ʀᴀᴛᴇᴅ ғᴏʀ ʟᴀɴɢᴜᴀɢᴇ, ᴠɪᴏʟᴇɴᴄᴇ, ᴀɴᴅ ʜᴏʀʀɪғɪᴄ ᴛʜᴇᴍᴇs. ʀᴇᴄᴏᴍᴍᴇɴᴅᴇᴅ ғᴏʀ ᴀɢᴇs 15+


3ʀᴅ Mᴇᴍᴏʀʏ

"ɪ ᴄʜᴀɪɴᴇᴅ ʏᴏᴜʀ sᴏᴜʟ ᴛᴏ ᴍɪɴᴇ, ᴍʏ sᴡᴇᴇᴛ, ᴀɴᴅ ɴᴇᴠᴇʀ sʜᴀʟʟ ʏᴏᴜ ᴇsᴄᴀᴘᴇ ᴍᴇ.
ɪ'ʟʟ ʙᴜʀɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴡᴏʀʟᴅ ᴀɴᴅ ᴍᴀᴋᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ᴡᴀᴛᴄʜ, ғᴏʀ ᴛʜɪs ɪs ᴛʜᴇ ᴘʀɪᴄᴇ ᴏғ sɪɴ."

Sarah has memories that don't belong to her. Her friends think she's crazy, her mother won't listen to a word and her psychologist says they're just nightmares and hallucinations brought on by post-traumatic stress.

But then the Earth stops spinning, monsters descend upon the streets and the lines between memory and reality begin to blur.

The End of the World is coming, and humanity's only hope for salvation lies in the memories of those whose Worlds that have already been lost—in the memories that rest in Sarah's head.


0

Tɪᴄᴋ.. Tɪᴄᴋ... Tɪᴄᴋ...

Eight hundred and seventy-six... eight hundred and seventy-seven... eight hundred and seventy-eight...

She sat with her arms wrapped around her knees, grey-green eyes focused on a stain in the carpet as she silently counted each second that went past. Stray locks of sand-coloured hair hung in front of her face. The wooden frame of the chair creaked as she gently rocked herself back and forth.

Tick… tick… tick…

"Sarah…" said her therapist with a sigh.

Eight hundred and eighty-one, she counted, and then looked up into Meryl Winchester's face. Behind her thick, black glasses, the woman had her polite counselling mask on, but Sarah could see a couple of extra creases forming on her brow. Fourteen minutes and one second of silence… that was a new record. She let another few more seconds tick by before responding. "Yes, Meryl?" she asked disinterestedly.

"Your mother says you've been spending a lot of time in your room. Apparently you haven't been going to school, or seen anyone outside your own family in weeks."

Sarah traced a small circle on her knee and silently counted the loops. One… two… three… "She said that, did she?" she asked finally, when she'd reached thirty-two.

"According to her, you also haven't been sleeping lately, and when you do, you suffer from nightmares and waking dreams. Is this true?"

Fifty-two… fifty-three… "Maybe…" replied the girl.

"Sarah, it's perfectly normal for people who have had traumatic experiences like yours to have flashbacks and nightmares of the event. Have you ever heard of post-traumatic stress disorder?"

Eighty-four… eighty-five…

"Sarah, please answer the question."

Ninety-nine… zero…

"Sarah?"

She swapped hands and changed from circles to stars. "Yes, Meryl?" One… two… three…

"Do you know what PTSD is?"

"Yes," answered Sarah. "PTSD is an anxiety disorder associated with serious traumatic events and characterized by such symptoms as survivor guilt, reliving the trauma in dreams, numbness and lack of involvement with reality, or recurrent thoughts and images." Twenty-six… twenty-seven…

Meryl blinked, her mask slipping for a moment and revealing her surprise. "That's a… very concise answer."

"I looked it up on the Internet."

"And why did you do that?"

"Because the counsellor at school thinks I have it too." Fifty-nine… sixty… Sarah rested her hand on her knee and looked the psychologist in the eye. "He's wrong though," she said flatly.

Click. Scrape. Meryl nodded and scribbled something on her notepad. Sarah frowned; it was probably something along the lines of a big, fat, denial. "And why do you say that, Sarah?" prompted the psychologist as she wrote.

"My nightmares and flashbacks aren't of the Incident," replied the girl promptly, averting her gaze and staring off into the space above and to the right of Meryl Winchester's head.

"What do you see then?"

"Memories."

Scribble. Scribble. Scribble.

"What do you mean by memories? Are we talking happy memories, sad memories? Memories of your childhood perhaps?"

Sarah shook her head vehemently. "No, no, and no," she replied firmly. "They don't belong to me; they belong to other people."

Tick… tick… tick…

Meryl paused and looked up. "What makes you say that?" she asked, blinking owlishly behind the large, thick lenses of her spectacles.

Sarah met her eye and glared at her balefully; for an adult the woman sure was stupid. "Because the person in them isn't me; it's someone else," she answered.

"I see…" murmured Meryl. More scribbles. More scrapes. Flick, fwip, new page. "And what's happening to the in these 'memories'?"

Silence.

Tick… tick… tick…

Meryl sighed. "Please answer the question, Sarah."

The girl ignored her, her attention focused on something in the corner of the room.

Meryl followed her gaze. There was nothing there, just a plastic plant in a ceramic vase full of pebbles. "Is there something there, Sarah?"

Sarah just cocked her head, listening. "Do you hear that?"

"Hear what?"

Tick… tick… tick…

Sarah wrapped her arms around her knees again and began to rock.

Tick… tick… tick…

Finally, she whispered, "The end of the world is coming."