Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Memory (07/10/08)
TITLE: Captain T. R. on Duty, Sir
By Yvonne Blake
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As little Jasper learned to speak and read, the images had names; not just common labels, but proper names. Things were getting a little more complex. I’d need a better filing system and some help. That’s when Shorty, or Short Term, came on duty. He took care of the front desk, handling the daily rations of routines and habits, while I built more rooms to store all the new information.
Jasper grew and graduated and went on to medical school. I hired an amazing tech guy, Chip. I couldn’t keep running to the optic chamber to see the latest pharmaceutical research. Chip brilliantly installed a flat-screen monitor and also wired it to the audio sensors. So, I could sit at my cortex and supervise the whole process.
When Jasper, now Dr. Jasper Lufkin, M.D., needed an escape from his nerve-racking schedule, he began writing stories in his head at night. That’s when he starting depending on me to research his memories within all those files I’ve been compiling over the years. I almost wore out the “Residency” and “Inner City Clinic” files.
He constructed an elaborate scenario, with a plot that twisted back and forth. He’d get his characters in the most complicated predicament and then fall asleep, trusting me to figure out a solution! Doesn’t he know what time it is?
I’d dutifully tramp down one corridor after another, shuffling through old memory files: learning to swim? …no, taking a test?...no, falling in love?....no, …Aha! I found just the one....extracting a tooth!
“Jasper….Wake up, Jasper….Ahem…. Now, what am I going to do? I can’t stand here all night holding this thought. Even I have to sleep sometime! I think I’ll ask Dreamer for a favor. Maybe he can send this thought by Z-mail.”
It went on like that for ten years. I was so proud of that book, “ER DR.” Of course, I didn’t get any recognition. At his award banquet and book signings, Jasper stretched the whole crew to their limits. I wished he was better at putting faces together with names.
“Beep! Beep! Memory Alert!”
A white-haired man’s face flashed on our monitor. Chip scanned the facial features, and Shorty ruffled through his hodgepodge of notes stacked about his office. (I must remind him of keeping his facts organized.) I quickly marched down to the memory vaults, to look up “Former Associates.” I was still searching when my headphone buzzed.
“Disengage mission…visual has departed.”
I grunted. “Humph! He says that, but I know Jasper. He’ll stay awake all night thinking about it. I better keep looking.”
That was thirty years ago. Both Jasper and I are older and slower. Sometimes, by the time I bring a memory back to him, he dismisses it because he has forgotten why he asked for it in the first place. He depends on me more now, more than Shorty anyway, and Chip’s educational data is hardly accessed at all.
“Beep!Beep! Memory Alert!”
My screen flashes on. Jasper is looking at an old photo album. Chip, my hero, installed another monitor in the lower vaults, seeing I spend most of my time there these days. One by one, I send back my search results: Uncle Joe that told funny jokes, Cousin Emmy who screamed at worms, Tom …your best friend that dared you to throw a snowball at Old Man Fredrickson.
As Jasper turns the page, the screen is filled with the face of a woman with gentle eyes. I pause in my work to savor her beauty. I know exactly where this file is. Pulling the name from the dim reaches of the bottom-most drawer, I brush away some cobwebs and blow at the coating of dust. I send it with the satisfaction of a job well done.
I am surprised that the lovely face is still there, for I know Jasper has received the message…just one word… Mother. The picture blurs, and I patiently wipe the mist from the screen and wait for my next order.
I whisper, “Captain T. R. on duty, Sir.”
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