Tick, tick, tick…

In 2006, I went to a house party. While crossing the lawn on the way back to the car, my foot caught in a lawn divot, twisted badly, and shattered bones in five places—including my cuboid, which any orthopedist will tell you takes talent. I stuck my foot in a boot and prepared to spend the next six weeks in crutch-laden misery.

If only.

Two weeks in, I felt a dull ache in the back of my left calf. Rubbing it didn’t help, and both ice and heat made it worse. My general practitioner told me that I was too young for it to be anything other than a standard muscle pull, and that it would go away in time. When it didn’t, I went to an urgent care center, who told me the same: You’re fine. Go home and take a Motrin.

I walked out of the urgent care center, unable to shake an overwhelming sense of doom, and called my orthopedist. He looked at my leg for five seconds, nodded, and told me to go straight to the emergency room. Six hours later, I had a diagnosis: there was a blood clot nearly blocking one of the veins in my leg, due to the inactivity from my broken bones and a genetic clotting disorder I didn’t know about until then.

“It was like a timebomb in my leg,” I would explain it later to a co-worker. “It could break off from the vein wall, travel to my lungs or my brain, and boom. I fall over dead. This could happen at any time.”

This daily terror of walking around with death in my veins stayed with me for years. To this day, I can taste the rusty tang of warfarin, and fight off panic attacks at the very first sign of a very particular kind of cramping pain behind my knee.

Architects of Memory is a lot of things, but it wouldn’t be anything without the pain and daily terror of that experience.

It’s a team story, like all my favorite sci-fi stories tend to be, and features a group of characters I’ve been developing since college. It has things to say about Elon Musk’s plans to colonize Mars, and what Amazon might look like two hundred years from now. It’s about what might have happened if I didn’t have health insurance, or what might happen if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. It’s about memory, and how it’s never as reliable as you think. It’s about how far you might go for love. It’s about what you remember and what you forget and how that shapes you as a person. It’s about what you choose to do, and what you choose to leave behind. It’s about people and bodies and souls and a weapon that could change everything.

I could go on, but, you know. We have an entire year to go. As they say on Doctor Who: “Spoilers.”

See you next week!

Author: Karen Osborne

KAREN OSBORNE is a writer, visual storyteller and violinist. Her short fiction appears in Escape Pod, Robot Dinosaurs, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Uncanny and Fireside. She is a member of the DC/MD-based Homespun Ceilidh Band, emcees the Charm City Spec reading series, and once won a major event filmmaking award for taping a Klingon wedding. Her debut novel, Architects of Memory, is forthcoming in 2020 from Tor Books.