Depression? Grief? Despair? by Ian Baaske

Depression? Grief? Despair?

All solved thanks to Dr. Rudolph Czolgosz, newly of the office building at 721 Plum Street. Dr. Czolgosz is the inventor of a machine called The Extractor, which, using the latest scientific advances, is able to remove unpleasant memories permanently from a person’s mind, leaving him happy, carefree, and blissfully unaware of his past troubles.

Mrs. Denton of Billings Street now regularly feeds the ducks at Dunleavy Park–not more than a dozen feet from where her eight-year-old son drowned.

Dr. Czolgosz, in his extractions, makes a careful distinction between three forms of memory. “Mechanical memory,” which consists of the sorts of things you do every day: tying your shoelaces, shaving, etc. Facts from the larger world (the capital of Idaho, the name of the third president), which he labels “Expansive Memory.” And finally “Experiential Memory.” It’s this last type that he seeks out and destroys. By their very nature, as modern science has discovered, memories take the shape of a wispy smoke-like substance. Dr. Czolgosz’s trained eye identifies Experiential Memory by its pinkish-purple color. The more severe the memory, the darker the color.

At times, Expansive Memory has to be eliminated in order to fully eradicate the unwanted Experiential Memory–as in divorcée Mrs. Glass’s case. Her pleasant memories of Paris fully encompassed unpleasant memories of her ex-husband. The intervening years had made the two types of memory inseparable. Mrs. Glass simply could not conceive of The Louvre or The Eiffel Tower or The Arc de Triomphe in a way unrelated to the melancholy vision of her once-happy self. Now, joyful and carefree, she finds our local St. Aloysius Church near Centertown one of the most impressive pieces of architecture she’s ever seen.

The Extractor resembles a bed. The bed posts connect to an upper level of machinery that hums and whirs. Several dozen thick wires drop from above and are connected to various points on a subject’s head, face and upper body. Unfortunately, due to the volatile nature of the procedure, the subject does need to be restrained and some chafing or other irritation of the wrists and ankles is occasionally reported.

Should one change his mind, the procedure is fully reversible. Extracted memories will be stored for a small fee and can be restored upon request. However, it is not recommended to allow too much time between extraction and restoration as new memories will fill the same physical spaces as the lost ones, and it is not fully known what will happen if the two co-exist.

Appointments can be scheduled with Dr. Czolgosz’s secretary at Hyancinth 5-8234. Unfortunately, the doctor is not available to answer questions over the telephone.


Ian Baaske‘s work has appeared in Barbaric Yawp and Lynx Eye. His short story, “HWY X,” was a finalist in the Zoetrope Short Fiction Contest.