Halo Three: Mnemosyne:
One tiny purple cone.
One tiny purple cone has the power to restore lost memories. It started life as the thesis project for Asato Etsuko while she attended Nara Women’s University. She had a fascination with the human brain and memory since freshman year. The version she submitted for her thesis was cruder than the version the Tandeki Group used today.
Etsuko sat in one of her main development labs in Rampo Biotech as she created a fresh new batch of Mnemosyne. The last one she created was used on December twentieth at Russia Sushi. The targets, Mikado and his friends, still felt the effects after the first dose for about four to five days. Small triggers set off fragments of their lost memories throughout the hours of a small come down. And what overpowering memories they each experienced.
Erika and her cosplay group had managed to “kidnap” Anri and take her out to a maid café for a little dinner. The busty girl with glasses felt out of place among these women in their costumes. Last night’s memories still had her in an uneasy place. When she gone home after that silent dinner, Anri began to remember Mikado crying on her chest. He would hold onto her like a scared child with a teddy bear. She didn’t push him off. Anri would only run her fingers through his hair.
He wasn’t the only one suffering either.
Anri’s looked out at girls at her table. They were lost in their chatter and laughing over Christmas-themed drinks and cakes. Saika’s mother moved her hand to chest as another wave of dread filled her. The same feeling followed as she looked out at the patrons being entertained by the maids dressed in red and green maid costumes. From what she could remember, only she and her friends knew of the storm under the false calm.
It didn’t help that Saika was talking about things that she couldn’t remember yet. But for some reason, her words weren’t coming out so clearly like they normally were. However, she repeated one word as if wishing it to be so.
“Look, Anri-chan!” Erika said back in present day. “Anri looked up and saw one of the maids bring out a giant cake with sparkling candles over to a middle-aged male patron. Her co-workers gathered around the man and began singing happy birthday to him. Most of the other patrons began singing as well. However, Anri looked at the candles on the red and green cake and a lost memory resurfaced.
This had to be later in summer at least. Anri and Masaomi stood near Ikebukuro West Gate Park Fountain watching little kids running around and playing with sparkling firework sticks. Masaomi clenched his fists at his sides as he lowered his head.
“I’ve killed someone,” he confessed. Anri looked at him wide-eyed, but had to force herself to stay calm for his sake.
“Who?” she asked. Masaomi trembled as he spoke. She couldn’t hear his answer because the effects of Mnemosyne had started to wear off again. By Christmas, the drug would’ve worn off. What else would she remember by that time?
“Anri, are you feeling okay?” Erika asked. Anri shook her head.
“No!” she said. “Uh… I have to go!” The younger girl got up out of her seat and ran out of the café before the otaku had a chance to ask questions. Masaomi killed somebody? Who was dead by his hands? Why would he do such a thing? By now, Anri had come to accept that some of these memories could be real. But she didn’t have enough pieces to the puzzle to figure it all out.
One batch of those tiny purple cones take close to a month to create. Each piece has to be calculated just right or it could potentially cause brain damage. Sometimes, Etsuko has to take breaks for the chemicals to take and cling together. One bad batch ends up being scrapped and she has to start over. To prevent that from happening, the doctor locks herself in the lab and drives right into work. When she wasn’t in the lab, she would lock the doors behind her and turn off the lights.
Only she had the keycard to access that lab and she took it with her wherever she went.
Chiharu looked online through the various hospitals in Yokohama. She couldn’t get that particular bench out of her head. Mnemosyne made her see the woman sitting on it much clearer. Why am I seeing mom on that bench? She was about to do another search when she heard the front door opening.
“I’m home,” Tatsuya said. His sister turned around when he walked into the living room. Her eyes looked like they could burn a hole into his soul.
“What?” he asked.
“Why was mom crying in front of a hospital in Yokohama?” Chiharu asked. Tatsuya gave her a strange look.
“What are you talking about?” he asked.
