The Day We Lost

A Prosperous Universe Story by Copious

Have you ever misplaced a day? Not a fleeting moment, or an hour, but an entire rotation of Mother Earth?

What if I told you that all of Prosperous Space misplaced a day and we’re still searching for it? Don’t spread this around. I shouldn’t even be sharing this. The repercussions if this news reached Earth…

It was an ordinary day on Montem. The iron grunts from Vallis were ruffling the refined feathers of the limestone laborers. Numerous ships were docked, loading for their daily routes to Moria Station. We even had a shipment of llamas en route to Promitor. Unusual livestock heading to the green planet is every station head’s favorite initiation for new hires, so I was seeking JonJon, shovel in hand, when the anomaly occurred.

I was passing by the kombucha tent when I sensed something amiss. One moment, it was a typical sunny day. The next, slightly overcast. One moment the kombucha vendor’s sandwich lettuce was a vibrant green, the next a repulsive, decayed mass. The man reacted with revulsion, hurling his sandwich across the street and retching behind his merchandise. “What the hell, I just made that!”

I stood there, baffled, and noticed that most of the people around me had observed the same. People began tapping their ears to access their comm chips, so I followed suit. “Hello Station Chief. What can I do for you?” “Display all the weather and atmospheric scrubber information on my PDA,” I commanded, once again marveling at the sleek, artificial assistant I no longer had to thank for every menial task. These new units were set to revolutionize the entire universe, but Prosperous Space was uniquely positioned to profit due to Earth Space’s outdated ban on AI.

Montem’s efficiency had increased by fifty-six percent in just the first full month of operation. Once everyone adapted to the implants and stopped trying to run simple operations on their PDAs themselves, I was confident we could push that number over eighty…

My thoughts were interrupted by the display. Everything appeared normal, I saw the cloud cover on the forecast and there didn’t seem to be any issue with the scrubbers. Montem was always technically habitable, but early settlers had needed rebreathers to filter the toxic air. Now you could traverse the planet without any artificial assistance, and there were even some misguided souls attempting to harvest Oxygen here. The cost of purifying it to the standards demanded by industry always drained most of their profits, but they persisted, as stubborn men often do.

I halted in my scanning of the page when I reached the date. It was…Friday? No, that couldn’t be right. Fridays I’ve been meeting with that charming new hire from Antares around lunch time. There’s no way I’d be out here searching for JonJon with a shovel in my hand on a Friday.

No, it was Thursday. The date had to be incorrect. “Adjust my PDA date back one day. I must have inadvertently altered something earlier today that changed the date. Can you provide me with a manifest of all the inbound and outbound freight for today?” Perhaps someone had brought something onto the planet that could explain the strange and sudden Changes…

“Sir, you have an incoming message from Yvette, she apologizes for running late for your lunch, she thought it was her day off and overslept.”

“Also, sir, I checked and the date is correct. Are you certain you want me to adjust it back?”

Now I was beginning to feel uneasy. The manifest logs on my PDA were all for Friday, not Thursday. Apparently, Thursday had been one of our most profitable days this month, and it had been an exceptional month to begin with. Maybe the stress was getting to me, maybe I had simply misremembered the date and the vendor’s competition was playing a prank on him. Maybe I’d been daydreaming about Yvette and gotten my days mixed up…

I met Yvette at our usual spot for lunch and we both chuckled about losing track of time. By the end of the next week, I wasn’t laughing anymore. It seemed that most of my staff had “lost track of time” that day. Sure, some of them wouldn’t admit it to your face, but I’ve done my fair share of investigating and I’m convinced everyone had the same experience.

No one can actually recount what they were DOING on that Thursday. Sure, their work got done. The ships ran on time, everyone exceeded their production marks, and I have the video and electronic records to back that up. But no one REMEMBERS it. Even the people who swear to me nothing unusual happened that day, they can’t accurately describe details of their day after lunch. As Station Chief, I had access to all of the video surveillance for the entirety of Montem at my fingertips. I quizzed everyone. Everyone failed.

Eventually, word got around that I was stirring the pot. The higher-ups, they didn’t appreciate my actions. Damaging the company’s bottom line, they said. Misallocation of resources was the official reason for my termination on the paperwork.

Even Yvette has left me now. Apparently, my obsession with that Thursday is too much for her, and she’s worried that if she stays with me, the blowback will eventually reach her. I’ve started inviting others to my home, secretly, who had similar experiences. I’m not the only one who noticed something, or the only one who won’t let it go…

That’s why I approached you. We need someone with deep pockets and an open mind to help us make everyone see what we have come to realize. The implants were a mistake, the AI was a mistake, Earth was right. We have to rectify this before everyone has those implants. Before everyone is at their mercy…

You see, I DID eventually find JonJon. The new hire? He thought it was the oddest thing that I was still looking for him. Apparently, I found him shortly after lunch on Thursday and he’d be grateful if I’d exclude him from any further livestock cleanup. I even checked the video to confirm, and he was right. Want to take a guess what ol’ JonJon doesn’t have?