A M N E S I A 




Read Part I (Chap­ters I—III) here.


My fin­gers are trem­bling. I press my hands against my hips so that no one sees. I am stand­ing in a queue with oth­er peo­ple who do not look like me, except we look the same. Each of us wears a plain black T‑shirt and dark grey jeans. Each of us has shorn hair. And each of us looks as pris­tine as if we had just been born: no blem­ish­es, no scars, no traces of hav­ing lived carved into the sur­face of our bod­ies. Final­ly, there’s the paper wrist­band coiled around my wrist. Each of us wears one. A place­hold­er to even­tu­al­ly be replaced by a reversible tattoo. 

Two days ago, some­one dis­con­nect­ed me from the appa­ra­tus, put clothes on my bed and pro­vid­ed me with sol­id food for the first time since I awoke. That some­one was a small, qui­et woman with warm, gen­tle hands. I asked for her name when she put my wrist­band on, but she just smiled.

My wrist­band says: name: raven | age: 25 | 0609. I try to peek at the wrist­bands of the oth­ers, but I don’t have any luck.

We are stand­ing in front of the entrance doors to a large, white hall. The whole building—or what I could see of it—is bathed in white. No shad­ows, no colour. No traces of usage. Inno­cence. White wait­ing to be tint­ed. Some­times I feel like I’m los­ing my mind.

I watch the peo­ple next to me and try to find one who is as ner­vous as I am. I try to give up obses­sive­ly look­ing for con­nec­tions between what is hap­pen­ing, what is being said and the con­fu­sion wash­ing over me in floods of unrest. But I don’t suc­ceed so eas­i­ly. After all, it means bury­ing the ques­tion of my own iden­ti­ty. It means keep­ing myself silent and com­pli­ant. But today I do what is expect­ed of me. I wait in a queue. I look ahead, I wear a reas­sur­ing smile and I try not to blink from all that white.

A gong sounds. The doors swing open and more white floods my vision. We move slow­ly for­ward. No one is push­ing, no one is in a hur­ry. We all know that we have our place, that there is no need to be first. For a moment not longer than the flick­er of a heart­beat, there is safe­ty in sub­mis­sion. But the instant pass­es, and dis­tress returns to me like lightning. 

We are silent, no one dares to even whis­per a word. Lan­guage, much like thought, is the inti­mate lover of a world com­pre­hen­si­ble to a con­scious­ness. In the chil­dren of Amne­sia, a state of con­fu­sion fills their shells like a haze. To us, there is not yet a world to com­mu­ni­cate by. It makes lit­tle sense for us to speak. Our ears, like our eyes, all know only the same thing: an inces­sant beep­ing that even now rever­ber­ates with­in us, and the white colour that every­thing in this place wears. In the white­ness and the absence of a world, there is no feel­ing either. It is just the emp­ty shell of a word in our heads. We only know the blood from when we were born and the frus­tra­tion of our ster­ile rooms. But our silence is not vacant. It is filled with every­thing we lack the words for. 

I sit down next to a man who wears rasp-short snow-white hair, a black T‑shirt and grey jeans like me, with pale, wrin­kle-free, porce­lain skin, a qui­et smile on his lips, and calm eyes that sur­vey the hall in which our strange, silent com­pa­ny gath­ers. I would like to ask him what colour eyes I have, or if he could tell me about beau­ty, and who decides what is beau­ti­ful. I would like to put my hands on his arm to know what human skin feels like—to know what it is like to touch some­one with bare fingers. 

I stare at my wrist­band. Raven. 25. 0609.

In the mid­dle of the silence, a man clears his throat. We all raise our heads at the same time, but low­er our gazes. We feel no right to look at him. I don’t know why, but I have to do it any­way. He is short, with long white hair tied back and slen­der hands with long fin­gers rest­ing on a desk. He leans over a micro­phone and stares with dull blue eyes into the crowd of dark­ly dressed fig­ures. He wears a white, floor-length coat and a pair of black, coarse boots. He looks old, and at the same time he looks young. We instinc­tive­ly feel that he is dif­fer­ent from us. There is some­thing dif­fer­ent about him, some­thing we can­not explain.