“I already know. There was supposed to be another child before me, wasn’t there?” She stared at him, waiting for him to bullshit his way out of her questions. Instead, Tatsuya dropped his shoulders.
“Yes,” he said. “But she had a miscarriage before you were born.”
“So that’s why she was holding her stomach that day,” Chiharu muttered to herself.
“What did you say?” Tatsuya asked. His sister shook her head.
“What’s with you asking questions about mom?” he asked. “Why are you so interested in this dead sibling of ours?” Chiharu was about to answer when she noticed that she had new message in her inbox. What is this?
She clicked on the message entitled, “Play me!”
“Why are you so interested in mom and that dead kid?” Tatsuya asked again.
“Just asking,” Chiharu said as she clicked on the link in the message body. Automatically, a song that meshed a dubstep beat with a beautiful violin filled the room through the speakers of her laptop.
“What is that?” Tatsuya asked. But Chiharu didn’t hear him for her mind disappeared into another lost memory uncovered by those little purple cones.
The dying blubs in the overhead lamps were barely enough to light the dim room made of steel. She could only see out through the bars of a cage as a lady sat at her desk doing paperwork to the sound of classical violin music. She and this woman weren’t alone, however.
There were several other… beasts in cages like she was. They howled and scratched and ground of the cages as if they were in pain. The woman hummed to herself happily as she tuned them out and turned the page. She in the cage was different from them. She didn’t act like an animal and she wasn’t trying to escape. In fact, she slowly became aware of her surroundings. Something inside of her said that she didn’t want to be in this place.
That’s when she noticed the woman with short brownish-black hair eyeing her.
“I suppose it’s time to feed you again,” she said. The woman got up and walked out of the dimly-lit room. When she returned, she carried a huge metal bucket by her side. She in the cage felt her stomach turn for she what was on the menu tonight. Her body leapt forward in a hungry frenzy as the flesh, blood, and organs were dumped into the cage.
Chiharu’s eyes widened as she panted back in present day. She rose to her feet as if in a trance.
“Chiharu?” Tatsuya asked. All he got for a response was the front door, slamming shut.
Mnemosyne has to be inhaled to work. The little cones can be burned like incense or grinded down into an odorless mist to be sprayed out of a bottle. The drug has no scent, but it’s just as powerful as a hallucinogen. One smell is all it takes for the chemicals to get into the brain and uncover lost or repressed memories in the brain.
Noriko and Chiharu went out to do some last minute Christmas shopping. Both girls were silent for most of the walk to the different stores around the city. Noriko looked down at her feet.
“Have you felt it too?” she asked. Chiharu didn’t even look back at her. Noriko looked at her hands. For the past three days, different images filled her head. She remembered holding a little baby boy while she was in a hospital. That child didn’t live to see his first birthday. Seeing that tiny lifeless body in her hands made her eyes well up.
“Are you alright?” Chiharu asked. Her childhood friend quickly wiped away her tears and lifted her head.
“I’m fine,” she said with a trembling voice. They first came up to an electronic store. As Chiharu and Noriko walked up to the first doors when an older girl dressed in a cute Santa outfit handed out bright pink flyers.
“Good afternoon!” she greeted them. “Come by our karaoke party tonight!”
“No thank you,” Chiharu said as she started to walk away. She pulled on Noriko’s arm’s. “Come on, we have to get going.” However, her friend happened to take a sniff of the Santa girl’s blue jasmine perfume and the remaining efforts of Mnemosyne woke up more memories in her head.
A woman with messy hair sat on a bed staring at the blank wall in her room at Chou Mori. She felt nothing inside of her. Her husband had dropped her off her three months ago. Nothing seemed to reach her at first. By the end of February, she started to respond to her therapist as if in a daze.
The woman didn’t move when she heard the door opening.
“Good morning,” her psychiatrist said. “How are you doing today, Mrs.?” He ignored her mumbling as he approached her bed. He set down a newspaper clipping in her lap.
