mars Eighteen. Nine times three, or nine plus nine, or a trifecta of sixes. One plus eight is nine. Nine times nine is 81, the inverse of 18. It is a magic number for me, because in spite of its numerical interests, for me it’s only value is zero. Eighteen months there, eighteen months back, not counting a brief stay in orbit. We finally made it to Mars, only I don’t remember ever going there, only coming home, and though I got here six months ago, I’m still not home.

Doctor Zane stared at me over his spectacles. I wondered if he knew that people once called them nothing more than glasses. I asked him again, for the hundredth time in the last six months,

"Seriously, Doctor Zane, not Ming, or Doctor Zarkhov?" And as tireless as ever, he glanced at his tablet and looked up again before saying, "That’s right, you minored in literature."

I sighed. I’d long ago given up trying to explain the difference between literature, my minor in college, and the first century of cinema, before computers ruined everything. A hobby. Our exchange was well rehearsed, and we both knew our lines, but they didn’t mean anything. At least not to me. Zane knew more than he was telling me, but he wanted me to move at my own pace.

I just wanted to know why I couldn’t remember ever going to Mars.

He consulted his tablet and then said, "In space, no one can hear you scream." I was impressed. He’d been doing his homework.

"Ridley Scott, Alien." I said," or are you referring to one of the remakes, which were awful, though the latest one was at least bearable." Never meddle with a classic.

He stared at me over his glasses. I refuse to call them spectacles. People who wear them do so as an affectation, and I find them pretentious. Though Doctor Zane is pleasant enough, the fact he wears them annoys me. They’re probably a secondary display showing my vitals, stress levels, and skin capacitance, all captured by the monitor stuck to my chest. They’re also probably meant to give him a slightly paternal look and put me at ease. They don’t.

He smiled slightly, the smallest upturn of his mouth, which meant he was humoring me… again. "It’s from one of your log entries."

"Which one? I made one every day of the trip."

"From the return, 175 days out from Mars. August 17th."

They never tell me the year. Every now and then Doctor Zane will ask me what year it is. When I tell him, he just nods and scribbles on his tablet. He never tells me if I’m right or wrong. The truth is, I have no idea what year it is. By my calculations it’s 2105. When I finish dictating my journal, something Zane wants me to do every day, the computer chimes the date and time, but never the year. Here, I’ll show you.

END ENTRY: Log saved, November 3 – 4:45 PM

BEGIN ENTRY: November 4 – 2:27 AM

I woke screaming, drenched in sweat, like I do every night, like I have every night for the past two years. At least now I’m not alone. I can hear them in the corridors, the nurses talking at their station, the quiet drone of an air conditioning vent that also carries the sound of someone snoring. For eighteen months, I woke from nightmares to the absolute solitude of the ship, without even the sound of a snore to comfort me. The nearest human being was millions of miles away. Is it any wonder I’m not quite sane?

I can’t remember the dreams, except tonight. I was running through the Nostromo in my panties and bra, unusual in itself, since I’m a man. Something horrific is chasing me, and I feel something stir in my chest, and then a sharp, explosive pain as it tears its way free. I never remember my dreams, but this time… maybe it’s a break through, but more likely it’s just the power of suggestion. Alien is one of my favorite movies. Not the remakes, they’re awful, but the original, projected in two dimensions on a flat wall in my apartment is brilliant. No computer graphics, no slick special effects. The alien is a guy in a rubber suit, and it’s terrifying.

The stuff made today is too perfect. No one appreciates the power of the imagination any more. I’m sure when he mentioned the tag line from the log entry, it got me thinking about the movie, and it was only natural I had a dream about it.

The log entries are a point of interest for Zane.

About a week out from Mars, on the trip home, the computer started randomly inserting snippets from books and movies in the ship’s library into my log entries. For instance, and this one only comes to mind because of my nightmare, the log entry for day 441 starts out:

In the still depths of space, beyond our reach, our vision, but within the grasp of our imagination, are there monsters?

Okay, so it’s not from a movie or a book, well not precisely. It’s something one of my professors said in my first year at college. I was studying xenobiology, which most people think means extraterrestrial life. We’ve never found it, so the science deals more with the theories of how life might express itself, and how it might evolve in different environments. Professor Jones (why is it that all the doctors I know seem to have names from the movies), was making the observation that if we were to encounter another species, and it appeared monstrous to us, that perception would be in our imaginations.

