4109 words (16 minute read)

Case File 1: Sandra French-Wortcowski

Case File 1:
Sandra French-Wortcowski

So, I came to 3 conclusions, which I will reiterate in this report, but first to the case studies that brought me to these conclusions. I have striked the name of the Bunker and the city in which it is located from the record in order to protect those that we are serving, also these same papers have been hidden somewhere within my personal effects should I be drugged again and also within Dr. Owens, along with his statements.  This isn’t a standard report, it is written in the third person, and is the retelling of all relevant events previous to now since, likely, my memories are being altered as you read this.  Keep up the good fight, all.  We are making headway.  


“Don’t bother with the alarm, honey, I’ve got the kids tomorrow”

Douglas looked at her with love as he spoke slowly.

“But, how will you know when to wake if I do not set the alarm?” she asked him.

“I’ve got my alarm, don’t worry about it.  You sleep, you’ve been sickly, the kids were crazy today.”  He kissed her forehead “Probably all of the candy they got.  I’m sure they’ll wake up with stomachaches tomorrow.”

She opened her mouth to say more, but her head hit the pillow and before she could respond, she was fast asleep.

She awoke with a start, Nov. 1, 2016... That event in which she was dreaming occurred 2 years previous, and the pleasant suburban life she lead then was nothing more than a simple memory.

She woke up in the bunker, alone in her cot surrounded by other cots.  She tried to make sure her sobbing didn’t wake the others and then she rose and started her yoga, as she did every morning after The Missing Day.

Lewey shuffled through the dark somewhere ahead of her, and as she started on Surya Namaskara, she saw his broad smile greet her.

“Today’s a rough day for you, Katrine.  You should take the day to regroup.”

“Naw thanks Lewey, you know I can’t do that.  I have to help the others and their families.”

“Don’t you think you should tell them what happened to you and your family?” he asked in a hushed tone.

“Shh, Lewey.  They’ll lose all respect for me and I can’t have that.  My family will be found eventually.  I just have to do it myself.”

“Do you want to go out to tea and chat about it for a while?”

“If you don’t mind.  Just let me finish up some yoga and get my head on straight.”

“Of course Kate, you do what you need to do.”

“Lewey,” she called after him, “until we get back from tea you can call me my real name, ok?”

He smiled broadly again, “Ok, Sandy. I’ll see you in the mess hall in a few.”

Katrine finished her yoga, took a fast shower then headed up to the mess hall, still no one was awake.  Lewey smiled at her again then lead her out the door.

He lead her to the Prius out front and opened the door for her, then he got in and drove them to a coffee house a fair distance from the bunker.  As they drove they made idle conversation, it was then that Sandy noted how much older Lewey was than she.  

Lewey had been her friend for a long time, they met online via a game.  They got to talking and had hit it off fairly well.  As all hell broke loose in Sandy’s life, Lewey was always there for her, offering her prayer and advice when she was at her wits end.  So when Sandy called him on Christmas of 2014 and told him that she had been looking and found a lot of other people’s families, but had not yet found her own, that he volunteered to help her, he and his kindly wife Debbie dropping everything to come help out.  It was lucky that Sandy had such a gift for finding others, because as it turned out, she was able to form a business to seek out others affected by The Missing, and eventually got to the point that she could afford to get other staff involved.  

Lewey and Debbie were almost old enough to be her parents, still she couldn’t imagine living without them somewhere nearby.

This was the second year they had made this pilgrimage on November 1st, the frost sparkling on the grass, the sun not yet in the sky, stores and coffee houses displaying Christmas decorations, just 1 day after Halloween.  She thought of her children, her 3 little boys and what they were dressed in when she last saw them.  They were in costumes for Halloween.  They were so tired that they all 3 fell asleep in them, she tucked her little werewolf, zombie and piggy into their beds, made herself a cup of tea and nearly fell asleep into the cup.  She was so drowsy.  The tears fell from her eyes quietly as Lewey drove.

“We’ll find them soon, Sandy.” Lewey said, feeling her pain.  His children were all grown and in the Military, and so he did not see them often and knew how she must feel.

“They won’t even remember me!” she sobbed.

“Yes they will, a child always remembers their mother, no matter what.  Have faith, let us pray.”  And he sang a lovely hymn that Sandy could not place as they drove.

