Reporters are trained to develop a sixth sense, a nose for when a story smells fishy, and something about this one wasn’t right. First of all, John said he had been home. But he wasn’t. And I hadn’t seen Carrie in two weeks. Where did all the people go?

“Just their clothes! Just clothes is all that’s left!” It was the same story every time. Children, men, women. Everyone! Everyone knew someone, or knew of someone that had gone missing!

“I want you all to be the first on the case,” Jack had said. “The first to figure it out.”

How the heck were we supposed to do that? Was Carrie one of them?

“Aliens,” John said. “That’s what it has to be.”

“Proof, John! Proof!” Jack yelled, furrowing his brow until his entire face wrinkled.

John shrugged. “It’s the same story every time, Jack. Just clothes. Even with the newborns.”

“Newborns?” I ask.

“Mrs. Dela said she saw her dad,” Gary added.

Jack threw his hands up. “Dead people walking, and people disappearing, and nobody knows heads or tails of it!”

I never really wanted to go to the rally. It’s freaky enough with people disappearing, and now someone claiming to know why? I wasn’t buying it.

“We’ll find Carrie,” John said to me.

“I thought you said you had been home.”

“I was home!” He let out a sigh and pinched the back of his neck. The first time I’d seen him do it, Carrie whispered to me that it was something John’s doctor had told him to do when he got too upset. “We’re not giving up, okay?”

I didn’t say anything but just glanced around at the people who had come out here. Were they suckers? Or were they just desperate?

“The guy sounded pretty convincing,” Gary added. We both looked at him. “The guy having the rally.” He took his cigar out of his mouth and looked at it, then returned to chewing on it. “Nobody I know has disappeared, so I don’t much care for any of this besides getting a story. What about you?”

John glared at him, but I shrugged. “I don’t talk to people.” That was all he was going to get out of me.

“What about you, John?”

“Uh, just my sister. But she could be somewhere else. On a trip or something.”

I could feel him looking at me, but I just stared straight ahead.

“That’s tough, buddy. I sure hope so.” Gary spat out part of his cigar. “The world’s turned upside down, but I still need a paycheck.”

“I think people are willing to listen to anyone claiming to have answers at a time like this, don’t you?” I ask.

We stop to listen to the people next to us rambling on how it’s all the government’s doing.

“I’m just here for the job,” Gary muttered. “But like I said. Guy sounded pretty convincing.”

John motioned for us to be quiet. “It’s starting,” he whispered.


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