Skip to main content

Load State 01

Summary

Life is merely a series of decisions. Stuart Erikson never believed the phrase. When time and space stopped, suddenly the world became his and it was then he realized just how true the phrase was. The best grades, the best jobs, his perfect life? All one decision away.

Intro

The moment had finally come. I arranged the pieces as carefully as I could. Now, all I needed to do was to get this chick to reciprocate and then I could move on to the next step in my plan.

   Leading her by my hand, I bring her to the rooftop of the school building. A cliché scene for my confession, sure. But no one could deny its effects on the young, lovesick students of Norlake High. It’s pretty much all I ever heard about from my ‘friends.’ Who was seeing who, who cheated, who didn’t. It made me wanna vomit, but no one could deny the extra effect you had on people when they knew a girl wanted you. So here we were, with one of the most popular girls I knew in the school—Amy Clarington.

   “Won’t the door be locked?” she asks, blushing.

   I turn around with a suave smile. “Usually, sure.” I pull the key out of my pocket to demonstrate my thought out plan. “But that won’t be a problem.”

   Smiling, she plays with one of the thick locks of her long, blonde hair, and giggles. “Always a step ahead, huh Erikson?”

   As soon as I look back at the door at the top of the stairs, I remove the smile from my face and focus on my plan of action. I had come this far and I’d hate to go back and fix it all. I spent too much time on this one. If she was going to do the same shit the other girls did, then I’d just about snap.

   Just as we reach the top of the stairs, I pull the key out of my pocket, my grip on Amy’s hand never leaving. The door opens with a firm click, the bright orange glow of the setting sun spilling into the hallway. I brush my black hair out of the way and lead her outside.

   “Here we are,” I beckon to her, at last releasing her hand so she can step ahead of me. It was important to be as much of a gentleman as I could be with her. Based on my research, she valued romance, chivalry, and a cool attitude. The look on her face gave me confidence that I perfected my technique.

   With the two of us on the rooftop now, I shut the door behind us, making sure to keep it unlocked. Being called out to the rooftop alone by a man was probably enough to get any woman to feel apprehensive. To help her feel safe, I stand ahead of her so that the door is closest to her.

   With a few feet of distance between us, I get right to my point.

   “Amy, I have valued our friendship more than you realize. Your beauty, your demeanor, and your generosity seem to have no bounds,” I say with the smile I had practiced in my mirror hundreds of times.

   Another giggle from the girl’s mouth. “Thank you very much, Erikson.”

   “Ah, ah,” I say with a wave of my index finger. “Please, call me Stuart. I couldn’t rightly call you my friend if we remained so formal.”

   “Yes, I suppose you’re right.” She shuts her eyes and takes a deep breath before acquiescing to my suggestion. “Then... Stu. I’ll call you Stu.” A smile decorates her tanned face, a fascinating change from her pale color only a couple months ago.

   Her green eyes meet mine, and that’s when it suddenly felt right. This was the perfect moment.

   “Amy Clarington, would you do me the honor of being my girlfriend?” It’s beyond embarrassing. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t even use these sorts of methods, but it’s all I could think of to get the girl.

   I hold out my hand, which is shockingly white in comparison. We were essentially identical in our skin tones not too long ago, but I had the idea that this is something she would’ve preferred on a more physical level, especially when it came to being seen in public. It allowed us to stick out more than the usual couple, which would mean more popularity for her.

   Her gaze dances around the floor, her fingers fiddling about together nervously. Not once does she meet my gaze. An uncomfortable air of silence washes over the moment and I can feel my hand slowly descending downwards in disappointment.

   “I’m sorry,” she says, “but I don’t think we’d make a very good couple. I need someone who can lead. You always ask me for permission, and as much as I val—”

   With a mere thought, I stop her there. The scene surrounding us has completely frozen, her body stopped as if time around us had demanded so.

   I shake my head. “Again with this shit. You’re a bitch, you know that?”

   She doesn’t respond. Of course she doesn’t, she can’t. I’ve made sure of it. Sighing, I look to my left and a holographic screen appears in midair with a list of the save files I made earlier. I backtrack to the one I made only a minute or two ago and my finger hovers above the ‘LOAD STATE’ button.

   The corners of my mouth twisting into a smile, I push against Amy’s face and smash the back of her head into the cement. I could hear something crack, and a feeling of relief eased my mind.

   “Might as well watch you bleed a little before I give this another try.”

