Concept Art Writing Prompt: Potions that let you relive life's most bittersweet momentsS

If we could experience our favorite or most distressing emotions and memories by drinking a potion, what would the consequences be? Would we lose ourselves in a fog of our past? Or would this ability prove comforting and even useful? Would you want to live someone else's emotional memories? Tell us your tale of these memory potions.

This image comes to us from Happiness Brewery, which makes these labels based on user suggestions. Their goal is to create a catalogue of human experience. (Via Ian Brooks)

Submit your story based on this concept in the comments. Here's mine:

Kate released an anxious breath when she found the door to Sal's apartment unlocked. His text messages had grown increasingly worrisome, going from "Remember when we got Misty?" to "Let's watch The Prisoner next" in the span of a few days. He'd forgotten their break-up again, and that meant he was off the wagon.


The smell of days-old Thai food permeated the apartment and the only light glowed through the edges of the blinds. The bottles started on the coffee table. Kate picked up one and read the label, "The Thrill of Watching the Complete Season of Twin Peaks in Bed with Her." She almost threw it against the wall. The Happiness Brewery was a legal operation; to casual users, their memory-triggering brews could be enjoyable, even therapeutic. But Sal was an abuser, and the constant reliving of memories had rewired his brain.

She found him in the bedroom, eyes staring blankly at the TV screen. Kyle MacLachlan was cooing over a cup of coffee. Six bottles of "Twin Peaks" sat on the nightstand, none of them quite empty. Kate picked up a bottle and sat on the edge of the bed. Why this memory? He'd never said.

She poured the rest of the potions down the sink and found a trash bag for the empties. She saved the bedroom for last, reluctant to look on him in that state for two long. But as she lifted the bottles from the nightstand, his eyes fluttered and he looked at her, really looked at her.

"Hey, babe." His voice was crackly and Kate wondered if he'd been living off of hydration patches. "What time is it?"

She put down the bottles and stroked his forehead. He was clammy and she made a mental note to leave a glass of water by the nightstand. "We should get to sleep," she whispered. "We both have work in the morning." He smiled and snuggled into the comforter.

As she flushed the final drops of potion down the sink, Kate had a thought. This wasn't the Sal she had drifted away from; not the Sal who had thrown himself so thoroughly into work that she hadn't seen him for days on end. This Sal could barely a remember a moment past that lost weekend spent watching Twin Peaks. There were still many happy months ahead of those three days. Maybe there was no reason to stay away any longer. Maybe they could rewrite history the way Sal had rerouted his neural pathways.

Kate filled a glass of water and let her fingers drift to Sal's cheek as she left it beside his bed. Then she pulled the blinds open, peeled back the covers, and crawled into bed beside him.

JMRNYC's story:

She put the bottle to her lips, tilting her head all the way back to catch the dregs.

The first time she'd done this, after breaking the foil seal and startling at the heady aroma that had settled over her mind like a stiff drink, the potion had tasted sweet, with a sharp edge, bourbon without the alcohol. She'd been transported instantly and completely, peering through the eyes of a past self and into eyes she'd never imagined seeing again. They'd been laughing, doubled over with mirth at the edge of Washington Square Park, and saying good-bye. The laughter was sweet, the fact that she couldn't touch him was bitter. He belonged to someone else. But in that moment, the shared joke enclosed them like a bubble – kept out the cold air of February and the jostling pedestrian traffic.

She'd come to on the floor, not having taken the bottle's warning ("Please be seated before drinking.") seriously. The other warning ("May cause drowsiness and/or disorientation.") was also warranted; she spent the next few hours in a groggy funk, unable to fully focus on anything. But she was captivated by the experience. She drained a little bit of the bottle every day, reliving his smile and her aching heart.

After a week, it was less like she was gazing through eyes on the memory and more like she was watching it on a screen. She was alarmed to feel the distance, to realize that the potion's edge was fading; it didn't burn so much going down.

The last drop slid down her throat. It didn't taste like anything. She watched the laughter and the restraint as though they belonged to characters in a film. Like a song played over and over, the memory was no longer bitter nor sweet.

