"I'm standing here on the eastern end of Long Island, Mike," the correspondent said from the radio. "The eastern horizon has been steadily brightening for the last half hour. The first rays of the sun should be striking us at any--" the monologue suddenly cut out, replaced by a rustling of clothing and a strange thump.
"John?" the host asked. "Hey, buddy, you there?" He paused for a moment. "Uh, folks, I have no idea what happened. My producer says we're still getting the feed. It's like John just disappeared or something. We're going to hit a commercial while we try to figure out what's going on."
Jack turned off the radio. "That was weird."
"Yeah," Emily nodded. "Think we're going to find out how things are going on the east coast?"
"Why don't you just look it up on the internet?"
She blinked a couple times. "I'm a moron," she said, pulling out her iPhone. She began tapping the screen. "I use this thing all the time except when I actually need it."
Jack shrugged. "I forgive you. Hey," he tapped her knee as a thought struck him, "I just had a thought. See if you can find out if Nate would be safe if we hid him underground. Maybe it's a matter of not letting the sun hit him."
She began tapping again. "Dazed Parisians emerge from entrance to underground tunnel," she read a caption. "'It offered no protection,' one man said, 'Our son was there one moment, then he was gone.'"
"That doesn't sound promising," Jack said.
She clicked the screen again. "Hundreds of Romans waited out the dawn in the city's tunnels and ancient catacombs," she read, "Only to find that they suffered the same fate as those who hadn't tried to flee." She clicked another link. "'We ran for the caves in the mountainside,' said one mother from the tiny Russian village, 'We threw rocks over the entrance and prayed for the mountains to protect us, to protect our children. It...It did nothing. My Vlad is gone. My Elena is gone.'"
"Well," Jack shook his head, "That just about kills that idea." He goosed the throttle, pushing the car nearly to 170 before deciding to back down to 160 again. They were nearly to Dixon, one of the larger towns along the I-88 corridor between Chicago and the Mississippi River. He turned the headlights off again, knowing that the southern part of Dixon nearly reached the highway and it was likely they'd be seen. As a concession to safety, he began easing down toward 120 or so. The moon was bright, but he could barely see. Forty miles per hour was way too fast for a night drive with no headlights, but he was desperate.
"Huh," Emily said, still reading off the iPhone, "This is odd. 'We were up before dawn, like always,' Zhou said, 'We were walking across the field to begin work when all of the sudden my brother was just gone. Later on I heard that children were disappearing, and wondered if it was the same thing. But my brother is nearly sixty years old. It cannot be the same thing.'"
"Maybe that's the same thing that happened to the guy on the radio," Jack ventured.
Emily nodded. "Could be. Maybe there's some sort of conspiracy going on, too."
"Hey," Jack pointed across the highway, "There's another one of those crazy buses. Cedar Rapids Evangelical Free Church."
"That's, like, the middle of Iowa," Emily scratched her head. "What are they doing here?"
"Maybe they're part of the conspiracy?"
"That's a pretty damn weird conspiracy."
"It's been a weird day."
A sudden noise from the back seat alerted them to the fact that Nate was waking up. Emily unbuckled her seatbelt and twisted around to get him out of his car seat. "How are you, bubby," she asked. He gurgled in reply.
"He reeks," Jack said.
"Yeah. I'm not entirely sure that this car was designed with an eye toward changing poopy diapers at a hundred miles per hour, though." She opened the diaper bag at her feet and began wrestling with the problem.
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