   With another thought, time returns to normal. A bubbled gasp escapes her mouth. Initially I thought she might scream, considering her skull had just cracked. But I suppose the impact had done a lot more damage than I thought it would.

   The red of her blood spilling out onto the cement causes me to laugh. Her eyes are shadowed over and she makes vain attempts to speak to me with her hand held outright at me.

   “This makes me feel a lot better.” I spit on the ground next to me and divert my attention back to the screen beside me. My finger hits the ‘LOAD STATE’ button, and I’m placed back on the rooftop right before I had moved to stand ahead of her. A countdown only I could see starts moving downwards from ten, and I go over what she had said to me in hopes of changing her mind.

   “All right, I should be good.”

   As soon as the timer hits zero, time has returned to the desired moment. I lock the door behind me and rest against it to assert my masculinity. Amy appears uncomfortable, clasping her fingers between each other.

   “Allow me to be frank. I think you’re an attractive woman. Between the two of us, there isn’t anything that could stop us.” I move away from the door and step closer over to Amy, prompting her to take a step back. “Follow my lead.”

   There’s a pensive look about her. Unlike before, she seems focused, attentive to the idea that I had just proposed. She looks away, the shyness of her personality currently absent. Her chin between her fingers, she looks to the ground for a few seconds, then back to me.

   “Is this a confession?”

   “You may call it that. To me personally, I think we can satisfy a couple of each other’s needs. Besides,” I say as I cup her chin in my fingers this time, taking advantage of her short stature to improve my appearance. “You haven’t shared a kiss with anyone yet, have you?”

   She furrows her brow, looking away.

   “No...”

   “Then allow me.”

   And with that, I took her first kiss.

One

My name is Stuart Erikson, and I can control time... sort of. I wouldn’t really call it a method of controlling time so much as I would call it a way to return to the past. Much like the video games I found myself wallowing away in my room playing, I could create save states, or save points as most people would call them.

   I don’t know how I got this power or what its purpose is. All I know is that only a few months ago I found that simply thinking, ‘I wish I could do things over again’ gave me would gave a strange blue, transparent screen to appear in midair. To say it freaked me out would be a gross understatement, because outside those who find themselves in psych wards, who would really seriously claim such a feat? If you can even call it that.

   After I had confirmed that no one else could see it, mostly because everything around me had literally stopped in time, I grew curious. I experimented for several weeks, testing anything I could think of. What would return? Would my wounds heal? What about memories? Would I retain mine and everyone forget theirs? I had hundreds of questions and to be honest I still have yet to test the limits of this power.

   Eventually it came to a point where I had realized something. Life was completely determined by the choices we made. I hated the term. I absolutely despised the term. But here we were. What may seem like an irrelevant point now would later become a building block for who I met, how I got along with people, and ultimately how I was viewed by others. Life did not allow for mistakes and as far as anyone could tell, you had no idea you made the wrong choice until it was too late. As far as I am concerned, life is a bullshit gamble of rolling the dice and hoping that the choice you made was the right one. If not well tough luck, buddy.

   Things are different for me though. I don’t fit into that category anymore. Now the entire world is in the palm of my hand. Did I want to go to college? Done. Did I want a beautiful wife and children? Easy. Anything was attainable now. Living a life of luxury was as easy as watching how the winning lottery tickets come down and rewinding to buy the right ticket.

   That was too easy though, and even if I don’t care too much about my grades, I’m at least smart enough to know what having too much power can do to a person. Winning the lottery would forever stigmatize me as someone who just got lucky. A nobody, a gambler. No I want power, true unattainable power. I want to demonstrate that no matter how I fight I cannot lose.

   “Uhh, it’s this one,” says my lab partner and new girlfriend. Her body touching mine, she’s seated in the chair beside me and thumbing through the pages of my notebook, penciling in the correct answers that I had feigned ignorance in knowing.

   It took about fifteen resets of changing my seat as I walked in before the teacher found it appropriate to pair us up. A pain in the ass but working together and getting to know her was at the top of my list of priorities.

   “Ah, so then we add the phenolphthalein first?” I ask.

   “Yes, because it’s an indicator chemical. If we don’t add that first, we’re not going to know what’s happening,” she says proudly.

   It’s only been a week since I planted my lips upon hers and yet somehow she’s perfectly calm and accustomed to my presence. I’m impressed frankly. Her intense focus, her willingness to stick close to me and maintain an air of aristocracy is... arousing.

