Saturday, 19 January 2008

FLASH FICTION - Immigration


Copyright (C) 2008 David C. Such

First published in AntipodeanSF (, Issue 116, January 2008.

The straps of the detention chair bit into his arms and his work shift was drenched with sweat. He jumped as the door to the holding cell slammed open. Two immigration officers strode in and stood looking at him. They weren't smiling. Apolyon tried to speak but his throat was so dry that it came out as a croak.

The male officer made a small gesture. The female nodded and snapped open a portable console. The male dragged a wooden chair across the bare fermcrete floor to the scarred table across from Apolyon. The wood on fermcrete screeched and made Apolyon wince.

"My name is Officer Dempsey. You have applied to become a citizen of the Australian territory of Synus V and as part of this process we need to ensure that you understand the Australian values of courage, endurance, mateship, and sacrifice. You will be asked a series of questions and your answers will be monitored by Officer Hynes," he nodded towards the female immigration officer. "We will know if you lie," he added.

"It is our policy not to detain females and offspring, consequently your family is being held in temporary accommodation modules within the DMZ. Should your application be unsuccessful you and your family will be returned to your territory of origin. Do you understand the situation?"

Apolyon looked Dempsey in the eye, trying to form a connection. "I just want to ensure the safety of my family. All native Synian's are being culled and I will do anything to keep them safe. I beg you to help me."

"True," said Hynes.

Dempsey looked away, "I am not responsible for setting foreign policy. If you answer the questions correctly you will become a citizen, if not you go back. I need you to confirm that you understand this."

"I understand."

"True," said Hynes.

"To earn the right of citizenship you will need to work in the Roentgenium Mines for a period of five standard years. Due to its remote location you will not be able to see your family for this period. Do you accept this condition?" Dempsey asked.

Apolyon bowed his head and whispered, "Country is not blood."

"What's that? You need to speak up."

"I understand."

"True," said Hynes.

"Good," said Dempsey. "One final question. Have you ever been involved in the Synian Resistance Movement?"

Apolyon frowned and replied, "No, I've never heard of such a group."

"False," said Hynes.

"What?? No there must be some mistake! The machine is mistaken!"

"The machine is never mistaken. This session is terminated at 14:52. Your questioning will be continued by Homeland Security."

Dempsey and Hynes left the room. The door remained inadvertently ajar. Apolyon stared at the fermcrete floor in disbelief, and strained his ears to listen.

"Bad luck for him that he arrived in an election year," said Hynes.

"What else are we going to do? If we don't fill our quota of rebels we become part of the problem."

Apolyon screamed as Dempsey returned to slam the door — no doubt to move on to the cell of the next unlucky immigration candidate.