Here’s a piece of flash fiction about intrusive memories and the reliability of our memories. It’s about 620 words and has an estimated reading time of 2 and a half minutes. Let me know what you think!
The intrusive memories began about a month ago.
But Derick couldn’t figure it out – how could they be memories? The incident and images he saw in his mind’s eye were alien to him like they happened to someone else. Were they even his memories?
Derick stared at his face in the bathroom mirror that night a month ago, and the first thing he noticed was his eyes. They’d changed color.
His eyes changed from light hazel to total blackness, and then he felt a sharp pain in his temples. That’s when the image struck him: It was him, wrestling on the ground with a man in a dark room, his hands clutching the man’s neck.
Derick had been in deep grief since his father died, and he wasn’t sleeping much. Initially, he brushed the memory incidents aside as something downright bizarre that would pass in time. He consulted his psychiatrist about it, and the doctor referred him to a neurologist who prescribed medication.
“This is a hallmark of PTSD,” the silver-haired neurologist told him. “It’s unclear why these memories are resurfacing now, but the meds should help.”
“But I can’t recall the incident at all,” Derick explained.
“Well, the memory may be repressed. That’s a psychological question outside of my expertise. Have you told your psychiatrist?”
“Yes. You see, my father was murdered a month ago.”
Derick explained the break-in at his elderly father’s home and how the criminal had strangled him to death. That’s why the memories were so disturbing – was Derick’s subconscious trying to tell him something? Just a month after his father’s strangulation, why was he having intrusive memories of something so similar to the way his dad was killed?
As the weeks dragged on, the intrusive memory incidents became more intense. Derick would be sitting on the couch, and a migraine would strike out of the blue. Then he’d see the terrible images: his hands closing around the strange man’s throat, the screaming and gasping for air.
The medications weren’t working. The neurologist suggested a brain scan, but Derrick’s insurance wouldn’t cover it. The psychiatrist suggested he try intensive therapy, but Derrick was reluctant.
There was something so utterly menacing about the memories, and a part of Derrick didn’t want to discover what they meant.
Summer came to a close, and he realized he’d done nothing exciting. His psychological state was so poor that he merely worked and holed himself up in the apartment. He began meditating as a way to clear his mind and summon the memories. He figured that if he could make peace with them, maybe they wouldn’t disturb him as much.
One early September night, as he was meditating, the memory came flooding back. This time, it had a frightening clarity.
In his mind’s eye, Derrick saw himself on the floor with the strange man, and he pictured what the man was wearing. The memory wasn’t as fuzzy and dark; the old man was wearing a flannel shirt and sweatpants, and they struggled on the bedroom ground.
Derrick’s mind seared with pain when he caught a clear image of the stranger’s face: the terrified face of his own father.
Derrick panicked, screamed and ran to the bathroom. His eyes were completely black like he was possessed. Then, he heard a knock at the door.
Two police officers stood outside his apartment.
“Derrick Parker?” one officer asked.
“We’d like to ask a few questions. Can we come in?”
“What’s this about?”
“Your father’s murder.”
Derrick let the officers in; they saw the blackness of his eyes. He sat down on the couch with them, and he felt the world closing in.
Then he thought: Am I a murderer?