Lewey and Debbie were deeply religious people, a fact that grated at Sandy a bit, but she understood that the absence of faith for some people was worse than death itself, so she tolerated and even encouraged their prayers and hymns, knowing this was one of the things that kept them moving.

They arrived at the coffee shop a little past 6am.  Sandy ordered blueberry tea and scones, Lewey ordered coffee, and they sat at a small table in the corner, Sandy grabbed her smartphone, (she had both a smartphone and a dumb phone.  The dumb phone could not be traced via GPS, whereas the smartphone could.  She never took the smartphone on missions that required she not be tracked.) and she set it on a white noise app so that no one could overhear what was being said.  It was early yet, but she didn’t want to take any chances of someone overhearing her story.

Lewey said, “Well, begin where you wish, do you need me to ask you questions to start you off as I did last time?”

Sandy nodded as she took a bite of her scone.  Talking about the event made things easier, but it still wasn’t easy.

“So, what is the last thing you remember about Halloween 2014?”

Sandy thought back and allowed her mind to go to places she didn’t generally allow it to go.

“...Steve was a werewolf, he was 7 years old, Paul was a Zombie, and Christian was a piggy.  I tucked them in at night about 9:30, after we got home from my Mother’s from Trick or Treating with their cousins.  Then I started tea, almost fell asleep while steeping it, then went to bed.  Douglas tucked me in, he kissed my cheek and he said goodnight.  I must have been asleep by the time my head hit the pillow.”

Lewey watched her as her memories began to flood back, he reached out and asked Jesus to guide him, as was his way.  He closed his eyes, then opened them again.

“What do you remember about Missing Day?”

“I woke up with a start well after the alarm should have gone off, it must have been like... 10 or 11 am.  I noted we had lost power overnight, so when I woke up and couldn’t find my phone, I didn’t know what time it was.  I noticed Doug missing first.  I called out for him from our bedroom and I thought, ‘he must still be out taking the kids to school’ then I panicked again because I didn’t know what time it was.  I looked for the kids, little Chris wasn’t in his toddler bed and should have been by all accounts.  Chris was 2 back then.  Then I thought the house was just a bit too quiet.  I went looking, and I noticed that all their backpacks, coats and things were still here.  Doug’s computer was still sitting in the corner untouched from the night before, everything was in the place where I left it, except for Doug and the boys.  I ran out the door...”

“Why?  Why’d you leave your house?”

“I left because I thought, maybe if I could see the car, maybe I could determine what had happened, or maybe I could make a few calls and drive to where they were.  My car was still where I had left it the night before, it hadn’t been driven.  I could tell because their was a light dusting of snow and no tire marks to or from my carport.  I went back in again, my telephone was missing, and so I couldn’t call anyone and find out where they were.  Doug’s phone was gone too.”  Emotions began to flood back, the woman of steel proving, only to her old friend, that she was still a mortal, somewhat sane and heartbroken individual.

“I just sat on my bench at the front door and cried.  I couldn’t think.  After some time I felt panicked again and decided I had to look, I went to my car to look for any signs they had been there.  None.  My cigarettes were where I had left them, save for one or 2.  As I walked back toward my apartment, I saw a little girl in the hallway by the security door.  She said she couldn’t find her parents.  I felt for her immediately, Chloe was her name.  I sort of knew Chloe’s parents, and they weren’t the kind that would just leave their child wandering about, and so I went to their home.  I found their cell phones both missing as well, their home phone was still working, though.  I called the police, and told them the situation, that Chloe’s parents were missing, and that my husband and children were also missing.  They said that this was not something unusual, that they had heard of many others who had suddenly lost family members overnight, and they said they would be along shortly.  Before the police car had come, however, some men in smart suits approached.  They both had official looking badges, they said they were from the secret service, which I thought was strange but, they said they knew where Chloe’s parents were, they said they’d take her to them.  I never saw her again.”

“Why’d you let her go?”

“I thought they were the police, only a more sensitive division who didn’t wear uniforms because they were working with kids and didn’t want to frighten them.  I could tell they knew where Chloe’s parents were, in fact I think they may have been the ones who abducted her parents.”  Sandy spat the words like bitter venom, “and they also probably took my boys and my husband from me.”  She felt herself choke up, but persisted.  “They took my phone, they took his phone, I called his parents who had no idea where he was either, then later stopped taking my phone calls, I’ve lost my family and I still have no idea why.” she said quietly.  “I know how our clients feel.”

