The inspector from immigration control leaned close and Boror could smell his minty breath.
“You cannot keep up this front of denial. We have all your details now.”
The man’s accent was perfect. There was no hint that he was an off-worlder, no clue in the way he spoke that he had never set foot on one of Sol System’s planets, let alone been to Earth. His head was a different matter; hairless and smooth, ears pushed into his skull, a narrow mouth with thin lips and on either side of his neck flaps of skin that were part of his gills. He was a man designed for the large oceans that flowed across the world of Versfeld. Boror was not adapted in the same way and had therefore brought a skin-suit with him.
“Do you want to change your statement?” The inspector stood up, his glare remaining fixed on Boror. “Would you rather I start listing your movements over the past year? Would your tongue be loosened if you knew how helpful the Net Controllers have been?” One hand reached out and picked up the can of pop. “Maybe you could start by telling me who paid you to smuggle this in?”
Boror let his eyes drop from the drink. He stared longingly at his bag which lay on the floor in one corner of the room. If he had packed it himself rather than letting Keeran do it none of this would have happened. That one simple question would have been answered truthful and he would be free rather being grilled like a criminal.
“Did you pack your own luggage?” the immigration officer had asked Boror as he stood in the arrivals lounge of Versfeld’s orbital.
Boror’s answer had been a reflex. “Yeah. Sure.”
“Then could you explain why our scanners have detected the presence of illegal advertising material in your bag?”
The world had stood still while his mind raced, then reality had snapped back, and a sinking feeling had begun to grow in the pit of his stomach.
“I … err … What do you mean?”
At that moment the inspector had appeared.
“You need to come with me,” the man told Boror. “You are being accused of trying to infringe our world’s laws. If you resist security drones will be summoned and additional charges will be added to your file.”
Without waiting for an answer the inspector stepped close and picked up the one piece of luggage Boror had arrived with. Then he turned and walked towards a door. Boror followed, his brain still struggling to understand what was happening.
The questioning had started provocatively and continued that way.
“Do you think our laws are unreasonable?” the inspector had asked.
“Well,” Boror had paused so he could give some thought to his answer, “I know you’re one of the corporate worlds, funded by TI Entertainment, and because of that only their products are allowed into the system.”
The inspector had offered up a smile. It only succeeded in making him look more predatory.
“Now now, you make us sound like a draconian planet. Do not misjudge us, we are not like those strict religious worlds where visitors have to abide by hundreds of strange customs. All we ask is that certain products are not advertised.”
“But I wasn’t going to do that,” Boror had tried to explain. “I didn’t know the can was in my bag.”
The inspector had raised the skin above his right eye where his eyebrow should have been. “But we have the recording of you claiming to have packed your own bag, so you must have known.”
“That was … I didn’t mean it … I was just saying that. I didn’t think.”
“Well, we’ll know soon enough,” the inspector had told Boror. “I have issued orders to do background checks. We will see what they bring about. In the meantime if you are innocent you can relax. I will return soon.”
And in the thirty minutes Boror had been on his own he had failed to think of a way out.
“Look, my girlfriend packed my bag because I’m not very good at it. I don’t know how the drink got there but I guess she put it in so I’d have something to drink on the trip here. She probably didn’t even know about the rules for your planet.” He let out a sigh and sank back into the chair. “I’m really sorry, but you have to believe me, I didn’t intend to break any laws.”
“It’s an interesting story.” The inspector paused and grinned at Boror. “Fortunately for you I think you are telling the truth. Your records are clean and I can find no reason why we need to keep you any longer.”
It took a moment for the words to sink in, then Boror sat up straight.
“What, you mean I’m not going to prison?”
“Of course not,” the inspector replied. “There is a small matter of the law, but that is settled by the fine we are already processing. I will have to confiscate the item in question, but I’m sure you understand.”
Relief washed through Boror. All he wanted to do was hug the man across the table from him.
The inspector walked over to the corner of the room and picked up the bag. He handed it to Boror who had also risen.
“I do hope you enjoy your stay on our wonderful plant.”
Boror took the bag and headed for the door. “Err. Yeah, I think I will. Thank you.”
“Oh, and one more thing.”
“To show that there are no hard feelings I have arranged for you to receive a years supply of consumables from our owners. I hope you enjoy them.”
18 June 2010
Another series of ambush marketing stunts have caused people to be evicted from the stadiums where the FIFA World Cup 2010 matches were taking place.
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