Butterfly_Kid's story:

Grinning, Dr. Gail Hawthorne closed the lid of her laptop and sat back in her padded leather chair. She sighed contently and took a sip of wine. Another major order had been placed; the third in as few as 24 hours. She was about to be a very rich woman, very soon. It felt good. The wine had an exquisite bouquet, it was a rather old vintage, and she had been saving it for just such an occasion. For such a success.

She rose from her seat and grabbed her jacket. A horn honked on the street. She turned and glanced out the window, parting the sheer with her hand. Her cab had arrived. It was time to go home and relax for one night. She had a long month ahead of her. Many patients to interview, and many memories to collect.

As she headed for the door, she paused for a second and turned around to face her desk. Situated behind it was a stout wooden cabinet. It was a deep mahogany with antique brass hardware. It looked right at home in her office. Stately, and classic. No one would ever know what power it secretly held behind its doors. A device that she owed all of her future success to. A device she crafted over two decades of research and collaboration. And it would soon be put to the test.

She stood and listened for the device's faint but distinguishable hum. The sound contented her, and warmed her. It was the sound of her future.

The car's horn honked again, jarring her from her reverie. She sprinted for the door,
and switched out the lights before slamming it shut. Behind her desk, the device quietly
hummed, lulling the night into a melancholy slumber.

***

The next day her first patient had arrived. She greeted him and waved him in calmly. "Mr. Davidson, please do come in." As the patient approached, she shook his hand and directed him to the large leather chair that sat opposite hers. He sat, and they began.

"So nice to meet you, Mr. Davidson. As you know, I am new in town and have just begun accepting patients."

Mr. Davidson just nodded silently.

Dr. Hawthorne cleared her throat. "Therefore, I am especially eager to get started. Have you read about my methods, Mr. Davidson?"

Mr. Davidson told her that he had read up on her, and was curious to find out if she could help him. He found the idea of her therapy involving electronics and machinery to be somewhat off-putting. But he needed help, and was willing to find it anywhere, however unorthodox it may be.

"Well, Mr. Davidson—Mike. May I call you Mike?—I'm pleased that you finally came to me. I guarantee my methods and procedures will leave you quite satisfied." She reached down and placed her hand on a beige folder on her lap. She put on her glasses and opened it. "I have your file here. Shall we discuss the reason why you've come to me?"

Mike Davidson nodded again silently.

"Let's see. Acute alcoholism, obsessive-compulsive behaviour, violent outbursts, and
symptoms of bi-polar disorder. Is that all correct?" She looked up at him and made eye
contact. He finally spoke.

"Yes, Dr. Hawthorne. I stay heavily medicated in order to function like a normal human being, but it's slowly killing me. My liver is shot to begin with, but now I'm just a danger to myself. You know, last week I fell asleep with a lit cigarette in my hand? If it weren't for the old lady across the hall being home on account of her blindness, I'd be a dead man."

"I see. Well Mike, I have read your file extensively, and after a short interview, we can get started on treatment."

She conducted the interview with him. It was a series of canned psyche questions that she had just pulled out of an old textbook. Likely something he had done a million times before. Typical stuff. She assured him that the questionnaire was an essential part of the process. She pretended to take some notes on him, then prepared the treatment.

"Mike, there is a moment in every person's life that impacts them more deeply than
anything else that they'll ever experience. There is a turning point, where things can
either go very well for a person—or in your case—they can go very badly. What I aim to do is tap into that moment, and explore it. If we can get to the essence and origin of your psychological issues, then we can better understand them—and with any luck, we can cure them."

She crouched down behind her desk and opened the mahogany cabinet. The device radiated heat in the enclosed space, as it hummed away quietly. She picked up a black, compact-looking and stylishly engineered headset from the cabinet. She pressed a discreet button in the side, and a bright blue LED came to life near the right temple. Fully charged and ready for use. She walked over and handed it to Mr. Davidson. "You can put it on," she said.

He placed the headset on the top of his balding head. The visor in the front covered his
eyes completely. His ears were shrouded by some kind of headphones. "What's going to
happen?" He asked.