   Her rich lifestyle led her to having a fairly high amount of pride in her system, which is why she probably took advantage of teaching me when she could. She admired my tenacity and determination to take what I thought was rightfully mine, that being a strong and dependable future. I suppose she found merit in that. Selfish. Predictable. Probably listens to everything Daddy tells her. Not that I care, she’s gorgeous and rich, that’s frankly all I care about.

   “Seems I need to pay better attention in class,” I smirk, pinching her thigh from under the desk.

   “Stu!” she whispers in a panicked tone. A deep pink covers her face, her stare darting across the room to see if anyone had noticed. “That’s not appropriate right now.”

   “I’m hungry,” I whisper back into her ear.

   Clearing her throat, she narrows her brow and gives me a firm look. “We’re going to continue studying like the rest of the class is doing, understand?”

   “Yes, Ma’am.”

   The two of us continued to study and after an excruciatingly long and boring chemistry class, the students began packing their bags, some of them with their lunch cards in hand.

   “Shall we get some lunch?” she asks throwing her book bag over her shoulders, “I’m starving.”

   “Sure but I’m buying for you today,” I calmly and confidently state as I exit the classroom, Amy straight behind me.

   “What? That’s not even—”

   “Necessary? No. But it’s what’s happening. Coming?”

   She pauses, then smiles in an almost bewitching manner.    

   “By all means.”

   The cafeteria is packed to the brim with students. As prestigious as our school sometimes was, it didn’t stop the rest of the students from acting like a bunch of ravenous, wild animals. Unlike most of the students running around and standing in line waiting for their next meal, Amy and I cut around and go over to the snack bar where food is fresher and more delicious.

   “Here you go,” a woman in her fifties hands a heavier looking student standing in front of us a large jug of fruit juice and a meal consisting of five breadsticks, four slices of pizza, two large brownies and a small bowl of salad.

   What an idiot. Like a salad was going to stop all of that junk from clogging his arteries. People like him irritated the hell out of me. I’m sure that in their precious little mind that eating a salad each day was going to somehow turn them into Hercules. As if. Dude has no self control and that’s his problem.

   The student leaves to a nearby table with his gourmet of a meal. It’s our turn now and we step forward. Unsurprisingly, the asshole has taken all of the good stuff, leaving only broccoli, a few cheese sticks, and a single slice of pepperoni pizza. I wanted two slices of pepperoni, and this moron made sure I wasn’t going to have what I wanted. I click my tongue in anger.

   “Oh, there isn’t much left,” says a disappointed Amy. “Do you wanna just jump back in line?”

   “And lose out on all the good food? Hell no,” I say to her.

   “Huh?” she asks, confused by my statement. “What’s gotten into you all of a sudden?”

   “Just be quiet.”

   Approaching the table the moron sat at, I tap him on the shoulder. As soon as he’s turned around, I hit him square in the face with all the strength I can muster. The attack causes a whiplash and a gush of blood pours out of his mouth and nose.

   “Oh my god!” he screams out. “Help! He hit me, oh my god!”

   “Yeah, keep screaming you animal.”

   “What are you doing?” screams out Amy.

   Her voice is grating on my ears. “Shut the hell up right now, understand?”

   Her mouth hung agape, her eyes widen with surprise before she narrows them in anger.

   “We’re over, Erikson.” Amy takes out a small coin I gave to her from some other hick country and throws at my feet. “Now leave him alone or I’m calling the cops.”

   I roll my eyes at the idea. “I’ll see you in a bit.”

   The screen appears beside me again. I had my fun but now it’s time to rectify what’s happened here. I scroll up to when we had left the chemistry class and hit ‘LOAD STATE.’ Like an old video tape, everyone rewinds back to where they were and like an army of puppets and dolls they await for the clock to move again. This is one of the problems with the power. I have to do a lot of my own work too so I go back to where I was and press a small right arrow on my screen.

   “So what do you wanna eat?” asks a trailing Amy.

   “I’m treating, I’ll meet you in the cafeteria!”

   “Okay?” she says befuddled.

   As soon as I’m done, I rush down the hall. I still have time if I run. I have to make sure I reach the snack bar before the chub master beats me to the punch. Just as I enter the cafeteria I push my way through the crowd of students and jog over to the cart huddled away at the end of the room. No one’s in line. Perfect.

   I approach the old lunch woman with a smile. “Hi! I’d like five pieces of pizza, five breadsticks, and all of your brownies.”

   The lady laughs. “You got quite an appetite, kid. This all for you?”

