Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Proof of Life - #FridayFlash

Harry stood in the customs line at the L-1 docking station, trying to contain his excitement without much success. The broad grin on his face let everyone know that this was his first visit to Earth, the cradle of civilization. Even the old lady behind him, bumping her suitcase into his legs at regular intervals, couldn’t dampen his spirits. The line snaked around the spaceport in an intricate weave; he kept meeting the same bored expressions at each turnstile as they inched toward their goal.

The customs inspector seemed robotic and Harry thought that maybe he was, before remembering that the Unfair Employment Act of 2263 had banned robots from civil service jobs.


The monotone voice caught Harry off-guard, but couldn’t suppress his enthusiasm.

“Yes, sir. I have it right here.” He handed the chip to the agent with a flourish.

“Planet of birth?”

“Mars—the Clinton Colony.” Harry was rather proud of the fact that he came from such a famous colony. They were all named after dead Earth presidents, but some were more notorious than others. The agent gave him a cold-eyed stare.

“Birth certificate?”

Harry sputtered briefly before regaining his composure.

“They didn’t tell me I had to bring it. I had to present it in order to get the passport. It’s all in the scan there on your reader.”


What? “Human.”

“How do I know that, if you don’t have your birth certificate? Only humans are allowed to go down to Earth.”

“What else would I be?” The line behind Harry grew restless with the delay. The old lady shoved her bag into his legs again.

The agent shrugged, the first human gesture Harry had seen him make.

“You could be an Orion.”

“The Orions are the only aliens we know and they have purple skin and three eyes! Of course I’m human.” Harry broke out in a sweat, the grumbling behind him increasing in volume.

“I don’t make the rules, just enforce them. You have to present your birth certificate.”

“What rule is that?”

“The Birthers Act of 2025.”

“What? That was between countries, not Human vs. Alien.”

“The Space Agency decided to apply it here. Not my call.”

Shouting broke out in the line, calls of “go back home” audible within the mob. The agent motioned to a security guard standing off to one side.

“You’ll need to step out of line, Harry…,” he glanced at his screen, “Townsend. Please go with the guard to the deportation area.”

“But I’m human. I was born on Mars.” Harry panicked as the burly guard with no neck pushed his way next to him.

The agent frowned at Harry in suspicion now. “Without your certificate I don’t know that. In fact, how do I know that you were even born at all? There’s no proof. I’m sending you to the interrogation center instead. Mars might not want you back, either. Next in line…”

The last thing Harry saw was the old lady stepping up to the counter and presenting her birth certificate as she waved goodbye to him.