The first day that he stopped remembering, he felt sublime, and each morning thereafter was as fresh and wondrous as when he was first born. Gone were the lingering doubts about his choices, the struggles over which love and loss was his greatest, the internal movies of horrors committed in his name, on his watch, by his hands. Instead, he retained all the linguistic skills and charm that had rendered him invaluable when he was a pioneer and the ability to recall only that day’s events.
Each night, when he entered his second round of REM, his slate was wiped nearly clean. It allowed him to amble down the street, smile at neighbors, and blithely ignore the shame and hate found in the eyes of those he passed. He was disarmed and disarming. He had calculated our weaknesses well. After all, who could hurt such an innocent?
It was his last act before the rebels came—the great escape.
But she remembered. She had suffered and buried her family. She had lost hope and tended to her lovers broken. And she was as patient as she was beautiful.
She captivated the commander who did not remember, this Houdini of hate, and became his companion. She learned his habits. She trained herself to sleep in short shifts to catch his descent into oblivion. She tracked and planned and hid speakers near his bed. These would softly play old news from the frontlines, growing louder with international reports of atrocities he had ordered, and ending silently with his distress as the memories returned and burrowed into his brain, overriding the early hour cleanse.
Each night the same, and each day he would remember more and walk outside less. He would ask for an upgrade, beg for medication, and seek the solace of her skin, until it was too much. Until he found his own way to the rifle and a less elegant, more final escape.