Chapter 9: Memories and tears
This only applied for the Replay portion:
Normal speech means they were talking to each other
Italicized speech means that the images in the memories are speaking
Bold speech is Nicolas' thoughts
Alright, enjoy the story...
3rd Person POV:
"Aaaaahhhhhh...!" The tortured scream reverberated through out the workshop as the dog strapped onto the chair shook and jerked violently in pain while his head was shocked with electricity coming from the helmet. It was torturous just to watch this happening in front of their eyes. They had never seen this before. Shocked for a second, they stepped back, tears flowing down unnoticed.
"No, Nicolas!" screamed the three agents as they struggled to break free and do whatever they could to stop this, but it was a futile effort. "Perry, do something! Anything!" Shelia cried. Perry tugged his arms, trying to use his leaden arms to pull back up the lever once more.
"Come on, COME ON!" He closed his eyes, willing his body to just obey him just this once. Just do it, please! Beep! His teary eyes quickly looked up and realized that the bar on the screen read 100%. "Now!" He shouted, pulling the lever up as hard as he could, nearly breaking it. Immediately, the helmet was deactivated, no longer shocking Nicolas. Nicolas' body jerked uncontrollably for a while before his head dropped down in exhaustion, half conscious and breathing in heavily for air. Pinky and Shelia quickly rushed forward and released the restraints. Swinging his arms over their shoulders, they half-carrying, half-dragging Nicolas back to the machine. "What were you thinking?" Shelia said worriedly.
It was a relief. When the pain from my head disappeared suddenly, my mind blanked out for a while before I realized I wasn't strapped anymore. Then I heard someone said something. "What were you thinking?" It sounded familiar. "Shelia? Is that you?" My voice sounded weak. No duh. I was being fried in electricity just now. Shelia and Pinky jumped in surprise and dropped me in the process. "Owww..." I groaned in pain. Why couldn't they just let me down nicely instead?
"Sorry!" They said and continued carrying me back. "But why, Nicolas? Why did you even do that?" Shelia muttered, worry was evident in her words. They slowly set me down in the chair while Perry walked over to join us. Suddenly, there was an tug in my stomach and before I knew it, I leaned over the chair and vomited. "Eww!" All three stepped back, disgusted.
"Sorry," I replied. Resting my back on the chair, I smiled at Shelia, replying to her question. "It's because I had to, Shelia. Or else I would never get over it." I pressed a few buttons on the keyboard.
"But what is this thing? And why did you just allow yourself to be shocked just like that?" Shelia said in my ear again.
"Because of that," I pointed at the monitor that was showing a row filled with dozens of pictures. "You see," I continued. "This is the machine that I am placing all my hopes on. This maybe the only way to achieve my goal; the Memory Replayer. As for your second question, Shelia, maybe it's best to show you instead." Immediately, I placed one of the helmets on the space beside onto myself, before motioning my guests to take one for themselves. They were reluctant at first, but they noticed it was different from the one I just used, with a visor and headsets and all. After a bit of encouragement from me, they put it on as well.
"Maybe you remember this part..." I said as I spun the dial backwards to a very recent event and pressed the play button. Suddenly, our view turned black. "What happened? Where are we?" Perry demanded. Suddenly, the visors switched on, and I found myself in a virtual reality room. The scene in front of me was showing someone walking down, as if we were seeing from his point of view. Then, the scene turned around and a voice spoke up. "Come on, quickly!"
"Nicolas!?" Three voices exclaimed. In front of me was my three guests and they were seeing another Perry, Pinky and Shelia in front of them. They looked drowsy and their eyes were unfocused, yet they were obediently following him, but strangely the virtual versions of them also seemed to be following us at the same time. And when the view seemed to be moving forward, I felt a strange feeling on my feet as well, as if we were the ones walking instead of the Nicolas on screen.
They were then led through a door to where they first woke up and realized they were tied up. "Come here and sit down side by side." Nicolas spoke up again, or what seemed to be Nicolas. It was confusing; they knew that was Nicolas' voice, but they felt as if they were saying that at the same time. Then they saw themselves sat down while felt the gags in their hands tying their virtual mouths. "Alright, now the three of you will do whatever these dolls do. You will do whatever the dolls do and obey what they are ordered to do."
