Sunday, November 21, 2010

Short Story Prompt

Quote of the blog:

Brook: That reminds me of that one part in that book on the Civil War where, err, two guys travel somewhere and save everyone in that one battle...


Earlier this year I took a Gotham Writer's Creative Writing 101 course. I wanted to get back in the habit of writing creative pieces and the six-week course was a perfect setting. Each week we were given a writing assignment that we would bring the next week and get feedback. One of the prompts was to write about a device that doesn't exist but we wish did. It didn't take me long to think of a memory device. I would love to better remember things I want to recall. The idea spurred the start of a short-story which I haven't finished yet - but very much enjoyed writing. The beginning of the story is below:

He scrubbed his hands and arms long after the bloody water had run clear. Footsteps in the hallway brought him back to the present, but only for a moment. He shut off the sink and turned around. Water ran unheeded down his forearms and hands in micro-streams and dripped onto the operating room floor. His brows drew together and, Benton Russell, Neurosurgeon, remembered.

The instant he sought for the memories he felt a small electrical pulse at the base of his skull. Absently he reached up and fingered the two chrome discs on the nape of his neck. They were just centimeters in diameter and only an inch apart from each other. He touched their cool tips and shuddered.

ReMemory version 1.0 was announced at the 2051 conference in Berlin. Benton had sat at the VIP table and listened as Kurt Perry, the slick-haired, oily-voiced spokesperson for the biotech company Genesis as he hailed ReMemory version 1.0 as “an advance in science unlike anything seen in over two decades.”

Perry made a sweeping gesture towards a massive screen behind him. “Watch,” he said grandly and stepped to the side. The lights lowered and Benton watched as a projected 30-foot version of himself began explaining how ReMemory functioned like a hard-drive for the brain. His voice continued as footage shifted to an operating room where he inserted two small chrome discs into the nape of a patient’s neck. He explained how “all-natural organic feelers” worked their way to the cerebellum where they tapped into neural pathways. When the brain struggled to search for a memory, ReMemory version 1.0 would activate and make the memory accessible in seconds. He smiled. It was quite simple really; electricity created by the brain’s activity powered the device. He explained that the memory had to be there, of course, housed in the brain’s neurons and dendrites to be retrievable. He smiled at the camera and invited the audience to listen to ReMemory users and the video ended with touching and inspiring testimonials of participants from trial-studies.

Now, just three years later versions of Memory Enhancers like ReMemory were everywhere. Even supermarkets sold the newest ReMemory Version 4.2 upgrade. And one year earlier, in an effort improve the country’s embarrassing rank among international academic performance, the government had approved a version for toddlers. It wasn’t uncommon to see a kid at the playground, her hair in a ponytail, two small chrome discs right under the hairline flashing in the sun.

An FDA representative had called him a few months before the approval. What was her name? –and there it was, another tinge of electricity at the nape of his neck and within one second he had it. He said it out loud, “Vivienne.”

“Vivienne?” a voice asked. Benton jumped and looked up. He hadn’t heard anyone come into the room.

At 5’5 Tyson Eptein was small but well-built and well-dressed. A Genesis logo tie-tack glinted in the sterile light. He walked into the room and eyed Benton’s wet arms and the puddles on the vinyl floor. He set his briefcase on a nearby gurney and looked at Benton intently. “What happened?”

Benton looked down in disbelief, “It grew. ReMemory grew. Our organic feelers not only tapped into the neuronal pathways it grew into and around them like some kind of ivy.”

Tyson hesitated, “That’s not possible.” His eyes widened, “Where’s Product #1?”

Benton met Tyson's gaze. “He’s dead.”