The security guards couldn't help but look as she emptied her pockets and put her purse on the conveyor belt. The young woman was a knockout, very busty too, as she bashfully took off her blazer on request and put it too on the conveyor. The guards winked at each other after she had passed through.
Now, sitting across the big shiny table from the two men, Dareen tried to put that episode behind her and hoped that the blazer with the big shoulder pads helped minimize the appearance of her bust. She sat upright and serious as they began, determined to speak to them about what had been, since last night, the most pressing issue on her mind.
"My name is Under-Secretary James Nedrow," the first began, a balding white man with glasses and an impeccable dark blue suit with a red tie. "Your powers have been denominated a first-level national security issue. We are here to test your powers and ask you about them. This is Colonel McNulty, he has designed the protocols, which have been in preparation ever since we first heard of you some... some weeks ago. Colonel McNulty is not only an Army doctor, he is also an Army physicist." He motioned to the colonel, a thin, pasty-skinned man of 60 or so with close-cropped gray hair.
"First of all," the colonel said in a scratchy voice, "we are glad that you have kept what you did over the capital a secret. Especially given the negative publicity you've gotten, the urge to say something about it must be intense... Your interviews and testing are being recorded and filmed." He pointed to a camera up near the ceiling. "But all that, and everything that is done today, will also be kept secret, although the fact you are seeing us today is of course something that can't be hidden. Still, you are free to go at any time."
Dareen didn't miss a beat. "I will be glad to help my country. I came here when I was only two years old but I don't have an allegiance to any other country." Despite the feeling she was laying it on a bit thick, she went on. "My parents and my whole family are proud Arab-Americans. I have two brothers in the Army."
"Yes, we know," Mr. Nedrow said.
Dareen gulped and took a deep breath. "I won't tell anything about D.C. like you say, but my family has been subject to some harassment. I don't know what you can do about it, but I want everyone to know that even if there's negative publicity as to me..."
"We'll deal with it," Mr. Nedrow said. "We’ll make sure your parents and family are protected. We would protect you too, though it doesn't seem like 'NakedGirl' would need any protecting," with a little smile.
The colonel said, "We will first interview you, then conduct a series of psychological tests, then take you to our biomechanical lab for some physical tests. I suppose our first question is the obvious one. Why are you naked when you use your powers?"
"I only have the powers after I take off my clothes."
The two men looked at each other. Dareen wondered why the colonel didn't have a note pad, and then surmised their conversations were being transcribed by voice recognition software. As a librarian she had been following the growth of that technology with some amusement -- why don't some people simply learn how to type -- but knew that it had developed to the point where it was actually becoming useful.
"What do your powers consist of?"
Dareen looked down at her folded hands. "I can fly. I can lift huge heavy objects. I can read newsprint from hundreds of feet away. And I can kind of tell when I'm about to be needed."
"How can you tell that?"
"I... I don't know. It's a certain sense I have. I know where to fly to. Except that time with the pulse bomb."
"How was that different?"
"I..." Dareen hated drawing attention to her huge assets but she had to tell the truth. "I had a tingling feeling in my nipples."
"Like pins were poking them." She hated giving the men this image and knew that they could not help looking down a bit.
"When was the first time you noticed your powers?"
She told them about that first time, about being lost in the rain, stumbling onto that mad scientist guy in his garage, then running away and getting lifted up by lightning.
"Can you describe this man physically?"
"He was balding, short, forty-five or so, glasses. Sounded a little bit like an Eastern European accent."
"Does the name Novotny mean anything to you?"
"No. Is that his name?"
The two men got up and stepped back from the table. "We'd like a quick demonstration, Ms. Alkaras, as a preliminary matter," Mr. Nedrow said. "If you don't mind, could you please disrobe and lift this table up? It weighs a couple of hundred pounds but I think you can do it with one hand."
Dareen's face burned. Of course she would have to get naked, but she was hoping it would be in the relative privacy of a doctor's office, maybe just maybe with a female doctor. But she had been naked in public on so many occasions that they could hardly expect her to be modest. Fortunately she had a ready excuse. "My powers don't come until after I have been naked for about two hours. That is why I had those mishaps in New York City... I had gotten that tingling feeling and I was waiting for my powers to come. That's why," she said, warming to the chance to explain herself, "I had to rip down that flag. It was about to drape over me with the wind and the two hours were almost up. I had to do something fast or I would have had to wait another two hours."
