You enjoyed your New Year’s Eve party. You drank some champagne and ate some hors d’oeuvres, talked to friends, chuckled at the banter of the television hosts on whatever network you preferred. Then you stayed up to watch the countdown as the ball dropped. When it reached the bottom, you cheered. “Happy New Year!” you said.
You were wrong.
According to Robin Burrow of the International Year Council, there is no 2020. “We’ve looked at all the records,” she said. “Architecture of Human History, Blueprints for Time Immemorial, that kind of thing. And we see no evidence of a 2020.”
Burrow explains that after 2019 ended, all of existence entered what specialists call an “oblivion gap,” meaning that time keeps moving forward over an unnamed patch. “We’re in that patch now,” she said. “And while to most people, it probably feels exactly the same as if it was 2020, to those of us in the business it feels a little bit, well, lighter.”
“That’s right,” said Howard Lawrence, a colleague of Burrow’s. “It’s a kind of effervescence as if the things that happen are not completely happening. When we see someone eating, we don’t think of it as eating so much as absorbing food. When we see someone cross the street, we don’t think of it as crossing the street so much as skipping the street. There’s a passivity, an abstractness. I’m probably explaining it poorly.”
“You are!” said Burrow, laughing.
The two of them were in their lab, mostly drunk.
“We celebrated like any office,” Burrow said.
“Probably more so!” said Lawrence.
“Probably,” said Burrow.
“On account of we knew what was coming,” said Lawrence.
“I’m wearing lighter colors,” said Burrow.
“I’m wearing whimsical hats,” said Lawrence.
THE BOSS COMES IN
Lawrence and Burrow leapt to their feet as their boss, Tracy Cole, entered the room.
“What are you doing?” she said, and then repeated herself. “What are you doing?!?” Cole bellowed.
Lawrence and Burrow scurried off.
“Were they talking about 2020 not existing?” Cole asked. She sighed. “This is just about the most unprofessional thing I have ever seen. We’re a top-secret lab. We’re obligated to keep that kind of thing to ourselves. Do you know what a panic it would cause if it got out? So listen to me. They’re idiots. They’re wrong. They don’t know what they’re saying. How could a year not exist? You’re just being ridiculous.”
Cole left the room. In the hall, she began screaming again. “Robin!” she said. “Howard! Turn in your badges. You’re fired! No one reveals the nonexistence of a major chunk of time and survives to see another day! The NDAs for you to sign are on the seventh floor! And I revoke your year-end bonuses!”