Lewey reached out his hand to her.  “We are going to find them, Sandy.  They will be just fine, just like all of the other people we find daily, I just wish you’d allow someone to work with you, you know sometimes when you are close to a situation you can’t--”

“I know, Lewey.  I think there is more to that.  Everytime I try to search for him on facebook, or write him an email, it acts like he doesn’t exist, but when I use our research login, I can see him, but when I click on the link, suddenly it all goes away.  I think someone wants me NOT to find him, I just don’t know why.”

“Well,” Lewey said matter of factly, “There are some that believe this is a government conspiracy.  Just no one knows why the government would do this to their people.”

“I’ve called in everyone I can think of from my past to look and research, and be liaisons, I’ve called in all of the big guns... and yet, nothing.”

“You may just need bigger guns,” said Lewey.”Is there anyone that you haven’t thought of?”

She smirked, “Isn’t that a kind of silly question?  Someone I haven’t thought of?  I mean, if I haven’t thought of them, what would make me think of-- hold up, you’re right.  There IS someone I haven’t thought of.  But, I’m not calling him in just yet.  He’s got a Ph.D...  We don’t need to be paying for someone with a Ph.D without exhausting all other options.”

Lewey just grinned, “You’re the boss, boss.”

“It’s just... there’s history Lewey, and it’s a history that I don’t dare delve into right now.  My heart is already in chaos.  But I think it’s someone who may be able to figure out why we can and cannot find certain people’s online presence... I think someone, or something, doesn’t want them to be found.  I just can’t pin down the why, but I think I’m right on the edge of something big.”

“Surely you aren’t getting on the ‘government conspiracy’ bandwagon, are you?”  Lewey asked, “I mean, not to say that’s wrong, you’re just usually the one who stops me from going off the deep end.”

“I don’t have much other logical choice.  Let’s look at it a second.  There was no environmental or geological event, it happened nationwide, but not worldwide, the very people who are looking for their family cannot find their families because when they search, they find no one, but when we search, either individually or using the research login, we have no problems.  

Except of course, with my family,  Alan, who was the one who got us that research logon, approached someone else to do it, said to keep it on the hush because the guy who got it for him would be fired if it was found the research login was leaked...  but whoever it was would have known that I was the one running our organization, and that I am not who I seem to be.”  Sandy let out a sigh, “But who am I kidding?  That’s crazy talk, right?”

Lewey looked at her sternly. “I wish I could say yes, but no.  It’s not crazy.  The way that the media by and large ignored this except for right after the original Missing Day...  it’s almost as though they were paid off or something.”

Sandy turned off the white noise app on her cell phone.

“Then Mr. Kratkey can I ask you to look into how far this rabbit hole goes?” she said in an overly loud and Katrine sort of way.

Lewey raised an eyebrow as he replied, “Of course my dear, it would be my pleasure.”  Katrine only smiled broadly as though someone from a newspaper was out to take her picture.

“Great!  Let’s go back to the bunker and reunite some families.”

The coffee house had grown quite busy while Lewey and she spoke, and in the corner of the room she saw two smartly suited men attempting to listen a bit too intently to she and Lewey’s conversation.  She gently elbowed Lewey on their way out without drawing attention to herself.  Lewey only nodded, then studied the two men without staring directly at them.

On the way back, Lewey drove again, but Sandy was no longer acting like Sandy, she was all business Katrine.  She had her clipboard out with a list of names.  

When they got back to the bunker, the place was alive with people, Finders, Missing and reunited families all around, either inside or outside, jumping rope, playing basketball, laying down in the grass and looking at the sky.  Everyone had something to do.

A short squeaky looking man approached with a slight limp, looking very formal.

“Katrine, do you have a moment?” he told her

“We have a family in LA that needs to be gotten out of LA and toward Chicago, do you have anyone that could act as a confident in this case?”  the short squeaky man blurted out without breathing.

“Yes!” She said without a quiver in her voice, “I’ll call him and I’ll report back to you shortly.”

Lewey waved goodbye to Katrine then found his wife writing poetry and beginning her morning prayers.

Katrine walked to her desk, took a deep breath, then entered her office.

She grabbed her smart phone and dialed the number.

“Powers and Tater insurance.” said the chipper voice on the other end of the line.

“Gary Roostertail please.”

“Yes ma’am, please hold.”

“Gary, go!”

“Um, hi Gary...”

