• Prologue

    tab Dinner is the worst part of the day. Especially the one day a week my dad was home for it. I was forced to watch this awkward spectacle from my normal seat, a hard wooden chair in our circular table, with a parent on each side. There was rarely any talking, what was there to say when you barely knew the people sitting next to you seeing as I was close to neither of my parents. I hated my step-mom, she was cruel to my dad and me, and drank the nights my dad was gone. My real mother had died when I was ten. It affected me more than my dad. My dad had never loved my mom, she was just the first woman who paid him any attention. Once she died, he married one of his old high school friends that he had a crush on in the old days.
    tab This night was no different from any other. I picked at my plate of pasta, it was covered in vegetables and a few slivers of chicken. I had always been a meat person and the lack of my favorite food was depressing. My step-mother had never been a good cook, I usually just shoved some of the food into my napkin so it looked like I had eaten something, before sneaking back into the kitchen later to eat junk food.
    tab I looked at my father as he ate quietly. He rarely spoke to me any more. It was all work for him. I didn’t know him at all. I couldn’t talk to him when my mother died, I had just kept it in, not sharing any of it with anybody, least of all him.
    tab “Did you have a good day at work honey?” my step-mother said as she looked down at her plate scrutinizing her colorful vegetables.
    tab “Yeah, we got a lot of cars sold. It was very productive,” he said, keeping it short and simple. I sighed, glad that I was excluded from this vacant conversation. The eating went on for ten more minutes before I excused myself, stating that I had a mound of homework that I needed to attend to.
    tab I listened to music for an hour, playing a game on my cell phone to entertain myself. After I was sure that my parents had finished eating, I made my way to the kitchen, still hungry after the vegetarian pasta. I headed sneakily to the kitchen, trying not to arouse my parents, they didn’t like me eating junk food after diner.
    tab Having reached the kitchen I looked into the living room, where my parents usually spent the evenings together. The living room was dark and the T.V. was off. That’s funny, I thought, what are they doing now? I decided to chance a visit to the living room, to see what was going on. I reached the couch to find that there was nobody there. That’s odd. I looked over at the small red clock on top of the T.V. It was only eight, it was way too early to go to bed. I walked back down the hall, to see if they were in their bedroom. The door to their room was open and the lights were off. I knocked on the door.
    tab “Hello?” I asked the darkness. There was no reply. I walked hesitantly into the room and reached a hand to the lights. The lights came on to reveal that my parents were not in their room. I decided to go from there to the garage, to check if they had gone somewhere. But when I reached the garage, I found that the car was still there. I decided to wait in my room till they showed up. Maybe they had decided to take a walk or something. I walked back to my small room. The walls were dark blue, my favorite color. My room was crammed to the brim with stuff. It had a desk, book shelf, armchair, computer, bed and dresser with barely any space in the middle. I laid down on my bed and grabbed my music player. It was while listening to my favorite band that I drifted to sleep.
    tab I woke early in the morning, still in my normal clothes that consisted of blue jeans and my favorite t-shirt. After a few minutes, I realized the reason for my attire, and went to investigate my parent’s room to see if they were there. Their door was still open, and they were still not there. I ran to the garage, the car was still there. I realized I would have to be the grown up, and picked up the phone to dial 911.
    tab The cops arrived five minutes later. They did a full investigation, asking me millions of questions about what I was doing the final minutes with my parents. I tried to answer the questions as best as I could. The cop questioning me gave me a number and told me to call it if my parents came back. I sat down on the couch and curled up. Well, I thought to myself, at least I won’t have to put up with my step-moms cooking for awhile.