   I shake my head enthusiastically. “No, my girlfriend does though, and I’m looking to make sure we both have a nice meal today. Oh, and could you add two small bowls of salad with that? No ham chunks in one of them if you would.”

   A few minutes later, Amy appears in the room and I catch her attention with a large wave of my arm. I’ve secured us a table which I knew we could share by ourselves since the amount of food I ordered covered the entirety of the table.

   “Holy moly... are you really going to eat all this?” Amy asks in an incredulous tone. “This would feed me for a week.”

   “Never underestimate the hunger of a man,” I say with a wave of my fork. “Here, one for you.” I hand her a small paper plate with a brownie and a fork.

   “Thanks, Stu.”

   I give a firm nod, enjoying the smooth, chocolate texture of the dessert in my mouth and glance over my shoulder to see the fat-ass waiting behind a student. To my surprise the lady points over in my direction when he finally comes up to order his food. What a bitch, pinning it on me and not saying a damn thing about this kid. Fury on his face the dumbass marches over to us.

   “You! Are you the one that took all the food?” he practically bellows into my ear.

   Calmly, I meet his gaze. “Yes, yes I am. I’m hungry and I have a right to that food as much as you do. I’m sorry, but I haven’t had breakfast so I need to make up for the vitamins and calories I’ve lost throughout the day.”

   “You don’t need all that! I need food too! Why don’t you share and give some of that up?”

   “Excuse me, but he paid out of his own pocket for that food. You could show some proper conduct and either take what’s there, or stand in line like the rest of us usually do,” argues Amy. Perfect. Oh how the tables had turned.

   “I don’t need some scrawny little girl like you telling me how I should talk.”

   “If you don’t leave I’ll be forced to report you. We have limited time in eating, and I’d rather not have it disturbed by someone who was going to eat too much anyways.”

   “Stu, that’s a little much,” says Amy.

   “You’re right.” I pull up the load screen and roll back about ten seconds.

   “Excuse me, but he paid out of his own pocket for that food. You could show some proper conduct and either take what’s there, or stand in line like the rest of us usually do,” repeats Amy.

   “I don’t need some scrawny little girl like you telling me how I should conduct myself.”

   Let’s do it right this time.

   “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have taken as much as I did. But it is as Amy says, I paid for this. And as you know this food ain’t cheap. I have no intention of forking any of it over. If you’re going to turn this into a bigger problem than it needs to be then I’m afraid I’m going to have to get the faculty involved.”

   A rumble of frustration can be heard from the deep caverns of his throat, and after a few seconds he turns around and storms off to stand in line with the rest of the students.

   Amy sighs with concern. “That could’ve gotten ugly. Stu, did you really need all this food? I mean, I know you’re hungry, but still.”

   “You doubt me?”

   She giggles and a wry smile crosses her face. “A little. But what’s done is done. We can’t go back now so we’ll just need to roll with the consequences.”

   Just as I said, life is simply a series of choices.

Two

So as far as I know, I’ve come to realize two crucial problems with this power. For one, I can’t move forward through time. Since the future has yet to be determined, it seems that I have no ability to move forward without first going through time the old fashioned way. Once I’ve established what’s going to happen, then I can use my power to go back and fix whatever I wanted. Frankly, it’s annoying to go over everything so meticulously.

   Second of all, and although I had yet to figure out if it was a problem or not, I wondered if going back any further than the day I had attained this power would put me in a position where I could no longer travel back in time. Unless I came across something that warranted attempting it, I saw no need to fix what wasn’t broken. No matter how bad things were now, I could easily change them. Practice makes perfect after all.

   “Can anyone answer this question?” asks our Algebra teacher. Her frog-like eyes travel side to side across the room in search of her next victim. She lands on me with a smile. “How about you Mister Erikson?”

   How about you find another victim? I wanted to say. I clear my throat and go over the problem on the dry erase board another time before giving it an honest shot.

   “X equals twenty-three.”

   She shakes her head. “I’m afraid not, but it is a close answer.” The teach goes on to explain the reason behind my blunder and how the problem worked, but as soon as she had told me it was close, I completely blanked and just awaited the correct answer. How, I wondered would this affect how people viewed me? Would they laugh silently to themselves? Perhaps I’d be mentioned to their friends so they could bolster each other to make themselves feel better. Whatever the case, it was minor at best and chances are, it would have no long term effects on anything significant. I’d see later this afternoon.

