I wrote this back in April during the time in which SaidBree ran this challenge, but I was unable to get it finished or edited in time. I wrote ‘The Apology’ to be the second part of the New Life Series. (You can find the first part here.) I am not sure how well it will read without the first part.
(New Life series)
“Mrs. Campbell, thank you so much for seeing me.” Veronica Snarski said sitting down in the armchair across from Amelia Campbell in her room at The Pines assisted living village.
“Of course, dear.” Amelia pushed herself into a more upright position in her green lift chair that doubled as her bed. “It’s good to see you. Klayton says that you saved my life.”
“I have thought a lot about that day over the last eleven months,” Veronica smiled leaning toward her, “You remind me of my grandmother.”
“Thank you, dear. Your grandmother must have been someone special.” Amelia said sitting up a little straighter.
“I came for two reasons. One is to ask your forgiveness.” Veronica tried to lift her eyes to Amelia but never quite reached them. “I am sorry.”
Amelia shuffled to the edge of her bed, and reached out to pat Veronica’s hand. “It’s okay, dear, you were selling me what I wanted, a pain-free ending. I just should have asked more questions and read the fine print. Oh my goodness, four hundred dollars an hour, I would never have been activated.”
Tears raced down Veronica’s cheek, “Thank you, thank you. I never wanted that job but when my grandmother signed the same contract as you. I didn’t have the money to see her. They offered me a job and one of the perks was the ability to access her for free.”
“Oh, dear, you can’t see her now.” Amelia said, sat back into her bed slouching once again.
“No, I can’t.” Veronica swiped at the tears. “And . . . and Klayton is helping me create a portal to access her engrams. We were able to secure them with the closing of New Life Enterprises.”
“So, you’ll be able to visit her when he gets it ready.” She grinned wide. The grin changed, she continued, “Maybe I could be the second one to use his program when it’s ready.”
“Please think about that carefully.” Veronica looked down at her hands crossed in her lap again. “With bodily death, my grandmother, a lady of faith, had expected that her engrams would be removed from the New Life World. Of course, we expected that she would live more than a year as her life expectancy was still ten to twenty years. She was just tired of the pain associated with the car accident that left her in a wheelchair.” Veronica took a deep breath, letting it out in a sigh. “When they started charging me the four hundred dollars, which I didn’t have they offered me a job so I could visit her for free as an employee. After my deep grief subsided, I realized there was a difference in my grandmother. It was weird but it was there. When we talked about the past, it was great all of her memories were intact. However, anything new had . . . a stilted feeling like. . .” Veronica drifted off.
“Oh my!” Amelia said. “That is definitely something I will need to think about.” She picked at her fingernails. “You said there was a second thing you wanted to talk about with me.”
Clearing her throat, Veronica began, “Hmm, where to begin. Okay, are you sleeping okay?”
“Yes, I am sleeping better than I have in years. Well, except. . .” Amelia paused.
When she didn’t continue, Veronica leaned in and prodded, “Except?”
“You are going to think I am a crazy old lady. So, please don’t laugh at me. I keep waking up at the same time every night for just a few minutes just after midnight hearing the sound of Taps. But I fall back to sleep within minutes.”
At Veronica’s deep intake of breath, Amelia’s eyes grew wide. “What? What’s wrong with me?”
“I keep waking up at that same time, feeling like I am forgetting something.” Veronica tried to stem the stream of tears. “I need to talk to Klayton.”
“Dear, please just tell me what you are thinking.”
“I really don’t want to worry you.”
“My dear, if it’s about me, I need to know. What do you think it means?”
“I was never really involved in the memory scanning or any other process that took place after I got the papers signed. But I overheard two memory techs joking in the lunchroom once about programming the New Life’s implant to play Taps at the hour of death every day until day of death.”
“Oh, dear. Oh, dear,” Amelia began to cry. “No! No, they said they fixed everything. It just means that I will wake every night until I died a natural death.”
“I am sure, but let me talk to Klayton just in case.” Veronica reached over and patted her hand this time. She didn’t have the heart to tell her that the Implants were only designed to last one year. Did it really mean anything? They said they fixed everything. But . . .
An hour later, Veronica and Klayton were sitting at an Alive coffee shop. After they had purchased their drinks and sat down, Veronica cradled her cup and explained to Klayton her worries about the New Life Implants.
“Are you hearing Taps as well?” Klayton asked her.
Searching her memory, Veronica asked, “I don’t think so. But what would it matter? I don’t have an implant.”
“Are you sure? They are very small and easily inserted without someone’s knowledge.”
“No, no! They wouldn’t do something like that.” Veronica wasn’t sure if she was trying to convince him or herself. Her hands shaking, she place her coffee on the table.
“When did you start waking up?” He asked.
“Right after their lawyer asked to see me when I was arrested.” Veronica clasped her hands over her mouth. “Those dirty bastards!”
“I am fairly certain that my grandma is okay, but we will have both of you scanned.” Klayton sat back, texting.
Within the hour, they were back in Amelia’s room with an Implant specialist.
“I am so sorry, Klayton. I don’t know how we missed it in your grandmother. I really don’t think we did, but I have disabled them in both ladies, having them self-destruct.”