Yesterday, Scott was a ‘5,673’ and today he’s a ‘1’. That was odd I thought to myself. Not that ‘1’s are rare. I see them at the train station every day. Usually, only once though. The second time I see someone, they’re a 2.
You see, I have a special power. Every time I see someone, a number floating above their head goes up by one. It counts the times I’ve seen someone. An unexplainable…, well, what? Superpower? Seems a bit laughable for that. I’m not sure what to call it.
It started on my 21st birthday. Technically it started a day after my 21st birthday when I woke up on a couch in a room I didn’t recognize with what simultaneously seemed to be the first and worst hang over in my life. By virtue of the one it was of course the other as well. By the time I noticed it was a permanent I kind had figured it out that this was anything but a known phenomena from any kind of substance.
It didn’t seem to be doing any harm. In fact, it even helped a bit. At every party I knew who I indeed met for the first time. Not that 2 was a great help, since I still had no idea who it was or where we met before, but at least I could be confident about my firsts. Over the years I got used to it. It didn’t interfere in my life. It was a bit like asking yourself if everyone sees the color red the same way or if to some people red looks blue. Others might just see the world different without us ever knowing,
Except of course, I knew. Like a clockwork, everyone’s number ticked up every time I saw them. I experimented to see if there was any system to it, any anomalies, any additional clue or anything that would influence it. All for nothing. No other symptoms. No influence on the counter. No explanation.
I claimed various disorders, not to get time off work, but to get myself submitted to x-rays, CT scans and other evaluations. No anomaly was ever discovered. When my boss started remarking on my frequent sick leaves, I opted to just let the matter rest and not pursue any treatment or explanation.
I did tried to tell an acquaintance once. It didn’t go well. I didn’t end up in an insane asylum, nor was a fired from my job or kidnapped by the government. She just thought I overplayed a prank way beyond the point where it was funny and stopped seeing me. Maybe a friend would have given me more credit, but at that moment I was just happy I tried it with a nearly anonymous stranger.
In the end, I just shrugged and moved on. It was kinda nice to keep track. To see who from university I still hung out with. To spot who the actual regulars at my hangouts were. To notice visitors in my apartment building. Nothing beyond mildly interesting.
Until I saw Scott walked in that morning. I didn’t really like Scott. But working as a police officer, you learn to deal with idiots. Even if they end up being your colleagues. Scott always had a bit of a socially awkward thing about him and I usually avoided him. It worked out well, because I felt the feeling was mutual and we handled it like adults: By sitting at different desks, coming in at different times and not making eye contact.
Today was different. Not only because of the ‘1’. Today, Scott walked in, sat down at the desk opposite mine, before going on with a more established behavior: Ignoring me. I was still wondering what got into his donut, when he hefted a massive phone book on his desk. The massive smack made me jolt and I couldn’t help but stare at him while he quickly flipped through it. I was about to say something when he picked up the phone.
He dialed a number. He waited. He starred at nothing in particular while the line free tone range distortedly through the receiver. A click and a distorted “Yes?” came through the line. Scott’s gaze fell on me while he asked the person on the other end: “Are you Sarah Connor?”