   As lunchtime rolled around, Amy approaches my desk. “Do you want to go get something in the cafeteria?”

   A question I had been meaning to ask her comes to mind. “Do you not like the food you get from home? Your family’s pretty well off so I would think you’d come with your own lunch.”

   “Makes sense,” she says looking away as if thinking about it, “but I just don’t like my family all too much. I find it’s a lot more fun to enjoy the experience with my fellow classmates.”

   “Assuming you don’t hang around me, that is,” I say with a smirk, hinting at the time we made out behind the cafeteria building. A few times we had been caught, but it was nothing I couldn’t fix. What was interesting to me though was how my mouth had never gotten sore even after the near hour of trial and error we had. It was something I decided to keep in mind for how my power worked.

   Amy clears her throat in a very adult-like manner and rests her hands behind her back. “Well, I have friends I can hang out with today if you like.”

   “Haha. Nah, that won’t do. Let’s grab some grub, then.”

 

 

Personally, I’d like to have my own lunch every day. Standing in line waiting for my food like a prisoner was demeaning, as far as I was concerned, I deserved better. But if it’s something Amy wanted, I found myself trailing behind her to fulfill her whims—in a way she liked, of course.

   “Can’t say I don’t care about you, now can you?” I ask, reminding her of a day we got into a small argument.

   She sighs. “No, I guess not. I apologized already.”

   It was a dumb argument, but it was fascinating to see how she reacted to certain stimuli. What seemed like ten minutes to her was an entire two hours of study and curiosity for me.

   I had no desire for education. Not the way society formed it that is. What interested me most was how people interpreted actions and how they reacted. To make a prediction and find out I was right was downright intoxicating to me. It was a little secret I liked to keep myself, and although one might say I was cheating since I could simply go back and rectify my mistakes, I was inclined to disagree. After the initial profiling process, I found I was able to make correct guesses with near ninety percent accuracy. An ability I took great pride in for sure.

   “It’s okay. I forgive you,” I tease.

   “Gee, thanks Stu. Such a nice guy you are.”

   The two of us walk up to get our ‘lunches’ consisting of a single sandwich, and not even a freshly made one, a carton of milk, and a small bag of chips.

   My girlfriend and I seat ourselves at a table near the back of the cafeteria hall when one of her friends approaches with her tray.

   “Mind if I sit down?” she asks.

   “Go ahead, Tanya,” offers Amy.

   I contemplate going back to ask that we sit alone together, but when I consider how important she found sitting at the table with her friends and eating the same lunch was, I backtracked on the idea. Instead, I decided to take this opportunity to discover what made Amy’s friend Tanya tick.

   “Haven’t seen you before,” I say as soon as the girl sits down. “Amy never mentions her friends.”

   “I do too!” Amy shoots back to defend herself. “C’mon, that’s not true, you know that.”

   I do know that, and that’s what makes this so much fun.

   Tanya offers her hand to me. Her skin is a gorgeous dark tone, her black hair tied in braids. When I look directly at her, I notice how awfully brown her eyes are. They’re like mine.

   “A pleasure,” I say. I grip her hand lightly in mine with a smile I had practiced for charming women. Given how quickly she pulled away however, I was willing to wager it had no effect on her.

   “Girl, I haven’t seen you in days. Don’t tell me this boy’s the reason for all that.”

   Boy, huh?

   “Tanya, please. I mean, yes. We are going out so I’ve wanted to spend some time with him, but that doesn’t mean I’ve just dropped everybody.”

   She laughs. “I’m only teasin’ you. He looks the charmer sort, so I don’t mind at all.” Tanya looks back to me. “So how long you two been dating, huh?”

   “About a week,” I answer.

   “That’s it?” she asks surprised. “Amy, you got no excuse now. Wait until Larry and Angelica hear about this.”

   “Don’t tell them yet!” Amy pleads.

   It was difficult to hide, but I had flinched at the name of Larry. Another man it seemed? Clearly they were acquaintances. At least for now. The notion that jealousy and other relationships had not been explored yet piqued my curiosity.

   “Larry?” I ask, purposely avoiding Angelica’s name to appear insecure.

   Amy sighs. “Larry’s an old childhood friend of mine. Known him since like what, third grade, right Tanya?”

   “I don’t know, don’t ask me. You met me two years later, remember? Shouldn’t you be keeping a better mind on those sorts of things? You’re gonna upset the kid.”

   “Is that a problem?” Amy asks me. She reminded me why I admired her. Clever as she was, she’d never be a match for me. No one would be for that matter.

