Two other strange things happened to me on my way to work that morning.
The first strange thing was when my shoes vanished. There was no warning; no flash of light or shimmery sound effects. They just stopped being around my feet, and I was left standing on the sidewalk in socks. In a bind, I had to replace my missing footwear with the first shoes I could find. Fortunately, there was a small shop nearby that sold shoes. Unfortunately, it was a costume shop, and the only shoes they had in stock were large novelty duck feet. Still, they were comfortable, and soon I was back on my flappy, web-toed way.
The second strange thing was when I saw a gruff-looking man in a wimple come out of an alley across the street. He was holding a black ball, slightly larger than a softball. It gleamed as though it were made of enameled metal, and there was a green beam of light emanating from it. In far less time that it takes to tell, the man in the wimple trained the green beam on me, which caused a small green circle of light to appear on my chest. Then the man let go of the sphere, which began flying towards me very quickly.
Too late, I realized what was happening: I had been tagged with a dismantler drone. I didn’t even have a chance to react. In less than a second, I was going to be separated into my component parts. Which, as you might imagine, is quite fatal.
The drone was within six feet of me when suddenly, a beam of purple light came from somewhere to my left and hit the drone square. There was a sizzling crunch, and an instant later the drone slammed into my chest. Fortunately, the purple beam had reduced it to a handful of black grit. I was knocked back into the gravel lot behind me. The wind was knocked out of me, but I was alive.
As I crouched on hands and knees waiting for my diaphragm to start working again, a man with a head like a guinea pig’s stepped up to me. He was carrying a gun of some sort, and regarded me with an expression of concern on his rodent face.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
I couldn’t talk yet, so I nodded.
“I saw the whole thing. Boy, you’re lucky I happened along.”
“Who are you?” I croaked.
The man produced a badge. “Name’s Porkinson,” he said. “I’m with the DDA.”
DDA stood for Dismantler Drone Authority. It was a government-funded organization that enforced the dismantler drone laws, of which there are many.
Porkinson helped me to my feet. “I didn’t get a good look at the guy who tagged you,” he said. “Did you?”
“No,” I said. “Which way did he go?”
“He dematerialized,” said Porkinson. There would be no point in looking for clues.
The next twenty or so minutes were spent filling out DDA paperwork about the incident. Porkinson, to his credit, didn’t make any comments about my duck shoes, so I didn’t ask him about his guinea pig head. I was ensured a phone call if there were any developments in the case. I wasn’t holding my breath.
Finally, I got back on my way to work, which was now only a few blocks away. Those last few blocks were deliciously uneventful. And then I arrived. My journey to work was at an end. With no small relief, I lowered myself into the entrance hole and made my way into the bowels of the complex.