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Last Shot

C.N. Wheaton grew up on a steady diet of science fiction and spent hours of her childhood pretending to be a Jedi in the backyard with her sister. (Mostly, that entailed running around and hitting each other with sticks they'd colored with chalk.) C.N. is currently earning a graduate degree in Biology and teaches high school science in California. She has always loved writing and is excited her first fiction publication is with Daily Science Fiction.

"Would you walk into a memory?"
"No Sarge," Detective Adderley lied.
"Are you eyeballing me, Detective?" Sargent Karin barked, his face turning red.
"No, sir. Wouldn't know how, sir."
"Do you think Flash is funny, Detective?" His skin was now practically purple. Working Vice wasn't good for the blood pressure. Not these days.
"No sir," she said seriously. But, she thought, who wouldn't want to walk into a memory?
That's what the drug offered, after all: the chance to relive a moment as if you were really there, to feel everything you felt at the time. Who wouldn't want the chance to feel the rush of meeting the love of your life all over again or the joy of playing with your childhood pet? Who wouldn't want to go back and hug someone they'd lost?
The first version had been developed for dementia patients to help them retrieve memories they'd lost. Then a tweaked formula called Flash was approved for hospice care, to help people remember the best of their life away from the pain of the present.
Then it hit the streets....
...and its users learned that reliving the past came at a price. The more you remembered an event with the drug, the faster it faded. The memory fragmented until, eventually, it wore away completely. If you didn't have a time in mind when the drug hit your bloodstream, you ran the risk of getting stuck in random moments from your past or simply reliving the minutes around the time you took the hit. If you took too much, you couldn't come out at all. You'd still be alive, you just wouldn't be you anymore.
She wondered why she was remembering that.
Wait, there'd been a bust, hadn't there?
Then, abruptly, she is in the lab. She has her gun drawn. One of the chemists is behind her, but she doesn't see him in time.
There is a syringe. Pressure. Fear. Her heart is beating too fast. Her legs collapse under her as the chemists escape. Footsteps. Her partner's face is swimming above her. Or is it her partner? The face is fuzzy, out of focus.
"Please stay with me, Adderley, help is on the way. Hang in there."
"Please stay with me, Adderley, help is on the way--"
"Please stay with me, Adderley--"
"Please stay--"
Would you walk into a memory?
If you did, would you be able to get back out?
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, February 6th, 2020

Author Comments

This idea has been on my mind for several years. I would have loved a medicine like Flash for my relatives who suffered from dementia. There are also times I've wished it were possible to walk into a memory. It's not hard to imagine a drug that could let people revisit their past being abused and how terrifying an overdose of that would be. After all, memories may be great to visit, but they aren't something we can live in for long....

- C.N. Wheaton
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