It’s not in any book I know of, but it is in my notes from college, which were stored in the ship’s library, which explains why the reference was randomly inserted into a log entry. The computer was really acting up on the way home.

I’m going to take a shower and see if I can get some more sleep before I meet with Zane again in the morning.

END ENTRY: Log saved November 4 – 2:31 AM

BEGIN ENTRY: November 8—7:01 PM

Most people don’t write by hand anymore. They dictate, but I guess a psychiatrist has to be able to make his observations without the patient overhearing. They write in some sort of cipher too, or Zane does. I know because I asked him to show me his tablet once. He handed it over, and scrawled across the screen were a series of squiggles and dashes. I write by hand too, most of the time. There’s something fascinating to me about the feel of pen on paper, and not cheap pen’s. I have a very expensive fountain pen I picked up at an antique store in Chicago two years ago… or I guess it was five. Eighteen months there, eighteen months back, and half of them I can’t remember.

I don’t have that pen anymore. They won’t let me have anything I can hurt myself with. I don’t know why , I’m not suicidal.

My session with Doctor Zane took a new twist today. He actually let me look at a couple log entries

I told him about my dream, and the quote it reminded me of. He tapped a couple times on his tablet and pulled up the day in question:

Left orbit at 14:37 EST (Earth Standard Time), but over thrust. I’ll have to check the reserves and make sure I have enough fuel for a normal burn.——————-ratio of ——— The planets, like silent parishioners, move to partake of the Mass, but Mars is already blood red. ————————————————————————————————— Ship’s fuel—onsump-ion report shows I haven’t ——a reduction in thrust of 2.015 percent should adjust for the extra fuel I burned. It will stretch the trip h-me out by another three weeks, but that’s not too bad.

I would think that problem of missing text from the entries would be of more concern than random quotes, but the two are probably related. For the most part, most of the entries are fairly normal, but without exception, whenever there’s an excerpt from the ship’s library in the log entry, chunks of the log are missing. Sometimes it’s no worse than all the periods in an entry being replaced by "out damn spot, out." Most were like the one Zane showed me.

Zane looked at me over his glasses. "Why did you feel the need to over thrust?"

It’s another rehearsed line. I’ve read a summary of the events as culled from the log, but not the actual entries themselves, not since they put me here in the hospital, and it’s not the first time he’s asked the question.

I give him my standard answer. "I don’t know. If I did, would I be here?" We know our roles well, Doctor Zane and I, and I have to admire his patience. He goes home every night to a wife, and children, perhaps grand children. At least I assume he does. Though he’s the closest thing I have to a friend, I know next to nothing about him, and he knows things about me that even I don’t know.

I wish they would just tell me what happened, but then with the logs corrupted, maybe they don’t know as much as I think they do.   Regardless, Zane knows something he’s not telling me. What happened to me on the way to Mars? I remember every detail of the trip home, but nothing of the previous eighteen months.

Doctor Zane asks the next question in his repertoire. "Are you happy?" His voice, as always is soothing, quiet. I think about it for a moment, which is more than I usually do. This question is part of our play as well, but the nightmare bothered me. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Zane’s thumb twitch. He’s excited that I’m not giving the normal answer I always give. It annoys me, and for a moment I considered giving it to him, but the truth is that while I’m not unhappy, I’m also not happy. That’s the answer I’ve given him every day for the last six months.

It suddenly occurs to me that’s not what he’s asking. Am I happy? The answer slides into my head almost automatically. I’m not unhappy, but I’m not satisfied with that answer anymore.

"No. I’d like the nightmares to stop."

The corners of his mouth tighten a fraction. I wonder if he knows how well I scored on the test for observation and analysis. I tend to notice things most people don’t. The twitching of his thumb when I don’t give the expected answer, a slight tightening of the mouth. It’s ironic that I’m in a situation where eighteen months of my life have just vanished into thin air.

"Your dreams are your subconscious mind processing what happened. You’re trying to work it out. If we induce a dreamless sleep state, I’m afraid we’ll set the clock back and you’ll have to start all over again, processing things in the unconscious mind."

"I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in two years. I’m willing to risk it." I can see the hesitation in his eyes. We had a breakthrough; I’m not on script anymore. Will a dreamless night derail us? At least I think those are the questions going through his head, but I suspect he’s never gone twenty four months without a normal night’s sleep. 

"Please." I beg. I’m stunned at how weak I sound, not the begging, I’d do anything to have a dream inhibitor slapped on my forehead. My voice cracked, and I felt tears in my eyes. My hands were shaking.

