Author : Jacob Lothyan

The strobe effect of the cherries in my rear window made me instantly nauseous. All uniforms made me nervous these days. Now I had one walking up the side of my car, and I couldn’t help feeling suspect. I rolled down the window before he arrived, holding my Global Citizen ID at the ready.

He snatched away my ID, taking a cursory glance before stuffing it in his bulky breast pocket. Despite a pitch black, moonless night, he wore large, round shades that were impenetrable. In a flat tone he asked, “Do you know why I pulled you over tonight?”

I hadn’t considered this prior to his asking. Why did he pull me over? I assumed he saw the guilt I felt, but that is no reason to pull somebody over, not even during times like these. Was I speeding? Is my taillight out? Did I swerve? “No,” I blurted, more in answer to my own questions than his.

He smirked and leaned in until his face was on level with my own. Still smirking, he started tapping the frame of his shades. I shook my head in response, not immediately understanding what he was attempting to insinuate. As I shook my head, I felt my own glasses move against my temples, I felt them shift on the bridge of my nose, and my heart sank. The uniform grinned wider and nodded. “Step out of the vehicle.” As I got out of the car, he asked, “Do you have a prescription,”

If I lied, he would know. “No,” I confessed. I felt like crying.

“Glasses,” he demanded, extending an open hand.

I sheepishly pulled the glasses away from my face and handed them over. He tucked them into his breast pocket with my ID. “Don’t blink,” he ordered, pulling an optometer from his utility belt.

I stared blankly forward as the laser passed over both of my eyes. After just a few seconds, the optometer beeped. “Yup,” he taunted, as if the optometer merely confirmed his suspicions. “Mild presbyopia. Certainly not enough to require glasses for driving.”

“Officer—” I pleaded.

I was cut off by the uniform speaking over his com. “Unit 1276. Suspect detained for a possible 451. Stand by.”

The com answered back, “10-4. Standing by.”

“Where are they?” the uniform inquired. “This will be a lot easier if you cooperate.”

He was right about that. It was just so hard to get any these days, let alone the gems I was holding. Still, I conceded. “The door panel,” I whispered, motioning with my head.

The uniform appraised the door for only a second before ripping the panel clean off, spilling Vonnegut, Asimov, and Bradbury all over the damp concrete. He kicked them into the middle of the road as if he was a child playing with a banana slug that otherwise repulsed him. “Come over here,” he snapped.

I arrived to find the uniform holding out a bottle of lighter fluid and a match. “You know what you have to do,” he scolded. I took the fluid and match reluctantly. I was crying before I had fully saturated the first novel. As I dropped the lit match onto the pile, I began sobbing and fell to my knees.

The uniform grabbed my ID and glasses from his breast pocket. He threw the ID down into my lap. “Next time you won’t be so lucky,” he warned, the fire dancing menacingly in his shades. I heard my reading glasses crunch within his fist. The glass fell like a powdery snow, the frames a twisted, empty skeleton.


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