NakedGirl: The Story of Dareen
by donnylaja

Part 33

Colonel Mike seemed tired and distracted, somehow.  The questioning was done mostly by a new guy, evidently Mr. Nedrow's assistant, a very tall, muscular looking young man named Robert Quincannon, who seemed to be an expert in geography.  Though mostly they were listening to Dareen spin out her narrative as she sat across from them at the shiny oak table where, so recently, she had had to take off all her clothes and put them in that basket.  She was glad to be fully clothed, enjoying the feel of the nylons and shoes, the long skirt, the ruffled blouse and blazer that, she hoped, successfully hid her frontal assets.  The more she remembered being naked, the more the appreciated and enjoyed her clothes.  She glanced at the little monitor button, which she had placed on the table in front of her.

The first thing she had described was the abandoned camp that she had come to, how it looked like a relic of a Soviet prison camp.  "I wonder if that's what it was," she said.

Mr. Quincannon said, "It's possible.  Based on the landforms you say you passed over, and based on your GPS monitor, it seems like it was in one of the valleys of the Verkhoyansk Range.  There's no record of any camp in that spot, but some of those places, all records have been lost.  Or destroyed."  He seemed about to launch into a lecture on the topic but at a glance from Mr. Nedrow he stopped.

At Dr. Vanaver's request she gave a description of her flight over the north Pacific, how long it took her, how she pointed her toes and put her head down to go faster.  Also how the temperature changed.  "It was a little cold over the water, then I went over a city and I felt a blast of warm air. . . It was a very funky looking city, lots of broken down looking ships in the harbor, old buildings."

"Vladivostok?" Dr. Vanaver said.

"No, must have been Petropavlovsk," Mr. Quincannon answered.

"Then when I passed over that bay and into the mainland, it got warm again."  Dareen remembered the whistling wind over her nipples and knew that everyone in their mind's eye was picturing her naked as she flew over Siberia.  Unconsciously she crossed her arms over her breasts.

Then she told them about standing around near the camp, the little pine trees she saw, and how she grabbed a branch and ate it.

"You say it tasted sweet?" Dr. Vanaver said.

"Yes... I waited around, expecting someone would show up.  It could have been a pulse bomb... Wasn't this thing working?"  She looked down at the button.

No one said anything for a moment.  Then Mr. Nedrow said, "It was thought best not to alert the Russians.  A pulse bomb in that wilderness would not have done much damage anyway... Ms. Alkaras, obviously you can tell your friends and family that the government is doing testing on you, that will explain your time away.  But your flight, just like what you did over Washington, will have to remain a secret."  He shrugged his shoulders and gave a little smirk.  "It's kind of like a game.  We don't want this pulse bomb man to know how much we know.  Your body in flight is not detectable by any known technology.  Likewise the GPS button, which has far too weak a signal and is just one of thousands of GPS signals shooting through the atmosphere these days.  You are," he said slowly, "a very effective spy.  Your Middle Eastern background and appearance only enhances this.  A prize asset to whichever side has you."

Dareen felt flattered but also a little uneasy.  She squared her shoulders as if at attention, feeling a little flushed as she thought of her breasts sticking out through her clothes.  "I am a loyal American.  Anything I can do for this country, I will do."

Colonel Mike spoke up, tired but kindly.  "Dareen, there is no doubt about that.  You are as American as the rest of us.  Don't worry about that for even one minute."  That made her feel better.

"So have you found out anything more about my...?"

Dr. Vanaver said, "Only that your body when naked is surrounded by laja rays which give you your special powers, that encirclement, even of a finger, disrupts the field entirely, and that it takes 115 minutes to regenerate.  Which is not much more than you already knew, I apologize."

Ms. Danby said, "We might have to call you back for more testing, dear."

Dareen hugged herself tighter, dreading the thought of again being so naked and exposed in front of their intense though clinical stares.

The day was almost over.  She went straight to Jamal's place, which is where she and Elly and Lourdes would be staying for two more days before going back to Sherry's again.  She thought of taking the train up to her old apartment to see if reporters were still staking the place out, but decided against it.  Elly drove past it every day anyway.  As for Dareen's car, she couldn't use it for the time being.  The first thing the reporters had found out about her was the kind of car she drove.  It was too easily spotted.  So she had parked it at her parents', whom the authorities had announced were not to be bothered.

