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FLASH Fiction Challenge 100 – Day 16

The devil had been prophesied to lose for so long, most of the faithful accepted it as a foregone conclusion, a guaranteed given, a done deal. The problem with knowing the outcome in advance is it makes it impossible to create any real dramatic tension; it doesn’t make a good story in other words. Then there’s the second teeny, tiny problem; sometimes those beliefs and prophecies are just plain wrong.

The reset happened on June 13, 2029, at 10:39 AM – Time Zero. Then it happened again twelve hours later. And then again, twelve hours after that. It was always June 13, 2029, 12:13 PM after a reset. Every human is experiencing these same twelve hours on replay like some record player needle stuck in a distorted vinyl track, repeating the same notes and lyrics over and over. Every twelve hours, when the clocks hit 12:13 AM June 14, the world twitches back to 12:13 PM the previous day.

Emergency rooms, psych wards, psychiatrist’s office were overrun with screaming, hysterical people certain they had lost their minds. Each seeking answers. Or drugs. Especially once they had lived through the reset several dozen times.

America, having gone almost entirely secular after the brief but bloody ‘holy war’ (which lasted three heartbreaking sad weeks in August 2024) had turned back to religion to provide answers, some explanation for what was happening. Religion had experienced a resurgence that lived within the confines of those twelve hours, and churches began to fill (and refill) almost as quickly as emergency rooms.

‘ … sometimes those beliefs and prophecies are just plain wrong.’

In the movies where time is looping, continuously repeating the same segment, they are usually told from the perspective of a single protagonist. With the reset event, everyone noticed the discontinuity. An explosion of conspiracy theories sprang up day after repeated day. Each finding some unique scapegoat to blame.

When you were swept back to time zero, your memories of the previous iterations landed in your mind with all the grace of a falling anvil. You saw all of your memories of all previous twelve-hour periods, in parallel. For the first few iterations, this was vexing but tolerable. By the time you’d lived through a hundred iterations, to be bombarded with so much was simply too much for many.

Everything returned to how things had been twelve hours earlier. If you were in a stranger’s bed when the day started, you were back in that bed twelve hours later. There was only a single exception to this; if you died at any point during the twelve hours, you stayed dead. Suicide became an epidemic. It was the only obvious exit from the loop.

‘ … if you died at any point during the twelve hours, you stayed dead.’

My name is Gabe. Though you probably know me by the name ‘he’ gave me, ‘Gabriel.’ Yes that Gabriel, and no, I’m not crazy. I am doing the best I can to fix the situation. Stop the daily time reset.

Being a celestial being – not a physical, corporeal being with a flesh and blood, material existence, and a brain (in which I could store memories), I have to rely upon the Akashic record for my memories. I am slowly trying to solve the mystery of the reset, to find which infernal agents are behind the reset. But each day, I have to reload my memories with all that has gone before.

The Akashic record began to demonstrate the same splitting and re-splitting of parallel frames that human memories did. This is why I’ve had to externalize my memory. I have the aid of a non-material bookmark in a non-material journal that I keep stashed away in a used bookstore that specializes in rare, limited edition occult books. Books on witchcraft, black magick, divination, collections of obscure prophecies, and all manner of other subjects.

I spend hours in here each day. I read. I learn. I make notes in my magic journal.

The funny thing is, once you start diving deep into the literature, it clearly shows no such predetermination as to who the ultimate winner (Satan or ‘him’) will be! It was far from clear. The deeper you read, the murkier, vaguer, things became. As a non-physical being, I can’t truly be insane, technically speaking, but each day as I finish at the bookstore, I feel like I’m edging closer and closer to this unpleasant state.

‘I have to rely upon the Akashic record for my memories.’

And now, I have a second problem. I’ve lived through the reset so many times, my journal is almost full that it takes me nearly eleven hours to reread it at the beginning of each reset. I’ve absorbed so much information, but I’m still thwarted from learning more. In less than an hour, time will jerk the universe back twelve hours, I will re-enter this bookstore, I will pick up this journal again and I will reread the entire thing. Then I will have only a little time to build on the research before it happens again.

What will happen I wonder when I have only a minute to build upon this body of work? What will happen when I have only seconds? Will creation ever move past the reset? Or are we already in a version of hell? Or, and this is the most troubling new thought of mine, what if it isn’t an infernal agent behind the reset? What if the perpetrators behind this magick live not in hell, but heaven?

‘In less than an hour, time will jerk the universe back twelve hours, … ‘

I feel my wings begin to ruffle as they always do just before a reset. The next instant I’m standing outside McCloud’s Books, my hand already on the doorknob. This is the bookstore I come to every day. I read from my journal I’ve hidden behind two larger tomes. I’m trying to solve the reset mystery and will spend my entire twelve hours today trying in that effort.

Or am I hiding here? Keeping a low profile for twelve hours? Keeping myself hidden away and my thinking as quiet as possible? Doing everything I can to ensure my conscience doesn’t give me away?

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