"This is weird. What is going on?" Pinky asked.
"What we are experiencing through right now are my memories." They turned around and saw me walking towards them. "Do you feel as if it was you who was tying them up? Or you were the one walking down those steps?" They nodded slowly, still confused. Then another voice seemed to ring out in the room. This should do it. All of us turned towards the screen as the Nicolas on screen finished tying up the dolls and placed them on a table. "More specifically, what we are doing right now is 'replaying' my memories. Meaning we are re-experiencing what I was doing in that moment of time.
"You see, every single memory we all had are not only filled with sights and sounds, but also smells, feeling, speech, emotions and thoughts. A normal Memory Retriever only scans the memory without going deep into it, so it only managed to play 'what you see' and 'what you hear'. But for me, the only way to get back my memories is to 'relive' my past. In other words, what this thing does is to dig deep into my memories and records everything that happens then, allowing me to 'replay' them in full, with my feelings, thoughts and all. This is the reason why I had shocked myself so badly just now." Right now, the past Nicolas was getting the milk of the fridge when some faint "Mmmmmmh!" was heard. Sounds like my 'guests' have woken up. Then he took the milk and served it to the angry, tied-up agents.
"You know, it's kind of weird to be serving milk to myself, even if I really didn't do it in the first place." Pinky commented with the other two nodding. "Nicolas, what have you done to us!?" Image Perry demanded. "Wow," the original commented. "Did I really sound that fierce?"
"Yes, yes you do." I replied. This went on for a while; we heard the virtual agents making rude replies as they were given milk to drink. The originals felt guilty of saying them and tried to apologize but I shrugged it off, saying that it was an instinctive reaction for being mad at their captors...Until the memory reached the part where the conversation became a little...rough.
"What exactly did you do to us?" Image Perry asked suspiciously.
"What do you mean?" I replied innocently. Crud, don't tell me he found out my trick. Image Pinky and Image Shelia also turned to him questioningly
"Before you came in with the drinks, we couldn't even free our hands. But all you did was untying strings from some dolls and our arms are free now." Yup, he figured it out. The thought echoed throughout the mind as Image Pinky and Image Shelia now also gave him a suspicious look.
"You are one smart platypus, aren't you?" Image Nicolas smiled, though it was a sad and guilty one. "What I had done was that I had bound your minds to the dolls. Meaning you will be forced to do whatever I will do to them"
Their fear was evident once the words were out, and I looked away, re-experiencing my pity and guilt for them. "When...did you...do it?...How...how did you do it?" Image Perry stuttered.
"It was when I brought you here after I kidnapped you from the warehouse." Image Nicolas admitted. Well, here it goes. "When I injected you, I hypnotized you as well, so it was easier to bring you here. After I did that, I simply command each of you to do whatever the dolls do and tied the dolls up. That is why you weren't able to break free then."
"No...no, please...don't do it. I beg of you, don't do it please."
The fear in their eyes intensified the guilt I had, and this became a oath I made. "I would never do such a thing like that." Why should I? How could I? The thought rang firm and sincere in the memory. "I'm a doctor, not a monster." I'm also not evil and will never be one. "I will set you free and get you home safely, I promise." "Why should we trust you? You are the one who kidnapped us, so why should we believe that you would do that for us?"
"Ahh, funny thing about that, Sheila," The scene turned and now we were walking towards the dolls and we felt a strange of peace. "I never asked you to trust me. In fact, I never wanted your trust in the first place. That was a promise I made not to you, but to myself." Giving them another gentle smile, Image Nicolas said "I will set you free and get you home safely, I promise." Perry, Pinky and Shelia looked away, not expecting to hear the sincerity in my resolve. "Nicolas, I...I'm sorry," Shelia apologized, the other two nodding guiltily.
"It's alright, guys." I looked away, embarrassed and not wanting them to see me blushing. "Besides, just because I didn't ask for your trust doesn't mean I wasn't telling the truth, you know."
Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. We all turned at the new thought. I was hoping that I could have their company just for a little longer... The strings felt heavier by the second as they became untied and loneliness now replaced the peace.
But that was quickly shoved away. What was I thinking?! The image me turned towards the 'freed' agents, a brilliant idea was formed in the memory. "But why are we talking about dreadful matters when the night is still young!" He pretended to think. "I know! Why don't I give you a tour around my workshop?"
"Your workshop?" All three agents asked dumbly. "Yeah, come on! There's so many things I wanted to show you." The Nicolas in the memory then pocketed the dolls and ran off, dragging the unfortunate agents along. It was then that I stopped the recollections and took off my helmet.
"So how was it?" I asked them as they too took off their helmets. "It was pretty weird, I guess." Pinky admitted. "I mean, looking back at what we did though your memories, I kind of wish we hadn't meant it for some of them. We didn't realize that it would be hurtful to you, that's all." The other two agreed as well. I just shrugged it off. "It's okay, guys. Just forget about it for now, alright?"
Perry raised his paw. "Emm, may I ask a question?"
"Hmm, seems like you already asked one," I smirked at my witty reply, earning a few giggles from the other two. "But you can go ahead and ask another one."
"Well, what do you want to use the Memory Replayer for in the first place.?"
"Now, as I have told you before what this machine does and how it works. So with it, I intend to visit my past, to remember the time before I forget and became Nicolas. You see, all I remembered about then was me saving some kid. That was all. Even right now, when I tried to recall them, those images was extremely fuzzy." I looked up at the contraption, excited now it could actually work. "That is the very reason I built this thing; to replay the forgotten memories and remember my past."
Then I spun the dial again, to rewind the memories of Nicolas and back to when it all began. It took a while though, since it had been around nine weeks since I became Nicolas. Images rewound very quickly, as if my life was rewinding before my eyes, back to the inky darkness on the first day when I woke up in Django's cage. "Well, this is it." I muttered. I was about to reach for the helmet when I hesitated. My hand was trembling furiously and suddenly I was shaking with fear.
"What's wrong?"Shelia asked when she came forward.
Shelia was dumbfounded. "Of what?"
"Of my past." My voice became softer as I looked away from the screen. "I'm afraid of who I was back then. What will happen if whoever I was before was one that I feared the most. A monster."
Shelia placed a paw on my shoulder. "Then you will not have a worry, Nicolas. I promise there is nothing to be afraid of about your past. Trust me." I looked into Shelia's gentle eyes, drawing confidence from her. Then two more paws tapped my shoulders. It was Perry's and Pinky's.
"Like she said, Nicolas. Don't worry." Perry said. "That's right, you know you can trust us." Pinky added, giving a cheeky grin.
"But I was told before that I was Django's dog Rover, so what if...I'm not Rover?" I asked, worried.
"Of course you are Rover, Nicolas," Shelia replied reassuringly. "We are very sure of it. Don't worry."
I smiled, glad that they were here to comfort me. "Alright, let's do this!" Then, I resumed spinning the dial.
The first images that we saw while rewinding were black, so I assumed it was when I was sleeping, or unconscious for that matter. However, when the black images were over, the next few images were foggy, extremely foggy.
"Th...this...this isn't right." I stuttered.
"What do you mean, Nicolas?" Pinky asked curiously. However, I ignored him, and spun the dial again, this time a bit slower. But still more foggy images were shown. "How is this possible? It works, but why?" When I looked further, I found some positive results, but it only made the problem worse. Yes there were some clear images, but not only were they seemingly disjointed, they were also placed beside the foggy images. Like there were two rows instead of one, as if there were two sets of memories instead.
"How could this be happening? What is the meaning of this?" I muttered. Pinky, clueless as he was, still didn't grasped the importance of this and started to grumble. "Can someone please tell me what's the big fuss all about?"
Perry, on the other hand, figured it out and began to explain. "You know that the images was meant to be Nicolas' memories, right? So how could there be two sets of memories instead of one in the first place? Even so, where does these extra memories come from in the first place?" Pinky's eyes widened at that realization.
