The man who had once been known as Faltarego strolled through the main concourse of the Halifax International airport. For a brief time, beginning in 2005, the facility had been renamed the Robert L. Stanfield International Airport, in honour of a well-loved former premier of Nova Scotia. When "The Bill" had been passed, however, the name had been changed back. The glorification of individual accomplishment was now something to be frowned upon, and even though the namesake had been a politician, the name had been stripped.
George Orwell had only been out by about thirty years.
The airport was not busy; he could only see a handful of fellow travellers. This wasn't surprising, however. Air travel was tightly restricted, closely monitored, and prohibitively expensive. Family vacations were a rarity, the bright colors of touristy clothing now a thing of the past. Only business people and government officials made any regular use of the airlines now.
Fortunately, he was now a businessman, and, equally fortunately, he had quite a bit money. The passage of "The Bill" had effectively taken his previous job away from him. All bookstores in the country had been summarily closed. Likewise, the libraries. It had happened nearly overnight.
Fortunately, he hadn't been completely blind. There had been warning signs, and he'd been alert enough to notice them. He'd systematically removed all personal information from any websites on which he'd been registered, leaving only the handle: Faltarego. The whole thing was ironic, really, as he'd originally conceived of the moniker as a non-identity for doing creative work anonymously. With the political climate changing, the anonymity had now become critical.
He was nearing the security gate now. His heart rate sped up a bit, but that was just an habitual reaction. He knew everything was in place. Two different fake IDs and two different fake company names. He'd known this day would come, and he'd been prepared. The man he'd been no longer existed.
"Destination?" the LitPol agent at the security gate asked.
"Ottawa," he replied.
He reached into his inside jacket pocket and produced his passport and boarding pass. The agent scrutinized both, then returned his attention to the traveller.
"Nature of the trip?"
He reached into his side pocked and pulled out a business card. It bore the name "Aloe Graft Pharmaceuticals."
The guard frowned. "Aloe Graft?"
"Oh, we make an aloe-based skin repair product that works so well, it makes skin look brand new. Just as if you'd had a skin graft."
The agent snorted. "I'll have to tell my wife about that one."
"Hopefully, it'll be available in a few months. I'm headed to make a presentation to a possible partner. We need just that extra bit of funding to get to the production stage."
The agent handed his card back. "Right. Step through the detector and go to that table over there for bag inspection. Keep your papers out."
The traveller nodded. "Thank you."
He stepped through the detector. He was carrying no metal, no liquids, and no electronics, so no alarms went off. He hated not carrying his laptop with him, but no electronic devices were permitted in aircraft cabins anymore, so everything had to be packed in suitcases and put in the cargo hold. He'd have to wait until Ottawa to check Joe's website again.
He stepped up to the inspection station. Two LitPol agents staffed this one, one standing behind the table, and the other out front with a Doberman. The dog was calm, but it eyed him almost as warily as the agents did.
He placed his carry-on bag on the table and presented his papers. The agent behind the table, a woman this time, took them and examined them.
"Mister ... Erickson?" she said.
"Please empty the contents of your bag onto the table."
He nodded and complied.
Oddly, none of this bothered him. He was not Robert Erickson. He was a force of creativity, hiding in plain sight. Inside, he was chuckling. He was playing by their rules, and in so doing was keeping himself alive. Keeping his real self alive. The creative force within.
Robert Erickson would cease to exist the moment he landed in Ottawa. He would destroy the passport and business cards, move on to the next identity, and pick up the ticket to Vancouver.
And then that identity would cease to exist as well.
Faltarego, however, lived on.