Memory Credit Card

The year is 2200 where money is valueless, and memories are priceless. They have become the most valuable currency, traded and exchanged in markets, auctions, and more. People own and carry devices allowing them to store and capture memories, changing and upgrading them into tangible assets—the richer the memories, the wealthier the individual is.

Sasha, a young woman living with five other roommates in her New York City apartment, depressed, finds herself intrigued by this system. When she was little, she had always been fascinated by the idea of sharing experiences. Memories were the ultimate form of connection. Now she rolls her eyes when the silly memory comes to her. She’s walking through the Memory Market on an early Sunday afternoon, and as she approaches one of the booths, she notices a distant figure in a dark coat. The figure seems to radiate an aura of mystery, one that scents the air with forgotten tales and hidden recollections. She goes to approach the figure. As she gets closer, Sasha realizes that it‘s an older man with more warts on his face than features. He has something tucked away under his coat, and when she approaches him, he cautiously reveals it. The man tells her that what he holds in his hands is a device that able to extract memories from the deepest parts of someone’s mind.

Intrigued, Sasha decides to trade some of her most cherished memories for the strange device. She watches as the man clicks on the machine and sees shimmering memories transfer from her mind to the device. The man then transfers those memories to himself before handing her the device and walking away.

With her newly found and totally safe device, Sasha goes around exploring the market, carelessly trading tales of love, adventure, and heartbreak. She loves immersing herself in the lives of complete strangers, which is probably why she’s gullible enough to approach one and give away significant parts of herself. The market has become a garden of shared experiences to her, where she values each memory not just for its richness, but because it gives her new connections. She also learns of the system’s fragility.

She learns while some people hoard their memories for wealth, others cling to the past, grasping onto nostalgia and ignoring the present. Despite what others will think of her and the deal with the strange, ugly man, Sasha believes in the value of shared memories over the wealth of richer ones. In a world where memories are currency, Sasha makes every exchange of human connection valuable, receiving a wealth of diverse experiences that are priceless.

The Eye of Alice

Money made the world go round, but memories make the world a sphere. 

When they first were able to exchange memories for currency, everyone was excited. How could they not be? Trade in a traumatic memory and get paid for it? People couldn’t wait! Every single person was cashing out, especially with traumatic memories, or Traumemories. The adrenaline rush of hyper-awareness was the world’s new cup of coffee. The wealthy got addicted to the rush that came with the fight-or-flight reactions from a Traumemory—without having to actually be in a dangerous situation. What they didn’t tell you about were the side effects; they only told you about the substantial checks. 

Alice was born with the eye and mind of a creative, and she had the hand, ear, and eye coordination to create anything. She was able to make any of her thoughts into something beautiful: poetry, short stories, drawing, painting, sculpting, music—if it had anything to do with creativity, she would do it.

When memories became the new currency, Alice felt a sense of urgency to learn how to earn a decent wage without giving up her memorable moments. More and more stores and businesses were quickly switching to monetization of the mind. Fortunately, people started paying Alice with their memories. She became quite successful despite the lack of cash flow in the world; people would pay her to own a piece of her visions and to hear her play music and serenade them. Each new memory was an interestingly different perception of life, and Alice would create art from every memory that society would supply.

Life was great until the day she almost died in a car accident and was trapped in critical condition. The doctors gave Alice her options: live out the rest of her days on life support or be put in a Med-Bay and walk out of the hospital that day. A no-brainer, right? She chose the Med-Bay, but she had insufficient funds to pay—unless she exchanged some of her memories away. 

“Traumemories pay the best,” the doctor said.

So that’s what she chose. Unable to remember her accident, Alice went all the way back to her most traumatic experience as a kid and exchanged it.

A few hours later, Alice was healed and back home in her studio, wanting to create something—anything—but she didn’t feel that spark like before. 

“I’ll just wait; it’s probably a side effect of the Med-Bay.”

Days, weeks, then months passed… 

The creative seed seemed to be gone.

Alice forgot how her most traumatic memory was the catalyst that had her crafting and creating in the first place. 

“There has to be a way to get my memory back!” 

Or was it too late? 

The Art of Remembrance

Vista Concepción was seldom seen, but when she was, she was always with her paintbrush, which emerged from her fist like a gnarled finger. Her sole company in her moldy apartment was her belongings—hoarded, imbued with memories of her lifetime, and huddled together like cold children.

Vista wasn’t interested in portraits, still lives, or even the view outside her window. She preferred painting her memories. Her paintbrush was the only souvenir from her childhood. Its body was splintered and haphazardly carved with her name: Vista. A view, sight, vision. Something to behold. She liked to think she and her paintbrush were connected by fate, destined to transform blank slates into unforgettable art.

Currently, she was trying to capture the exact shade of pink the sunrise cast over her family’s farm. She couldn’t go back to witness it; her motherland was seduced by the lucrative industry of Memory Itemization, and her childhood home, once teeming with life, was now punctured by the blank faces of factories.

Vista nearly tossed the wet paintbrush in a violent streak across the canvas. She once made a humble living. People loved the realism of her watercolor landscapes. Now, with purchasable memories, no one wanted replicas. Art was a dying trade, and Vista, unable to let go of the past, often went hungry.

As her stomach growled, the unfortunate truth settled: memory is also a replica of the past. Everyone had convinced themselves that purchased memories portray the indisputable truth. Vista, too, had convinced herself that hoarding every afterimage got her one step closer to her past—but to remember is to constantly repaint a hazy ghost. Each time she conjured the fields of her childhood, the smell of cream skimmed off the top of fresh milk, and the laughter of her family, it moved her further away from the material truth.

If only there was a way to remember exactly as things were, without loss.

Remember. Each syllable reverberated like a clock striking midnight. Inspiration attached itself like a weed taking root straight to Vista’s heart. She began her work.

The Memory Liquidator hesitantly ducked under the caution tape. He’d been consulted for bizarre estate sales before, but nothing like this.

They found the woman’s body fused to her chair, and her hands fused to two bloody canvases. Police informed him that she attached herself with industrial-grade glue, but this was hardly the worst sight. Items were grafted into her scalp and skin, creating grotesque appendages. Her apartment was disgustingly cluttered, yet everything was linked to her limbs, fastened with zip ties, leaving her body a mangled amalgam of accumulation.

What struck the Liquidator most was the removal of her left breast, and the replacement of an old paintbrush shakily sewn to her skin, as if skimming the fat allowed the paintbrush closer access to her heart. A smile still graced her face. Every item here was tinged with deadly memories; nothing could be sold or taken from her, exactly as she wished.