This started out as a piece that was partially written by an AI (if confused, check out Hard Decisions (Partially Written By AI) and Technological Partnership (Partially Written By AI) for more details about pieces I’ve written with AI before), but it kind of came out so-so. I really liked the premise but writing with the AI made it hard. So I took the whole thing and just rewrote it with a lot more of me in it. So this is inspired by that original piece, but this is all m own work. Hopefully that makes sense.
“What do you want most, child?” The raspy voice asked.
“I..I want to forget,” I said trying to sound strong. “I want to forget everything.”
The voice laughed.
“That would be the easy way out, wouldn’t it. Just to forget. But which reality would you want to forget?”
“I..I don’t understand,” I replied.
“This isn’t the first time we’ve met. Not even the first time you’ve made that request. Sometimes I’m the one begging for mercy and sometimes it is you.”
I struggled against the restraints holding me to the metal chair.
“There’s only one way out of this. One way to end the cycle. Tell me what is behind the scarlet door,” The raspy voice said.
At the mention of the scarlet door, I felt this intense pain run up and down my spine. I was paralyzed by pain as my body became rigid. My eyes opened wide and I tried to scream, but no words came.
My brain was filled with a flood of visions I’ve never seen before and memories which weren’t mine. All of them showed me a wooden door covered in scarlet paint.
Just as the pain came, it left quickly and left me out of breath. Blood ran from my nose and onto my shirt as I gasped for air.
“Scarlet door,” I said. “I don’t know…I don’t know about any scarlet door.”
The voice chuckled.
“You will succumb to the machine. I will learn the truth. But for now you can rest,” The voice said.
Another bolt of pain was sent throughout my body. This time I doubled over and my body tensed. When the pain receded, I blinked tears from my eyes.
“Woah, Sera. Are you alright? What’s going on? Talk to me.”
The raspy mysterious voice was now replaced by a soft and caring voice.
I sat up and my eyes focused. There in front of me was Reiden.
My eyes grew wide as I realized where I was, why I was here, and what was going on.
“I…I don’t know what happened,” I said as I brought my hands to my head. “I have a killer headache.”
“Yeah mild headaches are pretty common when dealing with the brainwash,” Reiden said.
“I don’t think these are mild,” I said.
“Well if you need to go to the medical bay you can. We are done for today,” Reiden said.
“That was just step one,” I said.
“Yeah and that almost knocked you out. I can tell from the look on your face that the brainwash exhausted you,” Reiden said. “Go to the medical bay and get checked out. Then head to bed. We’ll pick up with this tomorrow.”
“Yeah,” I said as I stood up.
At first I was wobbly, but I managed to steady myself and left the experimentation room. I didn’t take Reiden’s warning to go to the medical bay. Instead I went straight to my room. I was exhausted and just wanted to get some rest.
I fell back onto my bed and laid there for a moment. I was wide awake, going over every detail in my head. While my mind was inside of the brainwash, I had to concentrate hard to see things clearly. I had to think hard about everything that had happened so far, and I had to choose which information I wanted to remember. It was like sorting through a lot of static so I could focus on what was clear.
For starters, I clearly remembered the scarlet door. The cold iron door handle which would not budge no matter how hard I tried. That room. That prison. I knew that is where I had to go. But that was it. That’s where the memories faded. What was behind the door and why was it so important? At this point I couldn’t even remember who’s memories I was remembering. So many memories were fed into the brain washer and so many were passed onto me.
I laid there a moment, just trying to think about the door as well as catch my breath from the experience. Then a voice interrupted my concentration.
“Are you alright?” I heard a voice from somewhere above.
“Reiden?” I asked, but I knew it wasn’t his voice.
This voice was quiet and feminine. The voice was so soft that I thought I imagined it.
I sat up in bed and looked around my room.
“Please, if you are there. Show yourself,” I said.
A young woman stepped forward from the shadows and into the light of my room. I noticed that when she walked small vibrations of lights rippled across the ground.
It was Mira.
She stood there starring at me like she was seeing a ghost. She wore a dark gray, almost black, dress and no shoes. Her red hair seemed so light, and perfect, like it just made her hair glow.
“How did you find me?” I asked.
Mira paused for a moment before speaking.
“We are connected,” She said. “I can always find you.”
“Can you get me out of here?” I asked her.
“I’m sorry, I can’t. Just hold on Sera. We’ll talk later, OK?” Mira said, her voice rushed.
“No, Mira. We need to talk now,” I said. “Reiden’s experiments are getting more and more intense. You need to get me out now.”
“We’re close, Sera, but we are not done yet. I will come back with you.”
“Mira, you are not listening. Things are dangerous. I don’t know how much more I can handle.”
“You are strong, Sera. I know you can do it. We have to be close,” Mira said.
“Will you at least tell me what’s beyond the scarlet door?” I asked. “That’s what he is after, right? Maybe if I tell him, all of this can be over.”
Mira shook her head.
“That is something you can only find out yourself. You must find a way through.”
Mira held up her hand and I fell silent.
She then reached out and touched my face. I wasn’t sure she could feel anything beyond the surface of my skin, but she wanted me to know that I was never alone.
