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A Brand New Day – A Scifi/Horror Short Story

Cover Art, A Brand New Day

This short story isr releasing indie on March 5th, but is available here for Members to read early.

Monica doesn’t remember yesterday or last week or even last year. She wakes up every morning in the company of 19 other women all without memories. And every day, Monica grows more certain that there are secrets being kept from everyone.


A Brand New Day

Monica startled awake on the bottom bed of a double bunk she didn’t recognize. It was wood and creaked a bit with her jerking movement. She blinked in the semi-gloom trying to remember what she’d been dreaming about, but the idea of it slipped away before she could get a good grasp on it. A kernal of frustration rose in her chest and she poked at it curiously. Why did a dream matter that much to her?

Dim, watery light flickered on far overhead. Monica sat up as she realized she lay in one bunk of several. Ten, in fact. This wasn’t a bedroom, it was more like a dorm. The walls were uniform grey. Each identical bunk held two identical grey blankets, a woman sleeping in each bed. Who were these women? Where was she?

Monica looked down at her own blanket and saw a mark on her left hand. A rippling scar, tight under her fingertips, in the shape of a circle with two dots inside. She didn’t recognize that either.

Women began to wake up, groaning or shifting or standing out of bed as they blinked owlishly around them, just like she did.

“Good morning, ladies.”

Monica jumped and so did half the dorm. The voice had come from right next to her. Almost behind her. But nothing was there.

“Please do not be alarmed,” the voice said right into Monica’s ear. A woman’s voice. Soft. “My name is Astrid. You are with nineteen other women in a housing complex developed after a global pandemic. None of you are infected.”

Monica threw her blankets to the end of the bed and stood up, trading glances with other women matching shirts and pants, matching haircuts trimmed at the bottom of the ears.

A dark-skinned woman with straight black hair climbed out of the bed on top of Monica’s and hissed at her, “Are you hearing this?”

Monica nodded.

Astrid said, “Some years ago, the disease swept through the global population. Millions died, but all of you have survived at a terrible cost. Your memory has been affected. That is why you don’t know how you got here or who each other are, but please do not worry. It is my job to guide you through your day and answer any questions you may have.”

The grey and drab room suddenly lit up with color–no, something in Monica’s eyes overlayed the world with color. She blinked rapidly, learning to focus on the neon on top of reality. She glanced at the black woman who had shared her bunk and a name blinked over her head. Camilla. Another woman: Anney. And Julia. And Lotte. 

Monica turned in a slow circle, reading numbers pinned to the side of each bunk and names hovering over each woman. That was… rather useful, actually. If they woke up every morning not knowing each other… Monica couldn’t remember yesterday, or last week, or even her dream last night. This overlay probably saved a lot of time bringing them all up to speed.

“Please look at the back of your left hand,” Astrid said into Monica’s ear. A voice, detached from the world. “Each of you has been paired with another woman for the past six months. You have worked side by side, had lunch together, and kept each other’s spirits up when the world is a confusing place. Please pair up with your partner now and introduce yourselves.”

Monica’s HUD adjusted to this new information, placing small icons beside the names she saw over each individual’s head. She spotted the circle and two dots beside the name Sophia.

They met in the center of the room. Sophia had bright blue eyes and a ready smile that Monica couldn’t help but return. Her blond hair was trimmed just below the ears. They shook hands and their smiles turned into soft laughter. Disbelief at their situation and companionship in the same. 

“I’m Sophia,” she said.


Sophia then gestured vaguely over her own head. “You can see these too, right? Names over everyone?”

“Yeah, I think it’s useful. If we’ve been like this all our lives. We’ve probably had this conversation every morning for months.”

Sophia covered another smile that threatened to turn into laughter. “I was just thinking the same thing. I don’t have any memory of this place or you or… anyone else.” She turned her left hand and the mark there matched Monica’s. “But someone clearly thought this all through before the world went to shit.”

“Now that you know your partners, it’s time for breakfast. Please follow the lighted guide for a change of clothes and directions to the cafeteria.”

Both Sophia and Monica twitched at Astrid’s voice in their ears. Monica winced. “I hope I get used to that.”

