Chapter 1:

Field of Flowers

Field of Flowers

Once, there was a world that I can barely remember. It was from a lifetime ago. Details of it always tugged at the corners of my mind when I sat awake at night choking on the dead air. That world wasn’t perfect but it wasn’t the current dying hellscape. It wasn’t a world of roving gangs, choking smog, and starving children. Almost everyone in that world had more than they needed and everyone produced more than was necessary. My mind blanked when trying to come up with the word for it....

“Abundance. Yeah, that’s it.” I said to myself and choked again on dead air. The smog was the worst in the morning after an all-night burn.

The entire planet had become burdened by our abundance and neglect. And when we were given the option to come together for a solution we chose war. Then we were abandoned by our leaders and the elites on a planet doomed to kill off every person eventually. We knew it as the Final Collapse.

Despite that life continued to shamble onwards in new and horrible ways that somehow still reminded me of the former world. I lived in a small junker apartment filled with trash and rusting parts that hadn’t been scheduled for burning yet. Only the daily chore of transporting goods kept me from being like others that were tossed out into the worst of the filth and smog. I saw them, The Abandoned, outside my dirt stained window ever so often. Withered and small forms with coughing fits that never stopped until the rest of their body did too. And the day I failed to work I’d be forced to join them.

I figured it was time to make a delivery today so I stood up then felt the world swirl around me and abruptly returned to my bed. My body felt like sludge caked in the sewer drain and I wanted to lay down but the man that doesn’t work in the world doesn’t live long. After a few minutes I found my strength again and got to my feet.

Carefully, I made my way through piles of clutter that lined my apartment. Whatever wasn’t a bag of waste was held for possible trade. Anything from broken machines to pieces of furniture were used for bartering. Still, it made navigating through the mess a daily nightmare.

I took the best wash I could with the little water I was alloted and dressed myself before heading into the hallway. More broken wreckages and trash littered the halls of the buildings in designated areas. The areas weren’t there to create order. It was simply due to the state of disrepair in the building. I’d seen a man carry trash to an undesignated spot and fall through six floors to his death.

“Larry never did listen.” I muttered to myself.

Two floors down from me lived the apartment’s doctor because nowadays if you didn’t have a doctor living in a commune you’d be overrun with sickness faster than The Abandoned outside. I made my way to their place passing a few familiar and hardened faces that nodded at me. One person called me over.

“Hey Scott. Got any time between runs today?” Asked a thin, tall, balding man. He was…Jim? No. James.

“I’ll have to check the board, James. Going to see Doc Holi first.” I responded.

“Oh, hope everything is fine. Well if you do have time though, I might know where to score some premium stuff.”.

“That’s because Jay Jay’s in town.”

“Ah! Figured you’d know!” James wiped his brow with a gnarled hand and smiled showing his missing teeth.

“Put in a request on the board” I told him as I started to leave. “I’ll see if I can run it for you.”

“No, I ain’t got time for the board. He’s got some new stuff we can try-”

“Not interested.” I cut himself.

“Fine! You don’t need a new high but he’s got some of your stuff too.” I paused and looked back at him. “Got your attention now, eh? We can both get what we need.”

For a moment I weighed the decision and responded, “I’ll check the board right after Doc and let you know.”

James nodded his satisfaction and I continued my trip to the doctor. A few easy knocks at the door and a second later the small voice of a woman answered.

“If you don’t have an appointment I hope you’ve got something to trade.”

“It’s me Doc.”

“Oh! Come on in, Scotty. I got some time.” The unlatching of chains and the sliding of bolts echoed from the other side of the door before it swung open to reveal the short blonde lady with a hard face and a glass eye. She appraised me with her one good eye and beckoned me inside before shutting the door.

“Thanks for seeing me, doc. I just wanted to get a quick check up. I was pretty woozy this morning.” I made an apologetic face as she led me through her office. The medical area was probably the cleanest spot in the building because it had to be. It existed in stark contrast to the world outside.

“No problem, just let me get your vitals. I appreciate the favor you did. You saved my son’s life.”

