I never imagined they'd find me. There was no evidence, there were no witnesses. I made sure to cut every link to me. In fact, when I stole that Save Point, I thought it would be years before anyone realized it was missing. I knew I was wrong when I started seeing glimpses of old coworkers at school. It had taken months to fake my death – years if you considered how many times I used my Save Point.
After Maeva started to notice my changes, I had to use it less. If I was perfect, she'd never go out with me; she made that abundantly clear. At first I made a lot of mistakes on purpose. In fact, I had formed an algorithm at that determined how much interest she showed in me versus the number of times I used the device in a given week. Being perfectly imperfect was hard, but it was worth it. In retrospect, I believe it was my limited use of the Save Point that led them discovering that I was still alive.
I was lost in thought as I walked to class. This was going to be the day – the day I asked Maeva out. But when a hand landed on my shoulder, I was startled into reality.
"What?" I asked.
"I said, long time no see, Devin. Or should I say Glenn?" The face next to mine was disturbingly close and held a twisted smile hostage. Her grey eyes displayed no real emotion. "Are you enjoying yourself?" she asked.
"Catherine?" My hand immediately went to my pocket. I had to restart.
"Tsk. Trying to use the Save Point already? I thought you'd at least want to know why I'm here before resetting," she said with a roll of her eyes. She was 5 years older than me, and it would have been a lie to say that I didn't once have a crush on her. But that was before I met Maeva.
"Fine. What are you doing here? How did you find me?" I inquired, putting my hand in my pocket anyway. I just felt safer knowing the Save Point was there.
"I didn't find you. We did. It took a while. We figured you'd be using the thing to avoid us, but you've been slipping, Glenn. To be honest, I'm a bit disappointed." She looked over me in disapproval and prodded my ribs with her finger. I looked around at the other students making their ways to their various classes, glad that I didn't see anyone else I recognized.
"You're just here to gloat? Cause I'm not going to let you have it back." My finger had already begun to activate the Save Point. All it needed now was a single tap and the world would reset to that morning. Then I could avoid her all day.
"Not at all. I don't want you to get hurt is all. Did you think you stole the only prototype there was? I've been through this conversation a hundred times already. It always ends with you getting hurt. And with your Save Point in my hands."
My hand paused. "What are you saying?"
Catherine showed me her device, a Save Point that was smaller, easier to use. On its sleek sapphire screen, she was already prepared to load a file. "Mine will load faster than yours, every time."
It slowly dawned on me what would happen if she loaded first. How many times had I gone through the same actions with Catherine just watching me? How many times had I made a jerk of myself? If we kept up like that, I know she'd eventually get the better of me, get what she was after. "What is it you want?" I asked.
"We just want the Save Point back. I don't want to see you get hurt again, so please, don't resist. Besides, I'm sure you don't want that girl to know that you're a lying thief."
I walked with her away from the university crowds and down one of the many alleys that worked between the buildings. "If yours is so much better, then why is it you want this one? Worried I'll sell it? Why would anyone give this power up?" I narrowed my gaze at her accusingly, backing her against a brick wall. She just looked away. I could tell she was thinking up a lie. "You don't want the device. You want me. You know I've got a save file from the moment I stole it, and you want it. You need me to do something."
Catherine sneered. "They told me you were smart," she muttered. "Yes, we need your file. And you're the only one it will work for."
"I'll delete the file. Right now." I tapped for a moment on the Save Point. She just laughed.
"And I'll just reload to this morning again. Devin, how's this. If you don't agree, I will make sure you never see Maeva again."
"Maeva…" I sighed and hung my head. "There's no way out of this, is there?"
"Now you're getting it."
"Fine. What do you want me to do?" I asked, defeated.
"First, delete your save file from this morning. There you go. Now give me your Save Point. I need to download the file into mine, then we can-"
I handed the Save Point to Catherine. As I did, however, my fingers brushed over the surface. When she took it, it began to whirr.
"Oh no you don't!" she said, but before she could activate her own Save Point, I slammed my body into hers. She fell against the brick and gasped as I took the device back. There was a bang, a searing pain, and then–
I was back at the beginning, the freshly stolen Save Point in hand. All that time with Maeva, lost. I sighed. At least I knew what to expect, just as soon as I got out of this building in one piece.