Part 1 by Mia Herrera
Soledad’s brain buzzed as she took in the memories of the Hive. She could feel the tension in her complexion increase as she watched memory after memory. She could feel the tears wet her face as they slid down her cherub cheeks- she was numb to the bombardment of the trauma she was required to watch. Soledad wept for her community members. She wished she could share her support through the Hive, but the Hive was limited to memories.
Everyone was required to transmit and receive memories from the Hive. The shared memory bank ensured empathy within the community. It was created to enforce a shared consciousness; everyone knew everything about everyone. This limited the number of misunderstandings and disbelief. Most importantly, it limited cruelty. How could you judge someone if you understood their reasoning?
In theory, the Hive was a wonderful invention created by Sapphire Jones in the 3000s. However, Soledad hated Hive memories. She could handle the depression of a member. She could handle the image of lost children and broken bones – it was the ancestral memories that haunted her.
When the elders shared their living memory, the Hive buzzed in silence. These were days meant for mourning. They mourned the past, slavery, genocide, rape, racism. Mourning days were spent catering to those who still suffered the original memories. Soledad hated mourning days, as she wished to rid herself of these memories. Soledad did not need the pain and suffering of others.
She mindlessly picked at the chip implanted at the base of her neck, a habit she had developed. Every mourning day, Soledad would find her fingers inching up the base of her skull. She would wrap her finger in the ringlets of her tight curls. Her fingers would eventually reach her chip, a diamond shaped implant stapled upon the back of her head. Soledad had memorized every crook and crevice of the diamond. It was smooth on top and viciously sharp all around, a deterrent to pulling it out. Soledad had pricked her fingers time and time again trying to loosen the diamond. Her current efforts in prying the chip were interrupted by a travel beam appearing in the sky. The sudden flash of light startled Soledad. In her rush to untangle her fingers from her curls and away from the diamond, she cut a jagged line up her middle finger.
The beam’s bright pink color gave away Carmelita’s arrival. Each ship could sense the souls of riders.
The beam hummed as a redhead synthesized out of thin air. A flash of light followed as the ship was called away. Soledad observed as the flash of light temporarily blinded her- Carmelita stepping out as Soledad’s eyes readjusted.
“Your absence from the celebration is noted,” Carmelita said in a sing-song tone. Soledad waved Carmelita off as the two set a pace for their walk back. Carmelita grinned at her friend and interlaced her fingers with her friend’s.
“Who cares?” Soledad exclaimed. Carmelita knew better than to test Soledad’s anger, so she stayed quiet.
“Caramel, don’t you think it’s bizarre that we celebrate every mourning day? After we relived all of those memories?” Soledad questioned quietly. Carmelita chafed at the nickname and released Sol’s hand.
“We are celebrating how far we have come from the times the ancestors lived in,” Carmelita stated calmly; the words left her mouth quickly. They had the same conversation every week. She had already memorized her lines.
“That’s bullshit! The ancestors weren’t even alive for half of these memories. These are just their memories of them watching the earliest memories.” Soledad shot back and increased her pace. She could feel the tears beginning to well up again. She was feeling ill with grief that didn’t even belong to her. The sudden flood of emotions caused her to stop in her tracks and turn back to Carmelita.
“Carmelita, why are we forced to remember these cruelties,” Soledad questioned.
“It helps all of America see together,” Carmelita said thoughtlessly. It was the slogan for the Hive. The original pitch for a shared consciousness. Carmelita believed wholeheartedly in the Hive, and Soledad’s insubordination bothered her deeply. She couldn’t understand why she would choose to forget the past.
Soledad groaned loudly in annoyance and stomped off. How ironic was it that they shared a consciousness yet could not form a single original thought, Soledad thought to herself.
That night Soledad took off on the ship. She couldn’t jump forward in time; she feared how the Hive would progress with time in the future. What if she went ahead to 3200 and the Hive had infested every crevice of North America. Soledad sipped her tea and debated on a time period. As she placed her tea on the mantle, beams appeared sporadically outside the ship.
“Crap,” she said to herself. She had been stalled in the ship for too long. The federation had come to investigate. She began to search for her father’s papers for the ship. She opened compartments and searched frantically. In her rush, she accidentally spilled her tea on the destination calculator. Before she knew what was happening, she was thrust into hyperspeed throughout time and space. Soledad hurried to snap into her seat as she wiped at the destination screen, but the liquid had malfunctioned the circuit. All these years of innovation and they had yet to conquer something as simple as water.
The ship’s destination screen progressively grew darker and darker. The lights began flickering; Soledad rocked in her seat and felt the familiar surge of nausea that accompanied a time skip.
She tapped endlessly on the black screen and wished for the ship to stop. Then all of a sudden, she felt it drop out of the sky. Soledad felt her stomach sink as the ship met with the ground. She was stranded in time.