I've been thinking about Memory a lot lately. I recently finished Andy Weir's Project Hail Mary, which is a "white room" story. I just learned that term watching Brandon Sanderson's book review on YouTube (here). In a white room story, the protagonist awakens without knowing who he/she is, where she/he is, nor how they got there. Like Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity.
I also thought I'd try something in first-person present-tense, which normally I find annoying, but I figured it would be well-suited for this kind of in-the-moment story.
Memory Protocol was inspired by this week's prompt:
I sit in the cafe, shades on, iced coffee on the table next to me, waiting for the Tylenol to kick in. Through squinting, sandpaper eyes, I gaze unenthusiastically at the quaint, but slightly Disney-esque plaza. The Tudor architecture of the surrounding buildings is a little … off. The buildings too tall. The exposed beams too perfect. The overall effect is more of a movie set than a medieval village, and it certainly lacks the gravitas of Brussels’ Grand Plaz. Which brings up a good point: where the heck am I?
Panic sets in. I have no recollection of where I am or how I got here. Deep breaths. Stay calm. It’s just another blackout. The Belgian beer must have been stronger than I thought last night. At least, I think it was last night. I check my watch to make sure. It is stopped dead.
The waiter appears and sets a Stella down on the table.
“Hey, I didn’t order this.” Did I? Maybe. I lick my dry lips at the thought of the cool elixir soothing my suddenly parched throat.
A woman sits across from me, dressed in a severe black and white dress and a large floppy straw hat like the kind you see in an Audrey Hepburn movie. She slides a CryptoCoin card across the glass tabletop.
“This is for a job well done. I assume the normal memory protocol is in effect.”
I mutely nod, because I somehow know what she means.
“Good.” Eyeing my flowered shirt and rumpled shorts, she says, “Enjoy your vacation. We’ll be in touch.”
She stands, flattens the front of her dress, and strides away. With my left hand, I sweep the money card into my pocket while my right lifts the sweating beer glass to my lips.