“Take a look at this,” the older man said. The woman looked down at headline staring back at her. A mother had strangled her three kids in their sleep before slitting her own throat. The therapist smirked as his patient read the gruesome story.
“See?” he asked. “Why didn’t your God rush in and save those children? How can you still say there is still a god after this?”
“They are all in a better place,” the woman mumbled.
His patient lifted her head, looking at him with tired eyes. “He probably saved them all from a miserable life. Those children would probably forgive their mother in Heaven.”
“But they didn’t have to die. They had their whole lives ahead of them.”
“Maybe it was their time to go.”
“Just like with your son?” He watched as she drew her knees to her chest. The woman still wouldn’t give up her God after twenty-eight tragic stories that he would show her out of the papers. His only saving grace as this blue jasmine incense that he kept lighting in her room to calm her down during the nights.
Back in present day, Chiharu smacked Noriko in the arm. Her friend looked up at her trembling.
“Is she okay?” the Santa girl whispered.
“No,” Chiharu said. She grabbed Noriko by the arm and dragged her into the store.
Last year, Etsuko got to see her beloved drug in action in the human brain. One of Otomo Aya’s patients was put under a machine for an ET scan. The older doctor looked calm on the outside, but she felt the excitement well up inside of her as she watched all of the warm colors on the screen light up and flash. It was like watching many little puzzle pieces coming together before her. During her final year of college, Etsuko never thought that the fruits of her thesis would grow to this scale.
Still, many questions remain about those tiny purple cones.
Masaomi looked at his phone. Saki wasn’t picking up again. Calming himself and saying that it was all in his head wasn’t working anymore. The best thing to do was to attempt to keep his girlfriend dying.
Problem was, he didn’t know how she would die and when.
The memories of her death felt like a weight on his chest. Masaomi closed his eyes and tried to think about something else. He happened to look across the room and notice a bag of chocolate sitting on the floor. Saki must have left it there the other than when she came by to visit. I probably should go take it to her, the boy thought. Masaomi got off of his bed and walked over to the doorway. However, when he picked up the bag, two memories came attached to it thanks to those little purple cones.
Three days before her death, Saki turned to Masaomi in bed.
“Masaomi-kun, what would you do if I died the next day?” she asked. He gave her a puzzled look.
“What kind of question is that?” Masaomi asked.
“What would you do?”
He shrugged his bare shoulders. “I don’t know.” The leader of the Yellow Scarves couldn’t help but notice the disappointed look on Saki’s face. “What?”
She put her arm over his bare chest. “Please be serious about this.”
“I am serious.”
“So you wouldn’t find another girl to fall in love with?”
“No, I would never do that.” His response merited a smack in the chest from his frowning girlfriend. “Ow!”
“No, you have to promise me that you will find another girl after I die.”
“What brought this on, Saki-chan?”
Masaomi sighed and closed his eyes. “Fine, I promise I will. I don’t really see the point though. Why are you so convinced that you’re going to die soon?”
Saki shook her head. “No reason.” She closed her eyes and went to sleep.
Five days after Saki’s death, Mikado helped Masaomi clean out her things from the apartment. The blonde-haired boy didn’t appear to be holding up too well. Mikado rubbed him on the back.
“It’s going to be okay,” he whispered. Masaomi walked over to the kitchen as if in a daze.
“Masaomi-kun?” his friend asked. Masaomi opened the fridge and looked inside. His heart sank when he something caught his attention. In the corner in the very back was a box wrapped up in bright red and pink tissue paper held together with a white ribbon. A tag with little red hearts on it read, “To Masaomi-kun, from Saki.” The distort boy pulled out the box and opened it. It only stuck worse when he realized that it was Honmei choco. Masaomi sank to his knees.
“This was supposed to be a present to me,” he mumbled as tears welled up in his eyes.
“Masaomi… -kun?” Mikado asked when he came to his friend’s side. The blonde-haired boy looked up with tears in his eyes.
