Nina wasn't sure what to make of Ben's sudden message. She stood there, brow furrowed and lips slightly parted as she processed the words he'd just spoken, trying to figure out why it was that he sounded so desperate, or what he thought she'd done. The abrupt message had been enough to throw Nina off balance.
"What do you mean? What's going on, Ben?" Nina asked, doing her best to remain calm even as her heartbeat quickened at the urgent tone of Ben's voice.
"Listen, I don't have a lot of time," Ben went on, voice quiet and as close to calm as he could manage at the time. There was still a tenseness in his voice that was clear as day to Nina, who'd known Ben for so long. "I need you to be honest with me, please. Did you go to the SEIN building yesterday?"
Nina felt her brow rise, eyes widening at Ben's question. Her mind quickly assessed her options, thinking of whether she should tell Ben the truth. Maybe if he hadn't sounded so desperate, Nina might have lied, might have told Ben she hadn't been in the building since her last checkup weeks ago—something that felt more like an eternity after all that had happened. Instead, she knew she had to be honest with him, knew that all he'd ever wanted was to help and that likely hadn't changed. Nina trusted Ben.
"I did," she said simply, not knowing what else to tell Ben or whether she should elaborate. Nina figured it would be best to let Ben lead the conversation until she knew what was going on. She ignored the unease that had risen up inside of her from the moment Ben had first spoken.
"Damn it," Ben muttered a curse and Nina felt her heart sink as she knew she wouldn't like what Ben had to say. "Nina, what did you do?"
"What's going on?" Nina asked instead of answering. "How did you know I was there yesterday?"
"You were caught on camera." The words were enough to make Nina feel like everything around her had fallen away. The world felt unusually still and silent, with only Ben's voice audible to her ears. "There was a complaint about you, they said you broke in and took some records. Things you weren't supposed to have access to. Listen, I don't know what's going on or what you're up to, but you have to come clean and fast. Turn yourself in. Tell them the truth, whatever that is."
Ben's voice was steady, something Nina knew he was struggling to maintain. She was much in the same situation. Even as she fought to keep her breathing steady, Nina could feel her hands shaking ever so slightly as her mind betrayed her once again.
For just a moment, Nina was back in that pristine hall with the too bright lights and the overwhelming stench of disinfectant hanging around her like a thick fog—stifling. Unseen eyes seemed to follow her every move, making a shiver run up her spine as Nina did her best not to run from the building. Each step she took felt like too great a feat, the sound of them bouncing off the walls, deafening in the near silent white halls that melted off into cream colored walls with the scent of earth and spices.
"Nina." Ben's voice broke Nina out of her thoughts. She was startled, nearly dropping the phone as she came back to herself, but somehow managing to keep a grip on the slim device.
Her hands were shaking violently, the chaotic memories still clinging to the edges of her mind. She did her best to gather her thoughts and calm her racing heart. Ben was still waiting for whatever answers Nina could give him.
"I had to do it," Nina said without thinking. "There were things I needed to know, and there was no other way," she went on as she heard Ben curse.
"What kind of records did you take?" Nina hesitated before deciding it was in her best interest to be honest with Ben. He'd find out the truth soon enough either way.
"Christopher Fearnley's," she said, and could hear a sharp intake of breath from the other end of the line. "I took Fearnley's medical records." The admission was enough to silence Ben, if only for a second.
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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...