As Dareen rode the train, wearing the veil she had kept in her purse for public appearances to hide her face, she thought of Jamal and hoped he wouldn't be home.  It was a mistake to let him suck her nipple that night.  She was doing it out of kindness, and it only served to lead him on.  A mistake a girl should never make.  She pictured what it was like from a guy's perspective.  These days she probably had the most lusted-after breasts on the planet.  If anyone had earned the right to see them up close, it was Jamal.  And right up next to them it would have been unbearable not to touch them.  Yes, yes, she knew this was a standard unacceptable excuse from guys, as she had learned at those date rape trainings she had sat through at college, and it was much easier for Arab-American girls to get a handle on American customs than everyone seemed to assume.  But Jamal was special.

She had a little trouble with the copied key Jamal had given her, but with the right nudge the door opened.  Luckily Jamal wasn't home.  She still had some sorting out to do with her thoughts about him.  Elly and Lourdes weren't back yet either.  She turned on the TV.  "NakedGirl -- conflicted soul?" was the special.  "Which side is she on?  Born in Syria, one of the hotbeds of terrorism -- "  Dareen shook her head but sat down to watch.  Oddly she was not that bothered by the negative coverage; she knew her government was protecting her, and once the media could be told about her efforts to stop pulse bombs, all the suspicion would stop.  Mostly she was bemused at how the Cobb News Network -- given the almost total lack of actual news about "NakedGirl" recently -- still managed to keep spinning the story.

* * *

The big angry red graphic, "War on Terror", stayed in the upper left as the anchor kept reading, his voice loud and penetrating, the only sound in this hot stuffy waiting room.  "More casualties in Iraq.  Story after the break, but also an inspiring story about how the Iraqi people are discovering their freedom and free schooling for the first time.  Before we go, a quick shot of the latest anti-war demonstration in New York."  Indeed a quick shot of a crowd of angry ordinary-looking people filling an intersection, quickly cutting away to a much longer close-up of a middle-aged couple in leather fringe jackets, with graying ponytails and bloodshot eyes, holding up a hand-scrawled sign saying, "Bush equals" and then a swastika.  They hold up their fingers in "V" signs and start singing, "All we are sayyyyying, is give peace a chance!"

"Real throwbacks," the anchor chuckles, then a commercial for the next Cobb News Network movie, "9/11: Standing Tall", a re-enactment with a very handsome actor playing George W. Bush.

Elly fumed as she sat next to Lourdes in Dr. Patelu's waiting room.  It was full as usual, and the only seats were these facing the TV up on the ceiling.  She hated TV's in waiting rooms and had a momentary thought of going up to the receptionist to complain about being subjected to right-wing propaganda.  But as she coughed and felt the urge for another cigarette, she looked over to her teenaged friend and her mind turned to her plight.   Lourdes was curled up in her chair, obviously doing her best to conceal her almost total nudity.  The waiting room was full of mostly old people, who were either looking up at the TV with respect and attention, or staring and shaking their heads at the display of brown skin from the young Latina.

Elly could only look at Lourdes with pity.  Lourdes was sitting cross-legged, her flip-flops parked carefully on the floor, hiding behind the largest magazine she could find, practically crouching down behind it with rounded bare shoulders.  From her side vantage point Elly could see the single string of the bikini top, and the two cords of the tiny low-rise cut-off shorts; the only things that interrupted her totally naked side.  Lourdes had again found the ensemble too suffocating and Elly had carefully pared another half-inch or so from the bottom of the shorts and made bigger cutouts in the sides.  The poor girl's covering was shrinking down to -- to what?

Elly and Dareen had gotten the girl's hopes up but it was a pointless endeavor, trying to get Dr. Patelu to sign a note attesing to Lourdes's "condition" so that she could be allowed to attend high school in such skimpy bits of fabric.  Lourdes harbored the hope that the doctor would find the "cure" that would allow her to wear normal clothes again, but that was just a dream.  If the government scientists couldn't figure it out as to Dareen, this doctor wouldn't be able to either.  And no high school would let Lourdes in, doctor's note or no.  What would she do?  Work?  What kind of job would she get?  And what about when the weather turns cold?

Elly had filled out the sign-in sheet and helped Lourdes fill out the questionnaire.  This was a cash visit, paid for by Elly.  Lourdes's name was finally called and the two young females went in together.

