The Manifest

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Chapter 15

     Mr. Carlson always worked late into the night. He was usually the first to arrive and likely always the last to leave. For someone on the government's dime, it's a shame no one knew he existed. He would be the one person in the system who actually works hard day in and day out for his income. As usual, he had a lot of reports to file with his superiors and they expected them all on time and highly organized. He was responsible for over twenty people and had to keep tabs on what they did and how well they managed to keep their covers. Any kind of leak or exposure could ruin everything so his job was important. He had a decent staff of close to a hundred people, and they all had important jobs as well. They lived near the locations of the people who had been relocated and took pictures for documentation of what they were doing and how they were adjusting to their relocation. It was Mr. Carlson's job to know which ones were feeling homesick, and whether or not that would lead them to make contact with people they're not allowed to speak with anymore. Preventing any of these people from being exposed to the public and even worse keeping the media from discovering what could be the biggest cover up in their nation's history was a tall order. There were days when he even questioned his job and what he was doing to prevent the truth from being known. Yet when he had days like that he was able to seek comfort in knowing that what they all did that day was for the good of the nation and had to be done. He had no problem sleeping at night, and the people he worked for made sure he was paid well to take care of their problem and make sure it didn't come back to bite them in the ass.

     The program was hard to get off the ground, but once the people involved accepted their fate and agreed to relocation, it made things much easier to handle. Many of them had to be detained in a prison like atmosphere until co-operation was assured. Some were easy to convince, especially when you know what strings to pull. Many people involved were told that their families were well compensated for having lost someone in the disaster, and that they were better off dead to their family than alive. To some the million-dollar plus package that was given to their families was enough reason for them to agree to relocation especially if the person in question wasn't too well off to begin with. In return for co-operating with the program, those who volunteered to accept relocation were given everything they needed to move on from what had happened. Some where re-educated and given better lives and a chance to start over. They were moved to another part of the nation, most of the time a small town that has little or nothing to do with anything that happened. Usually a small rural town with less than twenty thousand people was the ideal choice for relocation. They are the most appealing because towns like that mind their own business and don't nose around too much, and the media isn't as active as well so you lessen the odds of someone accidentally appearing on television.

     Regardless of where the person is relocated, you have to treat each case as if they were moved only a short distance from where they used to live. Anything less opens up your operation too much and that often leads to someone getting caught with someone who is supposed to be dead. Not exactly the position that the government/agencies want to find themselves in. So he was hired to oversee a portion of this relocation project because the powers that be respect and trust his work but he did his best to be fair to all parties involved, not just those pulling the strings. Yet every program has their faults, and this one had been no different. There have been only a few sightings, and when that has happened, the subject in question is quickly relocated and moved to another town where contact with the person in question is less likely to occur again. They even had one person who tried to run. That was an unfortunate incident that didn't end well. He had a lot of explaining to do and it was a mess that cost a lot of money to cover up. It's something he hoped wouldn't happen again but was the first thing on their mind when Mrs. Johnson disappeared for two days. They thought she had run, but it turns out she only left town to attend an anti-war vigil. She was there to morn the loss of her son, and it was something his superiors could understand since they have first hand knowledge of what is going on in that part of the world. It was a quiet event, and she was there just to light a candle and not talk to anyone. It wasn't like she went to a more public protest in front of the Whitehouse with Cindy Sheehan. This vigil was private and the media wasn't present... she had picked the event very carefully.

     Unfortunately, she wasn't careful enough as the sighting would suggest. When she first disappeared, they thought she had run but he refused to believe it. Ms. Johnson had been the most co-operative of all the people relocated. Even when her son had died, she had stayed where she was and didn't risk exposing the program. He refused to believe she would do this and it turned out he was right. He learned later that night that she had left with one of their agents to attend a vigil. So despite traveling Mrs. Johnson was still under proper supervision but the problem was the agent that failed to get approval for the trip. They couldn't fire her, not with the information she had concerning the project, so they transferred her to a different project where she can do her work without further incident.

     That however didn't change things. Someone saw her and to make things worse it was a member of her family. If it was a friend, you could easily make them believe that it was someone else they saw. Family members were different because once they see something they want to believe, it's rather hard to change their standpoint. To defuse the situation, they had got in touch with a contact at the police station, and advised him to be on the look out for her, and to help the station laugh off any attempts to tell them what she saw. He was very effective as Ms. Johnson left in tears and hasn't returned to the station since. She tried to talk to a few private investigators but he also used some muscle in the sector to scare a lot of them away. The rest of them would just turn her down because that kind of missing person search was too high for her to finance. This was a bullet they desperately needed to dodge, or he could face some tough questions from those above him. It wasn't exactly something he wanted to take again so soon after he had to neutralize a runaway a few months ago. It was the last thing he needed, but that's when things like this usually happen. Murphy's Law at work.

PJ Lowry

Edited: 07.11.2019

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