Erasure by A.T.H. Webber
I remember but it is failing. I have strived to erase myself before I go. For as long as I remember Her, She can wait for me. For as long as I am remembered, I will have to wait. Erasure’s secretive narrator leads us across cities, continents and decades, racing to grasp at the weakening threads that link to Her. Steps traced, data hacked, privacy shattered – life and death in the cloud. But what becomes of this digital cosmos of memories, part stolen, once we are gone? What powers does it hold? Love and murder collide in this contemporary story that explores what might happen if the digital records of our lives linked us, not to our past, but to our future. Independent author A.T.H. Webber delivers a striking debut novel in which the pervasive powers of the Internet provide a timely backdrop for a story of love and faith in the digital age.I remember but it is failing. I have strived to erase myself before I go. For as long as I remember Her, She can wait for me. For as long as I am remembered, I will have to wait. Erasure’s secretive narrator leads us across cities, continents and decades, racing to grasp at the weakening threads that link to Her. Steps traced, data hacked, privacy shattered – life and death in the cloud. But what becomes of this digital cosmos of memories, part stolen, once we are gone? What powers does it hold? Love and murder collide in this contemporary story that explores what might happen if the digital records of our lives linked us, not to our past, but to our future. Independent author A.T.H. Webber delivers a striking debut novel in which the pervasive powers of the Internet provide a timely backdrop for a story of love and faith in the digital age.
It’s about memories.
Our contract with people we meet that says “I will remember you” has entrapped millions every day as they continue their quest to be noticed. As a result the cult of celebrity has grown with alarming veracity.
The latest evolution of The Movement sought to promote change in that behaviour, or at least promote a level of understanding. To let people know what they were getting themselves into.
It’s not that being remembered is a good or bad thing, it’s just that how long a person is remembered has potential ramifications if some of the doctrines are to be believed.
It used to be far easier to be forgotten. Life was hard, if somewhat simple. Media was rudimentary at most, non-existent at the very least.
So if people came up with The Movement’s concept centuries ago, it wouldn’t have been hard to manage. One would simply do good things, wouldn’t make a fuss, avoid anything that might have longevity, and then die one day to be remembered by only a few for maybe a few short years. Once forgotten, one would then ascend.
Get up, work your plot, eat what you sow, be in contact with the surrounding families so that you could find a partner, and then in time if you were gifted with children, find partners for them.
The Theory wasn’t put in place then, pagan ritual and new religion had too much hold… too much grip on the insecurities of people by bringing to life the fear of the folklore of their regional tales.
First came art and portraiture, and with these new tools of facsimile people began the process of being tethered, although the early artists’ rudimentary splashes across rock walls and later leather and canvas didn’t pose too much threat.
It wasn’t until the apprentice artisans found the ability of true replication that the extension of a person’s time in the middle ground of the afterlife could be both assured and extended.
A surprise I am sure for those unaware of the situation. That of being forced to ‘hang around’ as it were, to watch over those who remembered them and combined those memories with the images found on castle wall, and sculpted hill.
There was an easing of the problem during the abstract art period, as again the memory of the person in the portrait was only potent while there was someone who could actually be linked to the painting. To following generations these scribbles and scrawls might have a name but no-one looking on in the dim halls of a gallery could associate an image with that name.
It’s the reason that religious orders were supposed to be chaste; it was their position, their gift to only have to wait a few years after death before moving to the next world, if indeed there is one.
No wives, no children, no real assets to have to pass on – it’s as close as a person can get to a clean passport.
That is the way it used to be, but technology has added another layer of permanence to this life, a layer that no-one expected.
While some persist in doing good to be remembered, actively pursuing an extended time after death in the middle ground of existence, others both kill to hide the memory of life and, in some cases, kill to be remembered.
All paths imbued with religious connotations have their pitfalls.
I was drawn into this para-religious world unwittingly, and while I am unsure of what is out there in the grey expanse beyond death, I chose this path out of sheer hope. Hope that we can be together again, and hope that this Cult Manifesto has something going for it.
If it doesn’t, if The Cult is actually wrong in its assumptions and ideals, then at worst I have only succeeded in holding Her memory in pure clarity. If it is right of course, I hope to see her and that She is pleased with my actions.
