“Here we are.”
The door opened into a narrow hallway, the walls bare and pristine white. The only colorful object in the room was a green plush carpet on the floor, but even with it, the hallway still looked washed out and void of color. For a moment, August felt like he stepped straight into a black and white movie, and he tried to swallow his discomfort.
The guy who had led him here, the one who had introduced himself as Ash, his best friend, leaned against the doorway, toeing off his shoes before carefully pushing them out of the way. August couldn’t help thinking there was something weasel-like about him. He had a long face, tiny eyes, and a mane of unevenly cut dirty blond hair. And the way he looked at August… It was a bit disconcerting.
“You freak out when I don’t do that.” said Ash when he noticed August's raised eyebrows. August snorted before following his lead, kicking his shoes to the side. He could see himself being annoyed by visitors carrying dirt all over his apartment. And this was his apartment despite how foreign it felt. He looked around again, trying to find something – anything – in his surroundings that felt familiar, but no matter how hard he stared at the carpet or at the doors, there was nothing. No recognition. No feelings of familiarity at all. The guy, Ash, didn’t feel like someone he knew either.
“Here.” Ash waved him down the hallway, and August reluctantly followed him inside the open plan living room and kitchen. The space wasn’t large, and the furniture looked new - or was at least well taken care of - and if he didn’t count the layer of dust gathering everywhere, the apartment was unsettlingly clean, not a single thing out of place. It looked more like a stage than a place meant for people to live in, and it was somehow even more void of color than the hallway. Everything was in monotone blacks, whites, and greys, and even the objects that were supposed to be colorful, like the succulents on the windowsill or the magazines on the coffee table, looked washed out and grayish.
“Um…” started August reluctantly, watching Ash lay the apartment keys on the coffee table. There was a scar on his finger, like a scratch of a particularly large cat. August averted his gaze. “Do you know where I work?”
Ash glanced at him before turning his head to the window, his eyebrows knitting together and a somewhat troubled look appearing in his eyes. It disappeared as quickly as it appeared, but it still left August with an unsettling feeling of dread in the pit of his stomach. This guy was supposed to be his best friend, but he couldn’t help feeling tense and uncomfortable around him. It didn’t feel right. “You’re a librarian.” said Ash after a short pause. “But don’t worry, no one is expecting you back at work right away. Just take it easy for a few days.”
August hesitated before nodding, wondering how that had happened. His last memories were from his second year of college and he'd majored in computer science back then. Had he decided that passion was more important than money after all? But... The apartment wasn’t the biggest, but it was in a good location and decently furnished. Which posed a question - how could he afford something like that while working as a librarian?
Deciding he must have gotten lucky, he shook his head, taking another look around the room. This didn’t feel like home at all. It felt like a stranger’s apartment, and he kept expecting the real owner to appear and accuse him of trespassing. He sighed. There was a lot to get used to, and it was good that he didn’t have to worry about work on top of everything else. He wondered if his job at the library was even plausible now, when almost six years’ worth of memories went down the drain. It was unlikely he remembered how to do it.
Ash looked at his phone. “Look, I have to go.” he said. “You have my phone number, call me if you need anything.”
“And don’t forget about the police hour.”
“The police hour?” That definitely hadn’t been a thing six years ago.
“It’s at 10 and it lasts until 4.”
“Villain attacks.” Ash shrugged, sounding completely unbothered by the idea. August frowned. Had villain attacks become such a threat in the past few years that they needed a police hour? They’d always been a thing, sure, but they’d been neither regular enough nor disruptive enough to excuse limiting people’s freedom.
Ash glanced at his phone again. “Look, I really have to go. Just google Phantom if you want more details.”