A quick glance around the room revealed small blue lights in the floor leading to a blue-haloed door set into the wall. Had that door been there the whole time? Monica took Sophia’s hand and they approached. Once they were close enough to touch it, the door zipped softly to the side and revealed a plane hallway just as grey as their dorm room. The blue lights continued down this hall and turned to the right at another door that opened for Monica.

Sophia let go of Monica’s hand. “My lights go to this door,” she said, approaching the next one in the hall.

Astrid spoke to them both, “These are seperate changing rooms and bathrooms for each of you. You will find today’s clothes on a shelf to your left. The cafeteria is through the opposite door.”

The blue lights blinked forward through the room and haloed yet another door.

Monica glanced at Sophia. “See you on the other side.”

Sophia smiled and stepped forward.

Monica’s door slid closed behind her automatically and didn’t reopen when she reached out to touch it. Maybe the room knew she was inside and wouldn’t open again until she left the other way.

A handy system to automate when your entire dorm had no memory.

She found her change of clothes on the left hand shelf as promised, and both a toilet and shower on the opposite side. As her gaze lingered on the shower controls, her HUD popped up simple instructions on how to use the dials.

“Um… Astrid? Can you hear me?”

“I can hear you. Do you have a question?”

Monica wondered if she was talking to a person without memory loss or some kind of automated robot. “Do I have to shower now or can I shower at the end of the day before bed?”

“You’ll have an opportunity to shower after your workday before leisure and another opportunity before bed. You may access bathrooms near your assigned work at any time.”

That response almost sounded automated. But she’d probably asked that same question every morning for thirty years.

Wait, was she thirty? Monica looked down at herself as if she could glean some clue from generic sleep pajamas and the brand on her hand. She didn’t know what year she’d been born, but thirty seemed accurate. Probably. Why not?

Monica changed her clothes. Astrid instructed her to leave the pajamas on the same shelf for collection by those on laundry duty. She found a mirror, like a polished piece of metal tacked to the wall, and peered at herself closely, but she didn’t recognize the face that stared back.

At length, Astrid prompted her. “Are you ready for breakfast?”

Monica stood straight, left the mirror behind, and faced the second door with a nod. “Yeah. Let’s do food.”

The door slid to the side and Monica followed more guiding blue lights down a hall and through an already open pair of double doors. She stalled at the threshold with a gasp.

There were far more than twenty women here. The cafeteria stretched for yards, lined with tables and benches in neat rows, the whole space swarming with women in matching short sleeves and long pants. Hundreds of women. Far more than Monica could easily count. All of them paired up with a partner and chatting with each other over breakfast.

Sophia touched Monica’s arm.

Monica jumped, then laughed at herself and grabbed Sophia’s hand in hers. “Wow, this is a lot of people.”

“It’s a little overwhelming. I thought I’d wait for you.”

“Thanks.” Monica pointed. “Looks like the food line starts there.”

They joined it, selecting a metal tray for each of them to slide down the buffet.

Sophia leaned in close to her. “I had no idea there were so many people here.”

Monica nodded. “And it looks like everyone is like us. Same outfits. Same haircut–“

“Same overwhelmed look on their faces.”

Monica smiled.

“Although, outfits aren’t quite the same. Look.”

Monica followed Sophia’s point and saw she was right. A woman and her partner seated at a table both wore blue shirts and pants. They were cut to the same pattern, and looked like the same fabric, too.

Monica and Sophia were dressed in green, as were at least dozens of others. “And there, yellow.”

“And white.”

“Looks like we’ll be in work teams,” Sophia said.

“Astrid told me there was a laundry crew, that would make sense. Divide everyone up to share the work.” She picked at her sleeve. “I wonder what green means.”

Over breakfast the two of them tried to compare notes and speculate about the state of the world, but with no memory of a world before waking up in their dorms, they didn’t get very far. Astrid answered a few of their questions about the pandemic, displaying a series of video clips for them right on the tabletop.

“Some of the history has been lost over time,” Astrid said, “But we know that the disease came from a wild animal. Someone either ate it or came into contact with it. Either way, once one person caught the illness it spread rapidly. The world didn’t notice right away. A few people were misdiagnosed with pneumonia, but upwards of sixty percent of those infected were asymptomatic, instead spreading the disease far and wide without knowing.”