Maybe he has memories.

Maybe it’s the self-con­fi­dence he exudes. Maybe he knows his real name. Maybe he has a home, is what none of us dare to think.

Laugh­ter has been carved into the skin sur­round­ing his eyes, and I can make out a nar­row scar on his chin.

He clears his throat again. As if all of us were not already giv­ing him our full attention.

“You’re prob­a­bly won­der­ing why you’re sit­ting here.” I turn my head slow­ly but don’t see any­one nod. “You’re prob­a­bly won­der­ing why there’s no one sit­ting here who’s younger than eigh­teen.” Silence. “You’re prob­a­bly won­der­ing about some­thing else entire­ly. The pecu­liar state of your bod­ies, or the infor­ma­tion on your ID tags.” He waits a moment to let his gaze jump from indi­vid­ual to indi­vid­ual. “Well, I will answer some of those ques­tions for you today. I am your doc­tor. I have watched each and every one of you with my own eyes as you have fought for your lives, my chil­dren, and that is pre­cise­ly why we are here today. But I would like to start at the very begin­ning.” He swal­lows, brush­es a sin­gle hair behind his ear. Fix­es a point behind us and speaks in a firm voice. 

“What does a human life con­sist of? When does exis­tence become life? Ques­tions that count­less philoso­phers have dealt with for mil­len­nia, ques­tions that have giv­en rise to a sci­en­tif­ic cur­rent of their own. We have rea­son to believe that at the heart of human life is our self-con­scious­ness.” Pause. The hall is so qui­et I’m afraid I can be heard breath­ing. “We reflect our own exis­tence. We act, and we need a rea­son. Through time, our brain learns with every expe­ri­ence. It remem­bers, and it adjusts. A map of us is stored in our body. Nobody will ever know what it is like to be us except for our­selves.” The doc­tor paus­es for a moment. 

“A human heart is frail,” he then con­tin­ues. “And at the same time, the strongest force of life known to mankind. We can not always trust it to act in our best inter­est. When it swings towards the wrong per­son, the wrong direc­tion, an unsure equi­lib­ri­um, it becomes an unstop­pable force. This map of our­selves even­tu­al­ly will come to stand in our way. One day, there will be a con­vul­sion which car­di­nal­ly upsets our ground and becomes deeply entrenched in the com­po­si­tion of that map. This con­vul­sion shows in numer­ous ways: sui­cide, nar­co­ti­sa­tion, a sud­den out­burst of destruc­tive tem­per. Some­times, if we find our­selves in that state, it is sim­ply too late. Noth­ing will bring us back to health, and all we have left is a series of mind-numb­ing drug pre­scrip­tions and the pres­sure of hav­ing to nav­i­gate through the ruins. 

But in Amne­sia, we have found a solu­tion. We have devel­oped a drug. You have all agreed to take this drug. This drug allows you to be reborn in the midst of the flames. An old world needs to die for a new one to arise, and we assist you every step of the way. Part of the ini­ti­a­tion process was hence to clear your body of the rem­nants of your pre­vi­ous life. You had plas­tic surgery to remove scars, tat­toos, stretch marks or birth­marks. You have been told how the drug works before you took it. You can con­sult your con­tract at any time. What you can­not do, how­ev­er, is return to the ruins.” He smiles. 

“I will now explain to you how Amne­sia will pro­ceed.” He takes the micro­phone out of its hold­er and walks to the cen­tre of the hall. “In the com­pa­ny of our psy­chol­o­gists, you will see a video of you record­ed  before you took Amne­sia. You will talk about the name you have cho­sen for your­self. You can find it on your iden­ti­fi­ca­tion tag, as well as your age and birth date, the lat­ter of which is set as the date you woke up in your recov­ery room. This wrist­band is your iden­ti­ty card and must not be lost under any cir­cum­stances. Hence, it will lat­er be tat­tooed on you with reversible ink so you will be eas­i­ly iden­ti­fi­able by our AI system. 