"One night, and that’s it. I know it isn’t pleasant, but the dreams you have are the path to your recovery."

I broke down, sobbing like a child. Two years of unremembered nightmares would end tonight. I may not remember the details, but when I wake, covered in sweat, my heart racing… it’s horrific, and I can’t get back to sleep for hours afterwards, for fear the dream will be lurking there as soon as I drift off.

But tonight will be different.

END ENTRY: Log saved November 5, 7:20 PM

BEGIN ENTRY: November 6, 6:30 AM

Far away from home , farther than this planet’s sun, so that all suns are dots of light. We are far from them, in their environment, where only they may subsist.

I slept! All night nothing disturbed my sleep. I’d forgotten what it felt like to be normal again, to sleep, perchance not to dream! Why didn’t I ask for this before? I think I may have, actually. I can’t remember, but it doesn’t matter. I have to convince Doctor Zane to let me use a dream suppressor more often.

END ENTRY: November 6, 6:35 AM

BEGIN ENTRY: November 6, 9:15 PM

My session with Doctor Zane didn’t go well today. Something was bothering him, but he wouldn’t say. I thanked him for the dream inhibitor and suggested that another night couldn’t hurt. He hesitated and then excused himself for a few minutes.

I sat in his office and looked around. He’d never left me alone before, not during one of our sessions. I glanced about trying to locate the camera that no doubt recorded our sessions. There was probably more than one, cleverly disguised as a speck on the wall. A spider scurried across the ceiling, the room upside down for it. To the spider, it must look like I was the one stuck to the ceiling. Maybe it was the camera.

Suddenly angry at being spied on, I got up and climbed onto Zane’s desk. I reached out and smashed the arachnid with my hand. Goo and guts smeared across my palm. The spider was only a spider after all. I suddenly felt sick and my head began to spin. I blacked out as the room whirled around me.

I woke up in my room bathed and in clean clothes. The taste in my mouth told me I’d vomited. Poor Zane, he’s fastidious. I looked at my hand, but the spider’s blood was gone. There was no sign I murdered the poor thing. I sat fuming, angry with myself. As a xenobiologist I should have more respect for life.

After about twenty minutes, I got tired of the foul taste in my mouth and went into the bathroom to rinse it. I stood staring into the mirror for I don’t know how long. Dark circles under my eyes, etched by two years of poor sleep. Red, bloodshot eyes stared back. I was a wreck. I’d stared into that mirror for six months, and another like it for eighteen months before that. When did the madness set in? Was it gradual, did I slowly transform into the wretch that stared back at me, or did it happen all at once? Was that why I couldn’t remember?

I turned the faucet on and let the water wash over my hands. I felt the wet slick spot on my palm where the spider died. Out damn spot, out. I’m sorry Lady Macbeth, some spots don’t come out. When I went back out to my room, I found the dream inhibitor on the table by my bed. Thank you, Doctor Zane. I promise I won’t make fun of your name anymore.

END ENTRY: November 7, 12:01 AM

BEGIN ENTRY: November 7, 8:00 AM

It was In dreams his mind wrought the battles where the war for his soul was fought.

I slept without nightmares again. A full eight hours. Please, God, don’t let Zane take away the inhibitor.

END ENTRY: November 7, 8:01 AM

BEGIN ENTRY: November 7, 3:30 PM

Doctor Zane didn’t mention that I puked all over his desk, which I thought was generous of him. I could still smell the faint traces of vomit in his office, which didn’t make sense. I’m sure it was scrubbed from top to bottom, so maybe it was just my imagination. There was a greasy smear on the ceiling they missed, and I couldn’t take my eyes off it. Out damn spot, out.

"What was that?" Zane asked

I hadn’t realized I’d spoken aloud.

"Shakespeare."

Zane smiled his professional smile. I could tell the difference because I actually told a joke once, and he laughed, really laughed. "Two men walk into a bar, the second one should have ducked." Zane laughed, and from that moment forward, I could tell his real smile, the one that the human being Zane showed to people who weren’t patients, and the professional smile he used to appear sympathetic.

"I know its Shakespeare," He said. "Why did you quote it just now?"

I shrugged, but suddenly didn’t want to tell him about the spider, so I lied instead. "I can still smell vomit. They didn’t clean it very well. I’m sorry I puked everywhere."

He shrugged, and drew in a deep breath. "Most likely it’s psychosomatic, or you have some trace molecules in your nose that you can still detect. I can’t smell anything." He followed my gaze to the ceiling. "Is that all?"

