This short story originally appeared in Jump Point 10.02.
A sudden uprush dispels the dark. Pernell Arai opens his eyes to find himself in a bright, sterile medical facility.
“There you are Mr. Arai.”
“Where am I?”
“It’s okay. You’re in Orison. Looks like your regen was successful. How are you feeling?”
Pernell draws a few deep breaths then wiggles his fingers and toes. “A little sore. What happened to me?”
“Afraid I can’t help you with that. You suffered a traumatic injury though, don’t think they’ll be any scarring though, so you’re lucky there. What’s the last thing you remember?”
Parnell’s memories come flooding back. He’s dancing with Sergie. He’s on a beach in Cassel basking in the glow of Goss’s binary stars. He’s a kid struggling to steady a gun to shoot cans in an abandoned building on the outskirts of Archibald Station.
“Your brain activity looks normal, at least,” the doctor says while navigating screens on her datapad.
“Sorry, I’m remembering things. It’s just a lot at once.”
“All good. I ask because your last imprint was quite a while ago. If you don’t imprint frequently your short-term memory can be a bit hazy. You know that, right Mr. Arai… Mr. Arai?”
Pernell shifts his eyes from the window’s stunning vista over Orison back to the doctor then nods knowingly. “Sorry, still settling back in.”
“Totally understandable. Well, all your vitals look good, so you’re free to leave. Obviously, take a little time for yourself, and maybe imprint a bit more frequently. Might make things easier next time.”
Pernell thanks the doctor then leaves the hospital in a daze wearing the clothing provided to him. Wind whips across the Cloudview Center platform chilling him to the bone through the thin material. Still, he stops to enjoy the sunset spreading vibrant color across the sky. He even leans over the railing ever so slightly to take in the cloudbank below. A sudden rush of vertigo overcomes him. Pernell takes a quick step back then wonders if that’s how he died, like a fool, falling off an Orison platform.
He sits on a nearby bench and closes his eyes. No recent memories surface. Eventually Pernell stands and walks across the platform knowing full well that things could be worse. At least he remembers the location of his hab.