She said, "I'm going to begin a relaxation period with you now. Just sit back in your seat, and try your best to calm yourself, Okay?" He nodded.

She opened her laptop and pressed play on the video. It was just a relaxation dvd she had bought from a department store. It wasn't anything innovative or original. But it worked to relax people, just the same. The video was played on the visor while the headphones pumped in calming ambiance music. Mr. Davidson relaxed. He seemed content for the first time since setting foot in her office. Excellent, she thought.

After ten minutes or so, the video was half way through. Dr. Hawthorne began to
speak: "Mike, I'm going to begin the memory recollection script now. Are you ready?"

He nodded.

She went through the words that she had developed over several years. This script combined with the brain-scanning capabilities of her headset, were the key to collecting the memories she needed.

She paused and turned to the cabinet. But before she knelt and pressed the button on the device, she had a sudden pang of remorse. Was this the right thing to be doing? She needed the money sorely, but what about the ethical questions it all raised? And she wasn't even sure what the long term effects of exposure to this kind of procedure would be.

She thought more about what she was doing. The entire reason why she had gotten involved in all of this—why it all began, was because she had learned of a similar device that had been developed in Japan years prior. The wealthy and famous were secretly ordering the dreams and memories of others for their own personal entertainment. No longer were they content with the countless other sources of entertainment, no. They needed the next big rush, and were willing to pay top dollar for the chance to live the highs and lows of someone else's life, through their eyes. If she secured these few contracts, she would be the first in the United States. She would become enormously successful, and wealthy.

She continued reading. The script was almost complete, and now Dr. Hawthorne had her final words, "I want you to go back to the moment of your father's death. The drowning. I want you to go there and confront that moment. If you witness it again, you will see that it wasn't your fault. You will be freed."

She opened a window on her laptop. The screen displayed a blurry, and askew image of what Mr. Davidson was seeing in his minds eye. It was choppy for a few seconds, but then became clearer. Sure enough, it was the harrowing moment of his father's death. The scene was on a rushing river. The two were on a raft, and approaching a rock face rapidly. The massive white waves shrouded their sight from viewing the imminent danger. They made crashing contact with the rock, and Mike Davidson's father was flung from the raft. Mike's youthful-looking hand reached to grab for his father by the life jacket. He pulled hard. He began to scream. As he recoiled from a final pull, he noticed that he had only ripped the life jacket from the body of his father. He knew this had only sealed his father's fate, rather than saving him. He continued to scream.

As the scene played out on the screen, a red progress bar neared completion below. Dr.
Hawthorne, turned around and kneeled again in front of the device. She opened a small door on the face of the machine. Inside was a tiny vial labeled 'M. Davidson', a glowing green liquid slowly dripped into into the small glass receptacle, not unlike a common coffee maker. She grinned. Excellent, it's almost full.

Once the process was complete, Dr. Hawthorne asked Mr. Davidson to remove the headset, but he didn't seem to respond. She stepped closer and repeated herself. Still nothing. She reached down to his head and removed it herself. He was alive, good. But he still seemed unresponsive. Almost catatonic. "Mr. Davidson? Mike?" She asked. "Can you hear me?"

He blinked to life and turned to meet her eyes. "I feel wonderful." He said. "I feel wonderful" again.

Dr. Hawthorne cleared her throat, "Good, very good. Can you stand?"

He nodded and got to his feet. She had no idea what was going on. This man was technically her first human test trial. His brains could be scrambled for all she could tell.

"Thank you, Dr. Hawthorne. Have a nice day", he muttered to her in a monotone voice. Void of expression. He picked up his things and headed for the door. "I feel wonderful," he said finally as he left the office. Dr. Hawthorne peeked out the window as she watched him walk down the sidewalk. She wasn't certain, but she could swear she had heard him tunelessly humming to himself.

Dr. Hawthorne wasn't sure as to what had just happened. Did the machine actually cure his mental illness? Or did she just electronically lobotomize a man? She would have to worry about that later. For now, she had to prepare his vial. It needed to be securely packaged up and put in cold storage. She was going to fly to LA in a month—on the private jet of some celebrity who chose to remain anonymous—to deliver these memories in person.