The visuals shifted to a mass grave, what had to be thousands of bodies being covered with dirt by a huge machine.

“The death toll quickly rose beyond anything local governments were capable of managing. There followed world-wide collapse of infrastructure, power, water, and food. A secondary round of deaths due to dehydration and starvation devastated the remaining population. Over three billion people died.”

Again the visuals shifted to a plummeting graph of population count and Monica leaned forward, wide-eyed.

“Emergency measures were taken to isolate individuals in an attempt to slow the spread of the disease and in the middle of the crisis, as those who were first infected began to recover, we started noticing the memory loss. Even those asymptomatic individuals began experiencing memory failures.”

“People began recording their days in journals and digital diaries. Eventually the HUD you enjoy today was developed as a streamlined solution to a global problem. Even after the first wave of disease subsided, that same failure of memory was passed down to children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. Now we know that kids learn at a standard rate through the age of five or six. That’s when memory failures first develop. By age ten, children experience the same loss of memory overnight as adults.”

The video on the table faded away and Monica looked up at Sophia. “Oh my god,” she whispered. “Without this whole system keeping us on track we’d have died out already.”

Sophia nodded, her blue eyes wide.

The pair finished their breakfast in stunned silence. Women around them chattered quietly with each other. Some stared intently at their tabletops and Monica knew they were getting the same history brief by the wide alarm in their eyes and the way they held forks half way to their mouths.

She shook her head. It was already done and over with. Generations ago, in fact. They had to move forward. How were they keeping so many people here fed and sheltered? What kind of work could they learn in one morning and do for a day just to be taught all over again tomorrow?

Astrid’s voice spoke to every woman in the cafeteria at once. Monica saw the twitches ripple through the crowd. “When you are done with your breakfast, please bus your plates and trays to this station for the kitchen staff, then follow your HUD to today’s work.”

A series of counters lit up in Monica’s view along one wall, then the blue lights she’d been following all morning guided her and Sophia out of the cafeteria and down a hall. Women streamed along with them, dividing out of the flow where their HUDs dictated, each color of their uniforms leading them to a different station. At the end of the hall, Sophia and Monica walked through double doors with other women, all in green, and found themselves surrounded by plants.

Trays and trays of small sprouting plants, waving their cheerful purple leaves filled an open-ended room that led to a huge garden field. A few lines of raised beds gave way to mound rows with tall stalk plants and climbing vines. Beyond that, row after row of sowed plants, a dozen different kinds at least. And around the whole property, a chain link fence two or three stories tall that the HUD helpfully pointed out was electrified. 

Monica walked outside, fascinated by her first look at the world beyond grey walls. A twinge of concern in her chest said the electric fence was there to keep people locked in, but then, in the dense purple forest beyond their property, Monica watched a creature with a neck as tall as the fence lumber out of the jungle. It had six tree-trunk legs, a tiny ball of a head, and a tail at least as long as its neck that terminated in a cluster of plate-like lumps of bone. A club weapon if Monica had ever seen one.

The creature swung its head toward their fence and garden, then swung away again, lumbering slowly through the red and orange grasses that swept across this valley. Two more long-necked creatures sauntered out of the purple jungle after it and away they went.

So the fence was definitely there to keep the wildlife out. That was good.

Monica turned to find Sophia beside her, equally stunned. “Ok, so nature took over where we saw nothing but buildings before.”

“No kidding,” Sophia said. She shook her head, then looked around them at the plants in the raised beds. “Alright, what are we doing out here? Growing enough food to feed an army looks like?”

Astrid spoke up, highlighting a tool shed where they could supply themselves and begin the work.

* * *

Monica startled awake on the bottom bed of a double bunk she didn’t recognize. It was wood and creaked a bit with her jerking movement. She blinked in the semi-gloom.

Dim, watery light flickered on far overhead. Monica sat up as she realized she lay in one bunk of several. Ten, in fact. This wasn’t a bedroom, it was more like a dorm. The walls were uniform grey. Each identical bunk held two identical grey blankets, a woman sleeping in each bed. Who were these women? Where was she?

“Good morning, ladies.”

Monica jumped and so did half the dorm.

