Author: Hillary Lyon

“Hand over your phone, please,” the officer ordered. He smiled a mirthless smile behind his plastic face shield.

“Look, I’m fully vaccinated,” the woman answered as she extended her left arm. She pushed up her flannel sleeve and rotated her arm, exposing her pale flesh. The officer pulled out his hand-held chip reader and scanned the small red and black pentagram tattoo on her wrist.

“Yep, so you are. Healthy and up to date, it says.” He put his scanner back in his side holster. “Now hand over your phone.”

“Listen, I do everything virtually,” she offered congenially, but her anger was growing. “I do all my shopping online. I work online. I meet with my friends and hobby-groups via ScreenTime. Why do you need my phone?”

The officer puffed out his chest and straightened his back. “Contact tracing, sweetheart.” He leaned in close, but not too close. “You say you only meet your friends and groups through ScreenTime, but your phone will say different, I suspect.”

“I’m not your sweetheart,” the woman hissed. Now it was her turn to lean in, reading the officer’s name and number off his uniform patch. “Help! I’m being harassed by Officer Fascist!” she shouted for passers-by to hear, hoping at least someone would come to her aid. Or perhaps be a witness for her, if she had to go to court over this encounter. A few pedestrians looked in her direction but scurried away, not wanting to get involved. You people are nothing but frightened, sniveling little mice, she said to herself. May the great black cat of your nightmares stalk you into madness.

“It’s Fascilla,” he corrected, interrupting her vindictive train of thought. “Phone, please.” He unsnapped his holster, and pulled out his stun-stick. “If you live your life wholly online, as you profess, then why are you out on the street?”

She ignored the question. “And if I refuse to surrender my phone?” Her eyes met his, and she squinted, giving him the evil eye. “What are you going to do about it, police officer Fascist-Fascilla?”

“I prefer the term, Witch-Finder Fascilla.” He grinned. “Then I take you in for, ah, further questioning.” He now pulled out his handcuffs. “I have been surveilling you for weeks, young lady.” He twirled the handcuffs on one finger. “I have studied your internet searches, your online shopping history, your text messages with your ‘friends.’ Contact tracing will reveal the secret location of the rest of your coven—for I have reason to believe you are a witch.”

“I prefer the term techno-pagan.” The woman said proudly, then raised her head up and pulled her mask down, so that Officer Fascilla could plainly see her lips move as she spat out her worst curse.