You will then be intro­duced to the land­scape of our clin­ic. You will be guid­ed through our var­i­ous activ­i­ty rooms; libraries and recre­ation­al pro­grammes are avail­able to you at all times. We have restau­rants, cin­e­ma halls, tat­too stu­dios, dis­cos, swim­ming pools and any­thing else you might desire. The inten­tion behind this is to build your new per­son­al­i­ty, your new self. We will con­tin­ue to mon­i­tor your recov­ery. Once you are ful­ly recov­ered, we will help rein­te­grate you into the world out­side this research facil­i­ty.” He clears his throat. 

“There is one last thing you should know. Some of you have cho­sen to join your part­ners or ex-part­ners in this project. We have erased the mem­o­ries in your brain of any exist­ing social con­nec­tions. From now on, every­thing is your own choice: you choose your fam­i­ly. You choose your part­ner. You choose your self. You have full con­trol over becom­ing the per­son you have always want­ed to be. How­ev­er, this also means that you can­not remem­ber your own moth­er or your for­mer part­ner. At this point, I will quote from the records of our ear­li­est found­ing sto­ry.” He opens a dog-eared book to a page. 

“‘The genius of Project Amne­sia is that by pro­vid­ing absolute self-deter­mi­na­tion, we are enabling a new way of liv­ing togeth­er; one in which we can cor­rect our wrong turns; one in which our inter­per­son­al rela­tion­ships pur­sue the aspi­ra­tion of per­fec­tion. Our premise is that the past is the past. It does not mat­ter who you were before you decid­ed you no longer want­ed to be that per­son. It does not mat­ter who you leave behind, it does not mat­ter what you lose. You are free, you are reborn. You are a blank can­vas, and you can decide for the first time in your lives how you draw your­selves. You have every­thing to gain.’”

He paus­es for a moment before look­ing up and cast­ing a glance from his cloudy blue eyes into the room, which glides calm­ly, seri­ous­ly and wise­ly over each of us. I swal­low and feel the hairs on my arms stand up from the goose­bumps that have gripped me. None of us even bats an eye­lid, almost apa­thet­i­cal­ly we look straight ahead, all eyes atten­tive to the doc­tor. We wait for the next step, for some­thing to hap­pen. After sec­onds that feel like an eter­ni­ty, the doc­tor tilts his face towards the micro­phone and says in a steady voice, “You will now go into your indi­vid­ual interviews.”

I sit in front of anoth­er white, ster­ile room and knead my fin­gers. I feel strange­ly calm, but a slight, elec­tri­fy­ing buzz throbs under my skin, mak­ing me sen­si­tive to the sounds, smells and details in this end­less, end­less white hall­way. Raven. I let the let­ters melt on my tongue. “Raven,” I whis­per. It feels strange, and sin­cere at the same time.

The door opens beside me and a tall woman with wide hips and high cheek­bones, wear­ing a black T‑shirt and grey jeans like mine, steps into the hall­way. Her shoes squeak on the floor in the same way mine do. She shakes hands with a small woman with long, flow­ing, nat­u­ral­ly red hair, cir­cu­lar glass­es on the tip of her nose, and a smile that trig­gers a pos­i­tive, reas­sur­ing response in me.

“Good­bye, Rachel. Thank you for your time.” She smiles show­ing snow-white teeth. There is a flash of some­thing sil­very on her upper lip that irri­tates me. I run my fin­ger gen­tly over my lips and feel noth­ing. Her gaze now rests on me and she reach­es out her hand. “Hel­lo, lit­tle one.” I stand up, shake her hand and fol­low her into anoth­er white room that swal­lows me. Close to her, I can tell that she is wear­ing a pierc­ing in her gums. 

“Sit down, please.” I rest on a hard, mahogany brown chair and stare at my hands, long, blood­less and bony, rest­ing on my lap.

“And you are?” I look up. Stretch out my wrist. She clasps it with her warm hands and scans the infor­ma­tion into the com­put­er. “Raven,” she says, and from her mouth it sounds alien. I can­not inter­pret the nuance in it. “Raven. There you are.” With the com­put­er mouse, she clicks at a few things and says: “Now, please direct your gaze to the blank space above my head.” I nod.