“Please do not be alarmed,” the voice said right into Monica’s ear. A woman’s voice. Soft. “My name is Astrid. You are with nineteen other women in a housing complex developed after a global pandemic. None of you are infected.”

Astrid’s calm voice walked Monica through the confusing process of waking up in a strange place with strange people. She found a brand on the back of her hand, a shape she didn’t remember, but her fingers told her the skin was tight and the injury long healed over. It was a triangle with a single dot inside.

“Each of you has been paired with another woman for the past six months. You have worked side by side, had lunch together, and kept each other’s spirits up when the world is a confusing place. Please pair up with your partner now and introduce yourselves.”

Monica checked names and icons hovering over people’s heads to find the one that matched her triangle. It belonged to a woman with soft brown hair, cut like everyone else just under the ears. She blinked up at Monica with wide, dark eyes, and seemed a little nervous.

Monica smiled, trying to be reassuring when she had no better idea what was going on. “Hi, I’m Monica,” she said. She offered her hand.

The woman looked at her hand for a second like she didn’t know what to do about it. Then she passed something–a paper?– to her left hand and shook with her right. Her left hand was bandaged across two fingers. “Julia,” the woman said softly. Almost a whisper. “I… I don’t remember you.”

“I don’t remember any of this,” Monica shrugged with a general gesture around the room. “But I guess that’s what we’re dealing with. We’ve probably had this conversation every morning.”

“I guess…”

“Now that you know your partners, it’s time for breakfast. Please follow the lighted guide for a change of clothes and directions to the cafeteria.”

Monica flinched away from the voice in her ear. “I hope I get used to that,” she muttered.

The blue lines in the floor led her down a hall and to a bathroom where a clean set of yellow clothes waited for her on a shelf on the left. The color was a little gross but they fit and were clearly laundered recently. Then the lights led her out to a massive cafeteria full to bursting with women. Two hundred? Three hundred? Far more than she ever expected to find here. And some of them had green or blue uniforms! That wasn’t fair, why was she stuck with sallow yellow?

Monica found the buffet breakfast line, then after some searching discovered her partner Julia sequestered at her own table. She sat without food and looked ready to fold in on herself just to get away from all the other people. Monica sat on the bench beside her, trying to be a comforting presence. She didn’t expect Julia to scoot closer and close the small gap between them.

“Not hungry?” Monica asked.

Julia glanced at the food, then shook her head. She leaned in close, whispering, “Something’s not right.” She held out her hand, offering Monica something crumpled inside.

Monica accepted the paper, feeling a bit like she was passing notes in class. She unwrinkled it against her thigh with one hand. It wasn’t very large, clearly a corner torn off of something larger. In the margin was written in shaky hand lettering, Your Partner is Anney.

Monica furrowed her brow. “I don’t understand. Who’s Anney?”

“I don’t know,” Julia hissed. “But that’s my handwriting. That’s my note. I think I wrote it yesterday and kept it overnight so I could read it, but I don’t remember Anney.”

Monica squinted at the note as if the letters could tell her more. “Astrid said we’d been partnered for months, though.” Monica gestured with her left hand, indicating the brand on their skin. “And this isn’t new.”

“I know. I don’t–“

Someone’s voice rose above the chatter in the cafeteria. “No! I’m sorry, I’m sure you’re a lovely person, but you are not my partner. I remember. I was partnered with Julia yesterday.”

Monica and Julia both sat up straight. Monica shoved the little paper into her pocket as the woman’s gaze swept through the quiet crowd.

“Who’s Julia? We were working together yesterday in construction. You cut your hand. We went to the medical office…”

The woman’s eyes fell on Monica, then Julia, and either the HUD gave her Julia’s name or she really did remember her. “You.” She pointed and the whole crowd’s attention shifted with the gesture.

Julia tried to shrink further against Monica.

“Don’t you remember me? I’m Anney.”

Monica made a fist around the paper in her pocket.

Then Astrid spoke up into everyone’s ear at once. “This is a stunning breakthrough in our research. Everyone, I’m so pleased to report that Anney has been able to access longer term memories than we have ever recorded before. This is cause for celebration!”

A smattering of confused applause bounced in the cafeteria.

