Privacy, Please

Author : Jonathan DeCoteau

“Stupid quotes are only tweets in disguise.”
–unknown (but most likely someone who’s been unfriended)

Riley saw the invasive little bug flapping its electronic wings all about him as he stood at the urinal. Riley grabbed the tiny little machine in his left hand and crushed it. He took out his keys and scratched, scraped and shattered every camera lens he saw. Before he finished, the police drones were on him.

Riley was no stranger to police cameras. Ever since the advent of the InterFace, privacy was, by constitutional amendment, abolished. Cameras and microchips were everywhere. The technological advantages were myriad, yet, to Riley, technology meant nothing if a man couldn’t take one private pee.

Unfortunately for Riley, the police drones disagreed.

“Cease. Place your hands where we can see them,” the drones, tiny planes the size of eagles, said, circling.

Riley paused a moment to gather his thoughts. How could he explain himself? The simple fact of the matter was that it all started innocently enough—ubiquitous social media, timelines on Facebook, endless tweets—before the country knew it, everything was public.

“A man needs to take a tinkle every now and again,” Riley said, simply. “Privately.”

“You have no right to privacy,” one police drone told him. “You violate the right of the masses to record history as it’s happening.”

“My bathroom break is a piece of history?”

“Everything is history.”


“Yes, citizen?”

“Piss off!”

The drones immediately descended upon Riley.

“You’re going to kill me for insisting on a little privacy?”

“Such is the will of the media.”

Arms came out of the bodies, protrusions that doubled as metallic clubs, beating Riley into a senseless embryonic heap.

“I’ll give you whatever likes I have. Just let me finish.”


“My bathroom break,” Riley said. “Just let me pee in peace.”

The drones looked into Riley’s opaque brown eyes. “Agreed,” they said, flying to the other side of the door. “No cameras are allowed—for two minutes. Instead, we’ll record what we hear from the outside the door as Riley S. Thomas relieves himself so that the historical record will be complete.”

As acute as they were, the drones didn’t pick up on Riley’s movements as effectively as they should have. Over Riley’s flushing, they should have heard him maneuvering back the toilet to reveal a passage that led to a long-rumored, never substantiated underground railroad to the great unbugged country up north. It so happened that this supposedly nonexistent resistance also had underground passages not far off from this particular bathroom. All Riley has needed was a way to get the cameras off of him. And now, due to a bathroom break gone awry, he had found his way to all the privacy a man could desire. Riley placed the toilet back to where it was, dropped down into the connecting tunnel he had dug, and disappeared.

Wherever Riley went, and whatever happened to him—that’s private.


  1. HalleysComet

    Just stopping by to say thanks to all those who read and / or commented on my story! May all your tweets be answered (except those that you hope people ignore)!

  2. Jae

    Neatly done.

    Personal privacy should be sacred. yet, it’s headed toward being blasphemy in this overly-surveilled world.

  3. SimonJM

    I empathise with the distaste of mass oveerwatch, for ‘the public good’. A wry piece that pokes at a possible future that I’d not like to see. Mind you, a toilet with enough space for drones the size of eagles to circle in … 😉

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