Rocky Mountaineer

We moved swiftly, as if it turned out that Google's information was inaccurate (and despite the Meme Police, the netGuardians and the searchAngels people still insisted on posting things online that weren't verifiably true) then we would need all the time we had left to search somewhere else.  Calgary was at the end of the Rocky Mountaineer line, or to put it less charitably, in the middle of nowhere.

At the station I purchased tickets for all of us; Rhymin' Symin had no money on her at all, and Raquel shifted her feet sheepishly and admitted that she was an English Literature student.  The train was on time, and we were fortunate enough to find a mostly-empty carriage where we could sit together and talk openly.

We'd barely sat down however, when the guard wandered along flanked by two grey-uniformed Syntacticians.  They were carrying lexical analysers, slim metal batons weighted at both ends so that they could be used for 'pacification' when needed.  The guard sighed when he saw us, huddled together around Raquel's netbook, and said loudly,

"Tickets, please!"

"Wait," said one of the syntacticians sounding bored.  He raised his lexical analyser and pointed it at me.  There was a red light glowing in the end of it like a predatory volcano awaiting the opportunity to erupt, and I knew that it had projected a red dot onto my forehead.

"He's wearing a restrictor."  He gestured with his free hand at the metal band on my wrist that would prevent me from using the word spelled with an ell, an oh, and a further ell.  "And they're huddled secretively around a netbook.  I think we may have a cabal of wikipedians."

Rhymin' Symin coughed and sat upright, her face flushing vermilion, and Raquel flinched.  I felt only mildly nauseous, but my stomach still churned uncomfortably.

"No," I said. "No, we're not -- not... them."  I couldn't bring myself to say the name.  We had all young enough to have had aversion training in schools regarding wikipedianism.  The tales of the wikipedias being outlawed, their perpetrators hunted down, and the mass executions formed a semester's mandatory schooling.  All net content was required by edict of the Vocabulary Pope to be verifiable, and the wikipedia hadn't, in his opinion, done enough.

"Hand me that device," said the other syntactician.  He had grey eyes that matched his uniform and a scar across his upper lip that had healed badly.  Raquel offered it up meekly, and he slipped a USB pen drive into a slot on the side.  Powerful crypto algorithms crunched through the hard-drive, checking the data stored on it and hunting for evidence of wrong-doing.  I hoped that Raquel hadn't been in the habit of using anonymising proxies as that would just be further evidence of guilt in their eyes.

Finally he removed the key drive and handed it back.  "They're clean," he said, with just a hint of regret in his voice.

"Tickets, please!" said the guard loudly again, and there was a hint of relief in his.  We handed out tickets over, had them validated and returned, and the guard and his shadows moved on.

"How did we learn to live like this?" I said quietly, rhetorically.  Even questioning the status quo was heretical.

The End

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