Damnit! I was looking at the spider’s smeared mark again.

I forced myself to look at him, and put on a fake smile, not as good as his, but I hoped it fooled him.

"Yes."

He nodded and made some quick notes on his tablet. We sat in silence as he scribbled, and I found myself staring at the ceiling again. Was the smear moving? I rubbed my eyes, which were tearing up for some reason. It was just a spider, why was I crying over it? The blurriness gone, the stain on the ceiling stopped wiggling.

Zane looked up, but I had managed to pull my gaze away from the ceiling.

"How’d you sleep last night?"

"Blissfully dreamless, thank you." He nodded again, made a couple more notes, and stood up. I swear his eyes darted toward the spider stain, but it was too quick to be certain. I suddenly felt tremendous guilt.

He walked up and handed me a tissue. Was it that obvious? I wiped my eyes and blew my nose as Zane sat back down. We sat staring at each other for a long while, but when it became clear I wasn’t going to say anything more, he changed tactics. He does that, and I think it’s to catch me off guard. He says I’m hiding something, even from myself, and these changes in topic are to try to trick it out of me, or more precisely, that part of me that doesn’t want to remember.

"What did you think of Mars."

"I don’t know, I can’t remember ever being there." We’re in the script again. Same question, same answer. Safe. It’s true though, I don’t remember Mars. My first memory is a week after I left orbit.

He asks the next question, and I know it before he even speaks. "Well then, what is your impression of Mars, from what you know of it?"

I have the answer ready before he even finishes speaking. I’ll shrug, like I always do and say that it’s a dead, empty world, so I’m surprised when I blurt out. "I hate it."   Where did that come from?

Zane is looking at me with a strange look on his face, oh, it’s his poker face, but Zane would lose five games out of five to me. He has a terrible poker face, and I can tell he’s pleased.

"Why?"

I know what he means, but I ask all the same. "Why what? "I don’t want to answer his question. It terrifies me. Something moves on the ceiling, another spider maybe, but when I look up, there’s nothing there but the smear.

"Why do you hate Mars?"

My palms are sweating, and I wipe them on my pants, but it’s no good. I can still feel the spider’s slime on my palm. I’m rubbing frantically at my leg now, rocking back and forth. "Out damn spot, out." It’s all I can say, over and over. When did I start crying? Why can’t I stop?

END ENTRY: November 7, 4:05 PM

BEGIN ENTRY: November 7, 9:20 PM

Roar thou demons, and vent thy fury heavenward! For thou art in hell, and know it not.

When I woke in my room this evening, I came to in that slow ascent to consciousness that occurs only when you’ve been drugged. I’m worried about this, because I thought I was making progress. They haven’t had to sedate me for months now, and I don’t want to go back to having a needle shoved in my arm, or taking pills.

I have to be ready for Doctor Zane the next time he asks that question. I have to have an answer that I can toss out without thinking about it, but the truth is, I don’t know why I hate Mars. The idea of Mars being lifeless bothers me more than it should, sure, but I’m a biologist. My life’s work has been about life, how it functions, where it can survive. An entire world empty of life bothers me. Add to that the fact that I don’t remember ever going there and If that’s not reason enough, nothing is, but Mars is also the god of war in mythology. War is another way of saying death. Mars sits on the verge of potential for life, but none has ever been found, not even a fossil of a microbe, and it offends my sensibilities. Mars should be able to sustain life!  I don’t know why I feel so strongly about that.  I just do.

My episode today in Zane’s office resulted in what I was afraid of. They took the inhibitor away. I’m going to dream again tonight, and it scares me shitless. How can a dream I can’t remember be so terrifying? I don’t want to dream, please God, let them bring the inhibitor. Don’t make me sleep. Please, oh please God, please. Please. Please.

END ENTRY: November 7, 9:37 PM

BEGIN ENTRY: November 8, 2:41 AM

I am ‘twixt pleasure and pain, and I think I will linger. It is safer here than from whence I came.

END ENTRY: November 8, 2:41 AM

BEGIN ENTRY: November 8, 6:30 AM

Weep, for tears are the baptism of the soul. Is there not sorrow in heaven also?

"In the ship’s log, you never quote anything written before 2037, did you know that?"

I looked at Zane through blood shot eyes. "You mean the computer never did."

He looked startled for a moment through his poker face, and a little too hastily replied. "Of course."

He wrote something down on his tablet, and asked without looking up. "How’d you sleep last night?"

