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One More Time --A Sci-Fi Short From Rafael

One more time


Jules was nervous. Despite Mike’s words, he felt that he was going to ruin it again.

“C’mon, man, you can do it. Besides, it’s not a big deal; this is the hardest level.”

“I know, but I’ve already done it three thousand two hundred million and forty times, and I always get stuck when it talks about its mom,” Jules sees the door in front of him and his destiny waiting.

“Maybe this is your lucky day,” Mike was the friend we all need in the worst moments of our life; still, Jules thought he would blow it up again.

He entered the room with the red door, where a table, two chairs, and a single lamp were waiting for him as a lighting point. The other walls could not be seen, as he was lost in the darkness of the void. As he passed through the door, it disappeared. He sat down and waited for it to arrive.

After exactly ten seconds, the body arrived. This time it was in the shape of a bald man, with glasses, short beard, thin, thirty-something years old. The conversation was beyond fast.

“Hi, I’m Gareth,” the body started.

“Hi, Gareth, how are you?”

“I’m fine, and you?”

“All great, my name’s Jules.”

“Nice to meet you, Jul…”

“Nice to meet you too. Tell me, Gareth, where are you from?”

“I’m from Minnes…”

“Minnesota? That’s nice. Tell me, what do you do for a living?”

“I shear…”

“…sheeps? Amazing, what’s the most difficult sheep to shear?”

“Oh, that could be Molly,” Gareth never stopped smiling during the whole conversation, “she’s one rough bone if you know what I mean.”

“Hahahahaha,” Jules’ laugh lasted exactly eight seconds; if it had been seven, it wouldn’t have been so funny, but if it had been nine, it would have shown he was faking it, “I would like to meet her.”

“Oh, you can, you just have to come with me to my place; my sister makes a great cocoa.”

Jules still remembered when he managed to get the sister’s fragment. He had gotten over-excited and ruined that opportunity, which, he remembered, had been the twelve million five hundred, fifty-four thousand and eighty. After that, he tried to recreate all the conversation but failed a couple million times more.

“Is your sister single?”

“Yes, but I honestly don’t know why. She’s such a pretty gal. Miss Apple Pie from 2085 to 2089. Best years of her life.”

“Wow, great, and what about your parents?”

“My dad is okay; he always manages to be at the table by dinner.”

“And what about your mom?” This was the tricky part.

“My mom? Well…”

Depending on Jules’ answer to this, the conversation would finally come to an end, and he would know the answer to Miriam Narvalles’ assassination five hundred years ago.

“She’s a bitch,” the body changed its face, now it was angry, resentful. Jules had to be careful; his answer was the meaning of this new round.

“Mine too, you know? I would smash her head out if I could.”

“What? No…”

Oh, crap.

“I would never do that. That’s horrible. You know? I think this conversation is over.”

The lights turned on, and no one else was in the room. The lamp was off, and the walls could be seen a couple of meters around. Mike arrived through the back door, finding a downed Jules; as part of the protocol, he was now going to answer the form.

“What’s up, buddy?”

“I thought I got it this time.”

“Fine…” Mike sat down in the front chair, took out the form, and wrote down every word with the damn red pen, “How many times for him?”

“Eleven.”

“What was the last question?”

“About his mom, Mike. We have done this too many times; you know the one that matters.”

“Fine, I’ll fill the others later; method you used this time?”

“Playing like him.”

Mike stopped, “Playing like him? Dude, are you insane? Haha.”

“We have to do every possibility to know the truth.”

“Yeah, but playing like him? What were you going to say after that? I would like to put my mom in the shredder too?”

“Hey, I’m running out of options.”

“We are always running out of options; that’s our job.”

“I know, I know…”

“What do you say? Ready for another round, or are you leaving?”

“Maybe I should get back tomorrow.”

“Thank God, I was about to head out. Can you wait for me in the cabin?”

“Sure, no problem.”

Jules left the room, placed his employment card in the registration machine, and took off his helmet. Now the atmosphere was different. The simulation felt cold, but the real world was hot as hell; he hated that the company hadn’t spent some credits on a simple air conditioner. He went to the paper on the next table, looked at the clock, and wrote everything he did in the past eight hours: “Three million (and some) conversations,” it had been a hectic day, but without a proper outcome. He saw Mike sitting next to him, still wearing his helmet; why couldn’t they hear music in the simulation? Maybe it would help the bodies to release information faster. “Hey, do you like Ava Max? What made you kill her in cold blood?” or something like that.

He saw Mike taking a deep breath. In the few seconds that Jules had been out of the simulation, it must have been about two days for Mike but knew he couldn’t rush him because he promised to wait for him, and Mike was never late.

In the end, they both went home, and Jules took the building in Section C as usual. Loretta would be waiting for him with scrambled eggs, but he wasn’t hungry.

When they arrived, they talked about how their day had gone, and Jules told her that he was about to find out the answer as usual. She admired her husband’s work but never quite understood the purpose of the conversations.

“What does it matter if you manage to find the confession or not? Anyway, these people have been dead for centuries.”

“Honey, I may be dead from sleep, but what keeps me awake at night is the thought that justice can prevail, even across the barrier of time. I will continue to rehearse and put options in place if that is what it takes to give poor Mrs. Narvalles the peace she deserves.”

Loretta knew it by then. She married a good man.

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