The psy­chol­o­gist oper­ates the com­put­er and amid flick­ers and sta­t­ic, a per­son begins to be pic­tured on the wall. A girl. She looks direct­ly into the cam­era, her eyes large and pierc­ing green. Her hair is dark brown and twist­ed into blue box braids. She is wear­ing a plain beige T‑shirt. She wears no jew­ellery and no make-up. Her neck is long, her cheek­bones high, her expres­sion proud. She is very thin, thin­ner than I am. Her pos­ture is res­olute, her gaze determined.

“And play,” mur­murs the red-haired woman.

I see the image move. With a faint flick­er, I see her pupils adjust to the light in the room, her nos­trils flare slight­ly. She stares into the cam­era, and direct­ly into my eyes. She tilts her head slight­ly and squints her eyes, and her iron gaze drills into my head. “Hi,” she says soft­ly. Her voice is warm and raspy. She turns her gaze behind the cam­era, pre­sum­ably to the per­son mon­i­tor­ing the record­ing, mak­ing sure noth­ing in it sur­vives that shouldn’t be passed on. My hands are in my lap and I realise that I, too, am being mon­i­tored. But I can­not avert my gaze. 

Very slow­ly, her long, slen­der fin­gers unfold a piece of crum­pled paper and her gaze fix­es on it. Shy­ly, she begins to read aloud. “Hel­lo, stranger. I’m afraid I can’t call you by your name, because although you are me, you are anoth­er.” She paus­es for a moment, exhal­ing breath. “We share the same genet­ics, my heart beats in you, the same feet car­ry us. But you are not me. You have been giv­en a chance to start over, girl with no name, and my job is to remind you why if you doubt.” She seeks my eye con­tact, then con­tin­ues, “Our name doesn’t mat­ter. Nor what con­stel­la­tion I was born in. Or who I’ve loved.” Pause. “Today is the last day I will be here. Dear, I am a cor­nered piece of cat­tle, and when I look ahead, I see noth­ing. I see no light. I see only dark­ness, dis­placed in me instead of the night. It sur­rounds me and digs its talons so deep into my flesh that it bleeds.” She push­es up the piece of fab­ric on her arm and holds her arm up to the cam­era, lit­tered with scars. I look at my own fore­arms. Smooth and flaw­less, rest­less in my lap, iri­des­cent obsid­i­an. “I lost my way and nev­er found it again. I want you to have every­thing. You are free from your past. You are a pure, pure thing. You are free.” She clos­es her eyes. “You are free.”

“Raven,” says a voice in the background.

She leans for­ward and smiles, and I think how beau­ti­ful she is, with her huge eyes. 

“I under­stand that you are con­fused. Uncer­tain. You’re sit­ting there, and you don’t have an anchor point. Every­thing is white, isn’t it? Yes, that was my thought too.” Her smile widens a lit­tle. “Every­thing is so white in here that you don’t know where the cor­ners merge and whether, if you bang your head against the wall, you won’t fall into a space-time gap that will fling you out of this mad­ness …” The silence that spreads after these words is icy. “But you should know that there is noth­ing out there. Noth­ing for you to be tak­en to. This is your life now, and this is your home. And I know you are a won­der­ful per­son. I feel it. Take care, you on the oth­er side. And think no more of me. Wher­ev­er your life takes you, it won’t be the way I go.” 

She lifts her hand and holds its palm for­wards towards the cam­era. I slow­ly stand up, walk to the white wall and put my hand on hers. For a moment she smiles, and I think she knew I would respond like this. Then the image goes black and I stare into silence for a moment. I still feel like a blank can­vas, and my brain seems over­whelmed with pro­cess­ing all the impres­sions and infor­ma­tion of today. But it is not over yet. Some­one touch­es me gen­tly on the arm, it is my psy­chol­o­gist. She puts both hands on my arms and tilts her head in a con­cerned way. “Are you all right, Raven? I know it’s been a lot today. But this is your home. This is your home, and that’s all you need to know.” She smiles, and for a moment I’m not sure if that laugh reach­es her eyes. I realise I haven’t said a sin­gle word. I clear my throat. “Yes,” I croak from a dry throat and try a ten­ta­tive smile. “It sounds like prison today, but in just a few days you will realise that you can only find true free­dom down here, with us,” she con­tin­ues. She hands me a busi­ness card. “When­ev­er you’d like to talk to some­one or have any ques­tions, Raven, feel free to con­tact me. You can call me Cecile if you like.” Silent­ly, I take the card, but since I’m not car­ry­ing a bag, I just keep it in my ice-cold hands.

