It started with dress up. Chloe loved dress up. Princess, fairy, fireman, pirates, you name it and Chloe wanted to be it. At least once, and usually in some rotation that only she understood. I didn't mind. She's a good kid, quiet, easy going, and sometimes even charming. For one of them. 

Chloe's not human. Not really. Some kids just aren't at first. We used to think they were switched at birth. That they were changelings. And then we figured out that humans aren't what we think we are. We aren't from here originally, well some of us aren't...weren't. I don't know, it's confusing. 

Basically some of us carry DNA that isn't human, or any animal that we recognize. Maybe it is alien, or maybe it is some ancestor that went completely extinct. Either way, some humans are only carriers. And then there are the ones like Chloe. Her parents are...different. And then they had her and it's like she's concentrated Other. She's from Outside as they say. 

She looks like a human child most of the time, even sounds like one. But she knows things she shouldn't and says things no one wants to hear. Like yesterday when I picked her up from school she was telling her teacher "Your mother says hello. She'll see you soon."

Sounds innocuous right? Right. Except Ms. Healey's mother died years ago. Ms. Healey looked sick, and then I looked her up and she was a suspect in her mother's death. No one was ever caught. 

I'm supposed to teach Chloe not to say things that scare people, but I'm not sure how to teach her that something so simple might be a warning. Or a threat. Chloe is nice, but she's not good at subtext. 

Anyway because she's a kid that doesn't have a lot of friends...well any really, she spends her free time in costume. 

I thought that was fine. I encouraged it even as an Approved Adjustment Activity. For once her parents didn't argue with me like they did about everything else. Left to them she would have spent her time roaming with them, learning how to be Outside. They have one foot firmly in human so the toe dipping in Other is fine for them. Not for her. 

"She has to learn how to have a foot in human" I said to her mother when she wanted to keep her at home longer. 

"The Authorities have the rules in place for a reason." I told her father when he wanted to take her out of school because the teachers and the students weren't kind. 

I was right, but I was wrong too. Chloe's costumes weren't just a way for her to role play human, they became a way out of humanity for her. For a lot of them apparently. She dressed up like me today. I thought it was cute, but now I can't find her. We can't find any of them. Or their parents. 

You would think that was a good thing, that it would be a relief. But...I think they did more than we knew. I think maybe they kept the sun rising and the world turning. 

Things are wrong now. The world is breaking down, like an engine with nothing to grease the wheels. They scared us so much with their comments and their ways...

Ms. Healey died in front of me. No pain I think, but she said "Mommy" and then she vanished. Her skin came back, but there was nothing in it. A lot of empty skins around now, costumes. I'm afraid to ask what's going to be wearing them. Or where Chloe and her parents got theirs...