Monday, February 2, 2015


Still feeling uncomfortable about the things said during breakfast, Bjorn appeared at the glass cage with his PC and charger tucked under his arm, a thermos with black coffee in one hand, and an ham sandwich in the other. He excused himself for being late to John, briefly mentioning the new instructions and Frank's insistence on everybody following the new rules.

"He'll go through all the details with you and Geir later today, I'm sure," Bjorn continued, dropping off his things on the ledge by the window.

John handed the automatic pistol that was hanging across his abdomen over to Bjorn. "Okay, put this on, will you," he replied, eager as always to get out of the cage and back to the barracks. And as soon as Bjorn had tossed the belt of the gun over his shoulder, John was out of the office and heading quickly back to his other colleagues.

The gun felt clunky and uncomfortable, but he quickly go used to it. Sitting down, the gun rested across his lap where it did not get in the way of his movements. Bjorn plugged the power supply of his PC into a free socket by the door, and put the laptop itself on the narrow shelf-like desk in front of him. He turned it on, and knowing that it would take a few seconds before he could use it, he looked out at the view in front of him.

The sun was shining, and the view was as stunning as always. The great landscape, so indifferent and peaceful, was soothing to watch. "There are no rules or regulations out there," Bjorn thought to himself. "Nothing complicated to keep in mind. Just the natural order of things, intuitively known by all beings." Bjorn heaved a great sigh, and was about to return his attention to his PC when he spotted a small gray ship over by the narrow strait to Kirkenes.

Bjorn picked up the binoculars to take a closer look. "It must be the coastguard," he thought to himself. And he was right. The coastguard had already taken up its position by the straight to make sure no one could enter or leave the colony by boat without proper documentation. The ship, with its small artillery gun at its bow, looked uncomfortably menacing, and Bjorn was again struck by a sense that things were getting out of control. The sight of the ship should have given him a feeling of control and order. However, much to Bjorn's own surprise, he was feeling quite the opposite. Watching the gunboat float almost motionless at the mouth of the narrows, he could not help thinking of it as a predator laying in wait for its pray.

Bjorn put the binoculars down, and was about to return his attention once more to his PC when a car, coming down from Neiden, pulled up next to the glass cage. He recognized the driver immediately as the man who had offered him a pack of cigarettes the other day.

Bjorn opened the window. "Your passport please," he said, pretending not to know the man.
"Ah! But you know me. We're friends, remember?" the man said with a broad smile.
"Sure. But I still need your passport. And you have to stop taking so much stuff with you out of the colony."
"Really? Why?"
"New rules. Effective from tomorrow. Lundby will be treated like an airport. You can't take with you as much as you please. And you'll have to be down there for at least 24 hours to get your quota."
"No exceptions?"
"No exceptions."

The man handed over his passport, and for a moment Bjorn did not know what to do with it. He had not logged into the web site yet, so he had nowhere to register the passport number. However, he soon found a pencil and a scrap of paper to note it down for later. He would punch the number into the database as soon as he was logged in.

"We'll be registering everybody going in and coming out of the colony," Bjorn explained. "So there's no way around this, now."
"Not even between friends?" the man asked cheekily.
"Like I said. No exceptions."
"But today is still all right?"
"Yep. Today is your last day of freedom," Bjorn said, handing the passport back to the man.
"My last day of freedom, aye?" The man said with a cheeky smile.

Bjorn had no idea why he had used the word freedom as he did. It was silly of him. And having nothing more to say, he closed his window and opened the barrier for the driver without saying anything, ignoring the man as he sent Bjorn a friendly wave of his hand before heading into the colony.

The car drove swiftly down the curvy road, and soon disappeared behind the hill to the right, leaving Bjorn once more to himself. He returned his focus to his PC, pulled up his favorite browser, and proceeded to punch in the web address given to him by Frank.

The web site was hosted by the department of justice, and once he was logged into it, Bjorn had no trouble finding the right place to type in the passport number he had scratched down. And the response was pretty much immediate. A copy of the man's passport was presented on his screen, complete with a little comment in a yellow banner at the top of the page. "Warning:" it read. "3 past convictions. Smuggling (2 counts), Possession of narcotics (1 count)."

Bjorn thought for a second that he had made a mistake in letting the man into the colony, but once he clicked on the warning, he found to his relief that he had done nothing wrong. A pop up explained that yellow warnings were simply helpful remarks. Then, clicking on a link for further help, Bjorn learned that the web site operated with three different banners. Green banners were all clear signs. Yellow banners were warning signs, and red banners were immediate action signs. Typical action on a red banner would be either denial of entry or arrest.

Bjorn clicked on the phrase denial of entry, curious to learn more, and found himself immediately presented with a searchable database. It was the blacklist that Frank had mentioned. He had several fields he could use to search. And he could even browse if he so wished. One field was fixed, though. He could not change his own location from being Lundby. The database was in other words set up to give different results depending on location, and the only location Bjorn was allowed to browse was Lundby.

Bjorn did not immediately know of anyone he would like to check. But then, remembering the nervous looking woman and her daughter that he had let in the other day, Bjorn chose to try out the database by typing in the woman's name. He typed in Cecilie's full name, hit return, and was immediately presented with a copy of her passport. It had a red banner. "Warning:" it read. "Immediate arrest on charges of: Kidnapping (1 count), Assault (1 count), Harassment (5 counts)."

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