“Good,” says Cecile, smil­ing at me encour­ag­ing­ly, “that’s about it from me. Fynn will now guide you through our fine insti­tu­tion, togeth­er with a few oth­ers, and show you every­thing that is wait­ing for you down here. Just fol­low the cor­ri­dor up to the first floor and you’ll meet them there. Only the best, Raven. Wel­come home!” She leads me towards the hall, her left hand apply­ing gen­tle pres­sure in the small of my back, and a lanky, tall boy with shaved hair, black shirt and grey jeans is already sit­ting next to the door, look­ing at us from eyes just as shy as I was a few moments ago. He fol­lows Cecile’s prompt­ing and as the door slams shut behind him, I am alone in this long, snow-white place. I turn once in a cir­cle and every­thing, every­thing around me resem­bles itself. I walk towards a wall and place my palm on the cool sur­face. So these are the walls that delim­it my world. My ear­li­est mem­o­ry reach­es to the moment when I awoke from a comatose dream in a clin­i­cal­ly ster­ile room. And when I press reset one day, I can only ever return to that moment, but nev­er be who I have been before that. There is only Raven from now on. 

There is some­thing I keep hid­den from the white­ness. Some­thing had slipped through the amne­sia and fought its way to my con­scious­ness with per­sis­tence. A mem­o­ry I shouldn’t have.
Of a voice,
and a name.


We are a small, silent group. It’s almost amus­ing, because we look like new­borns, our eyes huge as if we’re see­ing the world for the first time, as if we’re redis­cov­er­ing moment by moment what life is. And it’s the same, it’s just the same. I have not lived yet. All this is new to me. There are dozens of peo­ple walk­ing next to me who look like me. Again, we don’t talk. Autopi­lot car­ries us through the world, but under­neath is still noth­ing. We are plan­ets with­out suns, weak­ly grav­i­tat­ing around their own weight­less core, fixed in a con­stel­la­tion with oth­er burnt up stars against their will. If we were to speak, there was but one thing seething in our veins. Some­where there’s anoth­er me who dares to ask: “Do you remem­ber?” But she doesn’t live here. It hard­ly feels human to be so devoid of sub­stance. We don’t know what to do with ourselves.

Fynn, on the oth­er hand, Fynn is some­body. Fynn walks a cer­tain way, he has a beard and wears round, horn-rimmed glass­es. When he smiles, wrin­kles form around his eyes. He has a cer­tain humour, he talks about books he likes and music that echoes in none of us. He is very human. He is not a shell like us. Fynn knows he doesn’t like toma­toes and he com­mu­ni­cates this to us at reg­u­lar inter­vals, for exam­ple when we are stand­ing in the cafe­te­ria, in front of a huge buf­fet of food, vast­ly over­whelmed. He asks us to try some­thing, but I don’t know what I like. There are some foods that, strange­ly enough, I imme­di­ate­ly dis­like. The smell of fish makes me sick. A tall, lanky boy takes a plate and loads ran­dom food on it. I stand next to him and can only stare. I feel so ridicu­lous and help­less, in this place where every­one sin­gle-mind­ed­ly knows what they want, peo­ple queu­ing at cof­fee machines and oth­ers laugh­ing as they assem­ble a sal­ad. Sim­ple tasks that I don’t know how to per­form. I know there’s cof­fee, but I can’t remem­ber if I like it. The slime of being reborn is still all around me. I ask the boy what his name is. “Jamie,” he replies. Jamie has big, almost black eyes. I look at his wrist and see the same num­bers as on mine. I’m sure when I look at every­one else’s wrists I will see the same num­bers again. We were released into this world on the same day. “I am Raven,” I reply, the words slip­ping off my tongue. I am Raven. It’s a declar­a­tive sen­tence. But it means some­thing, a lot, maybe. Maybe it means that I call myself Raven, or maybe it means that I am Raven, and maybe it’s a metaphor for the fact that I give myself to this life. Or maybe it’s of a pure­ly descrip­tive nature, some­thing that sim­ply describes what sound the air makes when you string a few let­ters togeth­er and assign them to my face. Do I refer to these peo­ple as my gen­er­a­tion and would that mean that I iden­ti­fy with them? Where do these thoughts come from? I shake my head as if I could shake them off with that. Jamie offers to share a plate, but I shake my head silent­ly. I don’t feel hun­gry. I pre­fer to sit across from him and watch the peo­ple walk­ing through the cafe­te­ria who must have spent quite a lot of time here. They all look so dif­fer­ent, and I feel over­wrought by all these impres­sions, these people—so much so that it almost feels like home to sit among my peo­ple, all of us wear­ing the same thing, the same short-cropped head, the same con­fused look, the irri­tat­ed hands lying help­less­ly in our laps. 

