I opened my eyes and looked at the number. 7212. It seemed like only yesterday that yesterday had happened, and yet I had been reliving this day for almost 20 years.I got up and got changed, made breakfast and packed my bag, in almost the same way as I had done 7000 or so times ago. You see, two years ago, reset technology was invented.
It was a chip that, when embedded in your head, allowed you to perform a reset at the end of a day. Simply speaking, if you didn’t like how your day had panned out, you could trigger a reset by simply thinking it at exactly midnight. Doing so would send you back in time (doing the same thing to your memory) before dropping that little number in your head. People who had chosen not to reset would act out their day in the same mindset that they were in at the start of their last reset, without the chance to reset again.
The day would only move forward when everyone had chosen not to reset, although everyone would only remember the most recent iteration of the previous day. However, this often doesn’t solve anything if the first reset doesn’t work, and almost always doesn’t after the tenth or so. You see, when you reset yourself, you forget everything that had happened in the day you were about to start, so if you were to crash into someone by accident, resetting is unlikely to do anything except tell you that you had wanted to reset that night. That knowledge alone is usually enough to tell you that you had messed up somewhere and cause you to be more cautious, thus allowing you to maybe avoid that accident. Such knowledge is called a kick. Your number is a kick in itself, as you can make several inferences from that number.
Once the number gets too high, however, it ceases to be a big enough kick and subsequent resets simply have you living through the day in exactly the same ways. Not enough new information is presented to you that would change your behavior so. Thus, past 10, you would probably need 100 resets before your behavior changed, then another 150 and so on and so forth… Everyone and their mother got them, and this caused several quick changes in the world.
For one, you couldn’t gamble on races the same day they were held, and stock market transactions had to be done one day in advance, but interestingly enough, everything mostly stayed the same. However, us policemen quickly realised that criminals had to be dealt with very differently. For a few months, the crime rate shot up, but then we figured a temporary way around it while we tried to convince everyone else that we had to completely ban the usage of these chips.
As I drove to work, I tried to reason out exactly why I was on my seven thousandth try. It obviously meant that something horrible had happened during the football game we were covering, and it obviously meant that we knew we had a way of stopping it (or we would have stopped trying).
We had a plan of coverage in the case of anything bad happening, and it was obviously taking a very long time to execute. 20 minutes later, I was in a meeting room with the rest of my team, the policemen who were going to cover the match. Greg, being the leader of our team, started speaking first. “Right. Resets? Mine is 1764.” Janet next. “204.” This caused a stir among the room. Two people? It probably did every time she had said the number. Steven. “4935.” Some wide-eyed looks at that number. Ghadalfi. “2496.” Julsey. “7212.” Moran. “7212.” Ericsson. “6982.” Chang. “3891” Johnson next. He said his number with a bit of a grin. “7211.” Okay, this was big news. That meant that today was a big day. It was my turn to speak, and I was also smiling. “7212”. “Whew. Okay,” Greg clapped his hands and drew everyone’s attention.
“It looks like we have at least 6 people we have to catch and not more than 9 or we would have given up on this. Let’s go over our coverage plan to figure out who they are. I’ve already taken the files with me.” Pulling some papers out of a folder, he put them down on the table and started to narrate from them. “Right. Because you,” he pointed to me, “are still resetting, it means that the criminals are all ticketholders, whatever they plan to do. Stadium sits 30,000 so each person gets just over 5,000 people to cover.
This means we’re working on a split-search pattern. Janet was the first to stop resetting so our first guy is…” He counted on the stadium map. “Here. Section 2 seat 4 row 12, Alfred Court stand.” Now remaining seats are 29796 and the next number is mine at 1764 so the person we’re looking for is in seat…section 8 seat 8 row 3, Pavilion stand.” By refusing a reset at certain points, we could get a system of communication going that would allow us to find people that had yet to commit a crime through us kicking each other. It just took a lot of time and a lot of resets.
Using this method, Greg went through everyone else’s numbers and we found our suspects. We quickly emailed a list to stadium security, telling them to notify us if any of the suspects tried to get in early. After that, we went through our general plan. It was a fairly simple one; whenever one of them tried to use their ticket, we would hit them with a taser and arrest them once they were inside. Subduing and arrest was always our first attempt whenever we found a new criminal.
We’d arrest them, citing ‘intelligence’, and look through their possessions. If we didn’t find anything then we would all reset the next day and try a more reactive approach. If we did, then we would disable the chip with an EMP blast and follow proceedings accordingly.
In relative silence, we left for the stadium. There was still a lot of work to do. Standing at gate E, I received notification that the first two people had been subdued and arrested. Checking their bodies had revealed explosives taped to their sides.
A bomb defusal team was immediately called to the stadium and the suspects were moved somewhere out of sight. Twenty minutes later, all 6 had been caught and subdued, with most of the bombs defused. I breathed a sigh of relief, but I knew that it wasn’t over yet. We might have still let a few in (ones that we hadn’t found using our kick method) and so we moved into our positions, a much heavier concentration of us in areas that we hadn’t checked yet. As the game progressed, I reflected on our situation. Nothing untoward had yet to happen, but my worries were no longer about today, to a certain extent. No criminals had seemed to figure out what we (and police forces around the world) were doing, but if anyone had then we would never catch them. Still, it was only a matter of time before everyone else figured us out, and we wouldn’t win this arms race. Those 6 could have bought multiple tickets and alternated spots to throw us off, they could have only sent some people every reset, they could have a seventh person watching from outside, ready to reset if needed….. There were so many ways for them to work around us it was insane.
Hopefully this case would help us make a better point against these chips. The game ended and people all filtered out of the stadium, not knowing that disaster had been averted. All they would remember was a rather unexciting nil all draw between two rather ordinary (I would know, I was a fan of one of the teams) sides. Suddenly, the weight of those 7000 days weighed down on me. All that ‘time’ spent, and nobody around to see us spend it. The team met up at the pub for drinks afterwards, all laughs and smiles about our success. None of us talked about those seven thousand days. None of us talked about how different things could have turned out. We all stayed awake, consciously denying a reset.
When there were only a few seconds left until midnight, we all stopped talking and watched it tick down in silence. Greg. “0.” Janet. “0.” Steven. “0.” Ghadalfi. “0.”…