An Androgynous Figure of Indeterminate Race
A Fates Worse Than Death Story
An androgynous figure of indeterminate race, wearing plain white clothes, works in a white room that has no windows or doors. The figure sits at a desk and 3D spreadsheets hover in the air in front of the figure. Casually, the androgynous person reaches into the data to manipulate and sort through it. Without looking, the figure puts its hand to the table, pinching its fingers in a pen-holding gesture. A pen appears in the fingers and the figure scribbles out a few notes.
In the background, a pleasant male voice reads a quick, never ending string of numbers and letters. No matter where the figure turns its head, the volume of the letters and numbers remains constant.
Then, without warning, the world fades. A large alert-window appears in the center of the person’s field of vision, reading: “Connection code no longer present. Shutting down protected amnesia mode. You will be paralyzed briefly and will loose consciousness while we flush your current memories and restore normal memory access.”
The person experiences being in a body that cannot move at all. Even the eyes will not move. The body is breathing, but the person has no conscious control over it. The person can feel the sensation of sitting in a padded chair, and gets a distinct impression of something having just been removed from the person’s head. The alert-window blocks most of the person’s field of vision, but a few things are visible in the person’s peripheral vision. There is a chest, which appears to belong to the person in the chair, which appears to be that of a female. There is a small room with a dirty brown carpet and clutter on the floor. The clutter, that which the person in the chair can identify, is made up of rumpled clothes and fast food containers. Below the alert window, the person in the chair can also see the feet and legs of another person.
A woman’s voice, coming from above the legs, speaks loudly. “You fucking cunt. I’m going to fucking kill you.”
And then there is the sensation of something striking the paralyzed woman in the side of the head. Her vision goes white, all except for the alert-window, and the world seems to be spinning wildly. Then she looses consciousness.
Pain wakes her: a headache of terrible intensity. The alert-window is gone. The world still seems to be spinning, but the revolutions have slowed. She realizes she is lying on her back on the floor. She rolls over just in time to vomit on the brown carpet. She looks up and sees the same pair of feet still in front of her.
“Did you think I would just let you get away with that, bitch?” the angry voice demands.
She looks up and sees her attacker for the first time. The woman wears black leather boots, baggy camouflage pants, a black leather belt with blunt spikes and a black fishnet top over a faded brown long-sleeved shirt. She wears black leather gloves with sharp looking spikes on the knuckles and holds a large hammer in her hand, about 3 feet long with an oversize claw-hammer head. The attacker has tattoos under her lower lip that are meant to look like a row of bloody fangs, a barbell in her septum, a thick ring of black makeup around each eye, and her head is shaved, showing columns of zig-zag scars travelling from front to back along her scalp. She is slightly chubby and fairly muscular. Her face is tense, muscles constricted with rage. The world still seems to be spinning, and so the girl with no memory is experiencing the illusion that her attacker is constantly moving.
“Well?” the attacker demands, “What do you have to say for yourself, bitch?”
The vomiting has left the girl with no memory gasping. In between gasps she says “I have no idea who you are.”
“You fucking bitch!” the attacker screams and raises her hammer.
“Please!” the girl with no memory blurts out. “I have amnesia!”
The attacker holds the hammer still, glares, and then laughs. “You think I won’t kill you because you tell me you have amnesia? Do you think I’m a total fucking idiot?”
The dizziness subsides enough that the girl with no memory can get her knees under her, and then move into a sitting position. She looks around the room. It seems to be a tiny loft-style apartment, with one room serving as both bedroom and living room, a door leading to a tiny bathroom, and a tiny kitchen nook in one corner. There are small windows, but all she can see through them is a brownstone wall no more than 5 feet away. There is a front door, which is closed, but the girl with no memory can see that the wood is cracked and the deadbolt is hanging out of its hole by a piece of the interior mechanism.
“If you’re looking for your weapons,” the attacker hisses, “don’t bother. I threw them out the window before I pulled your VR thingy off.”
The girl with no memory looks behind herself, sees a black padded chair, a small computer attached to the side and, attached to the computer by a thick silver cable, a mental stimulator unit lying haphazardly on the floor.
“I’m serious,” the girl with no memory pleads, “I have no idea who I am and I have no idea who you are. Please, please, please don’t kill me. I’m begging you. I’ll do whatever you want. Just talk to me for a minute.”
