The news came without fanfare. A Tuesday. A day that was neither particularly nice or terrible when it came to weather. The sky a dull gray of winter. It was around 2 pm when it showed up. A simple black chip in the letterbox. Amelia wasn’t sure she was surprised although feigned just in case anyone was watching and would report. Jacob would be reset. She knew everything the chip represented. And she knew the shame that would follow.
But if she had to be honest, the chip was a relief. The chip, after all, was a period on the sentence that had been determined when he had been caught. When the words on the online forum had been traced to him. When “Dissenter451” was quickly traced. So much for the multiple routing hubs of the so-called FreeNet. So much for the system called the Underground Railroad that was meant to protect identities and consider the good work people like Jacob were doing. So much for that. “So much for everything.” Amelia brushed her hands on her skirt and took the chip in hand like the many other things she bore each day.
The day they’d taken Jacob had been with much more fanfare. The colorful uniforms of the guard spotted from far down the hill. They rarely came to their modest village. Unless it was for a festival or before an election, Amelia felt her fingers twitch in the once-used air quotes as her brain thought the term. They had marched through the streets with the banners on their staffs the symbol of the justice system. A forefinger pointing ominously. They had stopped in front of Amelia and Jacob’s simple home and knocked loudly, but only after much commotion. Commotion attracted an audience. Audiences watched in fear and relief. Fear and relief at what they witnessed kept them in line.
At first, Amelia had raised her eyebrows. “Surely you must have the wrong house, sirs. My husband is a merchant. He sells books.” When their smirks failed to soften she pled. How would she survive on her own while her husband awaited deliberations?
She’d survived just fine. She’d quickly taken over the shop and had started selling the fabrics she embroidered as a hobby. She’d brought home more than Jacob ever did because he was so busy mounting an insurrection. Bookselling was secondary. Books were not sought by the masses. Frowned upon by the leaders.
The chip was simply the penultimate event in this timeline. A timeline of which Amelia was growing tedious. He would be reset. Period. Done. She might see him at some point but he would not recognize her. If he did, suspicions would be cast upon her so she’d already planned a haircut. Traded lip color with a neighbor who was feeling bored.
“Are you Amelia, the wife of Jacob who is to be reset?” The voice shook the panes in Amelia’s kitchen.
“I am,” she said wiping her hands on a dish towel. (this chick wipes her hands a lot). She tucked her ginger tresses behind her ears before tugging on the long, full curls that fell in front of her shoulders. She would miss it.
“The emporer wishes to offer you a chance to appeal.”
Amelia froze while putting her now dry water glass back in the cupboard.