Short Story
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                  The Amnesia Immunity
                                                          By Aram Wool

Visitors are conditionally cautioned that it’s a place not to visit.
“Unless you’re looking to the future, don’t step a foot on Nostalgia Square.”

We call it Nostalgia Square
for its four sides take that shape
each one a length of one kilometer
and also
the people who stand on it frozen, immobile
repeat a phrase that longs for the past

they repeat it monotone
they repeat it ad infinitum
they repeat it staring vacantly
eyes fixed on a non-existent point in the distance

the only potential difference
in what one speaks versus another
concerns the leading personal pronoun each uses

The Square’s surface is leveled flush with the flat surrounding ground. From
afar you would scant perceive it, were it not for those statuesque figures
whose faces feature moving lips.  You might even believe yourself to have
found a chess board of great scale, its construction orchestrated by a master
builder for a wealthy estate, except that never would a chess board be
populated with so many pieces, nor with such disproportionately small ones.  
And as you strode nearer, you would hear the hum of overlapping voices,
many layers thick, the source of which could hardly be attributed to inanimate
pawns and rooks.

By this time, you might be wondering about those condemned to the Square.  
What is it that happened, and why are they there?

the first dozen or so ventured on their own curiosity
juveniles arriving individually, or in groups of two or three
just to see what it was about
just to try a new surface out

when their absence was noticed
the search parties left to seek them
and upon their discovery
the whole of the town left to meet them
Old Man Heistov
was the eldest around
and in his bravery, he volunteered to step where one shouldn’t
to approach the children
to discern what might be their ailment

the consensus, you see,
was that if Heistov ended up as the others
at least his remaining years were fewer, one guessed, than three

the first he reached was Miss Mary
a girl of sixteen
and one of those nearest the periphery

“WHAT IS SHE SAYING?” shouted those left behind at the border
Heistov stooped, leaned forward
for she spoke rather quietly
in a strong whisper
and so
with his ear beside her mouth
he held his breath
and listened

then he stood straight
and shouted back to the rest
“SHE’S REPEATING A PHRASE.”

“WHAT PHRASE?  WHAT PHRASE?” they pleaded

“SHE IS SAYING,” he said,
“SHE IS WHO I USED TO BE.”

And, thinking quickly,
Heistov strove to be a healer
to perform an act of disillusion
as though pulling a psychiatric patient out of transfixion

“BE HER NOW, MISS MARY! BE HER NOW!”
his voice was urgent and loud
for he sought that his treatment penetrate
that it reach this girl who was here yet not
and he recalled her in memory, that this might assist her to wake
“I REMEMBER WHENAAAHH!!…”at this point he was abruptly silent
all expression dissolved from his face
and when he resumed speaking
it was this he spoke:
“He is who I used to be...He is who I used to be...”

Oh, how then the hearts of the townsfolk tore in their chests
“He is gone…like the others” they whispered, distraught

the parents of those lost
walked along the perimeter
kneeling on the ground nearest their respective child
putting their hands to their faces
and grieving wildly
grieving the passing of their offspring
even as their offspring stood before them speaking
which added an element of confusion
for which they additionally grieved

and then, several weeks later,
something happened which I could not have foreseen

the town council, cognizant of how Heistov was taken,
decreed that crossing the Square would be a rite of passage
for couples intending to wed
their rationale, they explained,
was that people who held to memories of their singular past
should not live a future combined

you need not ask, then,
why so many of those standing stationary
are brides and grooms
in gowns and suits

The Square’s surface is mostly concrete, swept smooth as though by a skilled
tradesman with his trowel.

The trouble arises when the individual entertains a memory, no matter how
recently formulated, no matter how close to the present its distance in time.  A
memory thus entertained will begin to animate the granules of sandy debris
that cover the Square’s surface in a thin film.  An amassing collection of these
miniscule grains will follow the steps of the walking damned, as though they
are slivered shards and particles of iron dust tracing the movement of a
magnet beneath a sheet of heavy card stock.  And with a quickness and
ferocity you can’t imagine, they’ll congregate where they’ve predicted the next
foot to fall, and will sculpt themselves into the form of a dagger-tipped screw,
rigid as steel and rotating at a rate beyond measure.  When the sole lands
upon it, the hole is bored in an instant, and the screw drives itself into the
flesh.

And that, that’s when the magic starts.  The screw dissolves into the
bloodstream, turning into a crimson, muddy substance.  It rides along through
the blood-brain barrier and assaults the mind horribly, though, with mercy,
quickly.  The whole process, of course, is expedited if the unfortunate soul is
standing placid to begin with.

Successful crossing of Nostalgia Square, then, requires looking to the future
or living in the moment, or any combination thereof.  

I’ll share with you now a caveat easily imparted through the telling of a true
tale

shortly after a most beautiful bride began to recite,
a most wicked man stole out to her at night
believing her defenseless as a mannequin
he had a mind to strip her skirt and stick his prick in
thinking that so long as he kept his thoughts from slipping to the past
there would be no need to finish the deed fast

both his feet were gouged, however,
before fingers had unbuckled belt
the reason, you understand,
is that the suspended minds of the stricken occupy a distant place
but not a place into which we are disallowed
and any interaction with them we intend to have
requires a portion of our awareness to travel to that locale
and once you’re there
the granules know
and then they’ll screw your shoe

“But wait!” you cry,
“How can all of this be so?
For you to know of the underlying principles
yet not yourself have feet anchored to such a stationary fate!?”

“Well,” as I shift my shoes in the sand,
lowering my head in an apologetic manner
“the truth of it is,
it’s a trap of my design…
come along, I’ll take you there.”