Astrid continued, “Anney, if you could please follow the markers to the medical lab, we have a few tests to run so we can verify and duplicate your results. Everyone else, please finish your breakfast. Work will begin in twenty minutes.”

Anney looked startled. Like she’d prepared for a fight and found her opponent agreed with her. Somewhat deflated, she stepped down off the bench she had used to get a better view to find Julia and bussed her tray before leaving the cafeteria entirely.

Conversation erupted behind her.

Monica and Julia exchanged a look. They both agreed not to speak about it any further until there were fewer people around.

That moment came when they found today’s assignment at the edge of the property with half a dozen other women–all dressed in yellow–directed to a pile of lumber, a shed full of power tools, and a book of schematics about how to build a new building. Between them and the rest of the three hundred women were two acres of farmland, it was about a secluded as they would get.

In their ear, Astrid walked them through the process of selecting straight boards, staging their work and helped overlay measurements directly where they should cut and assemble.

But about twenty minutes into the work, Julia pulled Monica aside with another woman, Lotte. “Something’s going on,” she said, her voice more confident than it had been in the cafeteria. “Show Lotte the note I gave you.”

Monica pulled out the crumpled paper, realizing as she did so that the paper matched that of their schematic book. She passed the note to Lotte so she could fetch the book and flipped through it.

“Here is where you tore it out,” Monica said, easily finding the missing corner. Lotte spread the wrinkles out and held the note against the tear. It definitely fit.

And below that, in the margin, was written, Anney: There’s something fishy going on, here. Astrid tells me I’ve been partnered with Julia for months, but I swear, the brand on my hand was a diamond yesterday, not a triangle. I know it.

Monica looked at the triangle brand on her hand. She didn’t remember it ever being anything other than a triangle. But then, she didn’t remember anything.

“That’s not my handwriting,” Julia said, holding the note up to compare. “Anney must have written this yesterday while we worked. And I took the corner to remember it tomorrow—today.” She shook her head and frowned.

The three of them had huddled long enough to catch the attention of the rest of the construction crew. Seeing some eyes glancing their way, Monica gestured for the other women to join them in the huddle, book at the center of them all.

Debate quickly sprang up. Were they being lied to? Why? By whom? For how long? Was there even a pandemic? Maybe they were being drugged to forget. Was this even Earth?”

Monica sat up at that, looking around them through the tall electric fence at the deep purple forests and the pink and orange sky. Both suns winked down at them from above. She shook her head and shrugged. “I don’t see why not.”

“If they’re lying to us about partnerships and work, why not that, too? We have to consider everything we’ve been told is suspect.” Lotte frowned at the book. “We can only trust our own memories.”

“We don’t have any memories,” Julia groused.

“Maybe. But we can make a record.” Lotte grabbed the book and fetched one of the pencils they’d been using to mark lumber. She flipped to the front and started writing names in the margins. Lotte, Julia, Monica, Anney… She listed everyone in their group, then women started mentioning names of people in their dorms or that they spoke to in the cafeteria.

When they ran out of names they started listing questions, then basic facts they had all observed that morning.

By the time they ran out of thoughts to put down their shift was nearly done and they’d accomplished none of the work they’d been assigned to finish.

Lotte dog-eared one page of the book before they broke for dinner, the page where she’d written down the reason they started taking notes: Anney had remembered.

None of them knew if they’d be working construction tomorrow, but hopefully the next round of women would find their notes and continue keeping them.

* * *

“Good morning, ladies.”

Monica startled awake on the bottom bed of a double bunk she didn’t recognize. It was wood and creaked a bit with her jerking movement. She blinked in the semi-gloom. She rolled to one side and her hand slid under the pillow where she found a crumpled piece of paper. A ball she’d been holding tight all night long.

Dim, watery light flickered on far overhead. Monica sat up as she realized she lay in one bunk of several. Ten, in fact. This wasn’t a bedroom, it was more like a dorm. The walls were uniform grey. Each identical bunk held two identical grey blankets, a woman sleeping in each bed. Who were these women? Where was she?

“Please do not be alarmed,” the voice said. Astrid, she introduced herself as, and would everyone please match the brand on their left hand with the other woman in the room. Their partner for the past six months.

