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Hoppers Part two

Hoppers Part Two

It was easy to see what Arnold meant when he said that people didn’t like winners. The extent of their dislike was visible on his face but what was the reason for the sadness in Susanne’s eyes?

Arnold began to tell Susanne about his run-in with the casino. How he had been at the Blackjack table and playing what with hindsight now seemed like stupid draws. He explained his luck to Susanne by making up a story about a new card counting system he was trying. It was harder to explain why he should have bet on red again after it had come up seven times on the trot and everyone else around the wheel was convinced that the streak would surely break this time. He could only suggest that, by then, he was in a self-destruct mood. There was no use telling the crowd that the ball didn’t know what colour it had fallen into on the last seven spins and that the chanced of red this time were the same as before. People’s concept of what constitutes random event was always skewed. Letting his stake double each time he left it on red had meant that there was stupid money riding on the eighth spin. What he should have done was quit at seven and let the eighth come out red without him but he had taken that red and left before the next spin which was black.

“And they did you over for winning?” asked Susanne, “It’s not right. Why don’t you go to the police?”

“Ahh. There’s the thing you see. This casino wasn’t actually your high street name.” Arnold confessed the guilty secret part of the story, that the casino was unlicensed.

“I’m barred from the bona-fide Casinos for being too successful in them. They seem to think that I am a card counter or that I have a secret computer about my person or an accomplice feeding me bets through a radio secreted in a false tooth.”

“You just said that you are a card counter,” pointed out Susanne.

“Err … yes but I don’t see why there should be a rule against it.” Arnold thought about hopping back to undo the comment about counting but he felt strangely at ease with Susanne and decided against using his ability in what he called 'Lothario mode'. “Anyway, enough of my hard luck story. Why are you looking so sad? You don’t look like one of life’s rejects.”

“Don’t let this glamorous successful-business-woman exterior fool you. There’s more to life than a few moments of glory. I don’t know why I’m telling you, a stranger, this but all this,” she waved her arms pointing at her expensive suit and hair, “all this is the result of a few wise choices at crucial moments.”

“I’ve had my fair share of moments like that,” said Arnold, “More than my fair share if truth be told.”

Arnold was beginning to loosen up with this woman more than he had ever before with others and Susanne was too. She found that she couldn’t resist revealing her secret once more.

She had told others about what she could do but had always hopped back when they started to look at her in that strange way. The way that says “Yes, I understand,” to her face but, “Help! She’s a crazy woman,” inside their heads. So she would hop back and use the explanation that most people could follow without bringing in the men-in-white-coats which was that she was just incredibly lucky. Sadly, this explanation, though accepted, was never liked by those that she was speaking to and long lasting relationships eluded her as a result.

Curiously, Arnold did not react like that. Instead, his face just showed understanding. After she had described how she made her “reversals”, as she called them, Arnold just smiled before asking “Have you ever come across anyone else with your ability before?”

Susanne didn’t know what to say. She realised the full implications of that little word “before”. It meant that Arnold knew exactly what she was talking about because he could do it too. It must have been how he was playing the casinos.

“Have you?” was the best she could come up with.

“Not until today,” replied Arnold. “What’s it like for you? For me it’s like thinking ‘Oh no!’ on someting and then suddenly I’m doing it again but with enough of a déjà vu to do the opposite. How far back can you go? Have you ever tried to double hop?” Suddenly, the pair of them were engaged in an excited exchange like a couple of school kids who had just found the key to the tuck shop.

“You call it hopping? I can manage fifteen minutes at most but only with real concentration, I tried doubling but couldn’t make it work. I was good at sports at school because of it, the tactical games that is, penalty taking and so on. If only we could do longer then we could tackle the Lottery,” gushed Susanne.

As their conversation flowed so freely, Susanne forgot about returning to work. She and Arnold left the bar together, heading for his place. Hatching plans for how they might crack the fifteen minute limit so that they could play the lottery.

Even if they couldn’t crack the lottery, there were now many more opportunities open to a pair of hoppers than were open to a lone one. Arnold and Susanne knew it and they also knew something else; their meeting in bar Zanzi might have been chance but neither of them had wanted to hop the other, all afternoon. They took it as a sign that they were meant for each other and vowed never to try to use it on each other ‘in anger’.

