There. More. Be happy that some of it turned up, I suffered a computer crash halfway and feared for a moment that everything might be lost.
Thankfully, it wasn’t.
On a side note, the Lawrence Series is now running side by side with at least one other series, so I’m going to put in on another indefinite hold until the Words Series gets fixed up.
“Explain everything,” demanded Evan, although not unkindly.
Lawrence peered through his fingers. “You remember the last memory wipes we initiated?”
“Those two teenage boys? Yeah, what about them?”
“Ethan, we didn’t have time for a subconscious wipe, did we?” asked Lawrence, his eyes now looking towards Ethan.
Ethan shook his head. “Not the subconscious. I managed to get the conscious memories wiped completely, but recall is possible if the same situation redevelops. Why?”
“Because,” said Lawrence heavily, “that’s exactly what happened earlier today.”
He took in Evan and Ethan’s horrified looks; they knew exactly what this involved. Their mind wiping systems were inhumane and unethical, yes, but it was born out of necessity. The high sensitivity of their work meant that any unauthorised knowledge had to be eliminated immediately. Lawrence knew that his predecessor had killed off every single one of them, but he opted for a less violent technique.
Evan was the first to recover from this shock. “So… is it a partial or total recall?”
“I don’t know yet,” admitted Lawrence. “I had to retrieve both of them at once; there wasn’t time to note down how much of their memory has returned. Although thinking about the situation, we may have to prepare for the worst…”
He let the sentence hang. There was no need to finish it; there never will be. All three of them, seated around the table in their shared resting room, knew what would happen if there was a total recall.
“Is there a way… to get around it?” asked Ethan, desperately grasping at the last straws.
Lawrence shook his head. “I don’t think so… the regulations clearly state that we are not permitted to another memory wipe… it’s our only option, Ethan.”
Evan pushed his chair back, the scraping noise tugging at the Lawrence’s eardrums. “I should have known… I should have realised that something like this might have happened. It’s been haunting me ever since I joined the team.”
Lawrence didn’t say anything. Neither did Ethan.
There were more confused mutterings from Evan, but Lawrence only caught the occasional word… “Disgraceful act”… “Complete”… “Unbelievable”… “Disgusting”…
Evan’s rant faded to silence.
“So is that settled then?” said Lawrence finally, lifting his face up again.
Both Evan and Ethan nodded slowly, knowing that there was no other option.
Lawrence sighed. He stood up unsteadily, as though he were dizzy with revolting anticipation. “I’ll go see to them then. We shouldn’t stress them in their final hours.”
Lawrence could hear his footsteps echoing in the dark corridor. This was part of the extreme forbidden area of the entire complex; beyond the basement was a series of winding hallways, barely lit by the bare bulbs installed at infrequent intervals.
This was the holding area; a rather uninviting, dark location where any suspects, enemies, or mere individuals waiting to undergo memory wipes were kept. It had been used sparingly over the past few years, mainly because of the improved security system, so Lawrence felt uncomfortable walking past the empty cells, trying not to look into the rusting, collapsing furnishing inside.
He came to a slightly better lit section, but passed through it quickly.
Where had Ethan put them? It couldn’t be much further. Knowing Ethan, he couldn’t have gone that far… Lawrence turned a corner and picked up the pace, not wanting to stay any longer down here than he needed to.
After much searching, he saw them.
Jerome and Austin.
But Lawrence knew instinctively something wasn’t quite right. He screwed up his eyes as he took a tentative step forwards.
Red and yellow flashed across his vision as a hard, blunt object hit the back of his head. He fell, paralysed, as realised what was wrong.
Neither Jerome nor Austin was moving.
How…? Lawrence’s brain searched desperately around for an answer, but couldn’t come up with anything remotely plausible.
A shadow crossed through Lawrence’ dimming line of vision. He dreaded what was coming, and hoped it wasn’t what he thought it was.
“You’ve run away from home for a long time, Lawrence,” said the familiar, cold voice.
Lawrence’s eye bulged, recognising the voice. His hand travelled down in its one final act. He depressed the distress button built into his watch as he sank into unconsciousness.
At least I won’t be going alone, thought Lawrence as he blacked out. And for some weird reason, it gave him a sense of satisfaction knowing that.