Monica found her partner, a tall woman with light brown hair cut at her ears who introduced herself as Lotte. The brands on their hands matched: two interlinking rings, and so did the crumpled notes they held in their hands: read the carpentry book!

“What’s the carpentry book?” Lotte asked.

Monica shrugged. “I’m not sure. But the voice… Astrid, she said we’d have memory issues so I bet this is a message from past-me. Looks like my handwriting.”

“Mine too.”

“Maybe we keep that to ourselves for now.”

“No argument from me. Whatever’s going on, we’ll figure it out.” Lotte offered her fist and a wink.

Monica bumped her fist and grinned.

Astrid walked them down a hall to the bathroom, then to a cafeteria filled to the brim with what had to be three hundred other women. Far more than Monica expected. She and Lotte traded suspicious glances through their meal.

It took an effort for Monica to bite her tongue. She had questions and it looked like Lotte had similar thoughts. But past-Monica had written a note small enough to hide in her palm, which meant they had to be cautious. Better to discuss it away from so many people.

Lotte and Monica wore green and were assigned to the gardens for work, but it wasn’t until a few hours into their labor that Lotte tugged on Monica’s sleeve and they slipped away between tall rows of purple vines. They jogged away from the fields, all the way to the back of the campus where half a building was framed, but all six of the women working the area were huddled together instead.

Monica’s HUD gave her names of each one as she approached, but she was more interested in the book they crowded around.

Lotte hissed as she spotted it covered in handwritten notes. “I woke up this morning with a note that said to read the carpentry book. A note I wrote.”

“Me too,” Monica said.

“Us as well,” nodded Elena. She picked up the book and passed it to Monica. “And you’re never going to believe what it says.”

It took Monica hours to read through the book, paging through margins, finding notes that reference previous pages, a web of observations and thoughts and theories by women she’d never met, each marked with their name.

It took Monica only minutes to realize something needed to be done. She wasn’t sure what until Lotte discovered a page in the back dedicated to a map of the campus.

Monica traced her route from the gardens back to the cafeteria and through the halls to her dorm. There were dozens of other lines going back to other dorms, and a list of other work assignments that had been painstakingly organized. They had to have been taking notes for weeks. Maybe months.

But a single big question mark at the end of a hall stood out. The campus was large, but it had been mostly organized into a rectangle of space. And a full corner of that rectangle was empty. A single door marked with a question mark and circled a dozen times. What lay behind that door?

Monica tapped the spot. “That’s where we need to go.”

“I’m coming with you.” Lotte said, her eyes hard with conviction.

Monica nodded. She passed the book back to Elena. “Keep that safe. Keep making notes. And jot down that Lotte and I went to investigate that door. Keep the memories going or we’ll never have answers.”

Elena nodded. “Good luck.”

Monica turned and together, she and Lotte jogged back through the fields towards the building that housed so many women. And so many questions.

“Monica… this might not end well,” Lotte said as they entered the hall and made a left turn.

“I know. You don’t have to come with me.”

“Oh, I’m coming,” she said grimly.

There was nothing else to say.

The hallway, like all their hallways, was grey and smooth from end to end. When they passed the last bathroom, Monica’s HUD blinked to life, trying to guide her back to her workplace.

Monica traded a look with Lotte and saw determination. This was only confirmation that they were headed in the right direction.

At the end of the hall was a door.

Unlike every other door, this one didn’t open as they approached. Monica pressed her hand against it, tried to push it, ran her fingers along the seams and found nothing resembling a handle.

Then Lotte put her hand on Monica’s shoulder. She reached out and knocked twice.

The door shifted to the side.

It opened into a room only two or three yards long with a simple desk and a man sitting behind that desk.

A man. In a compound full of women.

His hair was chopped short and spiky and he wore a thick, unfamiliar uniform covered in pockets and several neutral colors. He had hair on his face, down over his lip and under his chin. Monica was quite certain she’d never seen a man in her entire life and now she was equally certain that the person before them was, in fact, a man.

He stood up, so much taller than she expected, and walked around the desk with one hand on his hip.

No, not on his hip, he held the handle of something that sat in his belt.

Lotte lunged forward. Monica startled, unsure of Lotte’s plan, but when the man drew the tool he held, whatever it was, Monica found herself charging in right behind Lotte for better or for worse.

