If a partial reset is our best option, then we should try it. And if we're going to reset the events, might as well reset everything else too...
"Clean slate... new start..." Nathan took a deep breath, then met the angel's gaze. "If we're going to do this, then let's do this. Reset it all: leave only my memories intact. I may need to re-explain things to some people, make some friends again," he shivered a bit, nervous about that, "but maybe with the knowledge I already have, I can be clearer this time around. Scare off less people. Make fewer mistakes."
"You'd be surprised how few real mistakes you made this time around, Nathan." Alton tried to ease Lidia out of his lap, but she whined and clung to him. With a sigh, he lifted her into his arms while he stood, looking over at the writer with a small frown. "I may have to make one small exception to your request."
"For Lidia?" Nathan asked, looking at the little girl. He gave Alton a reassuring smile. "Considering that, in all this mess, she's inadvertently become your charge, I don't blame you. Is that all?"
Alton sighed and looked relieved, nodding. "Yes, that's all. Come: sit over at the dining table. I will do the partial reset, but I need you to rest your head." Before Nathan could ask, he added, "A partial reset means I have to start things in medias res, as it were. You spend most of your time sitting in front of a desk or table, usually writing. It'll give me more options for where to place you when you wake."
Nathan made a small oh of realization and nodded, moving to the table and pulling out a seat. He settled down, trying to imagine himself sitting at his kitchen table or at work, tucking his elbow in front of him and resting his head on top. "Should I actually try to nap?"
"No trying," Alton said. "I'll make sure you sleep. When you wake, you may be disoriented, but I'll work something out to explain why your memories are jumbled." He laughed lightly. "After all, you'll have over two months' worth that no one else will understand."
"They'll probably blame it on me being a writer." Nathan chuckled, rolling his eyes before he closed them. "I have weird dreams."
"Then this will be the weirdest of all..."
Nathan woke so abruptly that he shot bolt upright in his seat, the wheels slipping back and sending him tilting and tumbling backwards, landing with a spectacular thud on the carpeted floor. The sounds of typing, paper shuffling, and phones grew quieter for a moment while people peered over at his desk to see what had happened. The only one unfazed was Scott, though he did look like he was trying really hard not to laugh as he held his hand out to help Nathan up. "Jesus, man. You need to get more sleep. You alright?"
"Where...?" Nathan mumbled groggily, slowly getting his bearings. As the office sounds started to pick up again, he realized he was at work. Scott hefted him to his feet, finally giving in and chuckling while his coworker regained his balance.
"Man, I told you you should have taken that time off to recover," he said, trying to reign in his laughing while he shook his head. "How's your head?"
"Sore?" Nathan rubbed the back of his skull, surprised to find not just a bump, but what felt like a scab. He jerked to look at Scott wide-eyed, but started to totter again. Luckily, Scott caught him.
"Whoa, easy now! Maybe I should have driven today. I think we should stop by Chuck's office at the end of shift and put in for that time off after all. I'm sure he appreciates your tenacity, Kink, but I don't think he wants you risking your safety just to come into work."
Still confused, Nathan just nodded. So he was still employed at The Citizen. That was good; at least it spared him job hunting all over again. He still didn't know what day it was, or much else of what was going on. He didn't want to sound stupid, but he had to figure out when he was too. "Scott." He had to say his name just so everything that came out of his mouth wasn't a question, and to make sure his co-worker was still paying attention. "What day is it again?"
Scott sighed and shook his head. "Yeah, you definitely need that time off. It's the first of the month. Guessing you don't remember what happened on Black Friday either." When Nathan gave him a blank, utterly confused stare, Scott only nodded. "Yep, the doctor said your memories might be a little scrambled after that blow to the head." He folded his arms, then spoke as though he'd recited this a hundred times. "You were trampled by the crowds while you were getting an interview at Sterling & Son. You were rushed to the hospital. You had a concussion. They said it was a miracle that was the worst of it, that you were lucky you didn't need stitches for your head. You were out solid for three days. They only released you from the hospital yesterday, since you were lucid enough to insist it." Scott chuckled and rolled his eyes. "Only thing good that came out of it was a stellar headline. Anyway, you asked me to help you out, whether you remember that or not, so that's what I'm going to do."
