Cameraman 3, Dan Cheselford, felt like he was going to throw up. He paced around the small room they had placed him in, to go over the script before it was time to go on air.

Go on air?

How was that going to work? He was the one who put others on air, not the one smiling into the lights. His lips felt numb. Were they still there? He patted them to make sure.

Dan's boss, Alan Tideman, had assured him that he was the best choice for this assignment. The regular anchors, and their back ups, were all either awol - or refused to do this story. Alan had made it all seem so reasonable.

But, how can an anchorperson refuse to do their job? And why?

Dan glanced back down at the short script prepared for him by old Dougie. He had worked with Doug since they were both fresh out of community college. Doug with the words, Dan with the pictures. They worked together, drank together, dated cousins and almost had the same wedding! Dougie would not let him down now.

But the words on the page did not make sense. He could not read this to a waiting world. Even if they were one of the few stations up and running again so soon after the disaster. Why didn't Mr. TIdeman do this himself? Why a cameraman?

Alan had explained that he was the right demographic for this particular news update. His handsome face and graceful posture borne of youth and great health - this was just what the people needed now. A young man who believed in tomorrow - he was going to tell them that.

But did he believe it?

Dan was not so sure anymore.

"Five minutes", Olivia announced through a crack in the door she had opened to stick her pretty nose in.

"Olivia," Dan begged." you read this! I can't stand public speaking - you know that. I am going to faint."

"You won't faint," Olivia soothed as she stuck her face in another few inches. "Just keep your eye on the green light and when Jake points at you - read the script. Calmly, cheerfully. Boom - you will be done in no time."

Before he could respond, she had closed the door and he could hear her heels clicking away down the corridor.

Dan stared at the door for a bit. Thinking exactly nothing. He had been doing that a lot for the last few days. Hearing people talk about it, eating, walking, sleeping - but not really processing. Not actually making his mind face the facts. And now he was going to read the facts to millions of people and explain what the sitting president had decided had happened.

He missed his mom.

And at that thought, tears began pouring down his face. Silent globes of grief, sliding down his cheeks and into his shirt collar.

Another stage hand, Chrissy he thought her name was, appeared in the suddenly open door and watched some of the tears on his pained expression. She seemed totally unmoved by this sight, and took him by the hand - leading him into the hall and down towards the set.

And all those lights and cameras.

She placed him on a stool, on his spot - primped his hair a bit, as the make-up girl had not even called in - just failed to show up for work as so many were doing this week.

"You will be fine," maybe-Chrissy whispered.

"You ready, old buddy?" Jake asked without waiting for a reply - his hand swooped downward and his pointer finger pointed right at Dan's heart. A nod, when Dan failed to start reading immediately.

"Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen - fellow survivors. KOAM brings you this important message from our sitting President, Joseph Mitchell.

Four days ago, our world experienced a disaster like nothing it has seen before.

All nations have been effected by this outlandish event and heads of state have been in constant communication as we draw on our scientists and experts to determine the origin of these disappearances.

It has been determined that the asteroid that we have been tracking since November 17th, is actually a vehicle from another galaxy."

(At this, Dan giggled hysterically and hiccupped before going on).

"There is evidence that the people missing since last Sunday, April 4, 2021, have been abducted by this space craft. Scientists are still examining some crucial footage of some of these abductions, and are still determining how this was accomplished. Let it be said that this technology outstrips anything earth can comprehend.

Local authorities throughout our countries are setting up stations for you to report your missing friends and loved ones. Be sure that you make thorough searches for them prior to reporting them missing.

Local food banks and medical centers are being strengthened by Federal government aid to restore daily life in it's simplest form, for the time being.

Do not fear and stay in your homes as much as you can. Phone and internet service will be restored as soon as possible. Some areas are already up and running.

We can and will get through this...."

The words blurred beneath Dan's eyes. Where was the supposed sitting President who issued this statement? No one had seen or heard the House or Senate install him after the chain of command had either disappeared or mysteriously died four short days ago.

Jake was motioning frantically for Dan to continue, when he looked up again. But the ache in his soul began to moan - and some of it leaked out of his mouth, as the tears did from his weary eyes.

Would he ever sleep again?

His mom would know what to do. Even at 27 years of age, she had always been there for him when things got bad. And they were so completely awful right now. She would know just what to say.

She would know just what to pray.

But she was gone. Four short, endless days ago. She had been one of the vanished. His beautiful, loving mom. And just like the other millions that had suddenly disappeared from their cars, homes, jobs, shopping, nursing, teaching, doing....she suddenly was not.

She would have know just what to pray.

Susan Whitlock


February 10, 2021 14:50

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Bonnie Clarkson
01:57 Feb 21, 2021

I appreciate that the story was about non-Christians, not just people who knew better and were left behind. Good job writing. Bringing in his Mom brought a personal touch to the story.


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Ethan Berger
19:11 Feb 19, 2021

I really liked your story, I thought it was really creative to make your historical moment UFO related. Very unexpected and unique. I actually ended up revising my story "Sweat" based on some feedback I received (it was unfortunately after I submitted) but I wanted to share some of the things I learned from other writers I respect. I did a little critique and left comments on Google Sheets below - they were principles I ended up using from the critique. I'm not an expert, by any definition of the word, so take my comments with a grain of sa...


Susan Whitlock
16:05 Feb 21, 2021

Those were incredibly helpful! Thanks.


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