Part 2 by Mia Herrera
Soledad had never mastered patience. She waited all of five minutes before leaving her ship. She had landed somewhere in the country. Which country, which decade, she did not know.
Farmland stretched out for miles beyond her sight. Nothing but what looked like cotton surrounded her. She had sucked the ship back into her keychain and began wandering out. She would need only to wait; the Time Police would find her soon enough. She wondered what her punishment would be. Maybe they would rip out her memory chip and condemn her to a life of forgetting? She sucked her teeth at the thought, she wasn’t that lucky.
The sound of whimpers pulled Soledad out of her fantasy. She approached the noise cautiously. Behind a curtain of stalks laid a girl on the floor, clutching her belly and crying. Soledad walked closer and inspected the girl. Her thighs were spotted with blood, her clothing was torn in several places, and her face was bruised. Immediately, Soledad felt a flood of anger enter her body. She could recognize what had happened.
“Where are they,” Soledad questioned. The girl jumped at the sound of Soledad. She rushed to cover her exposed body.
“I won’t hurt you. Where are they,” Soledad demanded. She had no idea what she would do when she found the perpetrator, but she would make sure their abuse would end.
“You can’t do anything. They won’t believe you. They don’t even believe me,” the girl cried. Soledad calculated she couldn’t have been older than fourteen.
She could feel bile rising in her throat. Disgust flooded her veins and was made noticeable on her face. She thought back to home, this would be a memory she would be forced to pass on in the Hive.
“What do you mean, girl. You must simply show them the state you are in,” Soledad said, eyes searching for the abuser in the stalks. The girl studied Soledad curiously, taking in her clothes and hair. Soledad’s blue curls were tied in intricate crosses above her head, forming two triangles. Her brown skin was covered in a thin glaze of pink goo, and her lips had one stroke of red chalk down the middle. She was wearing her typical clothing, a dress designed in the pattern of her ancestors. Anklet jungled as she tapped her feet, and bracelets clanged up and down her arms.
“You’re not from here,” the girl said. At this, Soledad realized where she was and when she was. It was a crime to interact with ancestors outside of time. But when she looked at the girl again, she couldn’t fight the feeling of anger that swelled in her.
“Where can we take you, girl?” Soledad questioned. The girl shook her head, annoyed at the line of questioning.
“Jezebel. My name is Jezebel,” the girl stated.
“Soledad,” Soledad offered in return. Jezebel made a confused face at Soledad.
“Is that foreign? How do you say that?” Jezebel questioned.
“You can call me Sunny,” Soledad relented. She wondered where the Spanish speakers were in this time period.
Jezebel gave her a questioning look.
“Soledad means solitude in my language. But Sol means sunny,” Soledad explained. She felt a wave of longing overcome her. She missed her home and life. She missed the buzzing of memories flowing through the Hive, connecting them through centuries. She was feeling the loneliness that accompanied her name.
“Where can we take you?” Soledad asked again, growing impatient with Jezebel. They needed to get her help and hunt down her attacker before the Time Police arrived.
“The Master did this. I already told the Lady of the house but she won’t believe me. She took me to the doctor, and they said I am with child. The Master was furious with me for telling on him. He said I was lucky I wasn’t dead,” Jezebel explained. She felt embarrassed for the state she was in, disheveled and crying in front of the colorful girl.
“The Master,” Soledad repeated. She must find this so-called Master and make him feel her fury.
“I wish he had killed me. Then at least my baby would never have to be born a slave,” Jezebel continued, a new wave of tears flushing down her face.
“The Lady didn’t believe you? How does she explain this baby then?” Soledad questioned, seriously confused.
“She said I’m a whore who seduced her husband because he would never do this,” Jezebel said solemnly. Soledad stood in silence, trying to figure out her thoughts.
“She said I can’t be raped; that only happens to white women by black men. She thinks I seduced him,” Jezebel cried.
Soledad pulled at Jezebel’s dress and collected the blood at her thighs before Jezebel could push her off. It was immediate; Jezebel’s entire life was uploaded to the Hive and downloaded into Soledad’s memory chip. The back of her skull buzzed as the chip absorbed Jezebel’s life. Soledad’s spine arched as the influx of memory entered her. It came in flashes, Jezebel being robbed from her mother, her brother dying in the fields, the first time she was raped, and her conversation with the Slaver’s Wife. When the memories end, Soledad’s face is dripping with tears. Her head was pounding, and her heart hurt.
She had never experienced a direct line of trauma before. At home all the memories of abuse were generations away. Soledad ached for home at that moment. She wanted to go back to the future.
She apologized to Jezebel and revealed her tablet. It was her own virtual Hive away from the Hive. She could project her memories and the inherited memories through it. Jezebel marveled at the technology and studied Soledad’s memories.
Soledad could feel her skin crawl; the Time Police was locating her body through space. They would be there soon. She will be killed for this.
“So you all can live each other’s lives,” Jezebel says, still trying to grasp the understanding of the Hive.
“History is meant to guide us through our present. Humanity is one race. This way, we all see America together,” Soledad explains. She feels a pang of sadness at the reminder of Carmelita’s words. Will they see each other again? She should have realized that the memories are precious and meant to be remembered and celebrated. How could empathy not exist in the past?
At the thought of empathy Soledad feels her chip burn. In the matter of seconds she has made up her mind. She pulled Jezebel up and demanded to be directed towards the Master’s house. Jezebel did not understand the need to see the Master but thought it better to let the Sun girl from the future do what she wanted. So she led the way to the white house at the end of the field.
When they reached the house, Soledad had made her mind up. She pulled at the chip at the back of her skull and smacked it onto the Lady of the house. Soledad’s cry was heard from acres away. She could feel the warm blood seeping out her head and on her back, drenching her. Before she slipped from consciousness, she began programming for the Hive. Her chip will send her coordinates to the Time Police directly; chip’s aren’t meant to be pulled out so forcefully.
When she comes to the Time Police, have arrived. They are stitching her head up. She feels the tightness of the stitches and the throbbing in her skull. Her eyes search for Jezebel while she is still on the ground. Jezebel is being encased in a hug by the Lady. They are both crying. Jezebel’s memories had bridged the gap between their stations. The Lady is apologizing over and over and over. Jezebel just kept crying. Soledad makes an effort to remember every detail before she blacked out again.
The Lady, who had never considered the slaves on the field as people could not fight the urge to protect Jezebel as her own. The memories of Jezebel’s life had been ingrained into her brain.
The next time Soledad woke up, the Time Police were hauling her off the ground. She was given a minute to apologize to the ancestors for disrupting their timeline. But all she could say to them was “fix this.”
“Did you bring your Hive tablet?” a guard questions Soledad. He was not even paying attention, already typing in the coordinates for home.
“No,” she replied, staring at Jezebel. Her eyes hurt with her effort to stop crying. She did not want this to be how she remembered her.
“I destroyed my chip,” she said, this time looking at the officer. He merely hummed in response before they walked off, ready to deploy the ship.
“Goodbye, Sunny. Thank you,” Jezebel shouted at Soledad’s retreating back. Soledad turned back to Jezebel and wished she was able to remember good memories. She turned back to the sky and longed for home. She missed the memories of her community. She wanted to feel the buzz of the Hive.