/’skAn/ : a loosely coiled length of yarn or thread wound on a reel

Held Up at Customs

They wanted his pinky finger at customs.

At first, he’d thought maybe they just wanted a print or a blood sample. But then, he’d seen what happened to the tentacle of the sapient in line ahead of him: It walked away with a fresh blue-weeping stump, the tip excised by the eye-blink swipe of a sterile blade.

He knew that that particular genotype could regenerate tentacle tips – but he doubted that the customs agents here knew or cared that pinkies didn’t grow back. At some passport inspection earlier, one of them must have made a mistake in classifying him and shuffled him into the wrong lane.

No one spoke English here – and why would they? He was the first human being ever to be processed by the gateway station. All he’d had going for him was the universally encoded information in his travel papers.

Alerted to the hold up in the queue as he balked at the tissue sampler, a hard-shelled uniformed agent trundled over. It squawked and helpfully directed his hand toward the machine.

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