Elly could only picture what kind of bozo Lourdes's family had as a doctor.  Dr. Patelu, a short bald man whose round glasses made him look a little like Ghandi, was no specialist, but he at least was conscientious.  After detecting the nicotine smell on Elly and chiding her for going back to smoking again, he sat Lourdes down and asked some careful questions about her affliction, how it began, how it progressed.  He tried putting a surgical gown over her and saw the sudden redness, and the full-body rash that was so easy to detect what with practically the teenager's whole body exposed anyway.  Fortunately for the child's modesty he did not ask her to disrobe -- though "disrobe" would have seemed too substantial a word for slipping off the skimpy strings.

The doctor was a bit "old country" and had his collection of herbs and grains.  He had her hold samples in her hand, to see the source of the allergy, if that's what it was.  Without success.  Apparently what set off the reaction was not the type of material but the fact that it surrounded a part of her body.  Maybe such minor things as a ring or a bracelet.

Elly knew about Lourdes having been struck by lightning the same night as Dareen, but wasn't about to tell Dr. Patelu about her association with "NakedGirl".  Dr. Patelu could be trusted to stay mum, but in her current state of paranoia Elly pictured the government coming in and seizing his records under the Patriot Act.  And then leaking the information to the usual pro-government friends in the media.  The last thing Lourdes needed was the press after her, like it was after Dareen.  And of course, being an undocumented alien -- what the Cobb News folks insisted on calling "illegal" aliens -- she and her family would be deported.  Only after being vilified on Cobb, of course.  She just couldn't sit there in front of the TV in Jamal's (or Sherry's) apartment and hear her best friend called a "possible Islamic agent" (what was that supposed to mean??) or, at best, "an ambiguous figure -- though her figure is in itself notable (chuckle, chuckle)".  She badly, so badly wanted to call those folks up and straighten them out.  Dareen needed a reporter to get her side of the story.  Someone she knew she could trust.  But who?  And how to find that person?

Such were the paranoid thoughts Elly was having these days.

Dr. Patelu, alas, could not find an explanation for Lourdes's condition.  But he made out a note that was as much as could be expected.  "To Whom It May Concern: Lourdes Gonzalez, DOB 6/14/85, suffers from an allergy to fabric.  Her clothing and footwear must be minimal at all times.  This is not due to any exhibitionist tendencies.  She is continuing to seek treatment."

The two young women went out into the waiting room, Elly in front.  And both opened their mouths and stood still as they saw Jamal being interviewed on Cobb News.

"She's just a very modest, friendly, good-hearted woman," Jamal said.

"How do you know?  How long have you known her?" the host said.

"About a year and a half..."

"A year and a half, and you say you know there is no connection with Syria, where she spent her childhood?  One of the hotbeds of terrorism?"

Jamal shared a split screen with the host of the program.  Jamal was dressed uncharacteristically in a tie and had a little speaker in his ear and was looking at the camera with a nervous glare.  He also had the trace of a nervous smile.  "I KNOW she's no terrorist."

"But you've only known her for a year and half!"

"It's just so unfair," Jamal's voice got a little higher pitched and more excited.  "What evidence do YOU have that she's at all connected?"

"Well in fairness there's no smoking gun, except that NOW suddenly there is this girl with super powers from an Arab country that supports terrorism."

"She's from THIS country!"

"She wasn't born here.  She has powers which the plotters of 9/11 would have envied."

"Look, mister," Jamal said, his smile disappearing.  "I resent seeing her guilty just because she was dark skin.  My great great uncle was lynched..."

"No no!!" the host shouted.  "You are not going to get away with that for even ONE MINUTE on this show!  We have a black assistant producer here.  We have a black copy editor..."

"All tokens, I'm sure," Jamal said.

"Well NOW you've insulted the professional capabilities of my staff, and I resent it!  Can't people with dark skin be conservatives?  Can't..."

"Look, my great great uncle was lynched in 1924."

"SO WHAT!!  SO WHAT!!  My ancestors were starved by the English.  It was a hundred years ago.  Get over it!!"

"I think you have no right..."

"Get over it!!"

"to cast aspersions on my dark skinned friend."

"Get over it!!  Cut his mike, will you?"  And now it was just the host filling up the whole screen.  And then a commercial.