She died 40 years ago and, if I have done what I set out to do, if I have managed to find every trace, I am the last person to remember her.
It has taken many years, and my time draws close. Not because of some angel taking wing, drawing inexorably closer to take me away – I’m just tired, but I have to be sure that what needs to be done has been done, or all this time alone will be for nothing but my selfish desire.
I remember, but it is failing. I have strived to erase myself before I go, for as long as I remember her, she can wait for me, for as long as I am remembered, I will have to wait.
It’s a fine line: being able to exist and do my work, until it is done, but if I am to ever see her again…
It’s sunny, and the day is creeping slowly toward late afternoon, the smell of each other’s sweat is pleasant as it mixes with the summer air. A sweat that comes not from exertion, but quietly leaks through the pores on a day that is just a little too warm – until a cloud covers the sun.
“It has to be time to open the bar, doesn’t it?”
“Honey…wake UP!” she poked me, hard in the ribs.
“Ow! Okay, okay. Shit,” I laughed, getting out of the shared hammock and rubbing at the string lines that had formed on my arm; red and a perfect stereo of the patterned sling.
“You are aware that violence against loved ones is a sign of addiction…”
“But you knew that! That’s what made me fall in love with you – you’re an enabler. You don’t despise me for my desire for a gin & tonic on a sunny weekend afternoon.”
She was staring with a look of faux desperation on her face.
Dear God, I loved her.
“Oh OH, just a G & T then, good thing you don’t have a more complicated drug of choice.”
“Please… I am fading,” throwing her hand to her forehead, she fell back into the hammock, giggling.
I turned and left her swinging gently in the yard, while I went inside to prepare our afternoon indulgence.
“Try to hang on,” I said over my shoulder “I love you.”
“I… I love…you.” She was saying hoarsely as I turned to see that she was now implementing some long forgotten acting class on death. A performance that would have been distressing, if she hadn’t been stifling a giggle at the same time.
“Oh the humanity!” I said as I turned to go inside.
“Fuck humanity,” she called “I need a G & T!”
With a drink in each hand I left the kitchen, sipping them both to stop any spilling, but more so I could get a head start on the evening’s festivities. The door to the back yard was through the laundry and had a latch that I had meant to fix since the previous summer, so I placed the drinks on the washing machine and fumbled with the screen door.
It was easy, really, you just have to know exactly how to twist the handle. I registered that, in addition to repairing the latch, I should probably paint the door as well – it was dirty and peeling.
“Next weekend,” I said, as I held the door open with my hip, stretching to grab the drinks, moisture beaded, from the machine.
I tottered down the steps, careful to not spill our refreshments and upon reaching flat ground looked up and made my way to where she was laying.
“The bar is O-PEN,” I said, stretching out the hand with her drink in it (she liked lime in her GT, I preferred lemon).
She didn’t move.
“Oh, come on, I’ve only been gone for 10 minutes, you can’t have expired … in…”
Something was wrong. It is obvious to me now, but not then. I just couldn’t register – couldn’t process what was in front of me.
I couldn’t understand why her shirt was so dark, when it should be light blue. Had she changed clothes?
Why was there a flat dripping noise?
‘Phat. Phat… Phat.’ Fluid fell from the hammock on to the short cut grass in thick droplets.
She was just lying there. Looking away from the house.
Then as if someone had hit a switch, I screamed, hard. So hard that for the rest of my days, on any occasion I needed to talk to someone, my voice didn’t sound like my own –as it had become hoarse, and slightly whispered.
I held her hand.
I looked for a pulse.
I called for help, but the damage had already been done, to her… and my voice.
Fumbling my phone from my pocket, I called the emergency number, my fingers at first slimy with her blood then sticking to the plastic of the phone.
I didn’t want to talk to the voice at the other end. I just said “Something terrible has happened,” and dropped the phone on the ground without disconnecting.
I knelt by her and I held her hand then buried my face in her belly, feeling the last of her warmth and the gentle gurgle of her still settling organs.
I smelled her, her sweat, her scent. And sobbed, her stomach absorbing my horror and loss.
Copyright© A.T.H. Webber. All rights reserved.