“I was just helping. If all it takes is getting something somewhere then I can handle it.”

Doc Holi smiled at me gently and began fussing over her equipment as she took my measurements. Sure enough my vitals were off enough for the doctor to recommend a blood test as a precaution. We made idle chatter until the doctor touched a certain subject.

“That bastard Jay Jay is back in town. Every time he’s here I get more work.”

“Oh really?” I asked, pretending ignorance.

“Yeah right, you knew he was going to show up before anyone. It’s part of your job. A good job. One not worth risking your health over.” Doc Holi leaned over the chair and poked my chest.

“Got it. But everyone has their vices. In this world, how could you stay sane without them?”

“Those vices helped create this hellscape we live in. It’ll never help us get out of it.”

“We can’t get out of it. Everyone that could leave is gone. All we have left is the hard way out.”

Doc was going to say something when one of the machines in her office alarmed loudly to signal the completion of its analysis. She stopped and went over to the device and removed the vial that previously contained my blood and pulled a sheet of paper being printed out nearby. Her face turned unreadable for a moment and then sunken. As she made her way to me, time seemed to drag on and my stomach sank. Words came from her lips and washed over my ears but I couldn’t make sense of them.

Nothing clicked in my mind. Only the pain of emptiness ached in my heart.

“I’m so sorry Scotty…”

I didn’t even remember leaving her office but I had. Somehow I found myself in front of James' door. He answered immediately when I knocked.

“Scott, what’s going on man. You look pale. Nothing on the board?”

“...Fuck the board. I’m going to see Jay Jay. I need to dream.”


Blood rot.

They don’t know what it technically was but it was like some type of super cancer had a baby with a toxic infection. The symptoms started light and then bit by bit the body failed as it fell to pieces, sometimes literally. By the time it’s detected it’s already a death sentence, like a man holding a grenade with a missing pin all I could do was wait for my time. No cure, no hope.

But I didn’t need hope, I needed to dream and remember. Long ago I decided that if I was destined to die in this crapsack of a world that I was going to do it remembering the best time of my life. The time before the collapse, before the war got really bad, back when I had hope. Back to the field of flowers when I had her.

I made my way to Jay Jay’s pop up shop like a hound on the hunt. The morning smog from the burn stations choked by lungs and burned my eyes but I stayed focused as I moved through the city. Most of the buildings were abandoned, too damaged to live in for job-holding survivors and not much better than the sewage covered streets for The Abandoned. Humanity had abandoned itself then the world and only left its shit behind.

When I reached the area just outside the commune I saw the makeshift structure that was Jay Jay’s Medicinal Bar. It had no windows, no foundation, and was basically pieces of metal and wooden tied together with string and optimism. He fashioned himself as a nomadic spirit selling the tonics for the soul. Excessive and unnecessary airs for a drug peddler, in my opinion. Regardless I was here on a short mission.

Tin sheets made up the doors for the provisional building for Jay Jay’s business. I gave them a fair knock without any response then I banged on them with enough force to knock loose parts of the structure.

“Whoa, whoa! Cool your jets, I don’t do business with jackboots or crazies!” A voice yelled from the inside.

“I’m from the nearby commune and I’m looking to barter.” I said and heard movement inside the building.

“Come in, slowly.” The voice said and I obeyed.

Inside was exactly as I remembered; a messy collision of tables, shelves, hanging satchels and countertops that held an array of liquids, powders, and other substances. By the door was one table with a bunch of vials that changed through a spectrum of colors and would make a user lose touch with their own senses. In one of the hanging satchels was a collection of deformed produce and fruit that could give a person the delusion of fullness for days even while wasting away. All around the room were substances to debase or confuse oneself and just to make living a bit more bearable.

At the center of this maze of debauchery was a dark skinned man with long dreaded hair aiming a revolver at me. My hands reflectively shot up in a gesture of surrender to ease any tension. Jay Jay regarded me for a moment and put the pistol away.

“Oh, it’s you. You usually run errands and supplies around here right? Stevie?”

“Scott, and yeah, that’s me.” I sighed heavily and went to the counter where Jay Jay stood. “It’s pretty rare for non-hunters to have firearms.”