We know noth­ing of life and I dress in it. 

“Raven.” I turn my gaze to Jamie. He grins. “This is prob­a­bly the moment we should make con­ver­sa­tion. I mean, look at the oth­ers. I won­der what they’re talk­ing about.” I tilt my head slight­ly, close my eyes and lis­ten into the room. “Secrets,” I say then. Jamie laughs, a short, loud laugh that makes the oth­ers’ heads turn in our direc­tion. “You don’t think they’re going to spill their secrets over a cup of cof­fee here, do you?”—“No,” I retort. “But by not doing so, they exist. Secrets are only secrets if you don’t talk about them. And if you ask me, all the talk about banal­i­ties is just a dis­trac­tion from what’s impor­tant and actu­al­ly wants to be said.”—“Raven. You sound like you’ve devoured a phi­los­o­phy book. Bare­ly out of your room, and already so damn wise.” I just give him a sharp look and he con­tin­ues to grin.

Secrets. She must have had heaps of them, feed­ing on her soul over time, weigh­ing her down like bar­rels, lead­ing her to believe that she had to anni­hi­late her­self. I won­der what secrets she car­ried with her, their shapes and names and faces. 

But I, too, have a secret. Skye. 

“Let’s move on, guys,” Fynn inter­rupts the ban­ter around us. “There’s plen­ty more to see.” The squad of new­borns gath­ers around Fynn like a brood of duck­lings around Mama Duck, agi­tat­ed and chat­ter­ing. Aching to see the world in which they would fash­ion them­selves like art, or per­haps like clay that com­busts itself. Who actu­al­ly says we’re going to save our­selves with Amne­sia? Who gives us assur­ance that we won’t go insane, exchange our black T‑shirts for white gowns, and beat our heads against the walls until no more blood spills? How do we know we will be happy?

I see flash­es of her face in front of me, big, daz­ing green eyes and skin cov­ered in debris of pain. “I see only dark­ness, dis­placed in me instead of the night.” She’s my God. She knows of our begin­nings and our aber­ra­tion. She killed her­self so I could live. I might as well try.


It nev­er bloody stops,” Jamie remarks in exas­per­a­tion after we’ve parad­ed through the facil­i­ty for two hours. Antero­grade, as they’ve named it, resem­bles a city, with ele­va­tors and elec­tric shut­tles whizzing silent­ly through rev­er­ent hall­ways. Each sec­tor is assigned its own func­tion. In their heart are the cafe­te­ria and the clin­ic. At their edges are the res­i­dents’ rooms. Between sports facil­i­ties and libraries, bar­ber­shops and class­rooms, stu­dios and meet­ing rooms, there’s plen­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ty to devel­op freely and unruly in pre­designed footsteps. 