She got to work, pausing to think about Mr. Davidson only once. After the vial was ready for transport and in refrigeration, Dr. Hawthorne placed a new vial into the front of the machine as it hummed along—almost graciously. She took out a black marker and wrote 'K. Randall' on a new label, sticking it to the new vial. She placed the headset back and closed the cabinet. She sat down at her chair. As she took out the next patient file, a middle-aged woman in glasses, with mousy hair and a wrinkly outfit—as well as a generally disheveled appearance—stepped through her office door. Hawthorne grinned, as the machine eagerly hummed in anticipation.

"Ah, Mrs. Randall, please do come in. May I call you Karen?"

Ghost_in_the_Machine's story:

“Is that you, Libby?” the man in the rocking chair asked.

“No, it’s Anna,” said the woman. “It’s time for a potion.”

Libby had been Tom’s wife. She had been killed in the same car crash that had caused Tom’s head injury. At 35, he was experiencing severe dementia. His sister Anna had become Tom’s legal guardian.

Anna’s husband was a scientist at a medical research facility and had suggested that Tom would be an excellent candidate for a new experimental procedure. Anguished at watching her brother’s deterioration, she agreed and signed the necessary forms.

Tom had spent a week at the facility hooked up to machines that read and copied his memories. When Anna’s husband brought Tom home he also brought several small neatly labeled bottles and a thick black binder.

“This is part of the trials,” he said. “You need to give Tom exactly five drops from the appropriate bottle according to the schedule in the binder and write down what you observe.”

This morning’s bottle was labeled Potion A11: The Joy of Watching Her Smile While Giving Her A Star Wars Spoon for Her Dessert.

“Open wide for the potion,” Anna said. She carefully counted five drops from the eyedropper cap onto Tom’s tongue.

The change in Tom was almost instantaneous. He flashed a huge smile Anna had not seen in a long time. “Hey, Anna Banana. You were right, she loved the spoon. I think she was afraid it would be a ring.”

Tom gushed on for a few more minutes about that night ten years ago. Then, as if a switch had been thrown, he stopped talking and his face changed back to a blank expression.

Anna sobbed quietly as she wrote her entry in the black binder.

Unintendo's story:

Cassie held the bottle up to her nose and frantically sniffed in the sweet aroma, but it was no use. She had only worked for Happiness Brewery for a few weeks, and she hadn’t even tasted any of their strangely specific potions, so huffing the scent wasn’t going to tell her anything. If she had only been paying attention when the boxes came in, she thought, but she was so busy trying to clear the paper jam that all she had now was a stack of labels, a dozen boxes of bottles, and a deadline.

There really wasn’t anything else she could do, so she took a deep breath, placed the bottle to her lips and took a swig. The brew burned the back of her throat so badly that she started to cough and gasp for breath. Sweat dripped like tears down her face as the bottle slipped from her hand and bounced off the carpet, spewing whatever she had just tasted onto the floor. She couldn’t imagine what she had just put into her body, but the horrible possibilities crowded her mind.

Cassie rushed over to the desk and rifled through the labels as her head seemed to fill with cotton. There was no way that this was “The Afterglow of Make-Up Sex” and while she wasn’t sure what “Walking Out of an Adam Sandler Movie” was supposed to feel like, this definitely wasn’t that. The more she searched, the more certain she was that whatever was swimming around in her stomach would kill her if she didn’t think of something quickly.

Nothing in the pile seemed remotely like what she was feeling, but there were some labels that seemed promising. If she could somehow find “Moment of Inspiration” or “Deus Ex Machina”, then maybe she could deal with this before her manager found out. There was also a label marked “Finding the Maguffin”, but she wasn’t counting on that one.

She took a deep sip from a bottle in a different box, but she instantly regretted it. The first bottle had made her sick, so only an idiot would have blindly tried a second one. Her mind kept chastising her for her own stupidity until she finally saw the label that said “Realizing You Keep Making the Same Mistake”. Cassie slapped the label onto the bottle and opened a third box.

