The Memory Coder by JessicaBrody

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Chapter 1

The struggle is not what I remember most about the delivery boy's procedure. It's the girl. The one buried deep in his mind. Hidden in his memory like a keepsake. 

But of course, it would be difficult to forget that struggle. The delivery boy fought harder than most. Maybe that's because his breach was more personal than the others'. A repeat offender. Fueled by fascination and obsession. While most offenses are merely accidental. A slip up.

Delivery boys are the bread and butter of our department. The nature of their job makes them prone to seeing more than they should. But there are plenty of others brought in as well. Mail carriers, caterers, tutors, relatives, suppliers. Anyone from the outside, without a security clearance level, is susceptible to breaches.

But like I said, most are not intentional.   

The delivery boy, according to the report, had returned again and again. Had gotten too close. And had finally been caught.

I had to admire his persistence. And feel just the slightest bit sorry for him.

"Let me out of here!" he screamed, banging on the bolted door. "You can't keep me locked in here like a prisoner!"

I watched him through the window. Dr. Solara was already starting to work her magic on him. It's hard not to fall for that body and face. Every guy in this department is guilty of at least one fantasy starring the tall, blond doctor. Even me.

But novelty wears off fast.

And things are different on this side of the window.   

"Don't worry." She attempted to subdue him with a gentle touch on the arm. "We're not going to hurt you. Please just have a seat."

She gestured to the chair in the middle of the room.

By the look in the boy's eyes, he could tell it wasn't just a chair.

No one ever thinks it's just a chair.

The boy glared at it as Dr. Solara offered him one of her winning smiles.

Normally the smile is enough. It's the reason Dr. Solara has earned the title of "Mediator." She's good with the offenders. Mediators have to have smiles like that. It's part of the job description.

I, on the other hand, just have to know how to push the buttons. Sometimes I think that's all I am to them—a button pusher. The guy who writes the code. Who uploads the file. Who performs the final system tests to make sure the restorations are successful.

What they don't seem to understand is that there's an art to it. Ultimately, Revisual+ is a programming language like any other. But the language of memories is so much more than just logic and a degree in software engineering.

I observed the boy's reaction carefully, waiting for that inevitable moment when he finally surrendered to his fate. When he succumbed to whatever kind of procedure this was. When he finally resigned to sitting in the chair that's clearly not just a chair.

Eventually they all surrender.

The needle came from behind. Almost immediately after the boy sat down. It jutted out from the seat's tall back, puncturing him in the neck. His whole body stiffened.

"Don't worry," Dr. Solara assured him again with another radiant smile, pushing the hair back from his forehead. "It will be over before you know it. And you won't remember a thing."

I rolled up to my desk to prepare my system for retrieval. As the boy's eyelids started to sag, his gaze floated languidly in my direction. For a second, I swore he could actually see me, his accusing eyes penetrating the barrier between us. 

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