Looking for a short story about an man who lives in a society where instead of executing criminals, the government erases their minds and turns them into new people. The protagonist is a normal law-abiding citizen (well, now here is) with a normal 9-5 job, who spends practically all his free time trying to find out who he was before being erased.

At one point he has a flashback-like hit-the-deck reaction to a nearby vehicle backfiring, after which his previous personality starts to manifest as a voice in his head.

At the end of the story, after discovering that he had been a master assassin who was caught trying to kill the President of the United States, he decides that he return to being an assassin for hire, but will maintain his previous post-erasure lifestyle with the addition of the occasional random murder.

  • Sounds a bit like The Second Trip. Perhaps one influenced the other.
    – Fruitbat
    Jul 24, 2015 at 17:25
  • The description also has a few things in common with "Softlight Sins", although it is definitely not that story.
    – Praxis
    Jul 24, 2015 at 19:01
  • OK, Softlight Sins was an interesting story, thank you for referencing it. Agreed, though, neither of the above are the story I'm looking for. Jul 24, 2015 at 19:51

1 Answer 1


Was it Mars Cop? Also had an episode of Babylon 5 referencing this technique.

  • 1
    What is Mars Cop? Is it a short-story or something else?
    – Valorum
    Jul 26, 2015 at 16:20
  • 1
    The Babylon 5 episode is "Passing through Gethsemane", but the criminal there responded very differently to learning about his past. Also no voices in his head. Jul 26, 2015 at 17:07
  • 1
    What is this "Mars Cop" of which you speak? I have no context here, and Google doesn't offer any answers. And no, I'm not looking for a Babylon 5 episode, simply a short story that's at least 25 years old. Jul 27, 2015 at 6:45
  • @Thisisn'tmyrealname, any information you have about a story ID question should be included in the question. That the story is at least 25 years old could be of help to somebody searching for your answer. May 14, 2016 at 6:57

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