The next box was full of “Second Thoughts”, but she kept going. “False Hope” was a bit confusing, but it gave her the strength to keep going. Cassie considered stopping by the time she made it through “Realizing a Gimmick is Growing Old”, but by then there was only one box left and the scent of the potion that had soaked into the carpet was a constant reminder that she still had no clue what poison was in that first bottle.

Cassie brought the last bottle up to her lips, but just a drop brought on the startling revelation that she had found “Startling Revelation”. She took another swig and realized that there was one label that she was forgetting – the label stuck in the printer.

The printer fought back, but Cassie finally ripped the stray label loose. Her mind filled with so many terrible possibilities that she didn’t want to look, but the thought that she might die without knowing what killed her was far worse. She slowly turned the label around in her hand and saw four simple words:

“Jumping to Bad Conclusions”

Corpore Metal's story:

I'll say this, a forensic suit is nice. I was grateful that, as I saw the rotting flesh in the kitchenette, I didn't have to smell it. It was the smell that prompted the call. Otherwise, in rundown apartments in Maple Leaf? Nobody gives a damn. If you want to snuff it, if you wanna disappear, it's great neighborhood to die in.

His name was Rodney. He was laying on the floor, dripping into the linoleum, skeletally thin, dirty and covered with flies. In contrast the hood he wore was spotless. It was the hood that was the instrument of his end. I didn't stare long. Staring only rarely tells you things.

I went to his bedroom and was unsurprised to find three or four black, labeled bottles jumbled on his nightstand. The style of the bottles was a pretense, something about 19th century patent medicines that I'm sure young addicts and pushers found tragically beautiful—or something like that.

The form of the bottles didn't matter, any glass container will work for data fluid. A vial the size of a thimble could contain many terabytes. What mattered was the data in these bottles.

First, it was the emotion inducers, the paskhosmatics, drugs with street names like "hate juice," "cocteau" and "robot." After people started abusing that, my life in the SPD began to suck more than usual.

But that was just a start. Psychiatry is moving fast these days. Once the scientists figured out how force powerful emotional states, memory, which has always been very strongly linked with emotion, was the next nut that cracked.

But to induce someone else's memories in your head is lot more complicated—they tell me—then just inducing an emotional state. Emotion inducers are just drugs, chemical cocktails. Memory induction it different. It all relied on something called rTMS.

Rodney spent his last few days on his bed, with a saline drip and a hood filled with powerful electromagnets. His computers then used those magnets to send signals into his hippocampus, to convince it he was someone else doing something else.

I guess he decided his life was just so relentlessly awful, that he'd rather die experiencing somene else's victories, orgasms and thrills at hang-gliding?

Lewis, everyone in the Department calls her "Lewis Lab," told me it was more complicated than that. She told me that you don't really experience the memories as someone else. What actually happens is that your brain quickly convinces itself that they are your memories and always were. The saline drip is filled with tuned emotion inducers to amplify the sensations to dangerously addictive levels.

Do it long enough, and the brain reorganizes the neural connections and makes the false memories yours.

You think my life as a cop in Seattle is bad? I'm sure the spooks over in the other Washington are in hysterics over this.

HLHPattison's story:

Every night it was the same routine.

8 o’clock, a cheese burger for diner, and a screening of Pulp Fiction.

Then, once the movie was down, he took an anti-trauma pill, designed to purge the mind of all its recent, and presumably traumatic, events.

As the cheeseburger and movie began to fade from his mind, he’d brush his teeth, and tuck himself into bed.

He woke up the next morning to find a gift sitting next to his bed. A DVD, which looked like it’d been played thousands of times, if not more.

With it was a note. “Watch me with a cheeseburger.”

He shrugged, and figured it was probably good advice.

Maybe later on. For dinner.

Ashlander's story:

Nobody ever buys vertiginous orgasms, or first steps, or a favourite sweet discovered years after you thought they stopped making them. Not more than once, anyway. It's always the same routine after that; the same routine with a thousand different faces.

"Do you have...breakup sex, maybe?"

"Have you got the one day of visitation rights per month?"