"There's no point in worrying about that now." The three agents jumped back in shock when I suddenly snapped at them. "Let's see what these memories will reveal; maybe there is a clue in it that will explain all of this." I said, putting on my helmet. The agents too put their helmets and I hit play, watching the scattered memories.
The images first showed 'us' looking across the road and on the opposite side of the road was a boy walking his dog. Wait a minute, these were the images from my flashback back then! Don't tell me they were the only memories I could 'retrieve'... And why did that dog look familiar? Wait a minute, that's me! But how could this be?
"Hey, isn't that Django, your owner?" Pinky noticed.
"Yes, that's Django. And no, he's not my owner!" I replied, annoyed that they still referred to me being his , we heard a loud honk and 'we' turned around and saw a teal truck with an orange cargo strapped at the back speeding towards them.
"Look out!" The agents instinctively cried out. Suddenly, just like before, the view shifted to when 'we' were racing towards Django. "Kid, look out!" A voice cried out. That voice was never a dog's bark, but sounded definitely, unmistakably, human. It was then I realized something was wrong. "Impossible..." I stepped back in fear as all of my hopes were breaking down slowly. "No...please no..." Hands, human hands, reached out and pushed the shocked kid away from the line of collision.
The view changed again. The truck had skidded towards the opposing lane and fell over, the cargo sliding towards 'us'. 'I' then turned away and shut 'my' eyes before being whammed at my back. The images suddenly became very blurred as 'we' felt lifted into the air and banged into something behind my head. Then the images became black.
I took off my helmet and stared at the black screen, dejected. "Is that really part of your past, Nicolas?" Pinky asked, worried to see his friend in this state.
"Yes, yes it is Pinky. But I...I don't understand. How is this even possible?"
"But..but what do you mean, Nicolas?"
Shelia took it upon herself to answer his question. "If this was his memory, then everything should be from his point of view, or from Rover's point of view."
"But Rover was beside Django all along in the memory."Perry continued. "Not only that, the owner of the voice was not a dog, but a human. Which means whoever Nicolas was before was not Rover."
"But if whoever we were looking through before was not Rover..." Pinky said.
"Then who am I?" I finished his question and looked at them, tears began welling up in my eyes.
"This can't be happening! This can't be happening!" I muttered as I desperately looked through my memories. "Please let there be something, anything!" Sadly, it was a futile effort. I slammed on the keyboard, tears flowing down as the agents jumped back in fright. "PLEASE!"
"Erm...this might not be of help, but I did remember that Rover once told us he was going on a holiday or something." Pinky stated. Automatically, I turned towards her, willing for her to continue.
"Yeah, that's right." Perry remembered as well. "He said he was going to New York with his host family since Django was participating in some competition, two days before they left. Maybe the accident would be in the New York news?" Seeing the logic behind his explanation, I nodded my thanks and immediately searched the NY news for any mention of the accident that happened more than two months ago.
But there was nothing. All news that happened before two months ago were erased for the newer ones, so all talk about the car accident was dismissed as old news and like the others before were never talked about again.
"No, no, no!" I shouted, slamming the keyboard once more. "There has to be another way! There must be another clue!" I abruptly stood up and paced in circles again. "I must be missing something. But what?!" But I couldn't think of anything; my mind was blank and there were no solutions and answers no matter how much I tried. "There has to be! Please..." The last word came out as a whimper as huge, fat tears ran down my snout. "Please..."
"Nicolas," I stopped and turned towards the sound of my name. "Are you all right?" Shelia asked, worried. I looked away, refusing to answer her. Instead I wiped away the tears, pocketed the dolls and led them out of the workshop. Once we entered into my living quarters, I sat on my bed, hugging my legs, silently contemplating on the results of my empty search. Perry walked up and stood in front of me. "I'm sorry, Nicolas." I looked up and saw the two dogs joining him. "We knew how much you wanted to know your past, but yet there's nothing we can do. We just wish we could do more to help."
"You shouldn't have; it is my problem, not yours. I don't want your help, nor do I need it." I stood up, ready to bring them home when I saw something glinting on their necks.
"What are you talking about? Of course you need our help!" Shelia retorted.