“Everyone has a price, even the hunters.” Jay Jay beamed an easy smile. “Whacha got to trade Scottie? I’ve got just about everything you could.”

“I’m counting on that.” I said and placed a pack stuffed with items on his counter. “Here is what I got.”

Jay Jay looked at the bag, clearly suspicious of its possible contents but opened it anyway. As he rummaged through he made comments on the items.

“Circuits boards, valves, a decent pair of boots, ooh copper wire, and-” Jay Jay’s hand pulled out a large black labeled bottle filled with brown liquid.

“Is this what I think it is?” He asked.

“Whiskey, pre-war.”

Jay Jay’s eyes went wide and he couldn’t contain himself from opening the bottle to smell. For a brief moment the smell of burning shit vanished from our nostrils and was replaced with the rich scent of alcohol. Jay Jay quickly closed the alcohol again as if even releasing the smell was too precious for this forsaken world.

“I know folks that would kill for this!” Jay Jay said.

“I know people that have.” I replied. JayJay ran his gaze over me appraisingly and grinned when he finished.

“For stuff like sir, you get the run of the store.”

“I know exactly what I want. Sweet crystals for a friend of mine and Mnemosyne for me.”

“I can get you a whole barrel of Sweet crystals for this stuff but the other one is a no go.”

I gave Jay Jay a very stern look and he simply shrugged at me.

“That’s the offer, my man. Maybe I can interest you in Tina's Toxins? It’ll make your body tingle so much it’ll feel like you’re dreaming!”

“Bullshit!” I said before I could stop myself. “Why can’t you just sell it to me?”

“I suggest you cool off before I take a little off your top.” A blur came out over the counter and suddenly the cold barrel of a revolver was pressed against my forehead. A tense moment passed but when I realized my brains were still in my skull I knew he wasn’t going to kill me.

“...You won’t shoot. If you kill me and take my stuff you’ll never be able to return to this commune or any other for miles around. No one trusts a dealer that kills his customers.”

Jay Jay smiled and laid the gun on the counter next to the bag.

“You’re right. Besides, I ain’t a killer; I’m a businessman. And as a businessman I can’t sell you what I don’t have.”

“How do you get it though? You’ve got suppliers or something right?”

“I do. But the supplier of Mnemosyne screwed me. I was actually supposed to pick up a batch on the way here just a few miles outside the city.”

“They’re not far?” I asked. For a second I could have swore I saw Jay Jay grin.

“Nope. But I’m not a violent guy. They screwed me so I can’t stop them. Even if I forced my way…”

“...You’d never be able to deal with certain suppliers. No one trusts a dealer that kills his suppliers.”

“Got it, smart guy.” Jay Jay threw his hands up in frustration. “...But if someone went to retrieve it for me then I could separate myself from any roughness that happened.”

“...I’m no one’s jackboot thug.” I said.

“But you were.” The dealer locked eyes with me. Eyes unearth insights only a few were privy to. “You were military before the collapse I bet. Strong, tough, able to still be a transporter at your age. No doubt you were fit before the world fell to shit. I need someone strong like that to get my supplies.”

“Even if you’re right, I don’t do that anymore.”

“I’m not asking you to kill anyone. But-” Jay Jay slid the gun towards me. “-I need someone capable and determined. You seem determined. I don’t know what memory you want to see with Mnemosyne but I promise I’ll give you a more-than-fair deal if you do this. You’ll be able to dream peacefully for a long time.”

I was being played but I didn’t see the angle yet. Every rational instinct told me to walk away but then I thought of her in the field of lilacs and lavender from before the collapse. I thought of how I could actually remember the smell of the flowers when I dreamt of that memory. I thought of the blood rot eating me away, cell by cell and minute by minute. I thought of never being able to think of a better world again.

“I’ll do it but how do we trust each other?” I asked.

“Forget trust. Let’s be real: You know I can’t screw you because I’ll lose my rep around this area. You won’t jack my shit and return to your commune because you’ll lose everything when you’re found out. This is just good business.”

