Authors: Alanna Irving
Copyright © 2013 Avryan Publishing
reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or
transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or
other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of
the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical
reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law.
depicted in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living
or dead is purely coincidental.
What would you do if you had the
chance, just once, to live 24 hours and then have it erased to start over?
That’s what happened to me. I can’t
tell you too much about how - they forced me to sign a confidentiality
agreement and it was clear that things would become very unpleasant for me if I
ever told anybody anything specific about them… or the experiment. It began
when I answered an ad to take part in a clinical trial for money. That much I
can say (or hope I can). I definitely can’t say how I got involved with the ‘Rewind
Protocol’. That was what they called the experiment. The trial was only a
recruitment scheme…a test. And apparently I passed with flying colours,
something about my psyche being malleable and resilient at the same time.
At first I didn’t believe what
they were telling me. It wasn’t until they demonstrated the ‘Rewind Protocol’
that I finally believed and agreed to take part. Oh, of course the money that
they offered helped, and when they deposited 50% into my bank account up front,
I knew they were very serious. Of course I had misgivings. What if it were all
true? What would happen? What if something went wrong? But in the end I set
aside my reservations and did it because my family needed the money and because
I wanted to do something that mattered. I would become a pioneer of sorts.
That’s how I ended up sitting at my desk at 11.54 p.m. that fateful night, knowing
that come midnight, everything I did for the following 24 hours would be erased
the following day.
It was a curious feeling. At
first, you think the possibilities are endless, you feel like there are so many
things you should do with this time that you'll never be able to fit them all in.
And then when you start to pin things down, there aren't so many. You struggle
to think of something to do. You can’t just act normally, you need a
to do with this amazing chance that you have. The chance to do well, the chance
to see how things would work out, try them and then have them erased. Then,
later you can decide whether or not to do those things, after you've already
seen the outcome.
It might not sound like much, but
it felt like a lot of power.
I was sitting at my desk, but my
laptop was closed. I was gazing out of the window at the stars above my garden,
listening to the tick of the clock by my bed. I suppose I was expecting
something to happen at midnight. A shimmer to come over the world, a flash of
light, a feeling deep within me that it had started. But nothing happened. I
sat there, and watched the seconds count out the minute to midnight, and the
minute after. Nothing felt different. How did I know it had worked? How did I
know that now was the time to do things, that the things I did from now were
the things that were going to be erased?
Maybe my clock was fast.
I waited until seven past
midnight. It must have started by now. I stood up, and I sat back down again.
What should I do? I felt nervous, like the tingling of excitement you get on
Christmas Eve. The first thing I thought of was dyeing my hair. If it looked
good, I could do it again when time reset, and if it didn’t, well I wouldn’t
bother. But it was just after midnight, and I had no hair dye.
I had to do
I had to mark the occasion.
I went downstairs. In the fridge
were the cheesecake muffins my sister had made for her friend's birthday. She
was going to take them into school tomorrow for all of her friends to share.
She was a good cook, and earlier that evening she had warned me in no uncertain
terms that I
wasn't to touch them
. I had eyed them enviously as she
stacked them in the fridge.
I could have one now. Even if she
noticed, it would all be undone in 24 hours. I took one and bit into it,
relishing the rebellion. It was good, alright. I wandered around the kitchen as
I ate, wondering if anything looked different. I wanted something to mark the
fact that these 24 hours were special, but there was nothing.
My steps led me back to the
fridge. On impulse, I took another muffin, and another, one in each hand. The
calories would be removed after 24 hours, I reasoned. I sat at the table and
ate them quickly, one after the other, and then another two.
But it wasn't satisfying. I
wanted to do something life-changing, world-rocking with this chance.
Eventually, I had to resign myself to the fact that I could neither change my
life nor rock the world at half past midnight on a Wednesday night. I decided
to go to bed. Tomorrow, at school, I would see what this ‘Rewind Protocol’
could do for me.
