Emily was still distracted by the disappearing smartphone as she and Leigh drove into town. It took only a few minutes to reach the newspaper office on Main Street from their house on the outskirts of Aurora.
Their boss, Leroy, seemed more awake and excited than he usually was at eight in the morning. He was a tall man with graying hair and a gruff manner that had scared away several reporters who missed the heart of gold that lurked beneath the surface. Emily had to admit that he’d been nothing short of kind in the months since Julian’s disappearance.
“What do we have today?” Emily asked as she surreptitiously eyed the office to see if any changes had taken place there, as they had at home. What she saw was subtle but noticeable. All of the phones on the desks were rotary like the one at the house, and all the computers had been replaced by manual typewriters. But the calendar on the wall still read August 28, 2015. She blinked twice but focused her attention back on her boss.
“Big story on the edge of town,” Leroy replied. “A plane crash. Military. I’m sorry, Emily. If it’s too much for you, I can assign someone else.”
Emily’s heart sank. “No, I can handle it. I can’t see Julian in every plane crash or military incident. Come on, Leigh. Let’s go.”
The accident had occurred outside of town, in sight of the hangar. The twisted wreckage sickened her as she saw the convoluted reflection of the sun and landscape in the metal. She didn’t even try to stop the inevitable thought that came to her several times a day. Is this what happened to Julian? We’ve found this plane, but what if he’s out there somewhere, still waiting to be discovered?
Leigh moved closer and started snapping pictures with a decidedly vintage looking camera set. The strangeness of the equipment barely fazed Emily as she spotted a man in uniform and approached him.
“Emily. I was afraid they’d send you.” It was James, Julian’s superior. “I’m sorry. This has to be difficult.”
“I’m okay,” Emily assured him. She’d liked James in the same way as Leroy. Both men were unemotional but solid, good souls. “So, what happened?”
“He was a rookie. Overcorrected when he lost control. Nothing more than that,” James replied. “It’s the usual protocol. We’ll contact next of kin before we release any names.”
Emily nodded, focusing on the her pad of paper, jotting down notes.
“Would you and Leigh like to join me at the club tonight? Natasha’s got a new set.”
“Sure, I don’t think we have any plans.”
Emily tried to keep the club on her mind as they drive back into town, but once she saw what was on her desk, any thought of recreation was driven far from her. A note in block letters lay beside her phone. It said THEY ALL KNOW MORE THAN THEY ARE TELLING YOU.