The tool fired, a blue shock of electricity snapped at Lotte and suddenly her legs and arms didn’t work. She collapsed on the ground.

Monica lept over her, quite certain she was about to be dropped as well but unwilling to go down without a fight. To her utter surprise, she crashed into the man–he was weirdly firmer than she expected–and they both went down in a tangle that whumped against the closed door at the back of the room.

Monica recovered. The man did not. He lay unmoving beneath her and a smear of red on the door hinted he might stay that way. Monica didn’t have much time to consider it as the second door slid open with a quiet rush.

Several men blinked at her from their desk stations like she was the alien. They all had different hair on their head, different hair on their face, different clothes on their bodies. Not a single one of them duplicates of another.

Monica’s HUD blinked to attention, naming individuals she rested her gaze on, but the people weren’t the only thing weird about the room.

Every desk had a screen, and the far wall had several more mounted on it. Monica didn’t need her HUDs help to recognize angles of view all over the campus. In the dorms, the cafeteria, the gardens, even the carpentry corner. A big screen on the wall zoomed all the way in on the cluster of women she and Lotta had left in the carpentry section and the view was close enough to read the handwriting in the book.

“What the fuck is going on in here?” Monica hadn’t realized she knew how to swear, but it fell naturally from her tongue.

The door behind her slid closed with a snap. A man at a desk closest to her stood up. The HUD named him Janus. He had no beard or mustache, just yellow hair on his head and a loose red shirt. His pants matched those of the man outside. He wore glasses. None of the women Monica had ever seen wore glasses.

Janus took two steps closer and Monica tried to back up. She only found the door behind her. Janus held his hands up, open, as if that made him less threatening. “Hello, Monica.”

She started at her name, then realized they all probably had the same HUD she did. Then, glancing at the wall of screens behind him, maybe they had better ones. More information. Details.


“What is going on?” she growled, feeling tears of confusion and anger building behind her eyes. “Tell me.”

“You’re building us a colony to live in,” he said simply. “When all the buildings are ready, the next ship of colonists will arrive and help expand it.”

“A ship… like across the ocean?”

“Yeah, kind of like that.” Janus took another step forward and there was nothing Monica could do about it.

She kept flicking her eyes behind him, to the screen zoomed in on the carpentry book that so many women had used to track their histories. Even if it was just for a few weeks.

“It’s all a lie, isn’t it? Was there even a plague?”

“There was, a long time ago.” Janus waved a hand at one of the other men. Markus “How long ago was it?”

“Over two thousand years.”

Monica flinched, her heart racing into her throat. She couldn’t even wrap her head around so many generations. “And the memory loss? Does it even get passed to kids anymore?”

“Well…” Janus shrugged. “Some kids.”

A snicker circled the room and with dawning horror, Monica realized what Janus meant. Some kids. Female kids. All the women she’d seen in that cafetera were truly afflicted, just as she was. With occasional hiccups.

“Anney.” Monica choked the words out, wanting nothing more than to leave the room and never come back. “Where’s Anney?”

“Who?” Janus glanced over his shoulder at Markus.

“She remembered…” Monica said, her legs trembling under her.

“Oh right, that one. She’s been removed from the program, you don’t have to worry about her.”

“Worry about… why are you telling me this?” Monica’s legs gave out and she slid down the door, shaking uncontrollably. There was anger in her chest, but there was more than that: fear, horror, utter despair.

She focused on the screen with the book again. The men had known this whole time that they were trying to remember, trying to create a history for themselves. They had known and they’d let it happen. Had they placed bets on which one of them would come to this door? How long it would take?

Monica thought she was going to be sick.

“Why are you telling me this?” she screamed, because screaming was better than the alternative.

“Oh, Monica, it’s ok.” Janus closed the distance between them with another step and knelt down on one knee to put a hand on her shoulder. He was warm and Monica was disgusted.

“It’s ok,” Janus said again. “You won’t remember any of this in the morning.”


A Brand New Day is available for purchase or preorder as Ebook or AI audio. Members, don’t forget your 10% off coupon for (DIRECT sales only) listed on the Perks page.

Ebook: Direct
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AI Audio: All Other Stores (preorder, releases March 5th)

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