The two men looked at each other again. "Excuse us, will you, Ms. Alkaras?" Colonel McNulty said.
Dareen waited, sitting alone in the room, and noticed that it was studiously nondescript. No decorations on the beige walls except for an impressionistic painting. A credenza against one wall with nothing on it except a lamp, which was off. Soft fluorescent lights above that buzzed quietly. Five minutes went by, then ten. Her clothes seemed to itch. Her breasts felt encased and squeezed and trapped in the sturdy 34F bra. Yet she was glad to have her clothes. In fact she longed for the extra covering of the burka and the veil. She closed her eyes and prayed to Allah for strength. She was a good and godly woman, she told herself, who was called to be brave for her religion and for her country.
Mr. Nedrow and the colonel came back. For the first time she noticed that the colonel walked with a limp. He had a little basket with him that he put on the table. Mr. Nedrow handed Dareen a typed sheet. "This has been cleared. We will release it to the press later today," he said.
It said: "Dareen Alkaras, known to many as 'NakedGirl', has been voluntarily cooperating in investigative interviews with agents of the federal government. It has come to our attention that her family and acquaintances have been subjected to harassment by the press and others. Any harm that comes to Ms. Alkaras's family or acquaintances will be aggressively investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. This includes any instances of intrusion or harassment that they might wish to report. These are innocent people and the Department of Justice is dedicated to their protection. Directives are going out to local and state law enforcement authorities to this effect. Signed, the Attorney General of the United States."
Dareen exhaled. "Thank you very much."
"Well we mean it," Mr. Nedrow said.
"We've decided to change the protocol a bit," said Colonel McNulty. "We don't want to keep you longer than a day. So while we are waiting for your powers to generate we might as well take care of the other stuff. We will do the psychological tests first. Why don't you do the necessary and come with me." He pushed forward the basket.
Do the necessary? What an odd expression; but then Dareen's mouth went dry as she realized what he meant.
"Please disrobe and put your things in here," the colonel said by way of being more clear. There was an awkward silence. Dareen cringed like never before. Yet she couldn't refuse. The United States government wanted to test her, they wanted to know about her powers, possibly she had some energy force that they could harness to fight terrorists. Or maybe cure her -- Dareen had that fleeting hope, that maybe they could find a way to relieve her of this burden of naked powers. Of course that was only a fantasy. But for now it was clear that they could only test her while she was naked and she was just going to have to disrobe and expose herself in front of these men.
Dareen slowly stood up and cleared her throat as if about to make a presentation. Looking down, she primly put her heels together and pried her shoes off. She glanced at her hosed feet and remembered how she felt embarrassed to have that scientist (Novotny?) see the outlines of her toes. She reached under the long skirt and up to her thigh, and began to roll off the long hose. She pulled the hose off her feet and placed it into the shoes and reached up to place them in the basket.
She gulped and decided not to worry about what to take off next as it would all come off anyway. She reached around and undid the button on her ankle-length skirt, then unwrapped it, revealing full-cut white panties. She carefully rolled the skirt up for the basket. Now, the panties. ‘It's not a big deal,’ she told herself, ‘these men are not crude gawkers, but serious investigators.’ Yet that hardly made it easier as she looped her thumbs under the waist band and pulled the panties down to reveal her all-too-lush forest of dark pubic hair, the violent tinge not noticeable in the soft fluorescent light.
Standing up again, placing her panties into the basket, she knew herself ridiculous looking, completely covered above the waist, completely nude below. Now she turned and twisted more than she wanted to, pulling off the red blazer. Feeling her breasts as big as balloons pressing against the white blouse, she carefully placed the blazer in the basket. And now she resolutely looked down at her bare feet as she unbuttoned the blouse. It was hard to keep looking down as she undid her bra, involving as it did pulling her shoulders back and reaching around with both hands, so she looked blankly over the men's heads as she undid her last article of clothing and her breasts sprang free. She folded the bra as she always did, one big underwire cup inside the other, and placed it into the basket.
