A sensational sci fi short story by Sampada Sharma about a person on death row.
May 16, 2040 AD
State Correctional Institute Greene, Pennsylvania
It’s not every day, you are wrongly accused of murder and then sent to the best-facilitated prison in the country that hosts the most dangerous of the criminals. To think that others now thought I was a dangerous criminal as well was unsettling. The first person who died after I arrived at the ‘Correctional Institution’ was a 49-year-old Chinese-American named Li Wei. She had been there for 21 years for killing her teacher and would probably have been there for more but she had given up her right to appeal and had requested execution. After the initial shock had passed, I tried staying away from the other inmates. Forming attachments in a prison wasn’t a good idea. The way I saw it, they could be executed at any time.
“Count time. Turn the light on and stand at the door.” The loudspeakers came on as usual at 6 a.m. A few minutes later, breakfast trays were handed through the bars of the cell doors.
Today I was allowed in the unit’s law library. The two hours were never enough to gather enough information. Searching through the legal databases sitting in a cubicle using an old-fashioned computer from the year 2020 was enough to give anyone a headache and I was nowhere near prepared for my appeal hearings. When the two hours were up, I was led to my cell. What I wouldn’t do to get my old life back.
It was difficult to grasp how I had gone from being a bookworm holed in my apartment 24/7 to being accused of murdering a police officer. It would be years before I was proven innocent and another year before I was let out. To think I got here because of a glitch in the system’s face recognition system. They were willing to let a young innocent girl die rather than admit that there was something wrong with their technology. Having been here a month already and nowhere close to gathering enough information to prove my innocence, I had lost faith in God and the system. I had resigned myself to this cruel fate that God had handed me in a battered and dented platter.
Please let me find something to prove my innocence.
God must have heard my prayers because two days later members from the SCITECH arrived promptly at 11 in the afternoon.
Hearing the whispers from the others, I had already gathered that they were here to find volunteers to try out their newest technology because who better to try out your newest ‘technology’ on than the prisoners who had appealed for execution. Even if something went wrong, they would die anyway. If the technology worked, it’s all the better for them. We were nothing but lab rats to them. My lips curled in distaste. I wasn’t interested in being a lab rat. The technology wasn’t something you could rely on 100%. My current situation was a testament to that.
They were rounding the halls twisting their words to gather volunteers. I had lost interest in them and was playing chess by myself until they stood in front of my cell. There were three of them. The one in the middle seemed like he was the spokesperson. The other two were murmuring in the background.
“As you may have already gathered — ”
“Not interested.” I interrupted. He looked shocked as if a prisoner would dare to interrupt him while he was speaking. I couldn’t care less if he was offended.
“It could help you clear your name.”
I slowly turned my head to the side. It was one of the guys that had been murmuring in the background before. But his words caught my attention.
“Excuse me? Clear my name? Exactly what is it that you want to test?”
I should have known better than to meddle with technology after everything that happened. But proving my innocence by becoming a lab rat seemed like a sweet deal at the time. But I was wrong like I had been wrong about everything else in my life.
That’s all the time I have. 10 minutes until I lose the remaining of my memories. Until I lose myself. Until I rid myself of this pain.
Until I die.
Memories were supposed to last forever. Even when the moment had long passed and the tears had long dried. Even when the jokes were long said and laughter had long faded. But fate had dealt me with a cruel hand. It had left me with a fragment of my soul.
The technology was supposed to have worked. Instead, M-mry had backfired. The device itself was small and the process simple. Put on the small headset that came with a remote-like device. Type in the year and select what you wanted to backup. I had chosen high school because I didn’t have fond memories of that time. Instead of backing my memories up, it had deleted it from the main server. From my brain, it had stolen 4 years of my precious memories. Ones that I would never get back. Rafe had promised it would work but of course, he had lied. After he had seen the initial interest and curiosity in my eyes, he had used everything and said everything he could to get me to volunteer. And like a desperate idiot I was, I had believed every word he had said about how M-mry would free me by proving my innocence. I could remember every word he had said he was watching me with his chips blue eyes unwaveringly whenever he spoke.
“The technology is new and it’s the prototype but we are sure that it works. Simply put, it’s a way to back up your memory. If it works, your ideas would not be lost even when you died. If you suddenly had Alzheimer’s disease, then you would still have a way to access your memories. Hypothetically, M-mry could prove your innocence by looking through your memories.”
And when I had been unsure and close to backing out, he had used the one thing that was most important to me: My family.
“M-mry is your only hope of proving your innocence. If it works, you will able to leave and see your family whenever you want. You could hug them and live freely. Be able to marry and have kids one day. Otherwise, who knows, maybe even in 20 years you will still not have proved your innocence.”
That had been enough for me to sign my name on the thick document that protected SCITECH in case something did go wrong. And something went wrong indeed. Not only had I lost my memories of high school but now I had no way of getting them back.
I didn’t think the memories I thought useless and unimportant when forgotten would feel as if I had lost a piece of my soul.
Two weeks ago I gave up my right to appeal and asked for my execution. The new memories living in this prison would never replace the old memories and I was never going to get out of here even if I stayed here 40 years being on my best behavior.
I never thought I would end up here.
With the barest of memories.
I thought that when I died, I would at least die as myself.
I didn’t think I would die a shadow of my former self.
I didn’t think I would die, a stranger.
Edited by cherrywine_stains