The two-bedroom apartment is sparkling clean, so clean that Mr. Smith can eat food off the floor if it drops. He often drops food; he gets excited and his hands shake. Food falls, he picks it up and places it in his mouth. After, he cleans obsessively, frantically, scrubbing the walls, scouring the kitchen, bleach burning his nose and eyes. He bathes similarly using coarse lye, his skin peeling off in layers giving him a boiled tomato look. Skin flakes off everywhere; he peels it and collects it in jars. There is half a shelf full of jars, though not all of it is his skin, and not all the jars are full of skin. He likes to collect. Things.
Mr. Smith works at the airport conducting the full body searches. He has a nose for the guilty and a taste for inflicting pain. Since the last terrorist attack was foiled, the full body search is mandatory for any traveller, even children. He has yet to find a terrorist with a stick of dynamite up their ass, but he searches with relish, inserting his entire hand into the screaming man’s rectum just to make sure. You can’t be too careful, can you?
These days sadists, paedophiles and murderers are the majority of airport workers, since they are the only ones who’ll perform the full body searches. In fact, they enjoy them, thrive on them, and are energized by these displays of human torture and torment. Mr. Smith, convicted paedophile and rapist, obsessive-compulsive, borderline personality disorder and sadist, has the ideal profile for a Full Body Search Agent. Currently The Searches are segregated by gender, men search men, women search women, but Mr. Smith championed a movement to desegregate the occupation on the basis that it is a discriminatory practice. Mr. Smith has Union support.
The airports are full of screams and one wonders how an emergency would be marked. Silence? Shrieks of pain permeate the air, reverberate off the walls, and vibrate within the waiting passengers. Some people cry, some run from the airport tearing their tickets into little pieces. The howls, the primal yells of misery are too much.
Children no longer travel by air: families travel by car, train, bus or by boat. It is only in the direst of emergencies that people go to the airport. If you pick someone up you feel guilty, wondering if you were worth the pain they went through to arrive. The person will not pay for a single thing during their visit. They won’t speak much. They will start crying, hysterical sobs at random moments, panic attacks, fear. Post traumatic stress is no longer the syndrome of returning soldiers, everyone has it.
When you see a woman panicking in the street because she has seen a man who resembles her full body searcher, you will go over and hold her as people have done for you. You will tell her it is all okay even though you know it isn’t. Everyone has had to fly under these conditions at least once. The stench of fear is everywhere, stronger than smog or exhaust, a thick odour of terror hanging in clouds of pain.
Some people, businessmen and fetishists mostly, have come to enjoy these full body searches and eventually subject their partners to it also. The full body search is the new sexual rage in this time fraught by the perils of global terrorism.
There are only two major airlines now. Terrorism via airlines would no longer be effective, yet The Searches continue. Bills, laws, international treaties are in motion to make these full body searches mandatory for travellers in any mode of transport: car, train, boat, anytime one crosses a state or national border, even at random checkpoints within states and nations.
A counter-movement to stop these violations of humanity is initiated by concerned mothers, but those leaders disappeared, or became subject to even crueler and inhumane processes than the full body search. Members of the opposition die in hospital from their injuries. People become scared to speak out. Don’t say anything to put the children in danger. Keep your eyes down, stay in one place, and don’t move. Pray to God that your child does not get sick, your relatives across the country or world do not need your help, your work has no crisis requiring you to get from Chicago to Bombay tomorrow. Pray.
There have been no terrorist attacks since the full body searches have begun. Not a one. No wars have broken out or continued, genocide has stopped on a worldwide scale, there is no more random violence, explosions, planes crashing into buildings, suicide bombers. The Governmentarians tell us that the War on Terror is going well, prevention is the key, pre-emptive strikes on all fronts, especially considering how well the war went in Iraq. Look how well the full body searches are doing to protect the world’s citizens! Gun violence is down, gangs have disintegrated, there are zero reports of rapes!
In the beginning, passengers filed police reports about the full body search violations, but there was no recourse. Legally the searches are not rape, they are necessary for security. The first time you are searched you will scream, “No, no no no no no NO NO NONONONONO, please God, STOP!” Anything to fight the War on Terror is acceptable, and every government has sanctioned the searches. They tell us this is for your good, your protection.
Everyone begins to look the same, sallow-skinned, hollow-eyed, blank gazes, difficulty walking: Haunted. After your second full body search you notice the pleasure the sadistic full body searchers, paedophiles, rapists and murderers, get from your pain. Their laughter. That is what will haunt you. Their enjoyment in your suffering, the pure glee in their eyes, their taunting words and insane chortles. If you don’t scream they try harder, force their hands deeper. You will learn to cry out right away, it makes it easier.
Unofficial checkpoints dot the country and city, with mad gleaming drooling-eyed individuals eagerly rubbing vaseline on their hands, waiting, deliciously eyeing you, your spouse, your children. You cannot escape. The War on Terror is being fought on all sides. This is for your own good. Accept it.