They weren't ghosts, not really. The military were never able to figure out just what exactly they were, but they knew that they weren't ghosts. The women who disappeared began as real women, made from flesh and bones and blood, packed in tightly against the other, and hidden beneath traditional clothes. They had families and friends and a history that could be traced back to their birth.
But it didn't change the fact that, mid sentence, the words still caught in their mouth, everything would change about them. It's impossible to know what happened exactly, but the reports vary from a gentle caress, as if smoke were drifting through their body, to the sensation of feeling your body harden, and atrophy, and then begin to crack. This would explain why some women screamed, and others did not.
There was no link to any of the women, either. Some believed in Saddam Hussien, others in American troops, and yet more wanted nothing to do with either. They were different in age and shape and in the kind of colours they liked to wear. The only thing that can be said about all of the women was that each had been born in Iraq, though none of them in any one area; if anything, it is said that the women were from all over Iraq, rich and poor and middle classed, but each of them had been born in the country and had never, not once, placed a foot on foreign soil.
And then, when the American military occupied the country, the fading began.
"It was fucking odd," an anonymous commander said, later. "Pardon my French, but it was just fucking odd. They were all good honest women, and then, one day, just, y'know, gone. In front of their friends and everyone. I didn't believe it at first, and wouldn't have if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. From what I hear, the whole thing was a moment in time, and stopped the day our troops left Iraqi soil.
"Like I said, fucking odd."