Inspired by my workshop mate, Matthew Quinn, to do some super hero flash fiction.
Ever wanted a do-over? A reboot? It’s the big thing in cinema these days. Take out the old stuff. What they think doesn’t work, and remake it. Reboot it. Which is what I do. Essentially. I reboot the past. Only just a bit at a time.
Now, just to clarify. It’s like time travel but not really. I can roll back time. Comes in handy when things don’t work out the way I want. I’ve been shot more times than I can count, but you’ll never see a wound on me. I know what it’s like to fall down ten flights of a skyscraper. How it feels when a knife punctures a lung. Pretty awful stuff.
The papers have labeled me Mr. Perfection. As far as they’re concerned, I’ve never made a mistake. Well, allowing that terrible pseudonym to stick is one. But as far as they’ve seen, everything has worked out for me. Every robbery I’ve thwarted with no problem. They’ve all speculated that I can predict the future. Which I suppose you could argue that I can. I just have to live through it first.
In my off days I had been practicing to lengthen the amount of time I could roll back. Things were going well. When I first discovered my power I could only pop back a few seconds. After some work, minutes at a time. I got into crime frighting when I could handle between thirty to forty minutes. Stopping exactly when I want wasn’t easy. But I generally just needed to hit a decent ball park.
So I fought crime. Got into some decent big league stuff with the other guys. Was even brought into the secret club of theirs. I don’t have super strength, but gee was it uncanny how I knew exactly what button stopped the doomsday device. Or when the top villain of the hour would be launching his attack to destroy the world. Sounds good on paper. But all that means is I’ve seen some pretty terrible stuff. Millions gone up in a flash. I once watched the entire Eastern Seaboard vaporized by an army of Self Replicating Nanobots.
My arch nemesis really put the screws into me though. In the past month I’ve been able to really push my limits. Was doing weeks at a time. Sure, it sucks having to relive all that time. But you learn to get into a rhythm and play out each day to the fullest. And somehow in all that, Cerebrum Core figured me out. For whatever reason, this dude with the intelligence of every friggin’ person alive, combined, picked me to be the hero he fought against. I’m starting to think there is just a card catalog we get picked out of. Well I was on his dance card and he started his, “game of intelligence” with me.
It was no problem to stop his attacks. Just wait to see what happens, roll back time, and then I somehow happen to be in the right place at the right time.
If I had to guess, he probably figured me out in that last interview I did.
“Mr. Perfection, what’s your secret?” she asked.
“Haha, maybe I just reboot time”, wink.
Knowing then, what I know now I would just pop back and change it. But that isn’t going to happen. Cerebrum worked it out. Worked out my weakness. I didn’t think I had a weakness. Sure, I could be shot like any normal person but I’d just pop back to a point where I wasn’t dying. No the weakness see, is the Loop Back.
Cerebrum setup a week of what I thought were unrelated events. I just did what I do best and rebooted time until I stopped them. Which was true until his last stunt. His last attack made me realize he’d set it all up from the beginning. Sure, I had stopped the first attack to only prop up this last one for success. I was going to have to go all the way back to the beginning of the week and change what I did.
Would have been no problem at all if I had known about the Loop Back. Turns out, if I reboot over a reboot I get caught in a constant kick back. Over that week I stopped him six times. You’d think that rebooting over them would have just nulled them out. You’d be wrong. Instead, time just kind of folded in on itself and launched me backward like a broken time machine.
Now I’m just watching time fly by like a tape on four times rewind. Unable to affect anyone or anything. I’ve tried to stop it. But I guess the surge of energy was just too much. Not sure when I’ll stop. Hopefully soon enough that I can just forget I even have a stupid power. Should have known I wasn’t cut out for this stuff. That would be a better power — Mr. Hindsight.
Oh look, Native Americans.
About three sentences into this I realized I was playing on the game mechanics of Prince of Persia and Braid. Ha!