Rion watched the lights of the city flash past him one after the other. Tuesday sang along to the local rock station and bobbed her head.
“Hey, cheer up, bucko,” Tuesday said. “We’re on the way to find some answers for you.”
“Why are you doing this?” Rion asked.
“Cause there might be a clue at this place we’re looking for.”
“No, I mean helping me. I could be lying to you. You don’t know for sure if I have psychic powers or amnesia.”
“True. But there were a thousand cops trying to find you. So that must mean something.”
“But it doesn’t prove what I’m saying is true.”
“No, it doesn’t. But it’s my job to help the helpless. You seem pretty helpless, last time I checked.”
Rion leaned against the window. “What’s the point? Even if I get my identity back, nothing will change. Everyone I’ve gotten close to has tried to kill me, or capture me, or lied to me, or rejected me. Except you.”
“Pretty rough life for only being around six days.”
“So why bother? Getting my memory back won’t change me.”
“It might. When life gives you lemons-“
“Make lemonade?” Rion said.
“Exactly. Although I like my lemonade with lots of sugar. Also, if no one’s watching, I put a little vodka in it, but you’re underage.”
“So the lesson is ‘make lemonade, but don’t drink yours’.”
“Precisely,” she smiled. Tuesday lifted her foot off the gas as her GPS beeped. “We’re getting close.”
“There,” Rion pointed across the street at a familiar-looking aperture. “That could be it. Try there.”
Tuesday pulled into a rock-strewn alley.
“This road feels right,” Rion said. They pulled up to a dumpster. “I recognize that,” Rion said.
The corner of the wall pulled away, revealing a gigantic hole in the side of the building. “This is it.”
As soon as Tuesday stopped, he bounded up to hole and ran his hand along the jagged bricks. “Do you think I did this?” Rion asked.
“Can you?” Tuesday said.
“I haven’t been able to, yet.”
“Then don’t worry about it. That’s how you get wrinkles.” Tuesday inspected the crater. “Caution tape. Police issue. That’s interesting. They don’t give these away in cracker jack boxes.”
“What do you mean?”
“It means this place has got to be on someone’s radar.” She yanked her phone out of her utility belt. “Hey, Freddy, guess who. Working late or lately working? …Want something to do? See if there’s anything on 323 Baker Street off of 45th Ave. Thanks, Freddy. What? Pay you back for a Coke? What’s that? You’re breaking up.” She clicked it off.
Rion stared at her, mystified.
“It’s a little game we play,” she said.
Rion stepped further in. The room looked the same as when he last saw it. The frame was still in the sink. “This is her.” He handed the picture to Tuesday.
“Cute couple,” Tuesday said. “Those May-December romances make great soft news.”
“I don’t think they were romantically involved. I don’t know why, though.”
“Hmm, she certainly had a soft spot in his heart.”
“There was a fight in this room. I think that’s what caused the damage. It might have been from me, even,” he said as he opened the adjoining door.
The next room looked like another ransacked lab–overturned chairs, computers with loose connections, and lab equipment.
“Doesn’t look familiar,” Rion said. He started opening up the cabinets. Most were full of books about neuropathy, psychology, medical diseases, vitamins, drugs–nothing worth wasting his power on.
Tuesday kicked aside the debris. “I know you can’t answer this, but what should I be looking for?”
“Anything connected to me, I guess. Or Dr. Mason. Or the girl, Geri.”
Tuesday pulled out a drawer. “Lots of files here.” She rifled through a manila folder. “Looks like Dr. Mason was working on something major. He printed all the e-mails he ever sent and received. He has a whole folder dedicated to people who called his ideas insane and unfundable.”
Rion frowned. “There must be some contacts or phone numbers around here.”
“No, not in here. All the emails are aliased. But I haven’t read through them all.”
“Do they say what he was trying to do?”
“It looks like he was trying to combine electro-shock therapy and medication. Trying to make a more effective way to suppress pain, maybe?” She looked towards the end of the file. “It looks like he was near a breakthrough when he stopped.”
“Do you think I was that breakthrough?”
“Who knows? I mean, everything just stops. I can’t tell why. The last e-mail says he’s expecting a response from someone. Maybe he died before he could get it.”
Rion’s face fell.
Tuesday said, “Sorry, that’s probably not very comforting. He might not be dead.”
“Well, comfort won’t change anything.”
Between the cabinets, there was a window that showed another room composed of gray concrete bricks. Inside, there was an upright gurney and several large devices.
“Tuesday. Over here,” he called. “It’s the room from the video.”
“Ooh, bonus level,” she said.
Rion and Tuesday entered. It felt like a mechanic’s garage for people. “Little claustrophobic in here,” she commented. “Remember anything?”
Rion closed his eyes, trying to call back his repressed memories. “Nothing,” he sighed. He laid his hand on the table-bed and sensed hard.
It felt like pops, like a radio trying to come on, but there were no images or sounds. He tried harder.
