September 29, 2018

Saturday Stories: Memories of the Breakers

Smith erases memories, he’s one of the best. He can remove your traumatic or dangerous memories and and lighten your spirit. But the Order of Mnemosyne requires that the Eraser then erases their own memory of the encounter, leaving Smith with very little left of himself.

Now’s he’s met a client whose memories put her in danger. Can Smith erase her memories, protect her, and somehow keep something of her for himself?

Memories of the Breakers


Robert J. McCarter

The breaker rolled past the window next to me, a sandy, foamy blur; I thought I could make out a jellyfish being pressed against the glass. It was outlined there for a moment and then gone. All that motion and chaos just inches away from me made me nervous.

The restaurant was nice, simple: glass, and chrome, and black lacquered wood. Understated. They let the waves crashing against the prow-like point of the building and the breakers rolling past the sides do the talking. Elegant. Rare. Expensive.

You could feel the waves, as they ceaselessly crashed against the building, see the waves roll past, almost taste the waves.

“Excuse me, are you…” she said, startling me from my reverie.

I stood up glancing at her, took her proffered hand, smiled, and said, “Yes.” First impressions are important, and in this case she aced it. Not only was she a looker, she had done me the courtesy of not saying my name. Well, at least not saying what she thought my name was.

We sat and I ordered some wine, a Grenache. Wine being the rarity it was, and this restaurant having the prices it did (you had to pay for the view after all), I was hopeful that I was making a good first impression too. My services don’t come cheap, so I can afford to make this kind of gesture.

She was like most clients. Shy about getting down to business. I knew better than to rush it, she would come around to it. They always did. We chatted about the restaurant, the hotel that contained it, and the view. They call this place, appropriately enough, the Breakers. It was built 20 years ago on dry land in anticipation of the sea level rising.

She had me order for us both, further endearing me to her. We had the seared sea bass, with steamed broccoli and roasted red new potatoes. They were prepared simply and elegantly, allowing the quality of the food to come through.

Over coffee I could tell she was going to broach the topic. There was the sighing, the shifting of position, the excessive stirring of the coffee, the twirling of her shoulder length red hair. She was almost there. I just smiled (which I am told by reliable sources is quite irresistible) and continued the small talk.

She laid a thin, long fingered hand on the table; a band of pale skin where her wedding ring once was (off for the night, or off for good—I wasn’t sure). The nails were a deep shiny red. Again I found something to like: none of those garish adaptive colors for her. Class. She took a deep breath. Here it comes.

There was a sharp crack against the window next to us. I looked over and saw most of a face, with a tattered body trailing it, pressed against the window before sliding past. By some trick of the current the body was pushed against the glass and dragged along the entire length of the room.

She screamed and a wave of screams followed the body’s trajectory as the corpse made its presence known. Scrambling to her feet, she bolted. I didn’t think I would ever see her again.


The chaos of the place swirled around me, and I just sat there and let it wash over me like the waves on the other side of the glass. I was quite content to watch it all and sip my wine.

They all acted like civilians—except for the maître d’—letting fear rule them when whatever the danger that ended that person’s life was clearly past.

The maître d’ with his broad shoulders and square jaw calmly took care of them, directing his staff like they were his troops. He exuded a cool efficiency that I admired. It was not, unfortunately, enough for the civs, who chattered and wandered about like children babbling over and over about what had happened and how horrible it all was. It always surprised me how the presentation of death rattled them so. Didn’t they know they were all going to die?

After he had dealt with them he came over to my table; I had just finished the wine. “We are so sorry for the inconvenience sir,” he said. I found his use of the word inconvenience amusing. A stubbed toe was an inconvenience, a delayed flight was an inconvenience, a dead body floating by was… was… Well, it wasn’t an inconvenience. “Tonight will be, of course, on the house,” he continued.

“No need,” I said, laying down some bills on the table as I rose. “I feel somewhat responsible.”


“Well, given his state of decomposition, I can’t be sure, of course. But I think that I am the one that killed him.”

I delivered this with a small smile. The maître d’ was truly a pro, his expression not changing one bit. He swept up the bills, which were far more than what the meal cost, made them disappear and replied, “Very good sir. Will there be anything else?”


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This and twelve other stories are part of Anomalous Readings: Thirteen Curious and Confounding Tales available as an ebook or paperback.
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Robert J. McCarter

Robert J. McCarter is the author of more than ten novels and over a hundred short stories...... learn more

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