   I make sure to pause before giving an answer.

   “No, I suppose not. We’re only just dating and as you said, you’ve known him since...” I look back to Tanya as if asking her for the answer. “Third grade?”

   Tanya nods affirmatively. “You got it.”

   “Good, because the last guy I dated had a problem with me having Larry as a friend since he’s a guy. I’m not having that again... I’m relieved.”

   She’s very attached to this Larry person. Considering he was the problem for her last relationship, if she has any other male friends, then they aren’t seen enough in her life for them to make a big enough impact on any potential relationships. During my entire month of analyzing and profiling, I had not once seen Amy around any other men. This led me to believe that perhaps Larry didn’t see the kind of attention that Tanya seemed to imply.

   Tanya shakes her head.

   “Man, I couldn’t believe how Jake acted. That was completely out of line. Did you remember what he said?”

   “Don’t remind me,” Amy says with a roll of her eyes, “he was a creep to be sure.”

   “You know how to pick—”

   BANG.

   A loud explosion fills the halls of the cafeteria prompting the three of us to cover our ears in shock. My eyes shut in reaction and the first thing I want to do is go back in time. I can’t yet though. Not until I’ve seen what’s happening. I turn around, opening one of my eyes. In front of me at the other end of the hall, surrounded by students, was that familiar fat-ass. He didn’t look any different save for a crazed look on his face and a pistol in his hand.

   BANG. Another shot fills the air.

   Upon the ground in front of him are two members of the faculty. A pair of instructors who were infamous in our school. I turn to Amy and Tanya who are quivering in fear with their arms wrapped around each other.

   “Down on the ground!” yells a policeman to my left. The man has his glock twenty-two pulled out on him.

   It happens so fast, I’m left in shock. The policeman fires three shots in response to the attacker’s threat, causing all the students to fall to the ground in a panic. The chubby guy falls to the ground in silence.

   “Oh my God, are you okay Amy?” asks Tanya.

   “Yeah, I’m all right. Stuart, are you okay too?”

   I’m left speechless. Of all the events I had encountered thus far, this was the worst. I look to the two girls, then I pull up the load screen, freezing everything and everyone in place.

   What should I do? Should I do anything? I wonder if the teachers are fatally wounded. Many people would fake remorse for them, but a good lot of students would be silently thinking to themselves, ‘good riddance.’

   Dragging the load screen with me, I walk over to the scene where the bodies were. Upon closer inspection, one teacher, Mister Charles Brampton had been shot directly in the heart. There was no saving this man. The other person to my right, Miss Claire Epson had been shot directly in her stomach. She could be saved if the paramedics arrived soon enough. Considering how quickly the officer reacted though, I was willing to wager that she would be okay. Lastly was the person I had hoped I’d have nothing to do with again.

   “What’s even your name,” I ask out loud.

   The shots weren’t fatal. The officer knew what they were doing. A single shot in his kneecap and another in his stomach essentially guaranteed him a similar position to that of Miss Epson.

  I’m not sure why I spent as much time as I did pondering their potential deaths when the answer was obvious to me.

   “What an asshole,” I say frankly.

   With that, I select a moment to approximately one minute ago and hit the ‘LOAD STATE’ button.

   “Wait until Larry and Angelica hear about this,” says Tanya once again.

   “Sorry, I gotta hit the restroom. Bowel problems,” I say in a wince.

   The two are surprised, but I get up from my seat quickly and head straight. I don’t have much time. I look around for a short time until I see him standing in line. His look is disturbing, a dark malice plastered all over his face. Sweat covers his face and I approach him cautiously.

   “Fancy seeing you here,” I say to him.

   His eyes widen. Before I can react, he pulls out the same gun and fires a shot into my shoulder, sending the surrounding students to the ground a second time. I grip my shoulder in pain.

   “You!” he screams out.

   Shit, I’ve been shot. Okay, don’t panic. Just go back. It was about time I found out the extent of my abilities anyways. Worst case scenario, I get help. The load screen shows up next to me another time, the blood somehow falling upon it. I select a time roughly ten to fifteen seconds ago and once again, load the state.

   As soon as I’ve come back, I look to my shoulder and slowly release my grip from it. The hole has disappeared, the blood gone as if never there, and the pain is non-existent. I open and close my hands in front of me, fascinated by what’s happened. So my wounds do disappear. I can feel a smile creep onto my face.