"My favourite restaurant is closing, and I get there too late for the last reservation. We had our honeymoon there..."

And I nod, and smile, and tell them it's a little more effort, and I pick the right bottles like that giant in the story, all ears as they tell me their troubles, dripping and mixing. And they pay me in cash as I stir up a dream and then taint it, mix it all in a little vial and keep some over for reference, because they'll be back for something very similar very soon, oh yes, and you don't keep people waiting. And then I hand them the little vial and they go on their way, or into my spare room to lie on the stained mattress and drip it onto their tongue and those are the ones I watch over as they lie and twitch and swallow a thousand incidences of memory in one glorious burst, taking the pain along with the pleasure and no-one, not one of them, ever feels the need to tell me why they need it like that any more than they would think to say 'today I will be breathing air and eating food, you know'.

xooorx's story:

Its a familiar trajectory I'm sure. You have a couple of sips at a party and decide to get some for home. At the supermarket you grab a mid-priced blended variety because the single engram stuff is just ridiculously expensive and how much better could it be? So you work your way slowly through that and when its gone you replace it and pretty soon you're having a couple of glasses a night so that's a bottle or so a week.

And then someone gets you the good stuff for your birthday.

"You didn't have to spend all that" you say but as soon as you taste it you know where the extra money went. No fuzzy edges, no cloudy "impressions", no nagging anxiety that something unpleasant is just out of sight if you could only remember what. Just pure memory, pure bliss, pure clarity.

So you're on two bottles a week then three bottles a week and you won't touch the blended stuff any more and you become quite the coinnosseur of the various single engram marques and, well, I called this a trajectory because it has an ascent phase and you're just past the top of it.

You see the same brands on the way down as you did on the way up but you see many more bottles. One day you're pulling that same mid-priced blend off that same supermarket shelf and you think you're back where you started, which you are except that you're still falling and falling fast.

Soon you're on the cut price brands, the economy own brands, the whatever's on offer this week brands. Your careful selection and inspection of the shelves is now just to ensure you buy the cheapest bottle in the shop. So what's on offer today? Oh, "The Elation of Finishing a Marathon". Never tried it. Blended in London exclusively for this supermarket apparently. Sounds a bit sporty. Can't argue with the price.

Get it home. Peel the seal. Pour. Sip.

Overtones of sweat and sunshine. Bass notes of crowd noise and the smell of grass. In the middle there's just pain but its OK pain, its you can keep going pain, and you can't look sideways just forwards as you fill your lungs and run. Whip. You can run forever. Whip. You will run forever. Fence. Whip. Run. You can keep going. Run. Whip. Fence. You will keep going. Fence. Whip. Run. There's a monkey on your back. Keep going.

Taziar's story:

John sat on the hard wooden bench, face buried in his hands, enveloped in a shuddering sob, that would do a scorned six year old proud. His jacket, rumpled as it was, sported the finest black silk, meticulously tailored to his to form, seemed out of place in the busy room. Those not wearing uniforms, were (un)dressed for a night on their back, caught by an anti-prostitution task force.

Thirty had minutes passed, but the time did little to stem the rain of salty tears and snot flowing endlessly from Tom's reddened orifices. Finally, an officer with slumped shoulders shuffled over and stood over John, and she asked in an exhausted tone "Are you the walk-in here to make a confession?"

John startled as her voice pulled him back to reality. "Y..yes. I.."

"Hold on." she interrupted, "Lets do this in a conference room, so we won't be interrupted." John followed her, his head hanging, seeing only her polished shoes, as they entered a small room with nothing but a bare table and two chairs, all firmly bolted to the floor.

As they sat down, she looked directly at John, but his downcast eyes refused to meet her gaze. "OK, start from the beginning tell me what happened and be as specific as possible."

Several seconds passed, then John took a deep, and uncertain breath. His mouth opened, but no words came out, until his eyes shot up and he blurted "I killed her!"

"Killed who?" She asked calmly.

"I..I don't .. didn't know her. She was pretty, pale skin, long black curly hair. A nurse, I think. Or.. She wore stockings and a short skirt, maybe it was a costume. A naughty nurse or something."

