Short Story: Retcon

“You retconned again, didn’t you?”

Damn. With our neural connection and shared data pathways, I had no hope of getting away with a lie. “No, why would you say that?”

“Come on, George, your stress levels just shot through the roof.” As I said, the neural connection burned me.

“But dear heart, the bravest man would feel threatened when accused by the likes of you.” Good — get her angry about something else.

“The likes of me?” She hesitated. After a moment she brushed back her hair and said, “No, don’t even try that. The point is that you retconned. You said you wouldn’t and you did.”

In for a penny… “Darling, I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Just now, when I mentioned going back to the Terraview Hotel. You don’t remember when we went there, do you?”

“Don’t be silly. Of course I remember.” True as far as it went. I had the facts right in front of me: stayed from 12/30/2067 3:43:08 PM through 1/3/2068 10:18:48 AM; started in room 247, then switched to 312 because the first room didn’t feel right — how that’s possible I have no idea, since the rooms were all drawn from the same base class, but that’s a story for another day; ate steak for dinner in the restaurant the first day, it was salty; etc., etc. You get the idea. There was no way she could know — but she did.

“Fine, if you remember, tell me what color the walls were.”

“Why would I even take note of that?”

“George, stop stalling. You did look at me at some point while we were there, right?”

“Yes, dear.” I didn’t like where this was headed.

“And I was standing in the room at the time, right?”

“Yes, dear.” Damn! This was going to be tough to wriggle out of.

“So when you looked at me, what color did you see over my right shoulder?”

I hesitated. The fact that I was on Earth at the moment while she was still on the Moon gave me an extra second or two to figure this out, but that was it. Checking with the hotel was out. She’d be looking for that, and as I mentioned earlier, with our shared data paths, there was no way to hide it.

I scanned through my other existing data paths. None of them were any use — wait! I was talking with Dexter about last night’s game. She probably had a keyword filter on that path, but there was no way she’d be listening in.

“…so there’s no way he could possibly be legitimate.”

“Dexter! I need a favor.” How to phrase it to get past the filters? “Can you check where I was…” No dates! “…two hundred thirty-four point two million seconds ago, and forward me some…” Don’t say pictures, images, or photos! “…literature on the place. I need as much as you can find, and I need it in the next sixty milliseconds.”

“Okay, hang on…here you go.” He knew better than to ask why I needed the information. This wasn’t the first time he’d bailed me out.

Tons of data flowed, including the images I needed. “Thanks, now you were saying?”

“That Rollins has no business claiming to…”

“Green, love. About 505 nanometers to be precise.”

“Yes, that’s what it started at. What did we change it to?”

Well, that was it then. There was no way to get at the backups without her knowing. “Reddish.”

“Can you be a bit more specific?”

“630 nanometers, I think. I wasn’t paying attention at that point.”

“It was aqua, George.”

“Are you sure? I have a clear image of a sort of brick red.”

She wasn’t fooled. She leaned forward as if she were going to reach through the data link to throttle me. “Why, George? Why would you do it? You promised not to.”

The jig was up. “It was a tough time. You remember the arguments we had. Those memories are painful.” Any hope of putting her on the defensive with that cut withered quickly.

“Yes, but we agreed to live with it. We put it behind us, but we can’t give up on who we were. We can’t do that without giving up who we are. George, how could you?”

“Dammit Julia, it hurts! Do I need a better reason? Why would I want to hang on to those memories?”

“It’s what makes you who you are. You’re turning generic, George, and I don’t like it. We have to work to keep track of ourselves.”

She was right — I knew she was right. I’d seen the result of too much self-editing, and it wasn’t good. Prune too much out of your past and you end up like a cult member endlessly chanting what a wonderful day it is.

She had crossed her arms. That meant I had at least fifteen minutes of lecture coming, so I put her on autopilot, spooled the conversation to storage, and switched over — “…just no way to compare the two. Am I right, George?”

“Right, Dexter. What are you doing later?”


4 thoughts on “Short Story: Retcon

  1. akashio

    Ah, Retcon. Good work. Kind of reminds me of a sci-fi, fantasy Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Nice work, keep it up! The genre you’re working with is what I’m working up to in my blog. Have a look if you like and we can correspond :)!

  2. Pingback: Apparently I write like a girl « Geoff Canyon’s Appeal to Authority

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