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So that is how they discovered each other’s secrets. I have tried to use some of the ideas that I received in the comments about part one. So thanks for them.

This is all I want to write about Arnold and Susanne but there is another much larger story about the fate of the human race when the ability to hop is proven to be genetic and can be screened-for before birth. Eventually the children who cannot hop become an underclass until something starts to happen to the hoppers in relation to their powers that only those “stayers” are immune to. The landscape of a world in which 90% of the population are hoppers is vividly different from ours – no more casinos, no more penalty shoot-outs no more lottery…

Hopping

Interesting stuff Mr. Vap!! I'd love to see some exploration of some of the basic questions that come to my mind. E.g.:

1) When I hop do I stay in the same spatial location, or do I move to where I was physically located at the time I am hopping to. Could be tricky if one is travelling on the Eurostar, maybe the old saying "hop on a bus" had more insight than we gave it credit for...
If I stay in my own spatial location and time moves backwards around me when I hop this opens the gates for some potentially frightening intrusion into other people's privacy.

2) Similar to 1), When I hop do I retain my physical attributes from the present or do I return to my own physical state at the time I hop back to? Example - I have a sumptuous meal in a restaurant. When the bill comes I hop back to the time I'm about to order the meal, but walk out because I'm already full....what a great way to sample the worlds finest cuisine for free!

I loved the improving research idea commented, but this would not be possible if hopping doesn't go beyond 15 minutes. Most of the researchers I know would find it hard producing something in 15 years....(joke, lads).

Keep up the good work!

Neuro
*** Eat pasta, pasta is good! ***

To answer your questions, Mr. Linguini

I have thought about this and basically the hopper jumps back to physically where he was at the time that he wants to hop back to but he has the memory of what has/will happen between the moment he hopped and the moment he hops back to. So he sort of jumps back into his own body, where it was at the time leapt back to.
In this respect it is indistinguishable from pre-cognition. Except that, to the hoppers, they know that the way that they got this "knowledge of the future" was by living through it and then hopping back.

Why didn't Arnold just hop out of the way of the thugs that beat him up? Maybe there is a recovery period after a hop which limits how often you can hop and prevents consecutive hopping.

KarnuVap - but you can call me Karnie.

Thanks for the encouragement

Thanks you two - I am tempted to go large but the thing that is stopping me is the fact that to make the majority of the population into hoppers would take at least a generation but more probably two. So we are talking about sixty years or so and I am not sure that my imagination is sufficient to describe what the rest of the world will be like by then. You know the sort of things - personal jet-packs, polymorphic clothing and every home has a ptwinger for doing the dazubies with. Maybe I should make the ability to hop become infectious and only the unfortunate immune people end up as "stayers" and then I could stick with nearer future time.
It's all possible I suppose so how do I go about attempting this collaborative fiction idea then?

KarnuVap - but you can call me Mr. Vap.

Blog it!

I think the easiest way to get the collaboration started would be to present the idea in another blog post. Link it to the two installments of 'Hoppers' and expand on what you're suggesting here.

We probably should have another category to describe this sort of thing in the blog title. We're already seeing 'discussion' used for nonfiction topics. Maybe something like 'shared universe' or 'brainstorming' could be used for posts that ask for help on fiction projects. In fact, I'll make a post myself asking people what word we ought to be using.

Of course, you realize if the final story doesn't have at least one person saying, "Stop ptwinging my dazubies!" I'm going to be incredibly disappointed now. =)

kelson.philo's picture

I agree with Richard, go for

I agree with Richard, go for the large. Will Suzanne and Arnold make it to the top of the heap first? What are the emotional implications of someone with a rough history like Arnold suddenly finding himself king of the hill?

Lots of potential

I definitely think you should give that larger story a shot. I suspect there might be even more sweeping changes in the sort of world you're talking about. Even if the fifteen-minute limit holds, the effect on warfare, on televised political debates, on the response to natural disasters, and so on would be enormous, just like you're suggesting.

This seems like the kind of story that really lends itself to collaboration: get a group of people together to look at a concept rich in implications and study it from all sorts of angles. Should be interesting!