“...Good business huh? Fine.” I picked up the revolver and checked the cylinder. There was only one bullet in the gun. I would have laughed if it wasn’t so absurd but I knew guns were just as rare as ammunition.

“I’ll give you a map so you can get to the supplier. If things get hairy, make sure the one bullet counts for something.”


To have one last perfect memory from the world before I was willing to do anything. Anything. I wasn’t proud of that thought but it was the only thing that made me abstain from using the one bullet on myself. After all, a dying man was allowed to indulge in a victimless transgression.

When I reached the location marked on the map it was the afternoon and I was tired from slogging through the streets of muck. The city outside the commune belonged to the dirt, the smog, and The Abandoned. Building after building leaned and collapsed on one another like dominoes. Shattered glass and scattered filth laid out in front of every broken and beaten building. Except one.

One building was like a diamond shining in the dirt. It wasn’t pre-war pristine but it had been managed and cleaned with a great degree of diligence. Based on the size and style of the building it was likely a small clinic or care facilities. The outside didn’t have any signs or markings but I knew this was the drug lab for Jay Jay’s supplier. I pulled my gun from my waist with one hand, cracked open the front door with the other, and peeked inside quickly.

The lobby was small, clean, and probably as orderly as Doc Holi’s medical office. That alone placed it in better condition than most other places in the world. As I entered I checked my corners with the gun trained in front of me. Once I was confident that I cleared the room I breathed a bit easier. I knew it wasn’t likely this supplier had any weapons but I’d be foolish to not expect it.

My options for proceeding were left down a corridor or right into what looked like a broom closet. Down the corridor path was lined with rooms on either side. Thin plastic sheets gave an illusion of privacy that would still allow any onlooker to see the interior. In each room was a medical bed, empty stands and paper charts. No names were written on the paper, only numerical amounts. The beds themselves seemed to have been abandoned in a hurry and the sheets on more than a few of them had red stains and the smell of rust.

Before I reached the end of the hallway I was hit by a different odor. The strong scent of medical alcohol emitted from a room at the rear of the clinic behind a set of double doors. Through the glass window I spotted one small person, a child, sitting listless in a wheelchair. Devices were connected to each arm with one pumping some substance in and the other seemingly removing their blood. A part of me I’d forgotten urged my body forward and entered the room without checking any corners or clearing the area. I walked up to the child and recoiled in horror at what I saw up close.

No eyes, barely any hair, and their body was thin and emaciated beyond simply being unhealthy. This was torture. Only the most malevolent of people could do this to a child.

“Don’t bother trying to move her. It’s already too late.” I swirled to face the sound of the voice and pointed the revolver at a weathered gray-haired man in a white lab coat leaned over the back of a chair.

“Who are you?” I asked.

“You know exactly who I am. Jay Jay sent you, right?” The old man’s words slurred slightly and he brought up a plastic bottle to his lips and sipped the contents then poured the rest on the ground. The smell of alcohol increased its intensity when he did.

“You’re the supplier? You look like a…”

“A doctor? Yeah. I was that too. Doctor Gene Thompson. Doesn’t matter now. It hasn’t mattered in a long time just like everything else.”

“Okay Gene.” I cocked back the hammer on the revolver. “Two questions: One, where is the Mnemosyne? Two, what the hell are you doing with this child?”

“Jay Jay sent you here and didn’t tell you squat, huh?” Gene stepped unsteadily towards me and I aimed at his head until he got the message and stopped. “Those two questions are connected. I make Mnemosyne through them.”

“What?” My mouth went dry and my voice sounded smaller than it should have been.

“She’s making the last of it right now. My final batch of the ‘perfect memory’ drug.” Gene scoffed mockingly. “Damnest bit of marketing I ever heard.”

“You’ve got two seconds to explain before I blow your brains out over that wall.” I gestured at the one behind him. Gene to his credit didn’t seem impressed by the threat. He strolled around the edge of the room with his hands raised but still seemed relaxed.

