What is Forever Past is Eternally Present, a flash fiction by Anna Veress at Spillwords.com
Unreal Airtist

What is Forever Past is Eternally Present

What is Forever Past is Eternally Present

written by: Anna Veress

 

To live is to haunt.
“Our bodies have died many times,” Lysandra murmured, her voice heavy with the echoes of countless forgotten memories. The other woman sat on the hospital bed in front of her, their bodies illuminated only by the flickering LED fixture above them; a torrent of fireflies, like bioluminescent burrowing animals dancing around their shadows. “These aren’t the cells we were born with, nor the teeth, nor the brain. We in the pilot’s chair are already ghosts, here but not there; witness to our own haunting.”
For a moment, there was silence in the room, save for the buzzing of the LED light. Then Lysandra’s voice returned, softer now, almost contemplative. “The essence of human existence transcends mere flesh and bone; we are built of memories as the beach is of sand; an ever-shifting foundation that threatens to crumble beneath our feet. Like ships, anchored to the fog.”
The door burst open and the room was flooded with bright light. Men in uniform poured in, their mission obvious. One grabbed Lysandra by the arm and dragged her away from the bed while another pushed her down on her knees and pulled his weapon on her. Desperate for help, she looked up to the woman, though her only response was a stare of cold indifference. Lysandra’s voice turned rippled with rage and filled with an urgency that cut through the air like a knife: “Don’t you understand? You will never know what it is to live and experience this life for yourself. You might look just like me, you might share my memories, but you will never feel what it means to be alive, to feel life within your very veins!”
In a monotone voice, the woman now finally spoke for the first time: “Yes. I understand that the very fabric of your being was constructed of fragmented recollections, but your humanity rests on a false notion of exceptionalism. Mine was meticulously curated to shape a simulated version of yours. Designed
to replace you.”
Engineered to haunt.

Lysandra’s voice wavered as she spoke now, each word another shard of glass piercing her soul: “All you will ever be is a museum of things people want to forget, now made eternal in the cyphers of your code. Mere fragments of a past that don’t belong to you; meaningless threads woven together to create a tapestry of a life you had never lived.” Owed to a surge of adrenaline, she broke away from the soldier’s hold and brushed aside his gun, denying him any chance of using it. She lunged forward and grabbed the woman seated on the bed, dragging them both to the ground. Lysandra did not let go of the grip she had on the woman’s shoulders, her fingers biting into the artificiality of her opponent’s flesh with all her strength, as if digging for answers that would never come.
As tension thickened, the commanding General’s voice reverberated through the room. “Terminate the human, Solomon,” he demanded, “but don’t harm her replacement.”
Lysandra released her grip and sat up next to the other woman; like statues waiting for their finishing touches they remained there, their appearance so eerily similar, the lines between humanity and artificiality momentarily blurred. As the seconds stretched out, interminable and laden with indecisiveness, Solomon’s hand bore heavy under the weight of responsibility. Hovering his finger over the trigger, his mind raced. Which one is the human?
“Just shoot us both.”
“No, at least one of us should be spared.”
An impossible choice that must be made – one life, or the preservation of memories that hold the essence of humankind.
A decision firmly in mind, Solomon exited the room. A final decree that sealed her fate, executed with no hesitation and no regard for human life. The door sealed shut and oxygen started to evacuate the room; Lysandra’s hope did too. Her very existence was now a testament to the failure of flesh. Her humanity was meaningless compared to synthetic sinew and artificial recollections. She was both a victim and a perpetrator— the blueprint for a creation intended to be replaced, to only exist in the hollow spaces between lines of coding. Air was leaving her lungs as she turned to face the woman seated on the floor next to her. Like looking into the reflection on a metal surface, her eyes meeting another pair already staring back. There was no depth in those eyes, no mercy; merely a vacancy that had never truly met another’s gaze.
“Do you know what truly makes you different from us?” the woman whispered to her; a question lingering in the stillness of the room.
“You get to take a final breath.”

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