“Hey Raven. Do you think they’re sell­ing here?” Jamie asks with a mis­chie­vous grin. Togeth­er, we bring up the rear of the group—two cof­fee mugs in hand, try­ing to deter­mine if Raven could be a cof­fee type. I stop and have a laugh. “You know, the irony is actu­al­ly that you’re sup­posed to escape mis­ery here,” I take a sip of bit­ter black cof­fee, “but some­how we already can­not wait to men­tal­ly shut down.” The bit­ter taste of the cof­fee makes me shud­der. Jamie gives me a judg­ing side-eye glance. “You want to try mine?” He holds his cof­fee cup under my nose. I nod and take a sip, cough­ing as spir­its mix with cof­fee and milk. Fynn paus­es and keeps an eye out for us. “Every­thing okay back there?” he asks over the heads of the oth­ers. I nod and spit with dif­fi­cul­ty, “I just drank water too fast.” He half-smiles polite­ly and con­tin­ues with his lec­ture, which in turn could func­tion as a sleep­ing pill. Jamie can’t help but laugh next to me. “Goes down a lot bet­ter, doesn’t it, Raven?”—“Jerk. Also, where did you get that?”—“When we passed through sec­tor 8 I might have flirt­ed with the bar­tender.” I look him up and down. “What, with the baby slime bare­ly done drip­ping off of you?”—“Game recog­nis­es game, Raven. Any­ways, we should go there tonight and fig­ure out if our trau­ma prefers whiskey or wine.” He grins. “There’s even a shut­tle going there, and since it’s our last week in down­town ster­ile hell, we won’t have it far to sleep it off.” I sigh. “Fine. Pick me up at nine or whatever.” 

“Right, every­one—” Fynn attempts to get our atten­tion. “The body­mod sec­tor is our last stop for today, and I beg of you, please don’t get a tat­too on your first day. Reserve that joy for the Cer­e­mon­i­cal. Alright, let’s go in pairs of two. You can look into the stu­dios from the out­side but please don’t inter­rupt ongo­ing work.” 

The air in sec­tor 22 is filled with a steady hum, dis­tant chat­ter, and music. Plants over­grow the pil­lars of the build­ing, and on the black walls there is no cor­ner that is not cov­ered by art. From the ceil­ing, a beau­ti­ful woman in lin­gerie is sus­pend­ed from hooks that anchor into her skin. The music which streams from the speak­ers is imme­di­ate­ly to my lik­ing almost as if my body were inert with a mem­o­ry, a fond­ness. In the midst of stores and peo­ple, we walk in rows of two. I feel naked, and Jamie next to me also seems absorbed in con­tem­pla­tion. The peo­ple around us car­ry so much his­to­ry on them, and through body sculpt­ing, their bod­ies are so unique that they are polar oppo­sites of us. Here I am sud­den­ly Patient Delta again. I guess I nev­er real­ly left her behind. 

The pair in front of us stops abrupt­ly and swings out of the group toward a store called Earth & Rum­ble. Jamie looks up and I ges­ture with my head to fol­low them. The tat­too store is beau­ti­ful­ly dec­o­rat­ed, with draw­ings hang­ing among old antiques and dusty art books, and a spot­light imi­tat­ing the flick­er of sun­beams glint­ing through tree­tops on the black walls. The draw­ings are at once abstract and con­crete, as if the spir­it of their cre­ator could not decide, or per­haps even dwells in the ten­sion between them. I turn back to our group and see that the oth­ers have already moved on, scat­tered peo­ple with shorn hair in mut­ed black and grey out­fits. They almost blend into the back­ground, bare­ly noticed by their sur­round­ings. More and more of them stream out and look into pierc­ing stu­dios, hair­dressers, or implant sur­geons. Fynn is no longer to be seen. Cau­tious­ly I go to the door of the store and open it. Jamie grabs my hand. “Raven. We’re only sup­posed to look from the outside.”—“Go ahead,” I reply. Jamie hes­i­tates. “Are you sure?” I make signs to shoo him away and nod pla­cat­ing­ly. “Okay. But I’ll stay close by, on a bench some­where or something.”—“You’re not my babysit­ter or my baby­guard.” Jamie rolls his eyes. “Obvi­ous­ly, but you’re the only friend I have here.”—“Oh, we’re friends?”—“Yeah, you twit. See you lat­er.” I wave at him and grin before enter­ing the store. 