“I wouldn’t do that. Might ignite the fumes. I know you can smell them. But you want the story? Fine. I was a doctor before the Final Collapse of society and got to work on projects for altering mental states during the Last War. A bunch of suits thought changing the minds of the enemy using drugs was more humane or less expensive. Doesn’t matter either way. I had a theory that a combination of substances processed through the human body could be refined through digestion or metabolization into...well, more drugs.”

As Gene explained he circled the room until he got near the child. I tucked the gun away knowing it might get me killed right alongside the mad scientist. Part of me still didn’t believe what he was saying but I knew his voice sounded like he was unburdening himself for one last time.

“Mnemosyne, goddess of memory, was the creation from stuffing kids with synthetic opioids and hallucinogens then bleeding them out. Like animals turning fruit into coffee beans or meth addicts drinking their own urine for a greater high. The human body was just a tool to create a product. Even when I heard that kids' bodies worked better to create it than adults I didn’t hesitate. I was already involved, creating a false nostalgia to unleash on the world.”

“False nostalgia? W-what do you mean?” My voice cracked in spite of me but Gene didn’t seem to care.

“It’s fake.” Gene stated. “The perfect memory is a lie. Your brain was warped by a drug made from the blood of children. It made you construct a pleasant, hyper-realistic fantasy. Nothing in it is a memory.”

“You’re wrong.” I advanced on him and Gene didn’t resist when I punched him to the ground. “I remember! I remember her! I remember the smell of lilacs and lavender, the wind on my skin, the sound of the ocean and she was dancing in the field of flowers wearing a sundress and sun hat!”

Gene didn’t shrink away as I yelled at him, he only looked at the ground in disappointment and maybe regret. Regret that he made the world a worse place just by being in it.

“It’s not real.” Gene finally said while holding his jaw. “The dream is supposed to feel familiar and incredible. Enemies remembering they were actually old allies or that their lover was on the other side. Planting fake memories in dreams that felt more real than reality was the goal. I have a question for you: How old are you?”

“What does it matter?” I asked, shaking my head.

“To prove a point.”


“I’m fifty-eight and lilacs and lavender both went extinct before I was born. Think hard about all the animals and plants that went extinct before the elites waged the Last War that led into the collapse. They weren’t even around then.”

“Oh…oh god.” My legs nearly buckled. The weight of my own sins came crashing down on my mind like a wave. The things I had done and was willing to do for a lie nauseated and horrified me. The horror turned to hate and I wanted to hurt myself.

“We humans kept throwing things away until all we had left was our humanity and tossed it aside too. I’ve worked for hellish people like Jay Jay over the years because someone always wants this. He’s even supplied children for me to use but…I got tired of everything. So I told him I quit. Then I let every child that could leave on their own go. Only one remained. Now I just need to make sure it’s finally over.” Gene stood back up and pushed a few buttons on one of the machines hooked up to the child and out of a compartment came a dozen vials of a familiar golden liquid. It was Mnemosyne and despite knowing how it was manufactured a sick part of me still craved it.

“Here.” Gene loaded the vials into a case and shoved the case into my chest. “Take them and leave. I don’t care if you deliver them to Jay Jay or use them yourself. I’ve got some friends in hell to see.”

Gene pulled out a lighter from somewhere I failed to notice and nodded at me. The man knew he was a monster and deserved to burn and I wasn’t going to stop him. By the time I was outside a fireball roared through the clinic and destroyed the life work of a devil.

But it made me think of how terrible this world must be for Gene to choose hell instead of staying here.


My body moved without a clear direction as my mind tried to rationalize a lie into truth. Dreaming of a perfect memory from a perfect time was impossible. No such perfect time ever existed. I never smelled lilacs and lavender nor was I ever in love. The woman of my dreams didn’t even have a name.

“But does it matter?” I muttered to the ghosts haunting my mind.

I wanted to see the dream again, to remember the smells I never smelled and the touch I never felt. I wanted to hear a woman laugh like a songbird and dance happily in a field of flowers. I wanted to not think about dying in a shithole with the blood rot. Most of all, I didn’t want to think of children doped up then bled to death to get me high.

