He mutters something indecipherable into it, then returns his gaze to me. “You wait here,” he says, then stands and exits stage left.
A door opens next to the booth, and the officer, along with two rather lethargic-looking guards, enter the large windowless room.
“You come with me,” the officer says, pointing at Angela and I. “Children stay here.”
“That’s not going to happen,” I say, shaking my head. “No way. We stay here with children.”
“Children must stay. You are under arrest now. You break law.”
The officer nods, and the guards step forward and put their hands on my shoulders. Angela turns and pushes one of them back, at which point the officer flips open a small glass case on the wall and pushes a small red button.
Two more guards burst into the room and grab me. The original guards turn and grab Angela. As I struggle, I follow the line of my wife’s wide eyes toward the spot where our daughters were standing moments earlier.
“Ang! The girls!” I yell, pointing toward the back of the room. There, we see our children being led through another door by a pair of uniformed women.
They disappear and Ang loses it. “Where the hell are they going! What the hell is going on!” she screams, pulling an arm loose and jabbing her finger in the officer’s face.
“They are safe,” he replies calmly. “We must hold them until you are indicted or cleared by a federal judge under Section 49b of the Molvania Purity Act, and then…”
“Are you fucking serious?” Angela interrupts. “Who’s in charge here?”
The officer smiles. “Why, the Tremendous Leader is in charge. But he’s a little bit busy right now” — the guards chuckle — “so you have to wait here. But don’t worry, children are safe. Now please come with us.”
Smiling, he points toward a third door. “This way to the embassy...”
Angela breaks free from one of the guards just as I join her in losing my shit. On one hand, there is something primal about protecting our children. On the other, safeguarding children against any threat, no matter the consequences, is part of what makes us human.
We both lunge for our kids’ exit, knocking over one of the guards. On his hands and knees, he reaches for his Taser and fires it at Angela, sending her writhing to the floor.
I reach the door, only to be tackled by the other three guards. I turn my head in time to see the rifle butt being raised and…
I jolt awake, arms crossed in front of my face. I must have cried out, because Angela mumbles something and rolls toward me.
My breathing slows as I realize where I am: In bed at home, not at some newly totalitarian border crossing.
Then, as is always the case with nightmares, relief rushes in. It’s not real. It's not happening to my family. It’s not happening to me.