Peeking around the corner, Owen scouted the Korreweg. Relieved to see the street was nearly empty, he realized that most people were already on their way home in fear of breaking curfew. Of course, Greg was smart enough to send him on his way at this time.
Owen’s gaze stopped at a small store at the edge of a square, where a few people were patiently waiting for their food packages to be prepared. Owen’s squint of investigation became one of judgement. When he used to live here as a student, there had been a quaint, warm snackbar at that spot. He sighed. Despite the best intentions of the National Vitality Law of 2064, the lives of the Dutch had felt restricted. Owen had never grasped the essence of the fabled eierbal, but he did respect how much his friends had cared for it.
Owen decided the street was safe enough. He took a sharp breath and went on his way. However, like any first-time smuggler, he had greatly underestimated acting innocent when in fact he was doing something very illegal. Thoughts dashed in and out his head like an overly excited Labrador. Do I walk at a normal pace? Did that cat just look at me funny? Every step made his backpack feel heavier.
Stay calm, Owen, whatever you do: do not run
Just a few more streets and you’ll be welcomed as a hero. No doubt the guys back in the safehouse will finally take him seriously. Two more blocks. He could not wait for Greg’s trademark nod of approval. He even dared to hope for a handshake. A hundred meters. Owen wondered if a mug with “World’s Best Creative Trader” would be stretching it.
Two cops. And they were coming right his way. Owen’s confidence was replaced by great inner distress. Our anxious fool glanced around him for an improvised detour. Other than walking right past the cops or leading them straight to the safehouse, Owen did not have many options.
He noticed the cops were looking at him. They whispered something to each other. Stay calm, Owen, whatever you do: do not run. Determinedly, he stared back. They squinted at him. Owen’s primal instincts kicked in. He turned and fled as fast as he could.
Within an embarrassing number of seconds, he felt a heavy blow in his back. Right after he had smashed onto the rock-hard pavement, he felt his limbs go numb as one of the cops tasered him. When his backpack was pulled off him with brute force, Owen could only utter a series of unintelligible but very profound swear words. The sound of the zipper echoed through the street. Owen’s heart sank to his feet.
A cop cleared his throat. ‘Sir, you are under arrest for the possession of substances with a sugar percentage above 10 percent.’