I am 35 years old. I must be, because the year is 2020. I know this, because the briefing notes written in my hand tell me so. What else do they tell me?
During the Cold War, a great lake in France called the Russian Sea triggered a brief nuclear conflict. Somehow, this was kept secret from the general populace of the world for almost 50 years. At the time, subsequent to World War Two, the Soviet Union controlled a narrow strip of land on the East bank of the lake, and deployed 35 nuclear weapons there to deter Western aggression.
We don’t know how or why these weapons were used. We don’t know who fired first. We don’t even know exactly when this occurred. All we know is that this event affected more than the locality of the Russian Sea.
In Britain, memories are shot. People live routinely from day to day as they did before the catastrophe, with no memory of it or its aftermath. However it happened, the entire population are collectively suffering from anterograde amnesia. They go about their business just as they always did, with that peculiar chipper attitude displayed during the Blitz, despite not being able to remember anything from the day before, or the day before that, or the day before that…
My notes tell me that I am in service of His Majesty, specifically in the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces. This feels strange to me, conflicting with everything I know of myself, my beliefs and my ideals from before the event. However, undoubtedly out of necessity and the desire for brevity, the notes do not explain this contradiction. Instead, they outline my mission, and my comrades in arms.
Carl Carevivre. Canadian, 30 years old. Fully-functioning memory – apparently, the phenomenon only affected the British Isles and the North-West portion of Europe, to varying degrees – and therefore commander of our ‘Gang of Four’. According to the notes, I like him and we get on pretty well, although I find him pretentious and arrogant on occasion. It is weird to be told how I feel about someone before I have even met them – then again, that is doubtless my reaction every morning.
Douglas McAnuff. Scottish, 22 years old. More effective memory than mine – can create patches of new memories, allegedly akin to the foggy memory of a heavy night’s drinking. It seems that the highlands of Scotland were less affected by the fallout than those in lowlands and South, and have had greater success in salvaging their recall. Seems I enjoy our jocular repartee, but am also quite afraid of his bullish attitude and aggressive nature.
Kevin Fredericks. The only fully-fledged Englishman in our bunch. 24 years old, totally vacant but with a great sense of humour that more than makes up for it. At least, that’s what it says here. Underlined: Prefers to be called ‘Freddie’. He and I have a bond because he too cannot understand what on earth he is doing in the British Army.
Our mission is to cross into the Republic of Ireland via the Armagh border and carry out passive reconnaissance. The 26 counties are now governed by Sinn Féin, who have, it seems, closed off the country to outsiders and enforced martial law. In so doing, they managed to deal with the fallout efficiently and effectively – at least, that’s what the information that slipped out claimed, at any rate. It is unclear how – if indeed it is true – they quelled the effects of the fallout and avoided the blight which devastated the rest of these islands, but then that is what our quartet have been sent to find out.
I remember growing up in Lucan, West County Dublin, and having a stable – if unspectacular – life up until my early Thirties, with a girlfriend and a steady job, and then…
Solidarity, brothers & sisters…☭