    tab “Reports having been flooding in, the strange disappearances that have been occurring more and more often are not the work of organized crime or others. It is an unexplainable phenomenon. It would appear that it is impossible to find an answer. Authorities state that they are trying their best, and that there is no reason to panic. Also just in, suicide rates are at an all time high, more than 10 thousand across the globe have taken their own lives this year alone, a good portion from here in the United States…”
    tab Angry at the lack of information, I pounded the off button and threw the remote across the room. My parents had been missing for a month, and nothing was being done about it. The news had nothing, except that people should not worry. The police had still not contacted me. They dodged all my calls and refused to listen to my complaints when I went down to the station. I sighed heavily, and ran my hand through my long hair, closing my eyes.
    tab I had never been attached to my parents, and had never thought it possible that I could miss them, but I did. I was home alone, taking care of myself with nobody here in case I set something on fire or some other mishap that was beyond my skill. It was terrifying. But fear was my only emotion. Depression stayed clear of me, I could shed no tears as I thought of my missing family. I had never been able to cry, even after my mother had died.
    tab I wearily glanced out the window to the right of me, the curtains were drawn back to the outside world. Everything was gray. The people were gray, the cars were gray, the buildings were gray, even the sky was gray. There was no color, wearing bright colors were viewed as obnoxious and rude. I looked at the people; everybody’s head were bent down. Nobody spoke and nobody looked at each other. There was no contact among strangers. What was the point if they would never meet again?
    tab A knock on the door broke my train of thought. That’s funny, I thought to myself, nobody ever knocked. Maybe the cops had found something at last. I walked to the door, grasped the cold handle and opened it. There was a man in an all black suite standing in the door way, he quickly flashed a shiny, gold badge in my face before asking permission to enter. I stepped aside, allowing the man to enter. He took off his black, wide brimmed hat, holding it in his enormous hands as he walked into the house. He looked as if he had stepped out of an old murder mystery movie, he was dark and eerie and his very presence was terrifying.
    tab After investigating the house he turned to me, and said, “Are you Jessica Riddle?” in a deep voice that sent chills down my spine. It was the voice of nightmares. I replied yes and he asked me if my parents were in the house. I told him they had disappeared. Immediately a smile grew on his pale face. This drew attention to the thin scar that ran from his left eye to his chin, a terrible flaw to his otherwise perfect face. He had blue eyes, black hair and a rather large nose. He noticed my avid stare and smiled again, he was used to stares.
    tab “I was attacked by a drunken cop in my old day, he thought I was a thief,” he smiled grimly as he watched that dark night relived in his memory. Having noticed the remote on the ground, he walked to the middle of the room, picked it up and set it on the table. What a strange man. That was when my patience wore out.
    tab “Um, excuse me, I don’t mean to be rude, but are you here about my parents?” I asked. I immediately regretted it, his eyes bored holes into mine. I immediately looked away. It had become part of our culture that eye contact was rare and few people did it any more. I had never been able to look anybody in the eyes, and it was alarming that it seemed almost second nature to him. But he replied all the same.
    tab “In a way, I’m here to investigate theirs and other’s disappearances. How many people do you know personally that have gone?” He asked, pulling out a small, black notepad and black pen, looking back up at me after he was done asking. My eyes immediately dropped to inspect the floor, gazing intently at the circular stain in the nondescript carpet. My mind raced through all the people I had known that had disappeared, it took me awhile, but I could remember them all clearly.
    tab “Thirty,” I said, looking up to see his reaction. He was bent over his notebook, scribbling something. He scribbled for a few minutes before he was gazed up intently at me, as if he were trying to solve a difficult puzzle. I dropped my gaze again, finding the carpet stain with ease.
    tab The man in black cleared his throat, sticking the black notepad and black pen into his black jacket. He stuck his hands in his pockets before moving towards me.
    tab “All right, we need to take you with us. You are not in trouble, but we just need to ask you some more questions in private. It might take awhile, so if it’s alright would you follow me outside please,” he said grabbing my elbow tightly. I had no choice but to follow him. There were two men dressed identically in black outside, one holding the door of a small black car open for me, the other stepping into the driver’s seat. I climbed into the cramped car and went to the opposite side. I barely had time to look around before the man holding the door for me slid in beside me. I saw his arm fly towards me as he shoved something wet into my face. My head began to spin as unconsciousness took over.