Author: Aubrey Williams

I’ve been trying to figure things out. For no reason, I found myself on the side of a lonely road somewhere. I felt like I’d been asleep for too long on a hot day, and couldn’t quite remember what I was doing. It was quiet, with only the sound of distant sky traffic and grasshoppers, the buckled aluminium of the old crash barrier swaying on its unsteady mounting. I was starting to panic— where the hell was I? I didn’t have my phone on me, so I walked along the road until an AirTram appeared. The driving unit remarked it was a warm day, and that traffic in town was bad, my fellow passengers glumly looking up.

My first port of call was a café, but the three coffees didn’t help. They tasted of nothing, so I figured I had a cold. I couldn’t have looked weird, because people either acknowledged or smiled at me. I even checked the mirror, and I’ve never looked better. Nothing unusual, right? That changed when I popped into my regular haunt, the bar opposite the library. Maybe I drank too much and wandered off in a stupor? As soon as I entered, I could see a few of my friends: Pete from the AirTram yard, Weng-Chi who I had a life-drawing class with, Odie— my fellow gin enthusiast— and so on.

“Oh hell no, you fuck right off!” Weng-Chi said, looking up from his pinball game.

“Hey, what g—”

I couldn’t get a word in edgeways before Odie pushed his drink away, not even looking at me, and retreated into the gents. Pete sized me up, and then turned to the bartender, Akira.

“I told you, she’s not doing well.”

Akira sighed, her hands gripping the edge of the bar, before she glared.

“You’re not welcome here… J.D. You need to leave.”

No one was forthcoming, and I got a weird feeling being there. I left for the park, my head spinning and my stomach full of cotton wool. Soon enough I spied my girlfriend, Vee, her arms clasped tightly around an old book.

“Hey, hon! What—”

She screamed, nearly dropping her book, and held up her palm as if to ward me off, backing away.

“Oh fuck! Fuck! No, no, no! You can’t… she did… leave me alone!”

She burst into tears and loped off.

The only thing I could do after that was head over to my mum’s place.

“Sweetie! You were gone! I was worried sick about you!” She said, as she hugged me close. “What happened?”

“I don’t know, mum, it was such a weird day. I was at the side of a road… I’m going to lie down in my room.”

“No!” She yelped, holding me back “Please don’t disturb… Oh, I should never have tried that silly trick,” she sighed looking at me with pity. “I’m so sorry to have confused you… I just needed you to be here a little longer, that’s all.”

She activated her watch, and asked for “Memory Pal Support.” As she waited for the other person on the end of the line, she looked me up and down.

“I guess you ended up being a lot more like J.D. than I expected.”

The watch lit up, light so furious I couldn’t see.

“Mum, what’s going—”

+++Another jailbroken unit… I almost feel sorry for them. Understandable after a sudden accident like that, but we need for control over what people can do with the Memory Pal units. Poppy, would you wipe and reset this one, and load customer profile #EFN_90_JD00112?+++