"Yeah, if it weren't for us, you would have..." Pinky stopped when she realized that my paw was reaching for his neck. "Wait, what are you doing?" I ignored him as I unlatch the collar around his neck. After that, I took Perry's and Shelia's collars as well. I sat back down, staring at the collars through misted eyes, as though reminding myself of the terrible defeat I had just suffered. The agents sat down as well, saddened of the failed attempt as well as not being able to help any further.
"You guys are lucky, you know that." Their heads snapped up at the sudden break in silence.
"Wha...what do you mean?" Perry asked, confused.
"You guys have everything that you ever wanted; a family to be there for you when you needed them the most, friends you know you can trust and count on when the going gets tough, and you even have cool jobs that can kick evil's butt... But most important of all; you know who you were and who you are now. In short, you have your identity.
"But I have none of them; not a family to comfort me when I am at my lowest, no friends I can trust even my least of my secrets. I don't even have a real name!
"I don't know who I was! Or what I had done back then! Nothing at all." I hugged my knees closer, as if afraid of facing the truth. "I'm a nobody!" I cried, bursting into tears.
"No you're not..." The agents tried to argue but I interrupted. "Then tell me, how am I not?
"Everyone has a past to start with. It is your memories from the time you were born, that carves out your own identities. The sufferings, the joy, the choices you make, they all helped to shape the way you all are now. But when you come to lose them like me, then you will not know who you truly are. That is the very reason why I built the Replayer. To know who I am."
"Then let us help you!" Pinky insisted. "We can work this out together." When I didn't say anything, he persisted. "You know you can trust us."
That was when I snapped. "Trust you? Trust YOU?!" I screamed, making them jump. "Have you forgotten that about three hours ago we were enemies and that you were trying to arrest me? Besides, why should I trust you with anything else? I have already stretched my limit of trust by bringing you three to my liar and showing you around.
"How should I know that I can actually trust you? How should I know that you will not try to communicate with your agent friends or track down my location when I'm not looking? Or that you weren't trying to trick me into letting you go and then arrest me?"
"We would never do that!" Perry cried out indignantly.
"Then prove it to me!" The agents were then loss for words, not knowing how to counter my challenge. "I have lost too much already, Perry. I am not willing to lose whatever that I have left." I said, looking away from them. "Then why did you bring us here in the first place since you didn't us?" Shelia then questioned. I hesitated, not wishing to answer her. Then finally, I relented. " Because...I am...jealous...of you..."
"What?" The agents exclaimed. "What do you mean?"
"Just look at me. I may have known just about a lot of things. I may have built a few contraptions from time to time. I have even became a doctor. But the truth is, the three of you have got some things that were more valuable than anything else in the world. Your friends, your family; they are what that supports you and help you stand up after you fall, that can brighten your day and give you true happiness wherever and when ever you go. But for me, I have no one to hold on to. So I have to pick myself up every time I cried. How I wished for someone I can trust."
"But I am scared of everyone; scared of the world." That was when I burst out crying, clutching my heart as if trying to hold the broken fragments together as I spluttered out the horrible truth. "Everything was so new to me that I don't know who to trust, who to rely on or who to love. I don't know whether those that I do trust would run away when I needed them the most.
"It's so scary, not knowing anything about everything before coming to this world and was suddenly expected to know them."
"Why do you even think I need to get back my memories so desperately? It is so that everything would go back to normal. So that everyone, even that boy Django, would be happy again. So that I can be the real ME again. That is why I placed so much hope on the Replayer, and is also why I feared that it might fail. But it did."
Sobbing for a while, I looked away, trying to wipe away the never-ending flood of tears. The agents looked on in shame, never thought that they would hear me pouring out my heart to them. "Tell me, what can you do when your good is just not good enough, and all that you hope just tumbles down?" The agents looked at each other, not knowing how to answer that question.
"I'm scared of what the future holds for me." I clutched my head again. "I don't know what to do now. How to move forward." Hugging my knees, I muttered. "I...I wish I have what...you have.
"I wish...I was Rover."
Finishing my confession, I hugged my knees tighter, wiping away the last few tears. Smiling sadly, I looked up to them and noticed their concerned eyes. "I am really pathetic, aren't I?" I admitted. "Crying my heart out like that. In front of you guys too."
