To her great relief, it was not a pair of green eyes that stared back at her when she reached the frame. Instead, Nina found a painting. Warm hues of red, orange and bright yellow brought to life the woods surrounding a sparkling river beneath a hazy blue sky. Nina stared at the picture through a stranger's eyes, studying each vivid detail.
And then, there was a break in the patter of Nina's usual dreams. A hand that was not her own, pale and thin, reached out to the picture. A slim finger pointed at a spot in the painting. It was a small thing, nearly hidden in the back and obscured by the brightly colored details surrounding it, but Nina saw it all the same. There, beneath the brightly colored leaves, was a bridge.
At that moment, Nina awoke, still sitting on her chair. The harsh light from the computer in front of her hurt her eyes, while the darkness that had settled around her felt oppressive, the room feeling colder than it should have. Nina ignored it all along with the rapid beating of her heart. Instead, she pulled out a notepad from a drawer of her desk and hurried to note as much of her dream as she could recall with a slightly shaking hand.
The details, she knew, were likely to fade over time, and something told her they mattered too much to be allowed to leave her mind. Nina's mind might have been fractured, her memories a mess that she was still trying to repair, but she knew there was work that needed to be done. With as much detail as she could recall, Nina jotted down all of the visions of the hallway she'd had. The scents, sounds, and pictures were ever changing and Nina knew there was something there that she wasn't seeing. Something in all those images that made them so vivid.
"Almost like a memory," she muttered thoughtfully, pen halting with the tip hovering right above the paper as the realization hit Nina.
She was looking through Alice's eyes, after all. In every single of the so-called visions, Nina had been but a spectator looking through those green eyes that had come to haunt her. It was so obvious that Nina wondered how she hadn't seen it before. But how?
Nina supposed that it could be possible. After all, the very implant that she'd received had once been considered an impossibility. The science behind memories was a complex one, but it was advancing. It wasn't unreasonable to think that a way to truly implant someone's memories into another would someday be possible. Nina had just never thought it would be so soon.
". . . Fearnley's trial for the slaying of Alice Cassill is set for November 21st. . . ."
Nina's thoughts shifted—the newfound revelation of what those visions and dreams really were pushed back for the time being—the sounds from the television in the living room carried over and the name of the woman from her dreams claimed her attention. This time, though, there was another name that stood out. All on their own, Nina's feet led her back to the living room, where she stood and watched the now painfully familiar image of Alice on the screen for a second before the news anchor moved on to another story.
"Fearnley," Nina said in a near whisper, back to ignoring what the woman narrating the daily news was saying.
Nina set aside the notebook and turned back to her computer, fingers deftly moving across the keyboard. A moment later, she was looking at a picture of Christopher Fearnley on the screen. He was thin, pale, and with a look of total exhaustion in his blue eyes that was all too clear even in a photograph.
Fearnley, she knew, was accused of killing Alice in her home, but the details of the crime were still a mystery to Nina. As she read about the crime the man was said to have committed, there was one thing that Nina couldn't help but think was missing. For all the coverage Fearnley had received, his motives remained as unclear as they'd been on the day he was arrested.
Maybe it was because he'd confessed, or maybe it was because the image Nina had of Fearnley from what she'd learned of the man didn't match up with the crime.
The man who'd taken Alice's life was about as average as anyone else. He was a mild looking middle-aged man with a job at an electronics company and not even so much as a parking ticket on his record. His wife had divorced him years earlier and there was no mention of any later relations. Not a single detail stood out to Nina, despite a part of her saying that there had to be something else, something she wasn't seeing. Still, by all accounts, he was the last person one would suspect of murder. But there it was, on every article Nina had read—Fearnley had confessed.
". . . New studies find that the treatment could potentially be used to help those with psychological disorders. . . ." The news anchor looked steadily at the camera, her expression impassive. It was unsettlingly reminiscent of Alice's face staring back through the mirror. Enough so that Nina changed the channel without truly thinking about it.
The news anchor disappeared, replaced by a stern faced man. Nina recognized the movie playing as one of murders, spies and conspiracies the likes of which Nina had never thought she would be involved in. She nearly laughed at how wild her life had turned out, even without the conspiracy theories and other nonsense. The only thing holding her back was the migraine that was just starting to fade and the feeling of being trapped in a life that no longer seemed like her own.
Instead Nina yawned and looked at the time, near midnight. She'd been sitting at her desk for hours, searching for information in a nearly obsessive way. The start of the day seemed like a distant thing. The memory of cloyingly sweet coffee coating her mouth and Nat sitting across from her with a crimson smile and mismatched eyes felt like too simple a memory for a life as complicated as Nina's currently was.
Slowly, Nina stood, her back protesting the movement after having spent so long sitting. Her head ached only the slightest bit, the pain faint enough so that Nina could ignore it in favor of getting some rest. Sleep came easy to her that night, more so than Nina had expected. She found herself falling asleep quickly and suddenly instead of the gradual shift that was so usual for her. One minute she was staring up at the ceiling and the next she was once again standing in the hallway.
Against her will, Nina found herself walking down the hall. The sound of her steps seemed deafening in the uncharacteristic silence. No song was playing, the only sounds those of Nina moving down the hall, heels clicking against the floor, and her soft breathing. There was a scent that seemed familiar, though nothing as soothing as the jasmine and spices that had wafted through the air the last time she'd found herself walking down that particular hall. This was a harsher smell, the memory of what it could be just out of reach of Nina's mind.
Before she could think of what it could be, she found herself standing before the mirror. Alice's face stared back, as impassive as ever—pale and sickly looking. Even then, her green eyes blazed with what Nina thought could only be unflinching determination. Something, however, was different this time. On top of the casual shirt Alice had worn every other time, there was a lab coat of a pristine white color. The change stood out to Nina immediately.
Alice gazed back into the mirror, unmoving, for a second. Then, she raised her hand and, with a single finger, tapped a rectangular nametag on the lab coat. There was no name on it, nothing but the name of the research center where Alice worked: SEIN.
Nina awoke a moment later, puzzled as always by the strange visions of Alice in that silver mirror. Without a moment's thought, Nina got up, intending to note down as much of the dream as she could recall. Her covers were tossed to the side, and her bare feet slapped against the floor as she moved to her desk and searched for her notebook. She did not intend to get any more sleep that night.
It was just past five and Nina had much to do.
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Hey everyone! Looking forward to reading your thoughts on this chapter, so please comment if you can and thank you all for reading! New chapter will be up on Friday.
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The Persistence of Memory | ✔Science Fiction
In a near future where neuroprosthetics have evolved, Nina--a young journalist--receives a hippoccampal implant after losing the ability to create long term memories. All seems well until memories that don't seem to be her own begin to surface. Now...