When I stopped thinking in my own little world I looked up to see my feet had brought me back to Jay Jay’s drug shack. Night had taken over the area and small lights could be seen illuminating the interior between the cracks. The ominous den of sin was like a beacon for lost and damned souls. Maybe that’s why I ended up here, to close the chapter in this tale of monsters by confronting one more.

Without any further pause I slid the door open to Jay Jay’s shack and saw the lantern-lit world inside with the owner still standing comfortably at the center behind his counter. He didn’t seem shocked that I entered this late or that I had the revolver in my hand. Something about Jay Jay’s smugness made my skin crawl like he was always comfortable with horrors as long as he profited.

“I knew you were the guy for the job. So did good old Gene get chatty?”

“Chatty enough. I know what you’ve done.”

“But I bet you don’t know what I’m gonna do.”

Gunshots rang out and my body flinched to duck instinctively. A force struck my body and spun me around before I could crouch. When my back hit the wall I felt the wound in my gut like a piece of hot coal left in my stomach. I blinked stupidly at the hole in my body with the pain flaring through it but hardly blood coming from it and what little was didn’t look right.

“Gene said he was going to shut it all down. Can’t believe he lost the stomach for this after all these years. Oh looks like I got you pretty good.”

Jay Jay was standing over me now with another gun in his hand. Of course Jay Jay would have had another gun with more bullets. No matter how rare the item was as long as a dealer could find an addict to get it there wasn’t an issue. And this world was filled with addicts like me.

I, unfortunately, had dropped my own gun but held onto the case after I fell when I was shot. Part of me cursed my nature, unsure if I kept the product safe because I was still addicted to Mnemosyne or because I was still trying to act as a transporter.

“Guess that. Talk about. Losing. Business. Was bullshit.” I squeezed out the words between labored breaths.

“Nope. I’ll lose business here but Mnemosyne will be my rarest drug. A prize jewel for the slumlords. Speaking of which…” Jay Jay points his gun at my head. “Hand it over and I’ll end it quickly.”

“Kill me. And take it.” I paused then saw the look in his eyes. “You’re empty.”

The next look I saw was rage as it flared in the drug dealer’s eyes. His pistol came on my forearm as I blocked just in time. Pain flashed up the limb and Jay Jay was coming down with another blow when I swung the case into his side. Adrenaline pumped through my veins and I launched myself at him when he was off balance.

We clashed in an awkward struggle as I attempted to drag him to the ground. Jay Jay hammered me with the butt of his gun and tried to drive his knees into my gut but my injured forearm blocked them. My other arm flailed at him with the case until I heard a snap the latch broke. Vials of Mnemosyne went flying out.

“You fucking idiot-”

Jay Jay’s concern about the drug gave him anger but it also threw off his balance. I surged one last time and lifted him off his feet and into the air before violently slamming his back against the floor. Glass vials shattered under Jay Jay’s back and he cried out in pain. I dragged myself on top of him, pinned his arms down with my knees and took a moment to rest.

That’s when I noticed the smoke. Our tussle must have knocked over one of the lanterns on to something flammable. With all the volatile substances in the place it was only a matter of time before the inevitable happened.

“Fuck, no no no no. Not like this man. I can feel the Mnemosyne. It’s not right.” Jay Jay whimpered under me with a gaze that didn’t see the world anymore. His muttering turned inwards on himself as the drug covered glass that punctured his back worked its effect on his system. Whatever dream Mnemosyne would show Jay Jay, he didn’t deserve to see. My hands wrapped around his throat and the drug dealer’s eyes bulged as he drifted into consciousness.

I throttled him until the horror consumed his face and the light left his eyes. My legs didn’t have the strength left in them to stand so I rolled off the body to the side. Blood rot was the only reason I didn’t bleed out completely. Ironically the condition which was a death sentence helped me survive longer. Probably only long enough to die in the burning shack.

Just as I thought that a death via fire was my only option I noticed just within arms reach were the revolver with one bullet and one full vial of Mnemosyne. A choice, my last choice. I made it and let my last thoughts before the end were of a beautiful dream that never existed.

Field of Flowers

Field of Flowers