"No, you aren't!" The others objected vehemently. "We just didn't know. We are sorry that..."
"No," I interrupted. "It was my problem, not yours. You weren't supposed to know."
"But we can help you, you know." Pinky said. "Please let us..."
I shook my head, smiling. "I am sorry. Please, do not bother yourself with the likes of me." Now somber, I stood up and straightened my coat. "Come on," I said to them. "It's time to bring you home."
"Wait, what?!" The agents exclaimed, surprised at the sudden change in topic.
"I said it is time to bring the three of you home." I repeated. "Just like I promised."
"But we want to help!" Pinky shouted. "Please, just let us..."
"Sorry, Pinky," I replied. "It's getting late, I'm sure you don't want your owners to be worried for you in the morning." Then, I took the dolls out of my pocket and shove it in front of their faces once more. Just like before, they stood up so rigid, as if their body had froze solid.
"Hey, what are you going to do to us now?" Sheila barked loudly, scared of what that was going to happen next.
"Just keeping my promise," I muttered softly, dreading this moment. Sighing, my expression became stoic. "Listen to me and obey my commands!" I ordered them. The agents struggled, but they could move nor resist obeying me. "When I snap my fingers, you will go to a deep sleep. And when you wake up at dawn, you will no longer be under the control of my dolls." With that, I raised my other hand, ready to snap my fingers.
"Wait, wait!" The agents cried out. "Let us help you. Please!"
"I'm sorry." I muttered sadly. "Good night." Then, I snapped my fingers. Immediately, their eyes unfocused and their muscles relaxed. They slumped onto the floor, breathing deeply and peacefully, as if without a care to the world. Looking at the sleeping agents, I couldn't help but regretting that after this night, we would be back as enemies again. Their company was inviting after weeks of solitude.
Time for sentiments are over, I told myself. I raised the dolls once more, since dawn wasn't until a few hours later. "Get up." The three sleeping bodies rose sleepily, the agents heads hung limply. "Follow me." I then pocketed the dolls and walked out of my lair while the agents dragged their feet as they sleep-walked out behind me. I led them out of the hospital and to the hovercar. After instructing them to get into the vehicle, I activated it and drove to my first destination.
It was the last house tonight and I landed in front of the yellow-coloured, red-roofed building that I recognized as Perry's. I brought Perry out of the hovercar and walked into the house while Perry followed sleepwalking. Entering his owners' rooms, I laid him down beside his red-haired owner, tucking the doll and his fedora underneath him. Looking at him sleeping peacefully with his family, I felt lonely and sad once more. "I am happy for you, Perry," I said, sitting down beside him. "Having friends and a family with you all your life." I laughed a little before saying. "Truthfully, I kind of enjoyed the time spent alone with the three of you. Showing you my stuff, going through my memories, and even confessing my fears to you. It was indeed comforting."
Sighing, I continued. "But remember, just as I had lost all those that were precious to me, you could lose them anytime as well." I looked over to the sleeping red-haired boy, then to the green-haired boy. "So until then, cherish whatever time time you have with them."
Leaping from the bed, I headed for the door. But before I gone through it, I turned back one last time to face the sleeping platypus. "Maybe one day, when all of this is over, we could all be friends for real and maybe, hang out together." Sighing, I left the room and walked down the stairs. Leaving through the front door once more, I activated the hovercar. "But until then, I'll not stop looking for my memories. And when dawn comes, we will be enemies once more." I said as I looked back.
As it was lifting off, I smiled sadly, a tear flowed down my cheek. "Sweet dreams, Agent P." Then the hovercar flew into the night sky.
Ughhhh, finally finished this chapter. I can't believe it took a long time just to finish this chapter. I had external classes in my holidays and it took a lot of my time. Well that and the curse of procrastination that I can't seem to shake it off.
I was hoping to have more of a response from the previous chapter, but neh. My surprise was to have a contest to see who can guess what really happened to Nicolas' memory. But too bad.
shadowayn: In a sense, yes. But seems to be not working. Thanks for reviewing.
Thanks for reading!