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A Past Forgotten

Suvi Ila

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The lush forest was ripe with the acrid smells of vegetation. Sweet honeysuckle, fragrant lilacs, and pungent mosses filled the oxygen controlled and filtered air in the habitat ring. The chirping and singing of whippoorwills and sparrows provided a musical back drop as rich as a symphony. The ambient light, at 50 percent of daylight, back dropped by the dark of the planet's surface outside the transparent aluminum enclosure lent an ethereal quality perfect for a romantic escape.

Johnna Watson, a tall, blonde haired beauty with porcelain skin and eyes that sparkled like a Cerulean Ocean under the bright noon day sun, sat under the out stretched arms of the Risan Goolkos tree, letting the warm, artificial sunlight bathe her in its glow. Her eyes traced the outline of her shadow on the ground to the point where the fingers interlocked with a taller, huskier shadow cast by a most handsome man.

A single tear ran down her cheek. It sparkled like a jewel. It was a tear of joy, not sadness. The moment she had hoped for was finally here. Hesitantly, with a tremolo in his voice that adumbrated his angst, Thomas was broaching the question she had longed to hear. He spoke of their weeks together. He regaled her with his dreams of a wondrous future for them and for their people. He spoke of undying love and intertwined fates.

"Johnna Watson, will you join me and become Mrs. Thomas Poston?" he asked as he gently held her demure hands in his.

She felt the strength and security his hands offered, and the promise of a future filled with love and companionship. It was all she had wanted since shortly after they had met. Never before had she met someone who had filled her mind so intensely and completely so quickly.

"Yes" she said softly as he kissed the back of her hand. Her single tear became a stream.

His kiss followed her slender arm to the curve of her shoulder, lingering briefly before reaching for her lips. Their lips met softly, with a kiss that held both the joy of relief and the anticipation of a future of countless wonders.

The rest of the evening was a haze. They went back to her parents home and shared their plans for the future. They told Mr. and Mrs. Watson of the grand-children in their future, and the days spent making each other happy. They spoke of deep, abiding love. The joy of a kiss. The anticipation of separation. They told her parents of a sudden and all-consuming love.

Johnathan Watson gave the two his blessing. He told them of a fathers' gratitude that his daughter had found such a wonderful young man who made her happy. He wished them a happy future with large numbers of children and a household filled with the sounds of little feet, and laughing, and joy and love.

No one noticed the suddenly vacant look in Johnnas' eyes, or the puzzled look that slowly spread across her face.

Later that night, as she lay looking through the curved, transparent wall of her bedroom, she stared into the indigo abyss above. Her gaze remained focused on a solitary bright star, but her mind was not there. Bizarre thoughts ran through her head. It was hard to know where reality ended and nightmare began.

Another habitat ring filled her mind.

Barely past dawn, she was in a field on her knees. She was pulling Venetian radishes from the ground. She pulled radishes until the large basket beside her was filled to the brim. There would be no end to the work. When one basket was full, a drone swooped in and hoisted it away as another swooped in behind, leaving an empty basket in its place.

And the cycle continued. On and on and on until an omnipresent siren interrupted the silence.

"Prepare for nourishment" monotoned a mechanical voice, devoid of humanity.

She turned and sat, waiting for the drone to deliver the gray paste that contained all the nutrition she would need to survive.

She was young. She couldnt have been more than thirteen years old at the time. She was one of the older girls out in the fields. She looked around her and wondered what happened to the children as they reached her age. Suddenly, someone who worked in the next row would be gone. There would be no explanation.

There was never an explanation. There was never conversation. There was never any recreation. There was the work. There were the drones. There was the paste. There were the radishes, never to be eaten, but merely harvested. There were fields. There were many fields. They all seemed different, but there was really no way to tell, for a child of one field could not venture to the next. There was heat, and sweat, and dirt, and smell and stench, and sleep.

But even the sleep lacked rest, for the sleep was in the field where the workday ended. When sleep was over, work began again.

Somehow, she knew these thoughts, like a distant dream, were somehow real. She knew that the girls name was Leialla. She knew Leialla had worked in the fields since she had been able to walk, and would continue to do so for only a short time.

Until the day she awoke on the MedBed. She was clean. For the first time in her life, she was not black with the rancid soil and mud that she worked in from dawn until dusk. The room was clean, sterile, and bright. There were The Others in white who hovered over her, but she could not move. Something held her in place. She was bound by the arms and the legs. Her head she could not move. The Others spoke in words she could not understand.

This had been her first memory implant. That had been the first time she knew language, and order, and fear. But, it had not been her last implant. That implant had not succeeded and she had slowly lost the ability to retain the memories they had given her. She had lost the ability to reason. The loss had not been complete, however, when they had returned her to the lab for re-implantation.

She had retained enough language skills to overhear their conversations. She learned of the children working the fields to harvest crops until adolescence. She learned of abduction and memory implants with memories of false families and assigned loved ones. She learned of genetic manipulation to improve the species.

Implanted maternal instincts would ensure the survival of the species. But, her implants were failing.again. She couldnt let anyone know. She had to retain her false memories. She had to retain them for a time. Long enough to find others like her. Long enough to start something.

Was it treason... .or revolution?

Edited by Suvi Ila
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