As I pulled the blanket over me,
I suddenly realised what I was going to. A face swam before me, it was Todd
Gallagher. I smiled as I closed my eyes, and let his green eyes and wavy brown
hair to lull me to sleep.
I’d been in love with Todd
Gallagher for years. My family moved the summer before high school, and when I
started my new school, there he was. I was still a child, still small and skinny
and lank, but even back then, he was gorgeous. It was more of a boyish charm he
had then, round cheeks and bright eyes and as he got older he only got better.
He lost his baby fat and found jawlines that could cut glass; he played a lot
of rugby and began to bulk up. He cut his hair very short at about age 14, but
thank God he wore it long now. I loved the way it curled around his face. I was
head over heels, but who wasn’t? He was a sporting star; he was the most
popular guy in school. I had never spoken to him, after all who was I, gawky
and nerdy and only just out of braces, to talk to him? He barely knew I
But that was all going to change.
I had been given the gift of being free of consequences. The gift of
confidence. Today, I was going to march straight up to him and tell him what I
thought of him. I was going to sweep him off his feet. Well, at the very least
I would say hello. And if the result was favourable, I’d do it again tomorrow, the
today, the today that would stick, with nothing to hold me back. If
it went badly, if he laughed in my face or stared at me in horror, I wouldn’t
make the same mistake. I’d know I was doing the right thing staying away.
I got up early. I never normally
wore make-up to school, but today I would risk it. Today I needed it. I had
just perfected my work with the mascara wand when my sister’s shriek reached me
from downstairs. The cheesecake muffins. Ah.
“Tara! You swine! I know it was
you!” She pounded up the stairs and burst into the bathroom. “What the hell is
your problem? You couldn’t stay away for one day? What kind of a fat pig eats
muffins?” I stared at her. I didn’t really have a response. It was a fair
point. “Now what am I going to do? There aren’t enough to go around!” Still, I
said nothing. My sister gave a small roar of frustration and pushed me
backwards, “I hate you, I actually hate you!” she spat, and stormed out.
When I went down for breakfast,
Mum wasn’t looking happy.
“That was just spiteful, Tara,”
she said. “You didn’t need to take all of those. Can’t you give some back?” I
shook my head guiltily. “You actually
all of them? Honestly, Tara,
that’s no way to behave.” And she carried on unstacking the dishwasher,
slamming plates and cups into the cupboard rather more forcefully than was
Not a good start to the day. Of
course, it would all be erased, and Mum and Jennifer would never know they had
ever been angry with me, but it put me out of sorts. And I needed to be
sorts for my mission today.
I was quiet on the bus on the way
to school. I felt I was guarding a huge secret, a huge gift that I wasn’t going
to share with anyone. I wondered what would happen if I told my friends that
everything today was going to be erased and reset. They’d laugh at me,
probably. Why would they believe me?
But what if they did? What if
they joined me? We’d have so much more fun with this secret together than I
would alone. And still I didn’t want to. I wanted to keep this for myself. I
wanted to see where it could take me.
My best friend Nat was waiting
for me by the lockers. I went over to her but my eyes were fixed on Todd, down
the corridor, talking to his rugby mates.
“Someone’s made an effort,” Nat
said, eyeing me up and down. My hair was released from its usual ponytail, and
I’d rolled my skirt up and worn non-regulation shoes, the ones with a kitten
heel and a pointy toe that I’d convinced myself made my legs look better when I
walked. On impulse, I undid another button on my shirt. “What’s got into you?”
Nat said, looking incredulous.
“I have decided, my dear Natalie,
to seize the day.” I felt untouchable, invincible, like I could walk on the
clouds. I grabbed Natalie on either side of the head and planted a kiss on her
forehead. “Watch this.”
“You’re crazy,” she called after
me. She didn’t know how crazy.
Nobody really paid me any
attention as I strutted, yes, strutted, down the corridor. Even when I was
right in front of Todd and his mates, it was a good few seconds before anyone
registered my presence. Gradually the conversation petered out and they all
stared at me.
