A bicycle bell chimed in the distance, jolting Jarrad awake. His body wriggled in the sand, as his eyes adjusted to the evolving, crimson rays of the morning light. Nearby was a lake, bordered by a public path, lush parkland, and extravagant housing. Jarrad knew the place, but why was he there?
Something scratched his palm. A set of keys bound by a pink keyring labelled with a name and address unknown to him. Why did he have them? Where was his phone? Horror’s transparent hand clutched at his chest until his frantic fingers discovered the device lying in the sand. He pressed the button that illuminated the screen: 1st of January, 2021.
‘What the hell?’
‘You must be one too?!’ Jarrad’s head twisted towards the rough voice of a bearded man with a half-empty bottle of Jim Beam, a newspaper, and a stench that made Jarrad gag.
‘One of what?’
‘Those who selected to forget the year 2020.’
‘That’s impossible?’ Jarrad’s initial thought was the man, who approached him, had escaped an asylum.
Noting Jarrad’s insecurity, the man stopped and pointed to the main headline in the paper.
‘January 1st, 2021,’ the man read aloud, ‘‘The Forgotten have awoken.’’
It must be true, Jarrad thought. There was no reason for the newspaper to lie.
‘Why would I sign up for that? December 31st, 2019, My life was great. I’m asleep at my partner’s apartment. New job. Happy. I then wake up in a location that is forty minutes away from where I live, with two messages from women I don’t know on my phone, and keys that belong to someone else.’
‘Chill mate, and be patient with me for a moment, will ya.’
Jarrad closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and continued listening to the man. ‘Accordin’ to this, you are one that chose to have your memory wiped.’
‘Memory wiped? How. . .why would I give someone permission to do that?’
‘How? With ya signature apparently. Why? Only the diary can tell ya. At least you woke up in a better state than I did.’
‘Diary? What diary?’
The bearded man staggered a short distance and grabbed a thick book. ‘This is ya diary.’
Jarrad sprung to his feet and rushed towards the man, trying hard not to gag on his stench. ‘Yours will be close by, accompanied by a key to unlock it. Once you find it, you have 24 hours to decide.’
‘Open ya diary, or be left in the dark forever?’
Jarrad’s eyes drifted towards the newspaper and caught a glimpse of the final words of the article. ‘Who will give into temptation?’ There must have been a reason he chose to forget 2020. His curiosity had him wondering why? Stunned, confused, and conflicted by the situation he found himself in, he stood there, pondering. What would he do?