Vocal Echoes


On to the second part of the Daily Post prompt. This is the short story version. I hope you enjoy. Part one can be found here, if you wish to read that too.

Your blog is about to be recorded into an audiobook. If you could choose anyone — from your grandma to Samuel L. Jackson — to narrate your posts, who would it be?

July 8th 3510
Dr Carla Ember sank back against her chair back and sighed. Her colleague, Matt Barker, stuck his head around the door, spotted her downcast mien and dropped into the chair usually occupied by patients.
“Can I help?”
“I don’t know, Matt. I haven’t a clue how to proceed with this one.”
“Fill me in?”

Carla rubbed at her temples, rose and began to pace the office, her voice tight with frustration during her narration of the case.
“We put the subject into the chamber, plugged her in, and it was like a knowledge bomb exploded in her mind. She hasn’t stopped talking, literally. We had to sedate her to shut her down. She’s on intravenous, bagged and apparently oblivious to anything we do to help her.”
“No need, She makes no attempt to remove the input wires or leave the recording chair.”
“Are you getting anything useful? Anything that can aid the library?”

Both doctors had been working on the government knowledge bank for a decade. Subjects were brought in , all consenting adults, wired into the data banks held by the Earth Historical Reference Archives, and asked to record any memories, familial or historical, which might hold clues to the past. The government were desperate to find out what had destroyed 98% of the world population in 2025; what disaster had resulted in the fire storms, the electrical surges which had wiped out digital memory and paper records in every corner of the world. It was hoped that somewhere in the memory of the slowly recovering population lay an answer which could unlock the puzzle.

“Maybe, I don’t know. I have interns transcribing 24/7, every word she says, but it will take months, maybe years to correlate all the data, search it for information.”
“It’s one mind, Carla. It is finite.”
“Not this one, Matt, not by a long way.”
Carla sat down, passed her hand over the keyboard sunk into her desk top and a screen shimmered into holographic life between the watching pair.
“Run day one, hour one.”

There was a minute pause and then a petite blonde, wearing jeans and a pink top solidified in the air. She lay back in a reclining chair, smiling slightly, eyes closed, posture relaxed. She spoke continuously, each word clear as a bell.
Joseph and me, we got pregnant up on Dry Ridge. Poppa made us marry but we weren’t suited. I left, took the babby with me to my cousin’s shack up in Tindale. Wasn’t easy, but I wasn’t gonna put up with his floozies and drinkin’. We got by. I took to mending folks clothes for a few pennies, I remember the summer of 01…
Carla paused the playback.
“As far as we can make out, that’s Daisy Turner. She’s referring to the year 1801.”
“Ok, it wouldn’t be the first time we had someone who had memories handed down from that far back.”
“They aren’t hand-me-downs, Matt.”

Matt started to question, but Carla shook her head, passed her hand over the pad and brought up a new screen.
“Run day 5, hour three.”
Back came the blonde in clean clothes but otherwise the same. A drip ran from a bag on a hook behind her left shoulder.
Annie Braithwaite’s a witch, sir. I did see ‘er cavorting with devils up in Tanners Copse. She did ‘ave unnatural relations with a pig an’ a wolf. I seen it with me own eyes, sir. I did ran back to town for the priest, and he did see ‘er too, without a stitch for decency and laughing as a devil did ‘ave ‘er. ‘er’s known to ‘ave an extra finger on ‘er left ‘and too. I can tell you…

The voice was rough, uncultured and masculine, completely different to the tones of Daisy Turner. Carla passed a weary hand over her eyes, hovered over the pad ready for the next.
“That appears to be Abraham Duncan, one-time resident of Carnforth, a farm labourer. He gives the date as 1571.”
“Ok, strange I admit, but there’s nothing to say she wasn’t related, however distantly, and that is a familial memory.”
“Let me know if you think she’s related to this one too.”

Again the swipe, the instruction, and the screen skipped forward to day seventeen, hour eleven.
I don’t know how to quit her, Bobby. She’s worse than any drug, and I know she can drag me down as bad, but I can’t say no. You can tell me I have to, but it won’t do any good. Jackie, the kids, my career, I’d give it all over for her. She is…

Matt actually shot to his feet, colour draining from his face. Not much had survived in personal memories, but massive historical moments were common in many instances. This man was one of the most commonly recalled.
“Is that really him?”
“As far as we can tell. So far she has shared 100 different personalities, each with tiny fragments of pure gold as far as the data banks are concerned. We have no idea how many more she holds. I think she might actually be ‘the one’, Matt. She might unlock it all.”
“A verbal history, told through the voices of people who lived it. She’s… amazing, Carla! How can she hold all that information?”
“I don’t know, and I don’t know how… or even which of her, to ask.”
“Need a hand?”
Carla knew he was looking for glory, but she also knew she wasn’t half the psychologist he was. She nodded.

One response »

  1. Pingback: Voice Work | mojowritin

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