The van had stopped. I came fully to realising this. I had slide down and so had to pull myself upright. Listening hard, I tried to figure out where I was and what was happening. The van doors opened before I time to run through a list. Mr. Ryes stared at me then moved away leaving the door open.
A strong smell of damp and mould drifted in. I shuffled along the bench and peered out the door. We were in an underground carpark. I stood up, my knees shaking and side stepped to the middle. I had to sit down again and push myself towards the edge, before getting out the van. The ground felt good under me and I took a few steps forward.
Looking around, I couldn’t see much due to the dimness. The outlines of a few cars to the right of me and a light stairwell seemed to be behind them. I moved further out and saw Mr Rye and friends sharing a smoke next to the front bumper.
‘Where are we?’ I shouted to them.
Mr Ryes dropped the cig and stomped on it. He came over, swung around behind me and grabbed my cuffs. Without saying a word, he half dragged me across the carpark and towards the stairs. His friends followed us in the same silence. We waddled up the stairs and at the top went through some red double doors. We entered a hospital like hallway and walked down it to another set of doors.
We made it through them and entered an airport security like room. There were two guards sitting in a booth, looking bored. A number of long tables and tall chairs were lined down the room. There was also a fully body scanner and an x-ray machine against the far wall. I felt myself go numb as I was led to one of the chairs.
Ryes left me there and went to the booth where the guards were all ready moving. They talked in low voices and I missed everything they said. Fear was gripping me hard. Finally, Ryes and one of the guards came over to me. I was forced to stand and the guard patted me down. I came up clean and with a shove, Ryes pushed me towards another door and we went through into an interview room. Here, there was only a table, two chairs opposite and voice recorder. Ryes sat me down then took the other chair. He started the recorder then with a deep sigh asked me to state my personal information.
Feeling trapped, I spoke in a voice I didn’t recognizes as my own and stated my name, age, address, job title, place of work and my mother’s full name, as standard.
Ryes grunted then leaning back in his chair asked, ‘do you deny staring at a drone earlier on today?’
‘I looked at it, yes.’
‘Were you staring at it?’ he spit.
‘No. At least, not really,’ I answered.
‘Are you trying to be funny, Coy? Answer the damn question!’
‘Then, no!’ I shot back, ‘I wasn’t staring at the drone.’
‘Are you a spy? Are you against this government?’ Ryes asked as he pressed a hand to his forehead and rubbed it.
‘Of course not! Do I look like a spy to you? And I actually like the government right now, they’re doing a good job,’ the words came too smugly from my lips.
‘Who was the woman we saw you talking to?’ Ryes asked, seemly ignoring my tone of voice.
‘At the office. The blonde. You followed the drone to her desk and we saw you talking.’
‘Oh her! Nope. I don’t know her. I needed something, so I went to see if she had one,’ I replied quickly, the story spilling from me.
‘What was it?’
‘A..erm…staples. Yes, I need staples.’
‘And you couldn’t go to the supply cupboard?’ Ryes drawled.
‘No. It’s company policy. Everyone gets the correct amount of supplies every month. We have to fill in a form to request more and prove usage. Doesn’t that happened here too?’
‘Look…let’s just get through this okay. Now, tell me the truth, what do you know about that drone? What were you doing?’
I shook my head, ‘nothing. I was going about my job. I saw it out the corner of my eye and it startled me. Then I just got back to work.’
Ryes sighed and grabbed the desk tightly in both hands. He seemed to be weighing up his next words carefully. ‘You swear upon this?’
‘Yes. It’s the truth. And there’s still no law against looking at government drones, is there?’ I asked a question for a change.
‘Ha, how do you know it was a gov drone?’ Ryes banged a fist on the table.
‘Well, if it wasn’t why did you bring me in here? Of course at the time I didn’t know that. All drones look alike, especially the white ones. Don’t they?’
Ryes swore and stood up, he stomped out of the room and the door banged shut behind him. I stared after him then settled back in the chair. It was a good few minutes before he came back. Silently, he released me from my cuffs. I rubbed my wrists and thanked him.
‘So, what happens now?’ I asked gently.
‘You’re free to go,’ Ryes snorted, ‘turns out you are a nobody. Leave.’ He waved me away.
‘Just like that?’
‘Yeah, sure. Turns out you’re the wrong person. Luckily old you.’
I frowned and looked around the room hoping to see that this had all been some kind of joke.
‘You are free to go. There’s the door,’ Ryes pointed out.
I stood up and went to it. I reached out for the door handle, hoping he didn’t see my hand shaking and turned it. Stepping out, I felt cold air rush around me. Whatever I was expecting –people jumping out, sirens going off etc.- didn’t happen. I walked back through the security area and saw the guards back in their booth. They didn’t even move as I walked through the doors and into the hallway.
I walked down the corridor through the other doors and into the underground parking. Still no one stopped me. I walked over to the van I had come in and saw a door opposite marked street exit. I went over and easily opened the door and stepped out. I walked up some stairs and found myself back in the middle of the city.
The air seemed so clean and welcoming, I took in a few deep breaths before heading home. My mind tumbled through what had happened and Ryes’ wrong person line. A smile lit up my face and thought how unsuspecting being a ‘nobody’ was.