   “Might as well be a god.” I approach the guy a second time, placing my hand on his shoulder with a, “hey.”

   Once again, history repeats itself. He reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out the same gun, firing a shot at me. The moment he had placed his hand into his pocket, I had made sure to sidestep, giving the illusion that I had somehow managed to dodge the bullet.

   I step forward, grabbing his arm with my right hand and the gun with my left. The students move away from us in terror, and the two of us fall to the ground in a struggle. He fires a few more shots into the ceiling and I slam the back of his hand against the ground, releasing his grip from the gun.

   I’m expecting at least one student to step forward and retrieve the gun, but instead they continue to back away while the two of us tumble about. I glance behind me expecting the policeman to help, only to realize he had just entered the building the first time I saw this guy pull out the gun. The timing had been perfect. It wasn’t yet time for the man to arrive. Assuming he heard the shot though, he must have been no more than ten seconds away. Just had to hold out until then.

   We roll across the ground and I kick him off of me, sending him up to his feet with me on my back. The two of us look directly at the gun a few feet away from us and both make to grab it.

   With a bit of luck, I’m the first to grab it. I turn it on him and warn him with a, “stop!”

   For a moment, he listens. He places his arms up slowly and behind me I hear the doors of the cafeteria open up. I turn around to see the policeman has entered with his gun drawn. Caught off-guard, the student has charged back at me in an attempt to grab the gun from my hand. In the struggle, two shots fire off.

   Dazed, the student backs away from me.

   “Get down!” yells the officer.

   The student didn’t have a choice in the matter. Two holes had filled the student’s chest in our struggle. They weren’t shots someone could survive. Silently, his body crumples to the ground in a pool of blood. I’m shaken, surprised by what I’ve just done. But suddenly, I realize something. Unless I was killed instantaneously, my wounds would always recover. I could not be stopped. Fright had filled my veins only moments ago, but now I felt something much more satisfying—power.

Three

Killing someone isn’t something that the average person can get over in a day. To have killed someone means you have stopped their clock. They can no longer wake up, eat, enjoy time with their friends and family, they can no longer live. Now, obviously this is a very ‘duh’ statement. Stupid as fuck to really explain this. Even kids understand this when they scrape their knee for the first time.

   Most of the time, people probably feel guilt or a sense of regret when they kill their first person. That is, if they ever find themselves in a position to do so. Me on the other hand? Well, I wanted him out of my life for sure. I had no intention of killing him, but what was done was done. What was I supposed to do, cry over it? What good is that going to do? I didn’t even know the guy.

   “Listen Stu, I’m just not in the mood,” Amy complains, her lips separating from mine. She gets up off of me and hangs her bare legs over the bed. “I just can’t believe what happened.”

   “I know.” I rock my head back, my eyes tracked to a poster on the ceiling of some pop idol group. It had become a norm at this point, feigning sympathy, pretending to care. All of it was much too easy, but admittedly was becoming more and more taxing by the day. The sooner we could move past this incident and get back to our normal lives, the better. Just have to keep up the charade a little longer. “Do you think you can forgive me?”

   “Stu, it was an accident!” She turns around to look at me, concern in her voice. “The police saw for themselves what happened. I saw what happened. It’s... it’s life.” Her gaze drops to the floor. “Listen,” she says, grabbing her purse off the floor. “I’m going to go to a friend’s tonight, okay? I know my parents are out for tonight, but it just doesn’t feel right. I just can’t do it.”

   I breathe a deep sigh through my nostrils, and sit up. Patting down the pockets of my jeans to make sure I have my wallet and keys, Amy escorts me outside. I give her a peck on the cheek after she locks the door to her home, and the two of us make our ways to our respective cars. She’s driving off by the time I’ve reached my car.

   The vehicle’s nothing special, not even sure of the make actually. If it were up to me I wouldn’t even drive, but my dad had a habit of reminding me how important it was for me to lose my virginity. For that, I’d need a car, and thankfully he was willing to foot the bill for a decent one that just about any girl would be impressed with.

   I poke the key into the lock, and suddenly I feel something hard and metallic against the back of my head.

   “Don’t move,” growls a deep, hateful voice.

   With a single thought, time stops around me. I twist around to see a balding man who looks to be in his forties or fifties with a gun pointed at me. Using my index finger, I move the load screen away a couple feet and check the outside pockets of his jacket. Nothing. I check the inside pockets of his jacket, still nothing.

