Disclaimer: I do not own the copyright to Total Recall-this is fan ficiton only

The Truth about Mars

Melina's lips felt soft and full against his own. Douglas Quaid breathed in the fresh air released by the alien turbines. Fresh air on Mars! Quaid leaned in, eager to taste Melina's lips again.

"Mr. Quaid," a voice said from behind him.

Startled, Quaid looked around. There was no one there. He turned back to Melina. Something was very wrong. Her lips, so firm just moments ago, began to melt, dripping into a nightmarish frown before dissolving completely.

"Mr. Quaid!" the voice repeated, this time more urgently.

Melina's eyes registered a brief second of panic before falling backwards and disappearing into empty sockets.

"Douglas Quaid!" the voice barked.

Quaid opened his eyes. He was no longer on Mars.

"Did you enjoy your trip?" The Recall technician asked him.

"Where am I?" Doug demanded.

"You're at Recall," the technician explained. "It's normal to have a few minutes of disorientation after an ego trip. I'll free your hands as soon as your brain waves stabilize. Should take just a few more seconds."

The technician pushed the overhead monitor out of the way. Quaid glimpsed an image on the screen—Melina standing on Mars, surrounded by blue skies.

"What went wrong?" Quaid demanded. "Did I have a schizoid embolism?"

The tech chuckled at the question. "There's no such thing as a schizoid embolism, Mr. Quaid. It's a psychological device we made up for the ego trips. So your brain won't reject the memory implant."

"Bullshit!" Quaid responded.

The technician smiled. "You wanted to be a secret agent on Mars, Mr. Quaid. But you're a construction worker. How else could we convince your brain you might be a secret agent?"

Quaid eyed the technician suspiciously. "You're lying!'

The technician chuckled again. "Everyone says that." The technician stopped adjusting the machinery and turned to Quaid. "Okay, here's the deal," he said as if he was about to explain something he had explained hundreds of times before. "When we first introduced the ego trips we found that clients who requested personas vastly different from their true selves rejected the memory implant. The contradictions with their actual lives were too great for their brains to absorb. So we had to come up with a psychological device, something that made sense to their brains, something that accounted for the contradictions, and ta-da! The schizoid embolism was born."

The technician smiled like a proud father. "A seventy-year-old woman wants to have a torrid affair with a young stud on a romantic cruise? No problem! The schizoid embolism "happens" and she "discovers" she's actually a young woman whose memories have been capped and whose appearance has been altered to make her look much older. Then off she goes to her cruise happily believing she's young and hot and ready for romance. Or in your case, the schizoid embolism reveals that you're actually a secret agent on Mars whose memories were capped and who was given a false identity."

"My wife tried to kill me!" Quaid spat. "I shot her! You expect me to believe that was part of your lovely memory implant?"

The lightheartedness disappeared from the technician's face. "No, Mr. Quaid. It wasn't. You see, in order for your brain to fully accept the ego-trip we can't script every detail; the implant has gaps your brain fills in using its own logic. We didn't make your wife try to kill you Mr. Quaid, nor did we make you shoot her—you did."

"Why would I want to kill my wife?" Quaid demanded.

The technician shrugged. "You tell me."

"Melina, the girl. I dreamt about her before I ever came here," Quaid insisted.

"Which is exactly why your brain used her to fill in the gaps," the technician responded. He released Quaid's restraints. "Go home, Mr. Quaid. You'll find everything just as it was before you came to Recall."

Quaid stood and rubbed his wrists. The technician placed a gentle hand on his back and escorted him to the door. "If you ever want to return to Mars Mr. Quaid, come back. Recall will be happy to give you another trip."

Quaid arrived home and opened the door to his apartment. He hesitated before entering.

"Honey, is that you?" Lori said from the kitchen. "How was your day?"

Quaid took a deep breath. Was it all just the Recall trip? Was none of it real? He walked into the kitchen. Lori stood there, beautiful as ever, a sharp knife in her hand. Quaid paused for a moment but then noticed a cutting board with chopping vegetables right beside her. He forced a smile and kissed Lori on the cheek. Lori tossed the knife into the sink and turned to the refrigerator. Quaid exhaled. "My day was fine," he said, trying to sound causal. "How was yours?"

Lori answered but Quaid was too immersed in his thoughts to listen. I'm home. I'm home and I have my life back. So why do I feel so damn disappointed? Why do I feel as though something important is missing?

That night Quaid could not fall asleep. mars filled his thoughts and he knew it would soon fill his dreams as it always did. But why? Why could he not stop dreaming of a place he had never even visited? Lori moaned softly next to him. Quaid turned to look at her. she was asleep and dreaming.

"No!" Lori exclaimed softly. She twisted as if trying to get break free from someone's embrace. "No!" she repeated. "I'm not going back to Mars! You can't make me go back to Mars!" Quaid sat up startled. He stared at his wife as if she were a stranger. Lori was drealing about Mars. Was this why his dreams were dominated by Mars? Was he dreaming about Mars because Lori spoke about Mars in her own dreams?

"I'm not going back to Mars!" Lori repeated, still dreaming. "I'm done with killing! I'm done with that life!"

Quaid felt his stomach clench. 'Killing?' 'That Life?' What was Lori talking about? Quaid had known Lori for three years. She was a high-school teacher, she had always been a teacher. At least that what she had told him. had she lied? Was there something about her past she hadn't told him?

Lori struggled against the sheets in her sleep. "I want a life, dammit! I want a normal life! I'm going back to Earth, I'm finding a man and I'm getting married!" she mumbled. "And if you send anyone after me, I'll kill them! And then I'll come right back to Mars and kill you!"

Quaid felt as if he were teetering on an abyss. This was why he'd been dreaming about Mars! But was Lori just dreaming or had she been there? Quaid began to wonder if he know his wife at all. He needed answers! But what if Lori wouldn't give them to him? What if she couldn't? It didn't matter, he knew where to find them. He could no longer escape the reality that everything in his life was leading him to one place-he had to get his ass to Mars.