"I don’t know, I was unconscious." Zane smiled, a real smile, not his professional one.

"No you weren’t, but you may not have been aware. We monitor the sleep patterns of patients. You woke up a total of six times."

"I don’t remember."

"You made a journal entry at around three in the morning. It was unintelligible. Do you remember what you said?"

I shook my head, trying to remember, but all I felt was the vague sense of guilt and unease, and the sheer terror that my nightmares induced.

Zane nodded and made a note on his tablet. He nods too much. It doesn’t convey anything, and it means that I’m not getting better, but that it’s okay. It’s alright for him to nod. He’s not trapped in a mental institute with a gaping hole in his memory and dreams that torment his sleep.

"Do you remember what you dreamt about?"

"No."

Zane kept scribbling away on his tablet and I watched him. The room was quiet except for the slick plastic on plastic sound of his stylus. A pressure was building in me, welling up from deep within my chest, and squeezing my lungs so I couldn’t breathe. It forced tears out of my eyes and I gasped in a sudden sob, "I’m getting worse, aren’t I?"

Zane froze as he looked up. His eyes met mine and for the first time I think he saw me, and I saw him. We connected. His eyes, hidden behind glasses that weren’t a secondary display, somehow I knew it. Nor were they an affectation. They were a defense against forming a bond with patients like me.

I couldn’t imagine the burden it would be to carry one’s own problems, as well as the problems of dozens of patients. They were his armor, those glasses. They protected him from me and others like me so he could have a normal life outside of these walls.

Zane reached up and took the glasses off. "No, Steven. I think you’re getting better."

I couldn’t help it. I started to cry.

END ENTRY: November 8, 7:45 PM

BEGIN ENTRY: November 9, 12:00 PM

The mystery of a man’s eyes are not that they mirror his soul, but are the crypt of his deceits.

I hate jell-o. Why hospitals insist on giving it to patients is a mystery to me. I understand for those who are sick, but nothing is wrong with my body. It’s my mind that’s broken. I hate jell-o. I told Doctor Zane this in our morning session, and he laughed.

I like this doctor Zane, and his glasses, I find didn’t bother me at all today. In fact, I think he wore them more out of habit than necessity. Regardless, for the first time in six months, make that two years, I don’t feel alone.

Zane showed me another log entry from the return trip.

Dance the dance divine! Gods and goddesses whirl and twirl while planets plod along in millennial mockery, but the worlds are starlit tombs, filled with the corpses of dead men who will not die.

It’s wrecked! I can’t fix it, I don’t know how, and I can’t turn ——————————————————————————laughing and I can’t ——————————————— die. Let me die. Oh God, please, let me die.—————————————————————————————————————————come wolf, the shepherd is away.

"Do you remember this day?"

I shook my head.

"It’s the only entry we found intact prior to your amnesia. The entry date is six days out from Mars, one day before you lost your memory."

I can’t breathe. "I was sane then?"

"You’re not insane Steven. You simply have some suppressed memories. You can function normally, you can discern what is real from what isn’t, and you have a strong sense of morality."

"You forgot to mention nightmares that would scare the piss out of Satan."

"There are those, but I don’t think they’re nightmares. There’s a reason you can’t remember them, and I think it’s because you remember what happened at Mars when you sleep. Your subconscious mind remembers, but your waking mind doesn’t want to, and so they frighten you. I want to bring those memories forward."

"It’s been two years, and I haven’t been able to remember."

"I think you have, but only when you sleep, so I’m going to put you back on the inhibitor and see if we can’t bring the memories out of your subconscious and into your conscious mind."

A sudden instinct grabbed me by the throat. Doctor Zane and I were connected now, he was a human being to me, and I was a human being to him, and I realized it’s a lot harder to lie to a person you know and care about.

"Doctor Zane," my heart raced. "Do you know what happened to me?"

He froze and looked at me. He pushed his glasses up on his nose, raising his defenses, but it wouldn’t work. They weren’t a shield anymore, at least not from me. He cleared his throat once, twice. He dropped his eyes and spoke in a whisper.

"Yes."

"Then tell me! For the love of God, tell me."

He stood, his eyes brimming. "I can’t. Forgive me, but I can’t."

He moved toward the door, and paused a moment before speaking over his shoulder.

"I’m sorry, Steven. I let myself…" he stopped to clear his throat. "You’ll have another doctor tomorrow. I can’t be yours anymore." He turned to face me. "But trust me, you are getting better."

