“Move, girl. I’ve been waiting for this for 10 years.”
The man shoved me from behind and I bumped into Holt.
“Hey, man! The line isn’t moving any faster than it is now. Relax,” Holt commanded.
The man cursed under his breath and crossed his arms.
“Wonder what he did that he’d want to forget so badly,” I whispered.
“Or maybe something was done to him…” Holt replied.
I gripped my jacket as the cold wind pierced it, almost like I wasn’t wearing a jacket at all. I pulled my hood down farther over my face. I felt like my eyebrows were about to freeze off.
I looked at the long line ahead of us. It wasn’t as slow as we had thought it would have been. The man behind us grumbled some more as we continued to shuffle forward.
“Curse those good for nothing men. Ten years wasn’t part of the deal. If I was free I woulda…” His voice soften and we heard no more from him.
Holt glanced at the man and then at me, “Told you.”
We began to walk into a tunnel that above read “Obliteration Center.”
It’s been five years since I’ve Obliterated. I don’t remember a single thing. All I remember is a book. A tattered, leather-bound book. But that’s it. Nothing else. I didn’t even remember my name, how old I am, my birthday, everything. I don’t know why. I have a number burned into my skin like everyone else that has Obliterated, but that doesn’t tell me anything. A lot of bad things must have happened to me. Or one thing that practically sent me over the edge to where I didn’t want to remember anything at all. Now though, I’m glad I don’t remember. Because if it was bad enough to where I didn’t want to remember my own name and birthday, then why would I want to live like that.
“What are you going to tell them that you want to forget?” I looked at Holt who had tied his hood strings so tight all you could see was his eyes and the tip of his nose.
“I could think of a couple things,” he looked up the line. About a hundred people left until we would make it to the front. He gave a big sigh. I could see the sulk in his eyes.
I stuck my hand in his coat pocket and grabbed his. It was warm. Why didn’t I do this before. His hand tighten as our fingers interlocked. I gave it a small squeeze of reassurance.
His mom and brother had been murdered by the government. His mom would never register for Obliteration and his brother was only nine. He wasn’t old enough to forget yet. He never knew why his mom stopped registering. The first time he choose to Obliterate was when he was 15. He told me he choose to because many people in his reservation were killed. That’s what his mom told him after he came back. He must have seen some gory stuff. She said to him “The past is our history. We must always know our history. The good and bad.” Holt never understood why she hated Obliteration and the government so much. I don’t really either. But now he has a reason. He hates Obliteration. But it’s the only thing that will help him to forget the pain and grief. Eventually, the government found out she was hiding and not Obliterating. They killed her and his little brother as punishment and example to the rest of the reservation.
He squeezed my hand a little tighter as we came closer to the front. The farther we went down the tunnel the colder is seemed to be. Echoes of people crying and cursing filled the tunnel.
We came in front of a giant toll-booth that block the rest of the tunnel. A gray-haired lady that looked like she was a thousand years old, dressed in a light blue uniformed blouse looked down on us.
“Together?” she asked nonchalantly. We both nodded.
“Names and ages.” She said.
“Holt Annawan. Twenty.”
I began to panic.
“I said what is your name?” Her eyes felt as if they were trying to fry the skin on my face.
My name is Robin, I thought to myself. But that’s not my real name. Not my old name. I started to call myself that when people asked who I was after I last Obliterated. And I have no idea how old I am. Holt and I just took a guess.
“I… I don’t know my real name or my age.”
She waved a hand up in exasperation, “Number then.”
I looked down at my left wrist. “3452.”
“Go on and pick a tunnel,” the sound of her raspy voice filled the tunnel, making me shudder.
We passed through the double doors with metal detectors and men with search dogs that smelled us as we walked passed. We came to two more tunnels that read “Complete Obliteration” and “Partial Obliteration.” The man behind us quickly walked by with his arms crossed, mumbling curses as he turned into the “Complete Obliterate” tunnel. Holt tugged on my hand as we walked into the “Partial Obliteration” tunnel. The tunnel felt as if all the oxygen was being sucked out. I huddled closer to Holt. No wonder I completely Obliterated last time. This place was creepy.
As we came to the end we were approached by a man and woman in white trench coats. The woman motion me toward her and began patting me down. I looked over at Holt as the same thing was being done to him. He had a stern, harden look. As if he was about to go into battle.
“Name and age,” she said monotonously.
“I don’t know. Here’s my number,” I showed my wrist.
“We gotta number!” She turned, “Follow me.”
I looked back at Holt and he gave me a reassuring look. “I’ll meet you outside.”
I followed the woman down a hall and into a large white room. Blindingly white. Everything was white. The equipment, the floor, the walls, the people. It was like looking a blank sheet of paper. After my eyes adjusted, I saw a long, reclined chair.
The woman patted the chair, “Let’s go, doll-face. We don’t have all day to erase your memories.”
The others in their white lab coats stared at me as I hopped into the chair. The woman reclined me back and placed a circular, metal band around my head. A black hologram screen popped in front of my eyes. Blank.
“We’re about to go in,” a man said. “Just relax and think of past events that you want to forget.”
I began taking deep breaths. My muscles tensed and my mind began racing. How can anyone relax during this? I’m about to permanently erase memories. Suddenly, the hologram turned to changing colors like a mini aurora borealis. I saw visions from the past few years flash through. Meeting Holt. His mom and his brother. The reservation. Hunting and trading on the Black Market. Then the book. The aged, tattered leather book. Tied shut by string.
“YOU’LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE!”
Screams echoed through the hallway and everything went black.