Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A holiday in Nauru

Mondays Musical Musings

A story inspired ( or begun) by listening to:

All I Need is You by U2

The first day of any position is a nerve racking one, but Nadas was marked with the arrival of Ike, another new employee and one who seemed just as keen to make an good impression and show of the skills from the academy as she. Although she had been a seasoned traveler and passing through the security gates at the border was second nature, being on the other side of the tempered glass made it seem so clinical and sinister.

Immigration Officers were trained to look concerned, answering the immigrants issues in soothing voices, empathic and assuring them their applications would be dealt with in due course. As part of the process they would be guided toward the Transient Communities and guarded closely for their own safety. The applications were added to the political and bureaucratic minefield surrounding asylum seekers and their travelors ID disks confiscated – for safe keeping. Even though there was an active equal opportunity policy, welcoming immigrants and asylum seekers, the communities these people were held in while a decision were made grew substantially with few ever gaining citizenship.

Despite all attempts to stop them, someone replaced the name of the one of the communities shuttle bus signs with the name “Nauru”. Repeated database searches only showed that it was an ancient island holiday camp near Australia. It confused Nada why the authorities would be so bent upon removing this reference; especially as it was one of her duties to remove it each day.

They both found a rhythm in their work; Nada impressed with Ikes genuine concern for the welfare of those he processed. As their workplace friendship evolved, building on mutual respect and trust, Nada attempted a few times to shift it toward a more social one. Ikes quiet refusal to drinks or to parties confused Nada, but she accepted this with grace, realizing that although they spoke often on their shift, rarely did he mention personal matters. She had flushed, assuming that he was single, for he had no relationship implant on his wrist. He was obviously younger than he looked and hadn’t reached the Maturity Levels in order to be eligible for a partnership.

Their days were filled by waiting for the tinniest tell tale signal that travel disks and papers were fake or that the potential citizen were hiding something undesirable for entry. The government had set stringent entry criteria based on language and cultural tests. This saw very few actually admitted; though with notes of credit or personal recommendations, skills testing and family applications, the government could subjectively ensure that only desirable persons got the large neon stamp attached to their identity disk and welcomed into the citadel.

Some applicants were rejected outright, sent back to their own homes. It was not of the government or their agents concerns that these people may be re entering highly volatile environments , disease ridden or hostile religious persecution.

A set of clear ID disks exploded near Nadas elbow . She quickly looked up into the red face of Yeddi, her supervisor. Lurking behind were two security guards, fingering their laser sticks nervously.

“We’ve been watching you Nada. You’ve pushed each of these immigrants through unnecessarily and without the appropriate waiting time frames. You need to think carefully on your answers and in your loyalties.” Yeddi boomed, only a fist width from her face.

Unfazed, Nada picked one up and studied it. Gazing evenly into his face, she replied; “Each of these immigrants have all the appropriate skills and requirements for entry. There were no reasons to detain them”.

“Nada, You met each personally, did you not?” Yeddi fumed. “ Did they appear to be appropriate persons to integrate into our society?”

Breathing deeply, Nada glanced up at her workmates and into the eyes of Ike; who looked quickly away.

Clearing her throat, Nada chose her words carefully, “Under The Directed Regulations, all persons have equal opportunity regardless of what they look like.”

Growling, Yeddi warned her “The Act requires the detention of all persons who arrive without a visa; whether or not they are a flight, security or health risk; for indefinite periods of time and without any real review of that detention by a court. Watch your output, because we will be.”

“I assure you Citizen Yeddi, that I have carried out my orders as directed by the Act.” Nadas bravado began to crumble.

“It seems that the Friends of Immigrants have infiltrated even the strictest of security and have agents here.” His bloodshot eyes bore deeply into hers. Nada began to sweat involuntarily and attempted to control her trembling. Being caught was a death sentence.

A quick gesture of his head and the security guards spun around and marched mechanically, stopping in front of Ike. Wordlessly, they gestured with their laser sticks as his shoulders slumped and he stumbled forward.

“Wait, where are you taking him?” Nada demanded.

Yeddi oiled his way in between the guards and sneered. “Well Nada, why don’t you process this illegal immigrant?”

Confused, Nada eyes shifted from Yeddis bloodshot disks to Ikes clear blue ones. “What are you talking about?”

“I’m sorry Nada.” Ikes eyes dropped, unable to meet hers.

“Your uniform.” Demanded Yeddi.

Ike reluctantly unbuttoned the crisp jacket, handing it to one of the security guards. Nada caught the shimmer of scaled skin on his inner arm and sucked her breath in sharply. He’d been a very believable human and Nada couldn’t believe she had missed any of the usual signs of alien activity. The security guards pushed him again as he began walking out onto the landing gates and toward the Transient Community Ship.

Her two hearts felt as though they were being torn from her chest as she watched Ike being directed into the shuttle alongside oblivious families and couples. Ike didn’t look behind or try to acknowledge her. He knew he was destined to a slow death in the Detention Campship, waiting for the bureaucracy to process him, for the courts to decide whether to sentence for being a spy for the Friends, or to send him back Kai where he was sure to be welcomed at the end of a spear.

A jeweled tear drop fell from one of Nadas eyes. She caught it swiftly and pocketed it, looking round to see that no-one else had noticed. She’d best be more vigilant in the future if she were to undertake future plans for The Friends and would double her efforts in integrating seamlessly into human life.


Jodi Cleghorn said...

A great double twist at the end. Your speculative fiction is blossoming. I loved the reference to Nauru ... and that the injustice of the Howard Govt offshore processing would reach far into the future.

You could perhaps add that although the Govt had an equal opportunity policy, that the Govt had recently changed the law governing it's territorial boundaries meaning that those arriving at that station point were not eligible for citizenship - though they were not allowed to say this to the immigrants. (That was part of the Naura offshore processing changes - no eligibility to apply nor to appeal)