END ENTRY: November 9, 9:00 PM

BEGIN ENTRY: November 10, 3:45 PM

In the silence of death, can you hear the voices of the damned? I can.

Doctor Williams is a small, pudgy black man who neither wears glasses or needs them. He’s far more professional than Zane ever was. He doesn’t care about me, and never will. I hated him the moment I met him. It’s nothing personal. It’s just that I’m alone again. Surrounded by five hundred other patients, doctors, and nurses, and I’m alone again. Doctor Zane is here somewhere, but I don’t know where and they won’t let me see him.

Doctor Williams asks all the questions he’s supposed to but I won’t answer him. I won’t even look at him. I don’t want to have to write another script of predictable answers to predictable questions.

After half an hour of my silence, he gives up, and tries another tack.

"Doctor Zane left in his notes that he thought you should be left on the dream inhibitor. I agree."

I look at Williams and speak for the first time in almost an hour. "John Williams composed for some of the greatest films ever made."

He looks down at his notes and taps the tablet. "Oh, yes. I see you minored in literature."

I sigh.

He looks up at me, and I can imagine a pair of glasses perched on his nose. An invisible defense against caring about people who desperately need to be cared about.

"We can’t leave you on it for too long, it isn’t healthy. The brain needs REM sleep."

I can’t help it. I start laughing uncontrollably. Williams looks at me, truly perplexed. In the six months I was with Zane I never burst out in maniacal laughter. Poor man, Zane may have not been a good poker player, but he was a good doctor. Williams wasn’t. I struggled to get myself under control and after a couple quick gulps of air, I was only chuckling.

"Doctor Williams." I snorted, imagining this short little man trying to conduct a symphony, the Duel of the Fates! I started to laugh again and held up my hand as I struggled to get myself under control. Finally, I could speak again. "Doctor Williams, if I was healthy, would I be here?"

He stood up and brought me the box of tissues. I’d stopped laughing and was crying uncontrollably.

END ENTRY: November 10, 9:00 PM

BEGIN ENTRY: November 15, 6:00 AM

It is done, and we are all in tow of brother death. Can you see us, we are ghosts.

I haven’t kept up with this journal like I did with Zane. Williams hasn’t asked me to, and I haven’t felt like it. I’ve been sleeping with the dream inhibitor, but though I’m getting a full nights sleep, I don’t feel rested. Doctor Williams says it’s because I’m not getting the REM sleep I need. That’s one reason, but it’s not the only reason. When I’m not dreaming, I’m not remembering what happened at Mars. Zane thought the lack of dreaming would push the nightmares forward, into my conscious mind, but he was wrong. It just buried them deeper. There’s no evidence to show that I’m remembering anything.

I think I’ll go back and look through my journal entries to see if something of my memory creeped into them.

END ENTRY: November 15, 6:05 AM

BEGIN ENTRY: November 15, 7:12 PM

They’re locked! I went back to read what I’d entered over the past six months, and they’re locked. My God, what are they thinking? How can you lock away six months of an amnesiac’s most intimate thoughts from him!

It’s like I’ve lost another six months of memories! I can understand that they wanted to read them, I knew they’d read them. It was part of the therapy, but they locked them from me! What did I say? I know what I remember saying, but if my memory were worth a damn I wouldn’t be in this place. How could they lock them from me? Doctor Zane, where are you? I need you, please help me.

END ENTRY: November 15, 7:13 PM

November 15, 11:45 PM

I truly am mad. I’ve managed to slice open my finger and I’m using my own blood to write on the bathroom wall. They stole my memory, who had so little memory left to steal. Whoever reads this, I beg of you, don’t clean it. Leave me this much. I’m not sleeping with the inhibitor tonight. I thought I didn’t  want to dream, now I’m desperate to dream.  It’s the only place where I still have memories, where they can’t take them away. How could I have asked for an inhibitor? Why did they give me one? Why don’t they want me to remember? What don’t they want me to remember!

 

 

I dreamt.

I remembered.

 

It’s three in the morning now and it’s quiet, so very quiet where I am. A silence so intense that even through the thick concrete walls, and the vast emptiness of space, I can hear their voices. I hear them calling me over the radio, the voices of the men I left behind on Mars, the men who saved my life when my suit tore. They left me alone in the lander and went back out to that forlorn planet, and I went mad and stranded them there. They call to me, begging for me to come back for them.

I tried, oh God how I tried, but I crippled the ship in my madness. I can still hear them, even though there isn’t a sound, not here, not anywhere. Not anymore.