A bell chimes, and I am momen­tar­i­ly star­tled. I close the door behind me and breathe in the scent of old books and incense sticks. My gaze drifts over the art­works on the walls. The blaz­ing sun­light reflects on my face, and the soft piano music drowns out the buzz of the world out­side the doors of Earth & Rum­ble. The sec­tor dis­ap­pears sec­ond by sec­ond into the dark­ness and cosi­ness of the shop. There’s still a nose print on the win­dows from one of the oth­er Amne­sia girls. In the mir­ror I see my face, with thick bushy eye­brows, my short hair, and curi­ous green eyes. My face is played back to me in frag­ments of light and dark, and I find myself beau­ti­ful, even in the unde­fined sec­onds in between. Beau­ti­ful, but for­eign. “Raven,” my lips form inaudibly. 

The floor­boards creak and I turn around fran­ti­cal­ly. Some­one is lean­ing against the door frame that sep­a­rates the ante­room of the stu­dio from the tat­too spaces, watch­ing me. 

“Hi,” I say, wav­ing awk­ward­ly. “I apol­o­gise. I know we’re not sup­posed to go into the stores.”

“What brought you here?” the voice replies. A man’s voice, warm and gentle. 

“I …” I look in the mir­ror again, observ­ing my obsid­i­an skin and my bare face. My gaze falls towards the floor, notic­ing the wood­en floor­boards full of scratch­es and edges. “It’s all so white here,” I then reply. “I’ve been long­ing for a lit­tle def­i­n­i­tion, I think. Run­ning away from the glare. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sor­ry. I’m glad you feel com­fort­able here. First day out?”

I nod. 

“Must have been a long day.” 

“Oh … Yeah. This morn­ing I lis­tened to some old fun­ny man’s big speech, met my for­mer self, and was chased all over Antero­grade in the afternoon.”

“What do you think of the Father?” 

“Father?”, I ask.

“The old fun­ny man who reigns Amne­sia.” The stranger steps out of the shad­ows into the dark, soft reflec­tion of a sum­mer day, and my eyes catch deep dark eyes, long curly hair bare­ly held togeth­er in an elas­tic, and hazy out­lines of art on his light mar­ble skin. 

“He was dif­fer­ent from us. That is all I could think about. But real­ly … every­one here seems dif­fer­ent from us. Every­one is a per­son. We are just ghosts.” I fol­low him with my gaze as he walks to the sink to wash his hands. 

“Not long now,” he reas­sures, his back turned on me. “Soon they’ll have you move into your own room, get your own clothes, let you have full author­i­ty of your day. Before long, you’ll be a per­son too.” 

I smile. “So how long have you been here?”

“Oh, just a lit­tle over a year.”

I stare at his tat­toos for a sec­ond too long. “You got all these in a year?”

He dries his hands on a tow­el and nods. “It’s a way of remembering.”

“Of remem­ber­ing what?!” My heart starts pounding.

He hes­i­tates for a moment. 

“I’m sor­ry, I don’t want to keep you,” I mumble.

“You’re not. I was draw­ing, it’s just me here this after­noon.” He walks to the win­dows, clos­es the cur­tains. Turns the OPEN sign to SORRY, WE’RE CLOSED. He ges­tures at me to sit down. 

“My name is Onyx,” he says.

Raven.” I shake his hand. 

Read Part I (Chap­ters I—III) here.| Read Part III (VII—IX)


A M N E S I A is a three-part short sto­ry and will be released as a paper­book and e‑book in late 2022 / ear­ly 2023. More infor­ma­tion on and on Insta­gram (@snkllrpublications).

Mer­cy Fer­rars is a MA grad­u­ate in phi­los­o­phy and writes fic­tion, poet­ry and non-fic­tion essays. She is mad­ly in love with Scot­land, dogs and Bojack Horse­man.

𝕴𝖒𝖆𝖌𝖊 𝖔𝖋 𝖆𝖓𝖆𝖙𝖔𝖒𝖎𝖈𝖆𝖑 𝖍𝖊𝖆𝖗𝖙 𝖆𝖓𝖉 𝖑𝖚𝖓𝖌𝖘 𝖇𝖞 𝖈𝖍𝖆𝖓𝖓𝖆𝖗𝖔𝖓𝖌𝖘𝖉𝖘 𝖔𝖓 𝕱𝖗𝖊𝖊𝖕𝖎𝖐