The Assassin of Memory Part 1

January 19, 20XX

Dearest Mother,

I destroy memories. That is my job. I’m going to spare you the boring details and just say that I’ve done this for a long time. A sense of something within me, regret perhaps, compelled me to start writing to you. No, it wasn’t guilt. It was to prove you wrong. Yes, it was to prove you wrong. For all my life, you have complained about my lack of direction. Well, I have found my passion. It’s too bad it’s in conflict with everyone else’s. You see, I have found a way to destroy other people’s passions through the erasure of their memory.

I guess I’m just a spiteful little bastard. I imagine you’re shoring up your old defenses right now, thinking how you could have created such a monster. You were concerned for me. You thought what did was best at the time. That relentless, unending needling about my passion. I needed to at least like something, to make a little effort to interact with the world. Otherwise, you failed as a parent. But you didn’t fail, you just operated under the wrong assumptions. The little boy who refused to play sports, who shunned friends, who looked askance with disinterest as you read bowtied-perfect adventure stories, was not depressed or had ADHD. No, he just hated everything and everyone else in their inane, irrational, and imperfect qualities.

What self-delusion drove grown men to weep openly when some brute in a garish uniform failed to throw a ball far enough? Why would someone with a modicum of ambition in her life choose to devote herself to the mewling cries of her brats? How does sitting in an uncomfortable seat listening to some Bible verse for the 2000th time actually make you believe God cares about you? It had to be some thought, some essence, some quality in themselves that drove their primal emotions to conquer them, to embrace their madness. I needed to know what that thing was.

Aha! You might say. You were just jealous of other people’s happiness. It bothered you so much that you resolved to destroy them. That’s why you destroyed their minds. Perhaps, perhaps. Or maybe it was to show them the truth about the universe, about how easily they could be manipulated. I was not destroying them. It was their passions.

You might wonder when this all started. No, no, let’s not go through my childhood like some quack therapist. Let’s start with how I found this power: college. That little ritual of society to make us choose our purpose in life. You thought that if I was forced to interact with other people, listen to some professor drone about Beowulf, I’d be more open, more normal. That’d I’d become the mindless automaton that you all love so much.

I did find something, all right. Through some talk with my advisor, I ended working in the neurobiology lab. The Primary Investigator, perhaps detecting my interest in probing the recesses of the mind, took me on as an undergraduate assistant. She put me on some project involving the measurement of brain activity during traumatic experiences. It was dull, rote, mindless work. Administer some shocks to some unsuspecting mice, dose them with anesthetics, cut out their brains, and examine them. This grisly work I conducted for two years while the PI and her postdocs presented pretty diagrams and MRIs at conferences in far off, exotic places. As a lowly undergrad, they didn’t allow me to do any of the fun stuff, much to my chagrin. However, I never was one to accept my place.

The professor was terrible at passwords. She locked her computer with the four digits of her home address. Egregiously bad security. One day, while she hobnobbed with her terribly dull colleagues in Belgium, I rifled through her files and found documents on PROJECT GASLIGHT. I imagine you’re gasping in horror at the term right now. My professor despised societal niceties, one of her particular strengths. Copying these files onto a flash drive, I slipped out of the lab and back to my (non-Internet connected, of course) laptop.

The contents of these documents fascinated me, Mother. You think I’m a scheming, sociopathic bastard, you’d have to see Madame Brainiac, as I called her, and her shadowy sponsors. She certainly didn’t try very hard to dispel the stereotype of the amoral mad scientist. Her dispassionate accounts of the psychological tortures she conducted on unwilling subjects raised the hairs on the back of my head. In a good way, of course. Anyways, I’d tell you more the people paying for her research, but some silly speckle of politeness within me prevents me from jeopardizing your security. They certainly did give her quite a bit of money and she repaid in kind: she had developed a device that could interface with animal consciousness directly. Not just lowly lab rats, but also actual humans. The device was in its early stages, but it had already been tested on prisoners secretly transferred from Sing Sing. Prisoners without anyone that would miss them. I’ll spare you the details of their fates.

With the first prisoner, a mass school shooter, they used the device to remove his murderous impulses by implanting loving memories of his schoolmates. It was a smashing success, though not in the way they intended. Rather than inserting memories, they ripped them away, so much that he could not even remember how to use the toilet correctly. With a serial killer, they removed any memories of pleasure and curbed his murderous impulses. With a rapist, they removed his desire for sexual intercourse. It’s amazing! They had weaponized dementia!

I quickly grasped the significance of these findings. We could tinker with the very nature of the human mind. Create the most sociopathic soldier. Birth the most charismatic preacher. Devel the most docile office worker. I needed this device. I had to control it! I could finally correct the whims and impulses of others that pushed me out. I could see them for what they were, Mother. And then I would destroy them.

Your loving son,


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