

Ruebeau had been tested extensively and they said they were making progress – seeing some answers in the riddle of what his body had done to cause the mutation of the disease.

Ruebeau felt as lost as he had when he could remember nothing – now everything he remembered seemed to have disappeared or was disappearing. The world, only partially held in place by forgetful men, was an eroding shore.

What was his function? And what really was the purpose of the engineer and his war? MOst days it seemed a pointless struggle against themselves. Had he learned his lesson? Would he not just take the pill again if it were offered him.

He talked to the druggists, those working to recompense the world they had helped destroy, and he wondered if they still had any kind of secret stashes. If they did couldn’t he just disappear off and take enough to see him through to the end of his days? Or perhaps he could persuade others to help him drug these freedom fighters so he might escape and once more have a choice over what he had to remember. He did not want these painful memories as much as he didn’t want this painful present. Oblivion seemed welcoming.

Forge Netting 10: Watch The Watch

Morning came as a series of debilitating migraines detonating behind his eyes. He felt somewhat delicate and that was putting it mildly, but he felt like he was getting better. Getting better involved stripping away the layers of varnishing blankness. Faces swam before him, incidents collected themselves from the fragments they had become.

He watched his watch seem to come untethered and float free of time and then it appeared to calm down. He was in quarantine at the moment becaause the rebalancing pushed diseuilibrium out into the local environment to a degree that others would become disorientated and feel sick.

He hadn’t wanted this – this remembering – but he figured he hadn’t really wanted the chaos that his forgetfulness had become either. The world without memory was no kind of place to live in – confusion and anger reigned and each day brought its own surprises because no one or their actions were really chained to cause and effect; instead they operated by chance and whim.

Bright shiny futures did not arrive out of dusty disjointed presents. He still wasn’t quite sure why he was seen as such a pivotal figure in the whole change, but he supposed he would find out soon enough.

‘How goes it, Typhoid Mary?’ And there was his answer.

‘You think I am the source point of the disease?’

‘The vectors of the disease’s passage were traced back and it appears that some kind of initial resistance by your body cause a mutation that made the infection easily transmissable.’

‘Colin, the guy that was trackin me, is he here?’

‘Yes, he has been working amends for the longest time trying to fix the damage he did when he worked for LEthe. He lost you for a long time and only recently found you – he isn’t doing well; he has been exposed to the temporal distortion fields all the victims of this process put out, and we are trying to establish whether he himself is now beyond help.’

‘What about the guys that started all this? Made the process possible?’

‘Well, most of them have been tracked down and have been persuaded to help. They weren’t really criminals in the traditonal sense – they were making something available that there was a lot of demand for, and as soon as most of them realised something had gone wrong they switched their research to handle the problems.’

‘You’re absolving them of blame.’

‘No. They are helping – in the same way that Colin was. His expertise was in tracking the cusomters down and theirs in research – speaking of which, there are going to be some extensive series of tests carried out on you to see how this thing works.’

‘Fine, I suppose. That makes sense.’

He was left alone again – a reprieve he supposed, before they started poking and prodding him.

Forge Netting 9: Response

He sat there looking rather undignified; not at all commanding of the respect that Colin told him was deserved. This place that was said to be the workshop of a genius – the place wherein the human race would be resurrected in the full glory of their memories.

‘What must one do, you ask, my forgetful friend, when the world is falling?’ said the engineer, pausing for dramatic effect ‘One must forge netting. And, in case you were to foolishly think that I am referring to myself as some kind of fisher of men you are sadly mistaken. What I am trying to talk to you of is the need for anti-suicide nets to catch all the jumpers.’

‘How did you get into this line of work?’

‘I was a memory specialist before this thing blew out of all proportion, but I had already submitted a research paper for consideration that outline how this whole thing was going to be an eventuality, and that it was only a matter of time before something like this manifested.’

‘And they didn’t listen to you?’

‘Why would they want to? Stopping the treatment of anyone, let alone the number of people who were on prescription drugs at that point, would have cost them a shitload of money.’

‘I can see that.’

‘Of course you can – you voluntarily forked out for your amnesia, didn’t you?’

‘What was it that was so bad that you would choose to rather erase your whole memory rather than confront it?’

‘I …’

‘Don’t remember.’

‘No.’

‘BUt you will.’

‘It sounds like a threat.’

‘Of course – responsibility always does sound like a threat.’

If patents had still mattered worth a damn then the process would have been patented – he had worked hard to discover how to make it most effective. The retention of the disease was in the nanites maintaining a fixed position and emitting a disruptive signal in brain. The organic element was a biological reaction to what the artificial was doing. A hybrid disease required a specialised treatment. The electrical charge used to short out the mechanical aspects of the infection was followed by a tailored viral load that settled into the receptor sites on cells grew grey around the neural clusters.

For the patient it was not the most pleasant of procedures – in fact certain parts of it were downright painful. Ruebeau didn’t want the process, wasn’t feeling thankful for having stumbled across this activist cell, but Ruebeau was responding to the treatment.

Forge Netting 8: A Meeting

Lean in – look in the eye. And what are you looking for? Some evidence of recognition. And how long has it been since this game began? How long since that first injection doomed the world to forgetfulness? Even he was having a hard time of remembering that.

Ruebeau had been ravaged by the timespace distortion that came in the latter stages of the disease – if he still didn’t have his equipment to hand he might never have recognised him.

‘Do you remember me?’ he said, staring the old man in the face, chuckling to himself ‘My name is Colin.’

‘Colin? Should I know you?’

‘Should you know me? Well, thats an interesting one to ponder, isn’t it? I have been chasing you for so long, and the bastard disease you and your kind has spread has made it even longer.’

‘Meaning?’

‘You mean you don’t know what has been happening to this world since you lot started banging the waters of the Lethe into the mainline?’

‘No idea,’ he croaked “what do you expect of me?’

‘Not a damn sight – you fucking wreck; you selfish motherfucker. Does it feel good having forgotten everything?’

‘Christ, how the fuck would I know? Do you think I wanted anything bad to happen?

‘Goddamnit – you’re thinking in the same way now as you were then, and as you have been since this nightmare started … namely, not at all.’

‘So, you have any answers, or do you just have complaints?’

‘Oh, I have some answers, and I am going to take you to the place where they will unfold.’

Colin took him by the arm and he led him away.