"I see. Why did you kill her?"

"I don't know. I don't remember doing it. I mean, I remember killing her but "

"How did you kill her?" she interrupted.

"I..stabbed her. Kept stabbing her. Oh god. There was so much blood. Her eyes were so big. Scared. And surprised, like she knew me. But I don't. And ....." John stopped, his bloodshot eyes looking down in shame.

"And what, John?"

"I enjoyed it." he said, his mouth curling distastefully as if someone had slathered his tongue with fetid fish.

"Was she wearing a necklace, John?"

"Yes. A little gold RX..... So, it's real. It happened. I thought, prayed, maybe I imagined it. You found her then. Her body. She is dead?"

"Yes, she is. Have you been drinking tonight, John?"

"What does that matter? I, yes. I had a few. My girlfriend and I had a fight, so I went to a bar to cool off."

"Did anything happen at the bar?"

"No, not really. I mean, there was this local who was bitching about how I parked my car. The spaces were small, so I parked in two. It's a new Lambo, I didn't want some idiot opening his door into it. But nothing physical, and he eventually dropped it. He even bought me a drink. Thats it, I never saw the girl... victim."

"And then what happened?"

"Nothing." He seemed a bit confused. "I just woke up in an alley, and there was blood on my shirt." He pulled his jacket aside to show the white shirt covered with a congealed red splotch. "Then I remembered killing her. But that's it, I don't remember meeting her tonight."

"You didn't." she said "She was murdered six months ago. You were mind-raped."

"What?"

"It's a street drug of sorts. People take it to relive memories. Or share them. Yours is from the Hallow-slut Killer. Someone drugged your drink. Oh, and that" she said, pointing to the crimson blob on his shirt, "is ketchup."

Prunesquallor's story:

Ten years had passed since Amy’s heart had played its closing beat. At her funeral people had told Carl that she’d live on in his memories, comforting words but words all the same, and those precious memories of their time together grew fainter with every year that passed. Carl was losing the little things, the chime of her laughter and the sensation of her body as he held it in a tight embrace he could not recall. Soon all he’d have left were the false smiles of photographs and he wouldn’t let that happen. He couldn’t let her die again.

It was Carl’s brother who had pointed him in the direction of the Happiness Brewery.“You need to be careful.” Alan had warned him. “It’ll be like she’s there with you again, some people can’t handle it.” Carl had heeded his warning and only purchased one potion on his first visit to the tiny shop in the Northern Quarter. In his hands he held a bottle of “Her smile one more time.”It was less specific than some of the brews they offered him but seemed like the safest choice. He turned the bottle over in his hands, hesitant to pour its contents down his throat. He was feeling a mixture of anxiety and excitement. They probably have a potion for that. He thought as he poured the liquid into a whiskey glass. It smelled like her. How do they do that?

An hour passed before Carl had the courage to drink. He sat in his arm chair, gently swirling the whisky glass and staring at the potion within. Could this dark and dense liquid really unlock his memories? There was only one way to find out. He pulled the glass to his lips, drank deeply and there she was. Sat across the room Amy smiled. Her real smile, Carl smiled back and sank deeper into his armchair. Amy would live on.

wordworker's story:

He'd never had any real emotions of his own and he knew he was missing something essential. He craved to be able to simply feel things, but he could not. The only thing he found that would work temporarily, to cause a slight sweet stir in his core, that he knew was as near as he could get to any type of human excitement or feeling, was to drink from his memory bottles and relive what made them.

He kept the small dark red bottles in his tall black fridge, all neatly lined up and labeled with dates, names and brief descriptions of the events that made them possible. He was ready to produce a new batch for the fridge tonight, he had the girl waiting tied up in the bedroom. He'd learned how to extract the most fear possible from her as he bled her into the jars, storing that stolen intensity to drink from whenever he wanted to. The more intense the event, the stronger the terror, the louder the screams, the greater the pain, the deeper the brief glow through his centre when he drank from that blood. He saw himself as a vampire of emotions, harvesting concentrated tastes of human feelings, something he could not generate within himself, but that he needed to taste.