“She was going to give it to me the day she…” he said. Mikado pulled his friend into his arms and held him.
Back in present day, his phone buzzed. Masaomi rushed over and grabbed his phone. Saki had just texted him back. He collapsed back onto his bed with temporary relief, but he knew it would be short-lived again.
Can Mnemosyne create false memories? What exactly causes it to make memories occur in the brain? What happens when too much is taken? What exactly is in Mnemosyne? Why hasn’t Etsuko gone ahead and massive produced her pride and joy of a thesis? She will answer some of those questions, but not all of them. No one else but her knows how to make those tiny purple cones. When she dies, those secrets will die with her.
Mikado has it the worst out of all of them because he got an extra dose on Christmas. He could already see the memories of being imprisoned in Chou Mori. Before, little pieces about that institution flashed in his brain besides the various injections into his body.
A faded and torn banner of the entrance of what appeared to be a tunnel that read, “Welcome to Hell.”
Kitano-sensei sitting on his bed, talking to him about philosophy.
The orderly with the crimson nails tried to push her hand down his pants.
The faces of the other patients in Chou Mori.
The constant smell of bleach that made him want to throw. (Junko decided to be twisted at school two days prior to Yuka’s visit, by “accidentally” kicking over a bucket of bleach as his class were cleaning up their classroom.)
Yuka’s little visit only made things worse. Ever since that second dose of Mnemosyne and learning the truth, the flashbacks got to work breaking what little sanity was remaining. At the impromptu Christmas party, Mikado looked really out of it. He stared at his plate with a daze look in his eyes. He could barely hear the voices of his friends around him.
“Mikado,” Masaomi said. “Mikado! Mikado!” The dark-haired boy jerked his head upwards and saw all eyes on him.
“You feeling okay?” Saki asked. Mikado slowly shook his head.
“No,” he said. The boy got up and locked himself in the bathroom.
“Don’t worry, he’s just a little sick,” Masaomi was quick to lie to the girls.
Cold water from the faucet ran at full blast as Mikado splashed it on his face. He took in deep breaths as he looked in the mirror. Masaomi threw him this little party in an attempt to calm him down, but it wasn’t working. In fact, it only seemed to make things worse for him. Mikado closed his panicked eyes. The draining water brought him into another memory that he couldn’t escape from.
The orderly with the deep crimson nails rug out a cold wet cloth she pulled out from the sink and began washing Chirin’s body. The room looked like it was in some sort of a tunnel with barely any light in it. He was laying on his back and couldn’t move. The orderly’s devilish hands seemed to linger on his nether regions a little too fondly. She was probably listing all of the naughty things she wanted to do to him. Her tone made him cringe even now. There was some sort of writing above him on the wall. It didn’t look like Kanji, Romanji maybe. He could only see the bottoms of the words.
Chirin and the orderly weren’t the only one in there, though. He could hear the moans and wails of the other patients, but he couldn’t see who all was there.
Strangely enough, that room was the only place that didn’t smell like bleach. Instead, he remembered it smelling like blood, vomit, feces, and urine. Mikado rushed over to the toilet and dry heaved as the memories hit him once again.
“Mikado?” Masaomi asked as he knocked on the bathroom door. “Are you okay in there?”
“No!” his friend croaked. “Just leave me alone okay!”
Outside, Masaomi didn’t leave him alone and instead sat outside of the bathroom door and waited. He waved off the concerned looks of Anri, Saki, Chiharu, and Noriko staring at him. The blond-haired boy looked over at the door behind him. Come on, man, you have to get through this. You can let it wear you down like this. I will be damned if you break down on my watch! He pulled his knees to his chest and grabbed them with a tight grip.
Masaomi still wouldn’t leave his room and even slept in the same futon with him after the girls went home.
Etsuko smiled in her lab as she finished up the first step in the new batch of those tiny purple cones. Who was going to be her new target with her beloved drug that she created from her thesis project back in college? Oh, she and the rest of the inner circle had a small list in mind…