“Holy shit, is this Sandy?  How the fuck are you darlin?  I haven’t heard from you in ages?  How’s the Midwest treating you?  Oh, have I told you about the newest project I’m working on, I think I could use your help on it, too.  See it’s a mystery..”

“Gary, I’m calling on business, can you please call me on the dumbphone?”

He was quiet a moment, more like the Gary she knew and loved.

“Sure Katrine, I’ll call you there.”

Then he hung up.

While she waited for Gary to call her back, she looked over the file that Dave, the squeaky short man, had given her.  It showed an older yellowing photograph of a family, a wife, a husband, and 2 children, then she turned the page; the children were grown.

She heard the mechanical beep of the dumb phone.

“Yeah?” she said into the receiver

A quiet and serious Gary came to the phone, one completely contrary to his alter ego the insurance salesman.

“What can I do to help, Katie?”

“The family here, the Smith’s, they need to get out of LA.  These ones were placed within the same city, only a few blocks away, but every time they try to get together to hang out, they find themselves home, it’s a day later and they do not remember seeing their families.  Clearly, they have been together, a picture or 2 were taken that they had the good sense to put online before they found themselves knocked out.  Those pictures were then removed.”  This statement prompted a thought in her head that she jotted down on her clipboard for later.

“Anyway, what we are looking to do is set up some alter egos, get them either into the bunker here or in Windsor Ontario and allow them a life where they won’t be constantly removed from one another.”

“I can do that, Katie.”

“Before you say yes, this could be dangerous, we don’t really quite know what we are up against here, it’s an unusual case.  Usually when those who are Missing are found and brought back to their families, there are no further problems to report.  They are able to return to normal life, but this family... I don’t know what the deal is.”

“Listen, I’ll be on the next plane out there, we’ll talk then.” Gary said.

“Ok Gary, thank you.” and she hung up.

Katrine preferred to speak in person about cases that could be dangerous or could backfire.  This case was indeed the most unusual thing she’d seen in quite some time.  It’s not like the Missing to remain that way.  She wondered to herself what exactly could be happening.  It was then she heard a knock on her office door.

Lewey smiled at her as she opened the door.

“Yes?” she asked.

“I’ve got a case here I think you might be interested in.”

“I’m kind of busy on another one right now, Lewey, can you bring it back?”

“No hon, this one needs your attention now.”

She rolled her eyes and took the paper from him.

The paper read:

“Zander Owens Ph.D. in computer science, background in ethical hacking, cannot find his wife Deborah Manning Ph.D. in Psychological studies.  He requests the aid of the Finder’s Guild”

Telephone numbers and addresses followed, but she did not need them.  

Katrine’s heart sank.  This was the man she was speaking of that very morning.  Her “save it for a rainy day.” guy.  The guy that she had placed a lot of false hope in.  In short, the one that got away, FAR away, and kept getting away until he could go no farther, that guy that she alienated, the man that she hadn’t said more than hello to for 10 years.

She looked at Lewey, “Why did this come to me?” she said, after regaining her composure.

“Alan said you needed to take this one, he was too busy.”

Katrine wasted no time and made her way into Alan’s office in 3 long strides.

“Alan!” she said “What is the meaning of this?”

Alan turned around in his chair to address them.  He had long dark hair, wild and intense green eyes and a slender build.  He was cool and centered.

“Lewey man, could you, like, you know, skedaddle for a few?”


Alan closed his door.

“Chill baby...”

Kate’s eyes narrowed, Alan realized immediately he wasn’t going to be able to sweet talk his way out of this one, so he decided he’d better tell the truth.

“So Kate, ya remember how I told you I owed that guy a favor.  The guy who gave us our research logins?”

“Um yeah, but I don’t see how my taking this as--.”

“Well, here’s the favor.  He said if a job ever came in from this individual, that I was to hand it off to you.  No matter what.  So, I did.  He made it clear that we would lose our research logins and our funding if we didn’t comply so... yeah.  You’re going to need to talk to Dr. Owens.”

“There must be a misunderstanding. Dr. Owens and I, well, to put it politely we have, ‘history’, I don’t see how my helping an estranged ex boyfriend will further your contact’s pursuits”

“He just said he wanted you to do it.  Said it would be important to him.  He said something about Zander being his friend and being real down in the dumps since his wife disappeared.  He thought it would do The good Doctor some good to see you.”  

She ripped the paper off of his desk and turned on her heel, grumbling the whole way back to her office.