Totally naked, she looked at the basket with longing. Then the naked, statuesque young woman forced herself to look the men in the eyes, hoping she had concealed her reluctance. After all she didn't want to seem like she was not cooperating fully. She couldn't help wondering what they were thinking. In fact she had the biggest, firmest breasts either man had ever seen, over a remarkably tight and small waist, and certainly the biggest, darkest nipples too. But they did not betray any emotions.
"Thank you. I'll check in later," Mr. Nedrow said. He said good-bye and left with his press release.
"Come with me, Ms. Alkaras," Colonel McNulty said. He motioned for Dareen to follow him through another door. Dareen looked back at the basket, hoping she could take it along. But the colonel said, "We'll leave your clothes here, they'll be tested too." Dareen looked back at the basket with a sorrowful glance as they left.
They entered a sterile-looking room with a long table with papers on it. Feeling the cold tile floor under her bare feet, not knowing what to do with her hands, feeling her breasts pointing out in front of her like guns, Dareen felt small and weak as she followed the tall, white-coated Army doctor through this room and then down a hallway, his left boot clip-clopping against the floor as he limped. To her horror there were a few people passing by, one or two in uniform. They nodded at the colonel and at Dareen too, with only a brief glance down at her nudity. The light was brighter out here and she felt completely on display.
Into another room and a black woman with very short hair and a business suit got up behind a little table. "Good morning, Ms. Alkaras," she said, extending a hand. She took the liberty of devoting her full gaze to Dareen's breasts and waist and pubic hair. "You are very fortunate. I wish I could get my body to be like that." She gave a big, comforting smile. Dareen smiled back politely.
The woman was Major Coverly, a psychologist, and Dareen was grateful as she was left alone with a computer fill-in form and a test booklet. Feeling the cold metal chair under her butt, she began taking the test, her toes squirming against the cold floor, her nipples more erect than usual in the cool air. Against these distractions Dareen summoned as much concentration as she could to answering the test, which she discerned to be partly a personality test and partly a thinking test. It was like tests she had taken in high school and college. She had always enjoyed them, they were fun to answer. A long line of gears: if gear A is going clockwise, which direction is gear B going? Dog is to spaniel as car is to what?
Then the personality sections: likes and dislikes, fears, strongly agree, agree, etcetera, scales from 1 to 7. As she went along she realized she was putting in answers that a shy, modest person would put, but then again, that's what she basically was. "I don't approve of women showing their bodies." That was a 1, "strongly agree". "I like to show off." That was a 7. No, maybe a 6. "I believe that women can do anything a man can." That was a 1. That answer, at least, set her apart from the burka-ed semi-slave women at that conservative mosque near Sherry's place.
She finished the test and sat upright in the cold metal chair, waiting. She wondered if she should cross her legs. Looking down at her breasts which partly obscured the test sheet, she noticed again how her nipples were big and erect. Not really sure if it was an itch, she scratched one nipple anyway, causing her whole breast to jiggle, and it was in that moment that Major Coverly and Colonel McNulty came back in.
"On to our facility," he said, and she walked between them, like a naked prisoner being marched to another cell. Into an elevator and they went up, up. This building had more floors than she thought.
The door opened and sunlight hit her eyes. They were on the roof and she found herself walking in the open air across the pebbly surface to a waiting helicopter. Dareen, more than ever aware of being naked and a being apart from the rest, glanced back quickly at the door, thinking of her basket of clothes so far away now. Apparently it would not be going with her. She had never been in a helicopter before. Its propellers were already whirling and the whoosing wind whipped around her. Following the colonel, she placed her bare foot on the bar of the cage and hefted herself and her bouncing breasts into the waiting seat, giving Major Coverly a full view of her butt. A warm gust of wind against her sensitive anus told her she was displaying that too.
Then she sat between them as the city fell away beneath them and they rose higher, higher, then the chopper tilted and sped off. Dareen, naked and vulnerable, felt a wetness in her eyes as she saw her home town recede in the distance, and felt like she was having an unpleasant dream that she would just have to sleep through until she woke up, in her own bed and clothed.