   I breathe a heavy sigh as I look down at his pants pockets. This is going to feel weird. I shove my hand into the pockets of the man’s jeans, and finally I find a wallet tucked away in his back pocket. Opening it up reveals a man by the name of Alfred Larista. The name sounds vaguely familiar, but I can’t quite place where I’ve heard the name. Well, at the very least, I should disarm this man’s weapon and see why he’s here.

   Plucking his fingers from the gun one by one, I pull open his hand and take away his weapon. Maybe it’s because everything’s stopped, but I still can’t get used to how objects feel in this space. I pull back the slide and I’m surprised to see what’s inside. There aren’t any bullets in the chamber. Just in case, I pull open the magazine to see the same thing. He was never planning to kill me. So why’s here’s then, making some meaningless threat? Well, now I’m really curious to see where this goes. Making sure I retrace my steps as perfectly as I can, I put everything back where I found it and wrap his fingers back around the gun. I step back over to the driver’s side door and just as I will it, time moves again.

   “All right, I’m not gonna move.” I slowly raise my arms. Let’s talk this out.”

   “Talk this out? Talking this out isn’t going to bring back my son! You’re the son of a bitch who killed him, you god damned monster!”

   You’re in way over your head, old man.

   “It was an accident,” I fake saying in a distraught tone. “I didn’t wanna kill him.”

   “He talked about you, you know. He said how much of a coward, how much of an asshole you were! You killed our little angel you motherfucker!”

   I sigh.

   “Please don’t do this, sir. Is this what he would want? Your son? Would he really want to see his own father going out and killing another kid? I don’t think so.”

   “No... no, he wouldn’t. But I can’t deal with this. I have nothing left to live for, anymore! I’ve lost my wife, my job! Now you took my only child away from me!” He pushes the back of my head with the gun. “So what have I got to lose?”

   Once he spits those words out, curiosity strikes me once again and I bring up the load screen. It had only been a day, but based off what I’ve heard already, I was willing to wager he had already planned the funeral. Another check through his wallet proves my suspicions.

   “Good Care Services,” I say aloud. I turn the card around in my hand to see an address. Pocketing it, I turn back around with the gun against my head and resume time.

   “I won’t turn around,” I tell the old man. “I just wanna continue on with my life. I’m very sorry for your loss, I truly wish there was something I could do. I have a girlfriend waiting for me at home.”

   “Don’t lie! I watched you come out of there!”

   I bring up the load screen with a loud sigh.

   “Fucking pain in the ass,” I say, ripping the gun from his hand. I smack the man across the face with the side of the gun a few times, blood stopping in mid-air from the impacts. I give him one big shove with the bottom of my shoe, and with another thought, resume time.

   “Ahhhh! What, wha-wha-what happened?” he asks, collapsing to the floor.

   “Shut up! God, you old people go on and on and on about, ‘oh my son, oh my god, why me,’ just shut the fuck up!” With one swift kick to his side, the lights in the other homes turn on, and I can see I’ve caught the attention of the neighbors. “Guess it’s time to fix this up.”

   Bringing up the load screen for what I’m hoping is the last time tonight, I browse over to the spot before I mentioned my girlfriend and hit the ‘LOAD STATE’ button.

   “I’m very sorry for your loss, I truly wish there was something I could do,” I repeat. “All I can do is hope he’s in a better place.”

   Instead of the ranting and raving I heard before, silence fills the air. I can hear the shaking of the gun, its empty chamber rattling against the shell.

   “I’m sorry,” the man says.

   Before I can get another word out, the gun parts ways from my head and I can hear the rapid movement of shoes against asphalt growing distant. When I can no longer hear his feet, I turn around. There’s no one here but me.

 

 

This morning proved to be much better than I was anticipating. Amy met me with a lengthy apology, the two of us making out behind the school building. It was so much fun in fact, that I decided to replay the instance and see how far I could push her. Turns out, not very. Any further intimacy would have to wait until later on in our relationship.

   It had been two days since I had shot Larista. The day after I had, there was an eerie air of silence among most of the students, but today? It was if it had never happened. How quickly people were willing to forget a tragedy. Not that I cared. It works out for me in the end. Turns out the little shit really was hated around the school. How hilarious it was to see students running around pretending to care about him when they couldn’t care any less. Absolutely priceless.

   This didn’t mean it was over just yet, though. It wouldn’t really further my goal if I was to show up at his funeral, but I just had to know how many people actually cared about this moron. The funeral would be held today at 3:30 pm. I’m going to make sure his father knows I’m there.