Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Coping with Pain – Flash Fiction

I looked at her for a long time. There was profound familiarity in her appearance and scent, but I was confounded when trying to raise a memory of her – save the fact that she had been ahead of me in the queue back in The Institute’s lobby. 

“Who are you?” I said.

“You don’t remember me?” she asked with a clear hint of disappointment.

“I’m sorry. No. You seem familiar, but I’m having difficulty with my memories.”

She breathed a laugh. “That’s what The Institute does,” she said and moved over to sit at the end of the bed.

“So why am I feeling like I don’t want to remember?” I said.

“That’s what The Institute does as well,” she added.

“This is all so bizarre. What’s with the man who lives here?”

“He just helps people like us. Individuals that changed their mind during the process.”

“During the brainwashing procedure?”


“Does he still work for The Institute? I mean, why’s he living so close.”

“He isn’t close – you were running for a very long time.”

“Oh,” I said and frowned. “So who are you?”

“I was a friend – at The Institute. We became close. Do you remember at all why you volunteered? Do you remember what you said to me about coping with pain?”

“I genuinely don’t remember anything. The man that lives here said the answers will come back in time and that I set myself up for this.”

“It’s true.”

I stared at her again for a while. Her light brown skin. Her green eyes, extremely attractive yet not sufficient to dissuade me from the pressing matter at hand. “What are you here for?” I said.

“To escort you out of here and help you get back your memories. In the hopes that I will retrieve mine as well.”

“So. Um. Where do we go first?” I said, feeling again this bizarre trust for a person I didn’t even know.

“We’re actually going to have to move fast.”


“Because we’re going to have to go on the run from The Institute.” 

Sunday, 12 October 2014


I woke to the natural lullaby of an English countryside embracing dusk – the sounds of crickets and a gentle breeze outside. It immediately persuaded me to turn over in my bed and return to sleep.

Almost as instant as when I shut my eyes, the dreams came at me like a tidal wave crashing down on an unsuspecting sunbather. They appeared to be my memories – images of being in a loving home with parents and siblings as an infant – Christmas time with Nat King Cole playing in the background.

Then, the cinematic perspective shifted and I could see myself – a teenage version of me, with lots of other kids whose faces were unfamiliar. I was in a huge red brick building – a school – with a traditional appearance and teachers walking around like wardens.

The next scene – I was older still and behind bars. I could feel the injustice. Taste the fury that comes with being tagged with the worst label possible despite not falling into such a category. I had been convicted of something…wrongfully. All for a split second action of defending myself. My world had been turned upside down and I had suffered for it.

Waking to the light of dawn shining through the window onto my bed I looked across to see the silhouette of a woman standing over me. My eyes cleared and I could see it was the lady from The Institute; the one who had been in the queue in front of me.

“You,” I mumbled.

She was smiling. I smiled back.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014



The middle aged man with the terrible teeth – his choice of action as a show of his freedom from social convention - had taken a while to divulge information. But he had explained everything. At least sufficient for now. 

Apparently, I had been chosen for an extremely expensive procedure by an organisation known as The Institute. A company only billionaires could afford – this simply because of my psychological disposition and the fact that I had suffered a serious trauma. This was considered a luxury as I didn’t have to pay a dime. 

I had agreed to the terms. Signed documents. But then, somewhere during the process, I had decided against it. Opted to force my mind to remember by leaving myself a simple note that broke the brain washing course. I had absolutely no memory yet I had a tiny nagging force at the back of my mind requesting I regain my stolen identity. This was not supposed to happen.  

I also now had a bank card with infinite cash and a world to explore – given to me by The Institute as a parting gift.  I had then somehow run away from The Institute and woken up to find myself jogging down an English country road till I reached this immense estate.

 None of it made much sense, but there was this calming feeling in my mind – an emotion that warmed my body like placing myself up against a radiator: I was free. That much was clear. And it felt great to have no memories. Nothing limiting or restraining. A clear conscience ready for a new world.

As I washed my face in the basin, removed my shoes, shirt and trousers and crawled into bed in one of the country estate’s nicer bedrooms – and they were all grand – I thought about the woman. The lady I had seen just before I had been escorted down into the basement of The Institute. What did she want? What was she trying to tell me? 

It seemed completely pointless to question anything in this situation. The old man, who come to think of it still hadn’t told me his name, had said the answers would come later. Acceptable, I thought as I sighed.

Repressed memories or supressed memories, whatever it was called– they could wait. I would regain them with time, but it was now time to focus on the positive.

I’m free, I kept saying to myself. I’m free. I’m free. 

Where to go? What to do? 

I knew immediately that I wanted to go to a hotel. Any hotel. Have a fulfilling meal and be completely alone. A bottle of tequila as well would be a great addition. And some music – maybe some Miles Davis. And have a good old think in solitude.