Scott sighed loudly again as he left. "Good thing I got that request in writing..."
Nathan righted his chair and sat back down at his desk, trying to remember... er, figure out what he had been doing before he woke. It only took him a few minutes to get back to editing the article on the screen of his computer, and the workday was over soon enough. Scott talked to their manager on his behalf, and Chuck came over while he was shutting down for the day just to verify. Nathan apologized for being so out of it, but he said not to worry. It was a job risk one normally didn't encounter, and he'd already earned enough vacation to cover him for the next week and a half. After that, he wanted Nathan to touch base, just to see how he was feeling. Until then, his only assignment was to rest up and get better.
Out in the parking lot, Scott met up with him, holding out his hand. "Keys."
"Keys, Kink. I'm not letting you drive when you could barely stand earlier. Fork 'em over."
"But... my car was stolen when I moved here..."
Scott stared at him for a beat, then strode over to him and shoved his hands in his pockets until he found the keys he was looking for, holding them up as if to prove to Nathan that they existed. "I think you hit your head a lot harder than the doctors said."
His keys. Those were definitely his keys, and when he looked past Scott, there it was. His car. His white, shiny, congratulations-on-graduating car. Not a scratch on it. Not stolen. "Huh," was all Nathan could say as Scott guided him over.
"Look, a flyer," Scott noted, pulling a folded piece of paper out of the wiper blades before he unlocked the car and hopped into the driver's side. "Something for you to read. I'll call En after I get you home and she can pick me up..."
Nathan wasn't really listening anymore, sliding into the passenger's side and buckling up before he unfolded the paper to read.
It was from Alton:
I hope the changes I've made will help you in your challenges. Remember: none of the events from when you first arrived have occurred. I set things up so you have an excuse not to remember anything, but I admit, it's a bit of a cop out. Talk to your friends; they should bring you up to speed. Did you think I'd make you do that all over again? Anyway, I'm trusting you, Karol. I hope the return of your car is indication enough of that.
Good luck with the sisters. Believe.
End Book 3
Holy cow! First, I am so glad I was still able to get this out today. I just got my new laptop, so there's been a lot of file transferring and adjusting this weekend. Still getting used to this keyboard, which is closer together than my old one. In any case, what do you all think? Was this what you were expecting with the partial reset? No poll this week, though I still intend to have the start of Book 4 up by Sunday. There isn't really any choice Nathan needs to make between now and then.
In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy the close of this chapter in the story. If things go as planned, we're halfway there! See you next Sunday!
Woah. Book 4 is bound to be interesting. Just a thought, though ... do the names of the hosts have anything to do with their Sins? I mean there's Avery with avarice, Wren with wrath, and Gloria with gluttony.
You're the first person to notice the . There are a few other tells too, besides the names.
Ahh I'm gonna try and see if I can spot them. This feels just like solving a mystery.
Here's a hint: look at some of the renders I've done for the characters. There are clues in a few.
Awesome. I'll see what I can find there. Do the color schemes have something to do with it, by the way?
Maybe. Suffice to say, I did a lot of research on the Seven Deadly Sins before I started this. And I love me some hidden symbolism.
On a less plot relevant note, I also have a few bonus references scattered throughout. More often than not, they're meaningless plot wise, but just fun little references to things I like. A few examples:
- Nathan shares his name (Karol Keene) with the pen name for the authors of Nancy Drew (Carolyn Keene). It's mentioned in one of my journals that his parents are Nancy and Drew Keene, another reference, and his two friends back home are Bess and George (though this George is male).
- Nathan's fiancee's full maiden name is Marni Shilo Wallace, and "in denial, Nathan blamed himself for Marni's sudden death." Both are references to the musical Repo! The Genetic Opera. This is where he gets his first name as well.
- Alton Sterling, if you look up the meaning of each name, literally means "red dawn" and "star." And of course, Alton really is the Morning Star, aka Lucifer.
- Gabriel's hair is in homage to Susan Sto Helit, Death's granddaughter in Discworld.
And those are just a few. I make musical references a lot, being a theater geek.
Whoa...the end of book 3 already? Can't wait for book 4!