Echoes of Tomorrow's Past - Part 10 (An Original Novella)

in #steemit2 years ago

Dr. Grey laid out one final disclaimer before he started. To make sure they were, without any shadow of a doubt, singing from the same hymn book. Though losing patience fast, Dolores gave another nod of approval before sitting back in her chair, waiting for him to speak.

”So.” He began. ”Since the experiment started trialling around three decades ago, over fifty percent of those same participants have already been in liaisons with us for their memories to be captured and stored. May I remind you, that’s out of five thousand individuals in total. Everything has gone perfectly fine with each one of them, as you might have heard in the media coverage. Everyone except for Mr. Herbert Wilcot.”

He interlocked his fingers, placing them upon his lap. ”Who’s that?” She asked rather bluntly.

”Just a regular guy, like James, who was selected for the trial. Though the procedure was performed in his late teens due to the persistent goading of his domineering mother. A little younger would have been preferred but the operation went smoothly enough. Anyways, that was that. He settled down, found a suitable partner, got married and had a child.”

Dolores leaned forward in her chair with gritted teeth. ”I couldn’t care less about some story about happy families and certainly don’t have the time to waste like this.” She asserted in a flurry of bottled anger. ”Hurry up and get to the point already. I haven’t got all day.”

”His child was hit by a car and killed, Mrs. Donnell. He was only three years old at the time.” He said in his calm, controlled manner. Her facial muscles relaxed upon hearing this before she settled back into her seat. ”That was his personal trauma. And he never forgave himself for allowing that to happen. A moment of divert attentions for a lifetime of grieving. It tore him to pieces inside.”

A knock at the door startled Dolores. ”Yes?” Dr. Grey called out as the same young nurse from the corridor made her entrance. ”Will you be needing me for anything else tonight, Doctor?” she asked in a bland tone. “No thanks, Sarah.” He replied, appearing a little frustrated at the mild interruption. ”That’ll be all for this evening. Make sure you close the door on the way out, if you please.” After an abrupt goodbye between the pair, she was gone and the Doctor continued.

”As I was saying, Herbert came looking for me in desperate need of help. Obviously, his natural port of call due to our role as an after-care service team as well.” Dr. Grey added. ”He told me he was seeing things. To be more precise, his boy who’d been killed over five years ago. I remember our talks clearly. He’d be in the kitchen, preparing a meal for his wife before she arrived home from work and out of the corner of his eye, would spy a small boy watching him by the doorway. As he spun around to confirm what he saw, the vision was gone. This occurred several times that week before he came to see me. Two other instances he told me of was when he’d lay in bed, contemplating the tragic events that took his son life. He swore to me he then heard the tiny shuffle of footsteps along the landing outside. The bedroom door would be pushed open all by itself. As he looked up over his covers, a familiar silhouette of a small child would amble over to the window opposite him and sit on a rug they had placed there. Just watching him. Sitting there and watching him.”

Dolores rubbed each arm as shivers ran down her flesh. Her eyes widened as she saw through the similarities that James was experiencing, though was still very much in denial. ”He was going crazy, right? I mean, there’s your explanation right there. I know what you’re trying to get at and that’s completely different to my husband’s dilemma. What happened to this guy?”

Dr. Grey raised his eyebrows at her. ”I gave him a Valium to rest his mind and prescribed some sleeping pills. That’s as far as my powers could stretch given the information I had to work with. He thanked me, promptly left and returned home. Upon opening the front door, he saw his boy again, this time playing in the hallway on his own. The child looked up and beckoned Herbert to come inside. That boy had pure love in his eyes, I’ll tell you that for nothing. Well, his wife arrived home about an hour later and found her husband lying dead sprawled on the carpet, eyes bulging and staring in wild delirium. The coroner’s report concluded in his report he’d had a massive heart attack brought on by an intense episode of stress and fright.”

Dr. Grey watched as she shook her head, exhibiting a vacant gaze. ”But I don’t understand. It just doesn’t make any sense. How can you say you know how the boy was looking at him?”

”Simple.” Dr. Grey answered. ”I saw it myself.”

Dolores snapped out of her trance at once. Fire burned in her eyes as she glared at him in a fit of fury. ”You asshole. If this is your idea of some kind of sick joke, you’re in more trouble than you bargained for.” Two hands wrapped around the armrests of her chair as she prepared to spew a torrent of abuse and venom at the Doctor. He remained compose, but now much sterner in his actions.

