Police using battering rams to break down a door.Lily awoke to the sound of her front door being broken down. She reached for Jerry on the other side of the bed before remembering he had not come home last night. In a panic she struggled out of bed and fought to get a robe on as she heard heavy footsteps coming down the hall.

“Police!” a voice boomed. “Everybody stay where you are.”

She could not help but scream when her bedroom door burst open, the frame splintering around the latch.

“Freeze!” She dove for the floor as a blinding beam of light hit her square on, the three rapid shots barely missing her.

“Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!” she pleaded, sprawled on the floor, arms stretched out and hands splayed to show she was unarmed. The police officer marched over to her, kicked her in the side, and then yanked her arms behind her back to secure with flex-cuffs. He zipped them tight.


“Shut up.”

She saw other feet stomping around, some right past her, others out in the hallway. Her apartment was now awash in light as every single fixture was turned on.

“Lily Carmichael?” A new set of feet stood before her. She strained to look up. She saw a severe looking man glaring down at her through a face visor. She dropped her head back to the floor.


“Does Jerald Tyson live here?”

‘Oh God, they’ve come for Jerry.’ She hesitated and the man’s foot stepped very close to her mouth.

“I asked you, does Jerry Tyson live here?”

“Yes. He’s my boyfriend.”

“Where is he?”

“I don’t know.”

The foot pivoted back on its heel, and the sole of the shoe rested none-to-gently on her cheek.

“I don’t know!” she pleaded. “He didn’t come home last night. Can’t you see? His side of the bed’s not even been slept in.”

There was silence from above as the foot pressed down, but the pressure stopped before inflicting too much pain.

Then, in a swift and brutal move, the man stooped and hauled her to her feet by her bound wrists. Something in her shoulder popped. She screamed out in pain. He spun her around to face him. As she steadied herself on her feet she scanned the man’s chest, but his name tag was naught but a black rectangle. His cold blue eyes and stony face studied her with not a trace of sympathy.

She watched in horror when he pulled a knife from his utility belt.

“I swear I don’t know where he is.”

“Can it.” He jerked her around, and in one swift move cut the cuffs from her wrists. The sudden release of her arms, and the shock of being freed instead of stabbed almost caused her to swoon.

“Your boyfriend,” he sneered at the word boyfriend, “is in a world of trouble.” He swung her around again and stooped to put his shielded face right in hers. “As are you.”

Lily feigned that she did not know what he meant. Damn, Jerry. She told him not to go to those meetings.

“Me? What did I do?”

“As if you didn’t know what your boyfriend was up to.”

He walked over to the nightstand and scooped her cell phone into an evidence bag.

“Where’s the computer?”

“Already got it, Lieutenant,” another officer informed him from the doorway.

“As you know, under the Keep America Free Act, giving aid and comfort to subversives means you forfeit all your rights and property.”

“Wait. Wait. I didn’t do anything.” She had insisted that Jerry do any online communications off premises, and use the computers at the library. “I told him not to get involved.”

“But you knew he was involved, and failed in your duty as a citizen to turn him in. People like you make me sick.” He idly began rummaging through her drawers, dumping the contents, one after another, onto the floor.

“You have five minutes to gather what you can carry, and evacuate the premises.” He began ransacking the closet.

She stood, dumbfounded, arms tightly wrapped around herself. “You can’t do this,” she almost whispered.

“Oh, but we can. The clock is ticking, Ms Carmichael. Best get busy.” He gave the pile of clothes on the floor a tremendous kick, sending garments flying into her face and all over the room. “And no electronics. Just food and clothes.”

With that, he turned and left the room.


© 2015, by J. M. Strother, all rights reserved.
Photo used and adapted (cropped, rendered black and white) under the attribution and share alike license from Wikicommons. Photo by the West Midlands Police, UK, and uploaded by palnatoke.

  12 Responses to “Collateral”

  1. we’re not too far from that point. Whither the first amendment?

  2. If you had begun this with “Ten Years From Now”, this could almost be a true story. Was this written with great anger,sadness or disgust, I wonder?

  3. Wow!
    A little shiver down my spine.

  4. Chilling fiction! And I’m listening to an audiobook of “1984″ now too! *shiver*

  5. This follows a similar vein of the long form series I have been working on over at my site. Seems you and I both have some similar concerns for our future.

  6. Yes, a country so free that everyone’s afraid to speak out of turn!

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