Last episode on IMPERMANENT RECORD: At Theodore Roosevelt High School in Patrick’s Vale, South Dakota, all of the students have lost all memory of who they are… and so has everyone else. Mayor Hertzog just announced a lottery to match kids with families for the duration of the crisis.
Kelvy Fox had gotten the news from a contact in Washington. That sounded more interesting than it was; despite being in her second year as a reporter for the Rapid City Journal (Communities desk) she hadn’t developed an intricate web of informers. No, in fact, the news about Patrick’s Vale came from her “other job” as a paranormal conspiracy blogger under the pen name “aRumourTherapy.” She was avidly curious about Fortean phenomena, alien coverups, psychic phenomena and the like. Her blog was #6 on lonegunmen.com’s list of “10 Most Subversive Paranormal Websites.” Her tip had come from an on-and-off poster who went by the handle “YellowWatch” and claimed to have inside knowledge of an FBI cover-up task force.
“Something going on in Patrick’s Vale,” he or she had written. “Apparently an entire school got amnesia at the same time. Media being kept out but special investigator being sent. You’re closest to incident, want to find out what’s really going on?”
Darn straight Kelvy did. She was working late today on an article for the weekend supplement about the third annual Sturgis canned food drive. After over an hour of trying to find anything the slightest bit interesting about it, she would have dropped what she was doing to investigate a missing dog poster.
According to the website, the only high school in Patrick’s Vale (population 5,658) was Theodore Roosevelt HS, grades 10-12. Kelvy noted down the address and Google mapped it. Only fifty-three minutes away. Slinging her Totoro purse over her shoulder, she ran down the stairs to where her white Cube was parked.
A little over an hour later, she pulled into the incredibly full parking lot of Theodore Roosevelt High School. Kelvy checked her watch, it was quarter to eight. Everyone seemed to be heading in through a pair of double doors on the boxy side of the building, and Kelvy maneuvered herself into the massing crowd. There didn’t seem to be much in the way of security, and Kelvy wondered what sort of media lockdown YellowWatch had been talking about.
“Excuse me,” a handsome man in a black suit with a slight accent said as he bumped into her in his rush to get in.
Kelvy immediately knew this guy was government. No one in a town like Patrick’s Vale wore a suit that black and pressed. She memorized his face for future reference.
Inside the doors the school gymnasium had been converted into an auditorium by liberal application of wooden risers being pulled out. Even with the most optimistic seating deployment, the auditorium was completely full. Along one side several tables had been manned as sign-up stations, one with a large improvised sign for “PARENT REGISTRATION” and another two for “STUDENT ID REGISTRATION.”
Kelvy turned to a husband and wife (matching scarves) who had entered behind her. “Hey, what’s the procedure here? Do we have to sign in?”
“That’s what the call I got from the school said,” the husband, a middle-aged man with salt-and-pepper hair and a pair of glasses that was trying just a little too hard to be cool, especially when paired with a sweater with such an egregious number of colors in it. “Bring a photo ID and any information I could find about our… our child.”
The wife (younger, hair dyed but a touch of grey at the roots, eyes puffy from recent crying) stifled a sob, but admitted, “we… we don’t even know if we have a son or daughter… how can I forget that?”
The husband put an arm around his wife comfortingly and Kelvy felt a little like a funeral crasher. To make it worse, the woman offered her hand, introducing herself. “I’m Deirdre Fromer, this is my husband John.”
“Kelvy Fox,” Kelvy said.
“Kelly?” Deirdre asked.
“No, Kel-VY.” It was a very familiar exchange.
“Such an interesting name,” Deirdre said.
“Yeah, makes it easy to remember,” Kelvy said before realizing what an asinine comment that was. “Oh! I’m so sorry… I didn’t mean…”
“It’s okay,” John said. “This is hard on all of us…” He looked at Kelvy again. “You don’t seem old enough to have a child in high school, though.”
“Oh, I’m here for my sister,” Kelvy immediately lied. “I’m meeting our mom here.”
“Oh? Who’s your mother? Maybe I know her,” Deirdre said.
Kelvy was saved by a loud tapping on the microphone, followed by a screech of feedback.
“Excuse me,” Kelvy said, escaping the Fromers to find a corner of a bleacher to sit down. Pulling her Android out of her purse, she tapped open the audio recorder app just as the mayor started his speech.
As the story unfurled, Kelvy realized that this was going to be the story that would get her off the community desk, and maybe even onto a bigger paper than Rapid City Journal. More importantly, this was going to prove that there was more out there than the public wanted to believe.
“Hello, #1 most subversive paranormal website,” she said to herself, but across the auditorium she saw John and Deirdre Fromer holding each other and a tiny crack in her confidence formed.
To be continued…
© 2013 by Douglass Barre, All Rights Reserved.