Learning the Lesson

Author’s Note: When I went back and started editing The Memory Collector, many more months ago than I want to admit, I began to expand on the world and the history of the Collector in flashbacks of his time with his trainer. They are interesting pieces, these flashbacks, not just for the insight into what Collectors do and the way they learn to do it, but also for how he came to be what he is at the beginning of the story, how he ended up accepting the role forced upon him.

Learning the Lesson

“Another history lesson? Must we do this? Can’t I… go outside and play for one day? You do realize that I have never actually done that. I have never had a toy, never had a friend, never gone out to the places where other children gather. I’ve seen plenty of them in the memories. I know what it’s supposed to be like to be a child. I just… Never get to be one.”

“You are a Collector. The physical age you have is very nearly meaningless.”

“You say that because you’re all convinced I’ll go crazy before I even reach maturity, so you’re forcing me to learn all this stuff because we all have that same fate. All collectors go mad. They lose track of what’s real and what isn’t, and they go insane. We don’t even know why, do we? It’s just what happens. The memories take over everything, leaving us nothing. Don’t you think that maybe I should have one day where I get something normal—something real—is reasonable? That it’s not too much? One day. No lessons, no memories. A chance to play.”

“You have a weighty responsibility. You cannot afford to play.”

“I hate you.”

The trainer sighed, putting a hand on the boy’s shoulder. “There are far greater things to worry about than a few minutes of playtime.”

“It isn’t so much the playtime as the… principle. Yes, that’s it—the principle. Isn’t that something you understand, the principle? I should have that kind of thing in principle.”

“You are a Collector. Your principles are different. They have to be. Our role in society is one of the most important and most influential, do you not comprehend that yet?”

The boy looked down at his hands. “I want more than this. I don’t care if what the collectors did allowed us to push the Rashon off the planet during the second war. I don’t care if they come back. It’s not like forcing them to leave solved anything. We still hate them and they still hate us. Only I can’t really hate them because I’m kind of… one of them, aren’t I? I can access their memories, too.”

“Not from the other world—and you know better than to access memories from the wars. That is too long ago. That will surely drive you mad.”

“Maybe I want to be crazy. Maybe I’d rather be crazy than a prisoner,” the boy snapped. He sighed. “Besides, there are still Rashon descendents here. We hate them, we oppress them—though we say we don’t—and we lie and say we have a perfect society, but we don’t. I’m a slave, you’re a slave, and anyone with Rashon blood is hated for no reason at all.”

“We are none of us perfect, but there is peace here, peace that the Rashon do not know.”

“It is easy for us, for a society lead by the oh-so-important and oh-so-wonderful collectors to look down on the Rashon for their war-like way of life, but we are not any better, don’t you get it?” The boy shook his head, moving away from his trainer. “I have been in those memories that you and the others like to forget. Centuries of peace allows them to forget that they were ever equal to the Rashon in their blood lust, but they were. Those times might exist only in the memories, and the collectors—you—never remind them of that part of their history, but it’s still there. Still true. We could easily go back to that.”

The trainer looked at him. “And you still fail to see the importance of your role as a Collector?”

The boy frowned. “What do you—You think without the collectors, we would descend into that again? Is that it?”

“What most of society likes to forget was that it was the threat of exposure for their actions that kept people from doing what they might have done—kill, steal, cheat—and not actual power within themselves,” the trainer reminded the boy. “They may believe that the Rashon should put these things away as easily, but they never truly had, so why would anyone else?”

“They wouldn’t.”

“That is why they need us. Why there must be Collectors. Why you must train. We are law and order. Without us… There would be nothing but chaos.”

4 thoughts on “Learning the Lesson

  1. Liana Mir says:

    This one had too much woven out of it. I couldn’t understand how everything and each people group related to the others.

  2. kabobbles says:

    I probably should have gone with the first of the flashbacks with his training, since this one is further down in the progression, and it does build on the others.

    I like it because it shows the part where the Collector starts to see a part of the trainer’s position, which he has been resisting so far, with a lot of anger and perhaps childishness.

    • Liana Mir says:

      I like the segue, just didn’t really understand it and knew it needed its framework to make sense. In short, it’s a great snippet; it just doesn’t stand alone.

      • kabobbles says:

        Yeah, I got spoiled by having read through everything that came before it, that and having written it. It makes perfect sense within context (and without, for me, since I know the rest of the story,) but you’re right. It doesn’t stand alone. I picked it for the one moment, but the one moment doesn’t make as much sense out of context, either.

        Silly me.

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