“Look, my first memory is I woke up in this room. I mean… not this room, but a room. A completely white room, and it had no windows or doors. This voice told me this whole thing about how I was a private contractor doing work for them, and that the work I was doing was so sensitive that I had to be completely isolated while I was there. Apparently I had installed an amnesia mental program and set it up so that when I connected to these people’s server that it would blank out my memories. I was supposed to forget everything I did and regain my normal memories when I disconnected from their server, but you hitting me in the head must have caused an error in the program.” The girl with no memory reaches up and feels the side of her head, just over the right ear. It’s hot and painful to touch, and she is surprised, when she looks at her fingers, that there is no blood on them.
“That is the most bullshit story I’ve ever fucking heard. Give me one piece of evidence that what you are saying is true or I’ll fucking bash your skull in right now.”
The girl with no memory looks around, desperately searching. Then she lurches forward and grabs the mental stimulator. “Here, look. They said I was using some sort of tamper proof VR gear. Check this out. There’s no screws or anything, it’s all welded shut. And look at this.” She holds up the cord that connects the helmet to the computer. It is thick and sheathed in metal rings. “Tell me this looks like any mental stimulator you’ve ever seen.”
“Fuck, bitch, I don’t do that VR shit. I don’t know what these fucking things are supposed to look like.”
“Look,” the girl with no memory pleads, yanking on the cord. “It’s welded right into the machine. You can’t disconnect it without tearing everything apart.” She undoes the straps that held the computer onto the side of the chair. She turns it upside down. “Look, ‘Cry-Tech Ultra-Secure MS.’”
“Bitch, that don’t prove shit.”
“Well I don’t know what to tell you to make you believe me. I have no clue what’s going on here. First I show up in this white room and they tell me to start working, so I start working, and then all of the sudden that stops, and I can’t move and this window says it’s flushing my memories, and then you hit me and I wake up and still don’t know who I am. That’s all I can tell you because that’s all I know. I didn’t even know I was a female until you pulled me out of VR and I saw these,” she motions to her breasts.
“You didn’t know you was a girl. Bullshit.”
“They had me in this sex-less VR body. There were no mirrors, so I don’t know what I looked like, but I doubt it was anything like… well, like whatever it is I look like now. While I was in there, I knew nothing about myself. I could have been a huge fat guy or a 90 year old woman for all I knew. I didn’t know my name, where I was, who I was. All I knew was I was there to work and so I worked.”
“That makes no fucking sense,” the attacker says. “I’ve heard of Sat Jumpers doing that whole ‘don’t remember what you worked on’ bullshit, but why would they make you so you didn’t know who you were? What good does that do them?”
“I don’t know. They didn’t tell me. They were just all ‘because the work you’ll be doing is so sensitive.’ But… I mean… maybe it was like I was a virtual server.”
The attacker’s eyebrows go up a bit.
Encouraged, the girl with no memory continues. “You know how you can rent a virtual server? And when you log into it, it acts like a real server, but it’s not? It’s just one of several virtual servers running on a big super-sever. Each server thinks it’s its own independent computer, completely separate from any other computer, but it isn’t. The super-server is just… I don’t know, I guess you’d say imagining all these other servers, running each as a program. And it’s very secure, because none of the servers can see or interact with the other ones at all, even though they’re running on the same computer. You can completely isolate the server, control what goes in and comes out. Well, that’s like what was going on, except instead of renting some cycles on a super-server, they were renting time on me.”
The attacker glares at the girl with no memory for several seconds. The room is quiet, except for the muffled sounds of Reggae music coming from what must be another apartment in the building. The girl with no memory wonders what would happen if she were to scream for help. The cramped quarters, dirty carpet, decades old paintjob and worn-down fixtures make her think she is living in some kind of ghetto or slum, so she guesses that nobody would spring to her aid.
Then the attacker says “I believe you. I don’t think you’d make up a story that crazy. But I’m going to fucking beat you anyway, because I don’t care if you don’t remember what you did, you did it all the same and you got to get hurt for it.” She starts to raise her hammer.
“Wait! Please! I’m mad at me too. I mean, I’m mad at the same person you’re mad at. She obviously did something very stupid, and ended up getting me in trouble. We’re both mad at her. She fucked us both over.”
“Yeah. Sounds like some philosophy class bullshit. I don’t care. I’m here to fuck someone up, and that’s what I’m going to do.” The attacker draws the hammer back again.
The girl with no memory puts her hands up, ready to block a blow that will almost certainly shatter the bones in her hands or arms. She looks around desperately for some kind of weapon or shield. Then she yelps “I know bank codes.”
The attacker stops again. “What?”
