Welcome back to my imagination. I really hadn’t expected this  serial flash fiction story to be a dystopian, but here we are. Such is the fun of fiction writing. Today, though I didn’t use Rory’s Story Cubes as inspiration, simply because it was time to wrap up what was already in the story. Or else it’s not a story! (first episode, second episode, third episode, fourth episode)

Underground

Jeremy felt like a kindergartener being put down for nap time. However, the past days apparently had taken their toll, for he fell asleep immediately and only awakened two hours later when an alarm went off. He opened his eyes to Ari’s face about two inches from his own.

“Sorry we couldn’t let you sleep any more, Papa. Mama says we can’t let you sleep more than a couple hours in case that bad guy gave you a concussion. Do you have a concussion?”

“Uh,” his tongue felt thick with the events of the last few days. “I, uh, don’t think so.”

Wait! Papa? Mama? He sat bolt upright in bed, suddenly quite awake. “Where’s your Mama?”

“In the kitchen.”

“You stay here, Ari, while I talk to her, okay?” He had questions, and he didn’t want the kid to hear the answers.

“But you’re my Papa!” Ari put on a good pout.

Sighing, Jeremy got up gingerly from the bed. His head had apparently been bandaged while he slept. Ari grabbed his hand for the short walk down the hall to the kitchen, but he couldn’t tell the cute, talkative little thing no. He thought Jeremy was his father. And on second thought, it would probably be best for him to hear the answers from his mother’s own mouth.

She stood at the sink, finishing the dishes he’d interrupted with his arrival. He wondered what else she’d been up to during his two hour nap.

She turned and frowned when she saw him. “Did Ari awaken you?” she asked.

“No. The alarm awakened me, he just brought me wide awake.”

She grinned. “He has a way of doing that. Reminds me of you.”

Speaking of which … “Who are you?”

“Scrambled eggs okay? After what you’ve been through, you need some good stick-to-your ribs nutrition. I’ve made some bread, too, if you want toast.”

“Doesn’t answer my question.”

“I’m sorry. It’s just that I want you to retrieve the memories on your own.”

“What does that mean?”

She started scrambling eggs. “Ari, cut two slices of bread and toast them over the fire, please.” She scooched over to make room for him, and opened the door to the

“Sure, Mama.” Ari got a stool to retrieve the bread from the top shelf of the kitchen’s open pantry.

“You’re letting a 6-year-old cook over a fire?”

“I usually do the cooking!” the boy said indignantly, picking up the bread knife. What kind of mother is this woman?

She laughed. “A bit of exaggeration, but, yes, Ari does the cooking when I’m busy. We are fortunate to have a wood-burning stove, but there is no electricity for safer means.”

“I ask again, who are you?”

“And I say again, you must retrieve the memories yourself.”

“Okay then, you said the boy …”

She turned away from the stove. “Your son.”

He closed his eyes and counted to ten. “Ari cooks when you are busy. How are you so busy you can’t cook for your kindergarten-aged son?”

“What’s kindergarten, Mama?” the boy asked.

Jeremy felt the heat of anger turning his face red, but refused to ask again the question of her suitability as a mother.

The strange woman searched his eyes, and he found himself unable to look away from her. Finally she said, “I’d heard the technology had improved, but I’ve never seen anything like this.”

“What technology?”

She turned, placed a plate on the counter and spooned out his eggs. Ari placed the toast on the plate and picked it up. His mother took the plate from him. “Just a minute, Little Man. You go play. Yes, ma’am?”

“Yes ma’am,” Ari grumbled. The he clasped his hands behind his back.“May I at least go outside?”

“In the alley,” she agreed. “You know the boundaries and will abide by them?”

“Yes ma’am.” Ari clasped his hands behind his back. “Pleeee-ase?”

“Okay, then.”

She took a fork out of the drawer on her way to the table, and placed it all in front of him. The smell of whatever herbs she’d stirred into the eggs made his belly grumble, and he took a large forkful.

“Do you have any coffee?”

“Sorry,” she said. She grabbed a clean glass and returned to the sink to fill it with tap water. “We’ve found that caffeine inhibits the memory recovery. Plain water actually helps.”

She placed the glass in front of him and glanced at his empty plate. “Looks like you were half-starved. Want more toast?”

“No, thanks. I want answers.” Won’t leave the table until I get them.

She sat next to him. “Jeremy, they stole your memory.”

That took the wind out of his sails.

“But don’t panic. Your memory is already returning, or you wouldn’t have remembered the building, the security code. We’d heard rumors that you escaped from where they were holding you, but I didn’t dare hope you’d make it back to us.”

She stood and squeezed behind him, and as she reached for his plate to take it to the sink, she paused and wrapped an arm around him.

He caught a whiff of vanilla, mixed in with the salt air of the ocean.

A scent he remembered.

Marina … her name was Marina

His breath caught in his throat.

She turned at the sound and registered the look on his face, just as Ari ran in with a slingshot.

“Look at what I found in the alley, Papa!” The boy skidded to a stop in front of him.

“Nice slingshot, son,” Jeremy said. But he was unable to take his eyes off Marina, off his wife.

“I’m gonna go find some stones,” Ari declared as he dashed back outdoors.

Marina sank back in her seat next to him.

He took her hand, “I was guiding some of our people to the Christian zone.”

“You never returned.”

“They put me in that MRI machine.”

“It’s not an MRI machine. They stole your memories–”

“–But they came back enough that I found you–”

“–Because you escaped before they could complete the process. I watched for you and prayed.”

Embarrassed at the emotions flooding him, he looked down at his hands. A purple L tattoo was fading in. Almost invisible, then pastel, it grew more and more noticeable.

He held it up to her, and she threw her arms in the air in joy. “Your memories are almost all the way back!”

A thought suddenly came to him. He frowned. “Marina! What about the underground? Did Doug make it back after I was taken?”

She grinned. “He came back, indeed! You know, he’s led 7 groups to the Christian Zone since then? He says he won’t stop until he gets the order directly from you.”

He chuckled at the thought of his passionate friend and right-hand man, but quickly sobered. “So, how many more Christians are left needing transport?”

“About a hundred.”

“You and Ari need to go with them.”

Her face fell, but she then looked up at Jeremy and cocked her head. “You don’t remember our agreement yet?”

No arguing with her when she had that dare in her eyes. “Of course I do. I’m afraid for you, though.”

She took his hand. “But God wanted us to stay here, to guide people to the Christian Zone, to be a remnant even in this godless place. As a family.”

“I know.” And he was glad that he did know. He really knew.

THE END

Hey, everyone! Thanks for reading. This story didn’t turn out much like I expected. I’d love to know if it turned out like you predicted.

Anyone have an idea for a title?

My Mount Barometer 52-week photo challenge picture of the week will appear on Monday. See you then.

Blessings,

Voni

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