To say the bus meandered through town would be an understatement. Hank didn’t recognize anyone. But one scene was repeated over and over again. Crying mothers. Waving handkerchiefs. Waving goodbye. Decidedly absent were fathers. As Hank would soon find out, fathers were not told. Fathers are never told.
Silence. Complete silence. Kids making no noise. Sitting and watching out their windows, not discussing what was happening to them with each other. For what could they possibly say or know? They only heard a rumour over the years that such things happened. Where kids disappeared. How there were never any “lost” posters hung, no reward for a missing kid. No media attention or amber alert. They we plain and simple, gone.
One kid per seat, one seat beside them where their lunch bags sat. The clothes on their backs. And in time even the clothes would be replaced. And when they entered the chamber, about a month from pick up date, they will be zapped. Cleaned. Rebooted.
The sound of the bus coming to a halt, the pressure of the breaks letting out a sigh into the wilderness they were parked in. And the bus driver, a wiry young man wearing a short sleeve shirt with a name tag, Tim, opened the door.
“OK. It is time. Get off my bus. Time to face your future. It’s just outside of this bus if I followed my GPS right. Literally right under us. Let’s not make a big scene kids. They don’t like that. Trust me. I’m one of them.”