“Bank codes. They’re worth a lot of money. That’s what they had me doing. I was looking at these huge multi-billion dollar money transactions, looking for any inconsistencies. I guess I was looking for embezzlers… or maybe helping embezzlers by making sure they’d covered their tracks correctly. I don’t know. Anyway, apparently I know a lot about banking, and I saw all these account codes, and I think I can remember some. And if I can remember them, I can get money out, and I can pay you not to kill me.”
“Like how much money?”
The girl with no memory thinks. “Um… are we in America or Canada?”
The attacker laughs. “Neither. We in New York, bitch.”
“I seem to know that I can get out about ninety-nine thousand dollars without it causing any alerts.”
“Seem to know? What the fuck does that mean?”
“My abstract knowledge isn’t locked. I still know stuff, and know how to do stuff, but I don’t know what I can do or can’t because I don’t know anything about myself. And I don’t know how well I know what I think I know. I think I know I can get ninety-nine thousand, but I don’t know if that’s a guess or something I know real well.”
“Yeah, so what you’re saying is maybe you don’t know what you’re talking about. Maybe you’ll try to get this money out of these bank accounts, and you’ll fuck it up so bad there will be corporate strike teams coming in on helicopters to get us. We’ll end up getting butt-raped in Sing Sing because you thought you knew what you were doing.”
“Look, they hired me to do banking, so I must know banking. Companies don’t hire anyone without a skills assessment, so I must know what I’m doing. It’s just… it’s hard to feel sure of yourself when you don’t know anything about yourself.”
“Oh, boo-hoo,” the attacker says with angry sarcasm. “So tell me more about exactly how you’re going to get me ninety-nine thousand dollars.”
“Well first we have to find a pen and paper, so I can write down the account numbers before I forget them.” The girl with no memory gets to her feet, starts searching around on the floor. “Come on and help me. If I forget these numbers then we’re both screwed.”
The two look around. Suddenly, the girl with no memory dashes into the kitchen area. She grabs a food-encrusted kitchen knife that’s sitting on the counter. She spins around, putting her back to the counter, and holds the knife in front of her. The attacker has the hammer up, is showing gritted teeth. “Now get out of my house!” the girl with no memory demands.
“It was all a lie, wasn’t it?” the attacker asks, angrily.
“Yeah, it was all a lie, and now I have a knife and so you’d better just go away.”
The attacker stands there and stares into the eyes of the girl with no memory. The girl with no memory tries to look brave, but feels she is on the verge of panic. Both are breathing hard. Then the attacker smiles, and then laughs. “You really have no idea who you are, do you? You’re thinking ‘do I know how to use a knife?’ You don’t know if you can hurt me or if I’ll just walk over and take the knife away from you like you’re a little kid with a stick.” She laughs again.
“I think I know how to use this knife,” the girl with no memory says, defiantly. “It feels right in my hands. I think I know where I could cut you where it would make you drop that hammer. I think I can cut you so that you’d bleed to death.”
“Yeah, you think you can because of your stupid VR games. Real life ain’t that easy, bitch. You don’t know how to use a knife. You can’t do shit without someone tough around to defend you, and right now you’ve got nobody. Now drop the knife and take your beating like a good little bitch and I might try not to kill you.”
“I think you’re lying,” the girl with no memory says. “I think you know I can defend myself, and you’re afraid I will. If it was so easy to overpower me, you wouldn’t have taken my weapons and thrown them away. So why don’t you just go, and leave, and none of us will get hurt.”
“You think I’m afraid to get stabbed, bitch?” the attacker demands, her pitch of her voice going high. “Do I look like the kind of fucking simp who’s all ‘oh no, please don’t cut me?’” The attacker lifts her shirt, showing a large puffy scar on her side right below her ribs. “Huh?”
In the most serious voice she can muster, the girl with no memory says “you try to hurt me and you’ll die in the attempt.”
The attacker glares at the girl with no memory. She looks around and then glares back at the girl some more. Then she grins, wickedly. “Let me tell you a little bit about yourself, bitch, since you don’t know. You’re a complete fucking know-it-all. I’m sure you thought you had the perfect little setup here, with your special VR machine and your amnesia program and your super-secret bank work. I bet you thought nothing could go wrong.” She walks over to the old phone computer mounted on the wall and smashes it with her hammer. Then she walks over to the tamper proof computer and mental stimulator setup. She picks it up, yanking out the network and power cables. “I’m taking this. Good luck getting your memories back, bitch.” And then she turns, stomps over to the door, kicks it open, and leaves.
And the girl with no memories is alone in a strange place, with no idea what to do next.