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THEY DISAPPEARED
by Rick Mofina

Genre: Thriller, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

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New York City

Jeff scanned the crowds, threading his way a few yards in one direction, then a few yards in another.

“Sarah!”

He looked up and down the street.

They disappeared.

He reached for his cell phone and called Sarah’s number. This is nuts. Where’d they go? It rang several times before going to her voice mail.

“Hey, you disappeared on me,” Jeff said. “Where are you? I’m standing by the souvenir cart.”

He studied the nearest storefronts again: a sports store, an electronics store, a ticket seller, a place fronted with plywood that was under renovation. Had they gone into one? Which one would they enter? He wasn’t sure. He’d told them not to move.

Did Sarah even hear her phone ring?

He called her number again. Again, he got her voice mail.

He scrutinized the street. Faces blurred as streams of people dissolved into chaotic rivers amid the smells of perfume, sweat and grilled spicy meat. Human features became indistinguishable as people brushed against him, bumped him.

“Are you looking for your wife and son?”

Jeff turned around to the man in the wheelchair—the man to whom he’d given ten bucks.

“Yes, did you see them?”

“I think they got picked up.”

“Picked up? What do you mean?”

“Well, I saw it from the corner of my eye. I wasn’t focused on it, but it looked like two guys picked them up.”

“What two guys?”

“Two guys sorta helped them into a van or an SUV and they drove off.”

“What’re you talking about?”

“It happened real fast, like everyone was in a hurry.”

“Where?”

“Right there.” He nodded to the spot where Jeff had left them.

Nothing was making sense. Jeff shook his head.

“I doubt that. My wife wouldn’t go with anyone. She doesn’t know anyone in New York.”

“It looked like they were pulling your boy and your wife was trying to stop them and then they took her, too. It was real fast and smooth.”

“What? That’s crazy.”

“I’m telling you what I saw.”

“Hold on.”

Jeff went to the ponytailed man selling souvenirs from the cart where Sarah and Cole had browsed moments ago. The man was wearing a tie-dye T-shirt and dark glasses.

“Who?” the man said after Jeff had explained.

“My wife and son. They were just here looking at your cart a few minutes ago. Did you see them go into a store?”

The ponytailed man scratched his three-day growth, then shrugged.

“Sorry, pal. It’s hectic here with people and traffic. People get picked up and dropped off around here every two seconds. I didn’t see anything.”

Jeff turned back to the wheelchair man.

“I think you saw someone else,” Jeff said. “I think they’re in a store.”

“No, it happened.”

“Did they say anything—where they were going, or who they were?”

“Sir, I don’t know.”

“What about the vehicle? What color was it?”

“Silver, white, I’m not sure…white, yeah, maybe white.”

Jeff ran his hand through his hair, unable to dismiss his unease over what this wheelchair guy claimed to have seen.

It just doesn’t make any sense.