My throat went dry. Absolved from
consequences I may have been, but that didn’t change the fact that I was a
shrinking violet when it came to situations like this. I tried to tell myself
to be confident, but it felt like telling my hand to grow an extra finger.
all be over soon
, I told myself.
Midnight tonight and none of this ever
happened. You can deal with it
I tossed my hair, like I’d seen
girls do on TV.
“Todd, right?” I said, looking
him straight in the eye. My heart was pounding painfully. Surely he could hear
“Er, yeah.” Around him, his mates
were beginning to snicker.
“How about coffee this
afternoon?” I said, trying to keep my voice from shaking. I gave him what I
hoped was a sultry look. “My treat.”
“Um, I don’t think so,” he said,
clearly trying not to laugh, as from behind me walked Becky Lane, Todd’s tall,
blonde, beautiful girlfriend. She wound her arm around his neck.
“Yes?” she said, her blue eyes
wide and blinking. “Can we help you?”
No consequences, I thought.
only got one shot at this, don’t walk away now
. I could have punched her. I
wanted to know exactly how sweet the satisfaction would feel. But I was here to
get a realistic idea of what would happen if I approached Todd. My mind
scrabbled for some way of saving the situation.
“Only,” I said hurriedly, “We’ve
been paired up for that English presentation, I thought we could discuss it.
”What English presentation?”
“Oh, you were away last lesson.
Did nobody tell you? We were assigned projects.” Becky began running her
fingers through his hair, head on one side and foot tapping impatiently. Todd
obediently put his arm around her waist.
“Right. Well. I guess I’ll just talk
to you about it in class,” Todd said pointedly. I shrugged.
a care in the world. Don’t mess it up now, just act cool.
“Sure. See you in class.”
I walked away slowly, telling
myself not to rush, willing my shoes not to slip off my feet, wondering how I
was going to get my real partner for the presentation to switch for me.
“Absolutely mad,” Nat said
wonderingly. “What on earth possessed you?” I shrugged. I was still trying to
act cool but under it all my heart was racing.
“Life is short. You have to make
things happen, can’t sit around waiting for them.”
“You just had an epiphany last
night? I’ve never seen such a transformation. Practically instantaneous.”
We were walking to our first
class, arm in arm as usual. I began to giggle. Some sort of adrenaline rush. It
was contagious, and soon Nat and I were laughing together.
“Tara Craik!” It was my history
teacher. “What on
are you wearing?”
“Um, my uniform, miss,” I said.
“You most certainly are not. What
sort of shoes do you call those?” It wasn’t really a question that needed
answering, so I didn’t. “I wouldn’t expect this of you, Tara, but as it’s a
first offense I will give you a warning. Next time, it’s detention. Now go to
the bathroom and wash all that ridiculous muck off your face.”
“Yes, miss,” I said, and bowed my
head and scuttled away. I knew she was watching, so I had no choice but to go
into the bathroom. I had no intention of taking my make up off. I hated being
told off by teachers, and it didn’t happen very often. I was a good girl. But,
I kept telling myself, in less than twenty-four hours, this never happened.
“I don’t know what has got into
you, Tara” Nat said. “You’re like a completely different person.” I chose to
take that as a compliment.
I decided to cool it off a bit
the next time I spoke to Todd. No need to come on so strong. We had English
fourth period, and we really were meant to be discussing our presentations. With
my new-found confidence I bribed my partner and Todd’s intended partner to work
together - and to my surprise it worked. So Todd and I had a whole hour to
He seemed a bit nervous of me. I
forced myself to act laid-back and relaxed, and after a while he seemed to
settle down. Once I even made him laugh. God, he had a great laugh. I felt
myself blush, and looked away.
I left class with his number -
- and plans to meet up over the weekend to work on our
project. I was buzzing. I was definitely going to re-do this when time reset.
Maybe without the shaky start. Who knew how far you could get just by being
bold? I was Todd Gallagher’s project partner and we were going to meet up on
the weekend. You couldn’t have taken the smile off my face with a wet fish.