“Ow.” He pulled his hand back like he’d been shocked. Then he noticed the device at the head of the gurney. “This is the ECT device. This is what he used in the video. Remember?”
“Do you remember?” Tuesday asked.
Rion stared at it. Then put his hand on and sensed. Nothing came. He placed his hands all over the chassis, on each button, trying to provoke a memory.
“Easy, tiger, I don’t think that machine’s father would approve.”
“Nothing. It’s like something’s interfering.”
His eyes wandered up to the corner of the ceiling, patterned in gray tiles. Something about it made him feel nostalgic. He focused on that corner and let his mind wander.
“She was here!” Rion shouted.
Rion faced the bed and closed his eyes. “She was here,” he said. “She was in the room with me. I can smell her. She smells like the sweater.” In his mind’s eye he could see the girl sitting at the corner of the bed, smiling sweetly. “She sat over there, and I sat there, and we colored together. But I’m the same age I am now.”
He let his lower brain functions unroll and feed him the images, even though he could have been making this up for all he knew.
“She brings in coffee. And a hot chocolate for me, since I don’t like coffee. I love the foam. She brought in a People magazine, and we make fun of the celebrities together. I laugh. She’s important. She’s really nice. She’s funny, like you.”
Emotions started taking the place of images. “I feel love for her. Real love. When I’m done, I want to marry her. I want to spend my life with her. Spending time with her makes me feel good.” Rion scrunched his eyes. He shouted, “Why don’t I know who she is!?”
The images dissipated. Getting them back was like trying to hang on to soap, and all the emotions remained as residue on his hands. He opened his eyes.
He was sitting on the bed. “How did I get here?” He didn’t remember moving.
“You started walking,” Tuesday answered.
“I don’t remember walking.”
“What did you mean ‘when you were done’?”
Rion shook his head. “I don’t know. I lost it.” He put his hand to his forehead. “Christ, I’m getting a headache again.”
He jumped off the bed and went to the drawer. When would it ever end, he wondered. Finding the clues was more aggravating than starting off as a blank slate.
The drawer was empty. “Damn, must have taken all of them.” He slammed it shut.
“The medicine here… in the drawer.”
“How did you know there was supposed to be medicine in that drawer?”
“Uhhh…” Rion’s mouth hung open as if an answer would come. “I don’t know, I just did.” He had expected to see dozens of pain medication bottles when he opened the drawer. He used them freely, and way too often.
Tuesday smiled. “Looks like you’ve still got some of yourself in there.”
Rion smiled. There was something beyond his locked door, he just needed the key. “ECT. Pain suppression. And memory loss. Those are the pieces. So how do they fit together?”
Rion opened the other cabinets and shelves.
“Anything?” Tuesday asked.
“No, and I don’t remember opening any of them. Just the one.” He opened the first drawer. There was a business card, face down, in the back of the drawer.
“What’s this?” He pulled it out. “Starkweather Industries? What’s that?”
“You don’t know who Lionel Starkweather is?”
Rion shook his head.
“You should. He’s like the Microsoft of prescription drugs. He makes about everything available over the counter and behind it. You know–‘another fine product from Starkweather Industries’?”
Tuesday seemed to expect him to know that phrase.
“How can you be walking around with everything but your personal memory, and have no idea who Lionel Starkweather is…” She gasped. “Unless that’s part of it.”
“Is he still around?” Rion asked.
“Yeah. He’s like eighty-something. I think he’s sold most of the business, but he’s still the figurehead. It’s that big building in the middle of the city–Starkweather Tower. He still lives there, I think. He’s a recluse.”
Rion stared at the card. “I don’t know who he is, but I think he knows the answers.” Rion pointed to the other room. “Maybe that’s who he was waiting for a response from. Maybe Starkweather was interested in his research.”
“Then why does all the information stop there? What did Starkweather do with him? Make him an offer he couldn’t refuse?”
“Maybe that’s the reason the place is a mess. Starkweather destroyed it, then erased all traces of his presence. Save one.” He held up the card.
“It’s not much of a secret conspiracy when there’s a big hole in the wall.”
“If he isn’t responsible, who is?”
Before either could answer, Tuesday’s pocket started beeping. She took out her phone. “Y’ello… Hey, Freddy, what’s up?” Her face fell. “What? Fred, what do you mean?” Tuesday flashed fearful eyes at Rion. “Uh-huh. How… how long do we have?”
She speed-walked out of the gray room, phone to her ear, and out of the building. Rion followed, catching up with her at her car.
“Uh… no, no, that’s all right,” Tuesday continued, “No, I don’t think so. Thanks, though. I appreciate it. Okay. Bye.”
“What’s going on?” Rion asked.
As she opened the car door, she said, “Remember when I said that I thought we escaped scott-free? Yeah, that was way wrong.”
“Oh, god. They’re coming?”
“Coming? They’re here.”
She pointed down the alley. Rion saw flashing red lights growing brighter. “Shit.”
“We got time. Come on, we gotta motor,” she buckled her seat belt as Rion jumped in. “Time to live up to my name.”