I smiled. “You’re the only one who cares about me, and I need you back with me.”
“I will return when I can. For now stay here. Do not let Reiden brainwash you. We are the truth,” Mira said.
“The only truth,” I replied.
This was a phrase that Mira and I had came up with early on. A phrase that deep in our minds. A link between us that could not be disturbed by the brainwasher.
I closed my eyes for a moment and leaned into Mira’s hand. Her touch on my face was warm and comforting.
But it was just there for a moment. I opened my eyes and Mira was no longer standing in front of me. It was like she was never here. But it was. Mira was here.
There was nothing more I could do, so I decided to try to get a little sleep. I needed the rest, especially if I was going to partake in another one of Reiden’s sessions tomorrow. I closed my eyes and waited for her to return.
However, this moment never came. I was only asleep for a few moments before I was awakened by a tightening sensation in my chest. My heart was racing and my lungs felt empty. I felt weak. My senses were dulled and my limbs felt heavier than they ever had. I needed to get out of bed.
I threw the blankets off of me and put my feet down on the floor. I still felt wobbly, but I tried my best to stand. As I stood, my head felt light and I stumbled sideways.
There was a flash of light and I found myself laying on a cold metal floor, soaked from head to toe. I was gasping for air and spitting up water.
“Tell me what’s behind the scarlet door and this all ends,” I heard Mira say.
This time her voice was not soft and comforting, but harsh and stinging without a bit of empathy.
“I..I don’t know,” I said. “Please. I don’t know.”
I was barely able to understand what was going on as I laid there, my lungs burning.
I heard a scream coming from an adjacent room.
“Reiden…” I said.
“Just tell me what I want to know and both you and your friend goes free. Withhold your secrets and you’ll both suffer,” Mira said.
“Please. I don’t know. I don’t know,” I pleaded.
“Put her back under,” Mira said with an emotionless tone.
“No!” I tried to scream before my face was pushed back down under the water.
When I opened my eyes, I was once again laying in my bed. Reiden stood in the doorway with a tech pad in his hands.
“How long have you been there?” I asked him without rising from my bed.
“Just for a few moments. It says here you didn’t check into the medical bay yesterday after our session,” He said.
“I didn’t feel like it was necessary,” I lied.
“Hmmm. Well it still make me feel better if you made sure you were ok for more time in the brainwasher,” He said.
“I’m fine, Reiden,” I said sitting up in the bed. “I just needed some rest.”
“Is that a doctor’s opinion?” He asked.
I let out a small laugh.
He glanced up from the pad to look at me.
“What?” He asked.
“I thought you were making a joke,” I said.
“Oh… yeah I guess it was,” He said before looking back at the tech pad. “Well if you really think you are ready for another session, I can get one started.”
“I can handle it,” I said.
“I readjusted some things so hopefully today goes better than yesterday. I’m sure it will only be a few more sessions at most before we extract all the information we need.” Reiden said.
“About the scarlet door, right?” I asked.
He looked up from the pad again.
“Right. As soon as we figure out the significance of the scarlet door, we can find our target. Now get ready. I’m heading to the lab,” He said as he turned and left the room.
A few minutes passed before I pulled myself out of bed and got ready for the session. My whole body was sore and I had a massive headache, but I knew I had to keep going.
I walked down the hallway and met Reiden in the chamber room.
“Almost ready to start,” Reiden said as he tapped his tech pad.
I looked over at the machine and was surprised to see that there were two chairs hooked up to the machine. One seat was empty and was meant for me and the other had a woman slumped over in the chair.
“Uh… Reiden? Who is this?” I asked.
He looked at me with a inquisitive look.
“That’s the woman who’s memories we’ve been sorting through. Are you sure you are alright, Sera?”
I turned my attention from the woman to look at Reiden.
“What? Of course I am,” I said.
“You don’t remember her being here for our sessions?” Reiden asked.
“Of course I do! Yes. Right. Of course I remember her,” I said as I turned back to look at the woman.
“Alright,” Reiden said, not confident in my reply.
“I’m fine. I’m fine,” I said keeping my eyes on the woman.
My eyes narrowed as I studied her features. Bright red hair and fair skin. None of it seemed clear. But if Reiden said it, then it must be true.
I turned toward him.
“All set,” He said as he gestured to the other chair. “Last minute to back out. We can give it another day.”
“Every minute that goes by, scum like this one kill our people without mercy. Strap me in. We’ll get the information,” I said.
Reiden nodded as he secured metal clamps on my arms and legs, holding me to the chair. He placed a series of wires and sensors connecting me to the machine and to the red-haired woman sitting in the chair.
“Remember, Sera. Once you get in there, things can get a bit mixed up. Don’t lose yourself,” Reiden said.
“I won’t,” I replied.
“Find the scarlet door and this can all be over,” Reiden said.
“I know. I know,” I said letting out a deep breath.
“Let me count you down. Entering the brain of subject 35, Mira in 3…2…1..
He flipped the switch and I felt my eyes go heavy. My body relaxed and my mind began to go. I looked at him as my vision began to go dark.
“If you have any trouble in there, just remember the phrase,” Reiden said. “We are the truth. The only truth.”
Header Photo Credit to Ali Express