”Remember what I told you about the threats, Dolores?” He murmured. ”Now’s not the time and definitely not the place. I suggest you calm yourself this instant and let me finish what I was going to say. If you still want my personal opinion as to the diagnosis of James’s problem.”

In the throes of her volatile temperament, his hard-lined stance had somewhat filtered through. She relaxed both hands and her heavy breathing subsided. Though she did not make a sound, but simply scowled at the Doctor across from her.

As I was saying.” He resumed, in the exact same disposition as before the outburst. ”I saw what killed him. Not who. But what. It was his own subconscious mind. His burning desire for his child to be resurrected from the ashes and returned back into his life. He could not accept the guilt of his actions and thus neither could his subliminal state. You see, the problem here was that his subconscious now had an outlet. A means of escaping the realms of just simple thought. Trying to bring back what it saw as it’s rightful choice. The medium being his own “personalized” blockchain in his head.”

Dolores screwed up her face in disbelief. A mix of puzzlement and resentment bore out of her like drills through soft butter. Searching with desperation for some logical explanation in of all this, her only source of salvation sat but a few feet away from her. ”Please, Dr. Grey.” She implored, tears welling up over her eyelids. ”What do you mean? Please elaborate so I can understand clearer. How can this all be?”

He reached into his pocket and offered her a small, unopened pack of tissues. ”There you go.” She grabbed them, ripping apart the plastic seal as he proceeded. ”Listen, Mrs. Donnell. I know this is hard for you but I’m trying to explain as best I can what’s most likely happening here with James. When Herbert died, his body was sent over to the morgue and for the sake of the official paperwork, we had to conclude his cause of death. Bear in mind, the contract all participants sign before going ahead with the operation, grants us full permission to do this. In James’s case, that consent came from his mother. Hence, we had access to Herbert’s digital track and extracted it’s contents for review here at our labs. And my suspicions, at the time, were confirmed. His subconscious had managed to imprint images from his mind’s eye onto the blockchain. Which he was able to then view in the physical space. Sort of like a dream that had managed to manifest itself into our world.”

”But I remember you told us in our previous discussions that the “personalized” blockchain will only read what it interprets directly through the person’s eyes and ears.” She muttered over the fold of her tissue. ”A straight connection to the microchips via our biological inputs. Those were your specific words. I heard you. You said that, I know you did.”

He sighed heavily before glancing at the floor of his polished, meticulous back office. ”Yes, Mrs. Donnell. I know I did. But after all is said and done, this is an ongoing experiment and I’ve only ever encountered two issues with any of our clients. One being Mr. Herbert Wilcot. And the other being James. And from what we can clearly see, both cases involve a particular memory bringing about extreme feelings of grief or guilt. James fits perfectly into that category.”

Dr. Grey moved over to the edge of his seat, clasping his hands together. ”You see, both our conscious and subconscious states are completely divided. They exist as separate entities and on different planes in our brain. Hence, when you dream, they can feel as though you are actually experiencing sentient reality. Touch, smell, sight. Even pain and suffering can be replicated in that altered state of being. And this has proved an unfortunate side effect to our otherwise excellent clinical results. This is most likely what Herbert and now James had to deal with. The subconscious pushing it’s way onto their blockchain, without them even being aware of it. Therefore, throwing off the precise timing of normally recorded aural and visual blockchain data and leaving the whole system effectively running out of sync. To such a degree that the subject can actually see images that the subconscious produce. As clear as you see me now. I’m sorry, Mrs. Donnell. But the similarities between Herbert and James’s conditions are just too coincidental. There’s a mental tug-of-war between the two partitioned domains of his mind. And now it’s just a question of which one will cave to the other first.”

Dolores had stopped weeping a while back as sadness had given way to shock. The guilt she felt, the turmoil James was going through, the life-threatening seriousness of the situation. It was an unbearable mess that presented no tangible means of escape. She may as well have signed his own death warrant, she thought. Dolores raised a trembling hand to her mouth and looked upon the Doctor with inflamed, red eyes. ”Oh, dear God. What have I done.” She exclaimed. ”It’s all my fault. Dr. Grey, please. I’m begging you with our very souls in your capable hands. Make him well again. Is there anything we can do for him?”

He squinted toward the ceiling, lost in thought for a moment, whilst peering to one side. ”Well, there may be something we can do. I’m not promising anything, but at this juncture there’s little to lose and it’s well worth a shot.”

(To Be Continued)


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Hope you enjoyed this story, please look out for more on the way... (author: @ezzy)

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