A woman jostled Conner as she pushed her way past him.
He swore under his breath.
It wasn’t as if he was going slow. In fact, he was at almost a jog as he headed for the security line.
He hated air travel, and being late for his flight made it even worse.
The line for security stretched forever. Obviously people were back to flying after the latest scare.
He joined the line, just two back from the woman who had pushed him. Animal. He took out his phone, double-checked his ticket, then looked at the time.
Damn. He knew he would be cutting it close, but this was scary. His stomach turned a few times. Alligators, not butterflies in there today. He tried to smile at the thought, but was having a hard-enough time keeping back the tears.
The line actually was moving at a steady pace, even if being in it seemed like being stuck in amber, not moving for millennia, eons.
At long last he was able to hit the first check.
The woman studied his ID with a frown, then check the ticket on his phone. She studied him, then went back to the ID.
Was something wrong? He began to sweat.
“OK, have a good flight,” she said at last. “Next person in line, please.”
He grabbed his stuff and got into the next line for the scnas. In a few minutes he was able to toss his bag on the conveyor. A box took his phone, wallet and belt; another his shoes.
A walk through the metal detector, stopping for the scan, and that should be it…
We walked towards the belt for his stuff.
“Sir, please stop.”
He realized that the guard was talking to him.
“Is there a problem?”
“No, sir, it is just that only humans are allowed beyond this point.”
Conner froze, the alligators in his stomach turning into elephants.
“I’m sorry sir,” she smiled. “We can allow only flying passengers beyond this point, and due to the recent emergencies, only humans are allowed to fly.”
“But I am a flying passenger. Uhm, a human. I don’t have time for this!”
He turned to get his stuff off of the conveyor.
A hand dropped onto his shoulder.
“Sir.” She was no longer smiling. “I have to insist that you leave this area immediately.”
“Get your freaking hand off of me!” he screamed. “I have a plane to catch!”
He ripped out of the guard’s grasp, and pushed ahead.
Ignoring the stares, Conner grabbed his bag off of the conveyor and reached for his shoes.
Hitting the floor hurt.
After a second of disorientation, he tried to push himself up.
He was roughly pushed back down.
Boots. A lot of boots. All he could see were boots.
He felt his arms tugged. Hard steel bit into his wrists. Cuffs? Hands pulled him to his feet.
There were at least a dozen soldiers around him, each with a weapon aimed at him.
He went half limp and allowed himself to be led out.
“It acts like it doesn’t know.”
“Oh, they’re clever, those ones…”
“No, no, it is possible it doesn’t know. I’ve heard they use false memories.”
Conner glanced over at the five federal officers. One was watching him. They others just shot glances his way before returning to their conversation.
“Yeah, I’ve heard that. Creepy.”
Conner was handcuffed to a desk in a large open room. A few people sat at other desks, noses buried deep into large computer screens, but most of the occupants were standing just a few from him.
Conner returned his attention to his feet. There wasn’t a place on his body that didn’t hurt.
His body. His human body.
He was human! He knew it. It wasn’t false memories. How could it be? He knew!
“What do we have here?”
Conner turned and watched as a man in suit walked over to the others.
“Hi, Steve,” the woman who Conner thought was in charge before the man in the suit came in. She pointed at him. “It was caught at the airport, trying to barge its way in.” The man, Steve, glanced at Conner. “The detectors spotted it. It tried to rough up a guard before the soldiers arrived.”
“What version of the detector?”
“Version 7.3, the latest.”
“The ID looks great. It could fool anyone.”
My ID is real, Conner thought. I’m real!
The man, Steve, looked at the ID and then at the screen. The woman leaned over his shoulder and pointed.
“You see the discrepancies? Nobody in the field would have noticed.”
“Damn, they’re getting good.” Steve shook his head. “Good work, Carol. You and your team. And it has been verified, 100%, that it isn’t human? CAT scan, blood work, DNA tests and all of the rest?”
“Not yet. Version 7.3 is eight ‘9’s dependable, so no need.”
The man shook his head. “It needs to be done. We have to rule out a false positive…”
The man looked at Conner, then back at the other officers.
That’s it, a false positive. It had to be it.
“Eight ‘9’s is one in a billion,” the woman, Carol, said.
“Yes, and the Earth’s population is how many billions? But I’m afraid of something else, something far scarier, than a one in a billion false positive…”
Conner became aware that they were having a whispered conversation. He caught a few words. “Stooge”, “hack”, “duped”, tainted”, “throw doubt into..”, “evil”.
The woman stood straight and look directly at Conner for several seconds.
“Possibly,” she said at last. “Maybe some type of spray or aerosol. I could see that, though I don’t see how it could stay effective for so long. And the ID…”
“I know,” Steve said. “That’s why I said it was scary. If they could change his, then…”
“There would be no trust for anyone.”
“OK, he’s going to have the full round of tests. Jones, get our so called Mr. Conner Baily tested ass-sap.”
Conner brightened. He was going to be tested! They would know he was telling the truth!
His flight and destination were completely forgotten as he was led from the office.
The holding cell was tiny. Even without the restraints, Conner wouldn’t have the freedom to move.
They strapped him down as soon as he entered the clinic. The took blood and passed him through a CAT scan. There was also several other tests. Swabs stuck up his nose, seeming to sweep his sinuses clean. Another swab forced halfway down his throat. A few pin pricks.
Was all of this really needed to prove he was human? Wasn’t there something that could be done instantly?
He remembered the detector. That was instant.
And wrong! I’m human!
Could he have unknowing been part of a strange plot to throw the trust of detection into confusion? A stooge? Did someone, or something, infect him, or sprayed something on him to make him seem like a non-human? And what about the ID? A hack?
But he was so sure of himself. He was human! He knew!
The door opened. The female federal agent, Carol, was standing there. Three of the other officers were with her.
As were eight soldiers.
“The tests came back, didn’t they?” Conner asked. “They proved I am human, like I said, right? I know they did. They had too. Right? Please, let me know!”
“Wheel him out,” Carol said. “Let’s go.”
This little thumbnail sketch just came to mind. I hope you enjoy :)