Memory Games

There was a high droning hum. Ice water came down in buckets like razors licking at her cheeks and shoulders and thighs. Oh, she thought, it’s me; I’m screaming. I thought I was dead.

“Wake up, Violet. Wake up.”

Her body was a vague outline in her own head, a far away pain that she was tethered to. She opened her swollen eyes. She was on a wooden chair. Cracked concrete floor. Bright light from behind her. Plastic cables hung from her temples, disappearing into a floor panel. Her blood throbbed under the pressure of restraints around her legs and arms. Her torso. Someone pulled her head back by a fistful of soaked hair.

“What do you see?” A woman’s voice. Not sure who.

The solitary light flickered and an image appeared before her, projected on the cinder wall.

“A plane?” It looked strange.

“Come now, Violet. I need more than that. Tell me what you see.”

Low, sagging wings. X-shaped stabilizers. Nosecone intake. Two-man cockpit. The signage in the hangar–what language was that?

“Gong-Gi Agma.” Wait, what? Her mouth moved involuntarily. “High altitude cyber-fighter. Electronic warfare, area denial.” Had she just said that?

“Good. Next.”

The light flickered again, and her heart felt aflame. She felt her chest working overtime as her breathing intensified.

Before her now was an image of a soldier. Strange elongated helmet. Tubular mouthpiece like an old gas mask. Vents. Optics. Webbing.

A slap at the back of her head. She hated that she wasn’t able to see it coming. “Tell us what you see!”

“Soldier.”

Another slap. She gritted her teeth, biting on a cry.

“Tactical gear. Prototype. Not field tested yet.” Again, alien words coming from her throat.

The light flickered, and she jumped–or jumped as much as the restraints would allow. A new image. A domed building. Silver, metal, under construction. She had no idea what she was looking–

“Outpost Juja, Region Four. Biological research. Moonshots.”

A flicker. A new image. What was happening, and how could she make it stop?

“This is the most important one,” she tried, “but I’ll only talk about it to your supervisor.”

The image flicked away, leaving only a dirty cinder wall once more.

“Violet, please. Every time. That was a control image. You’re lying again.” Another horrible slap. “Reset the program.”

“Wait! Tell me where I am! What’s going on?!”

There was a high droning hum.

Notes: I used an image as a writing prompt for this piece. You may be able to find the image on the artist’s ArtStation page.

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