William Stevens quickly grew nervous at the sight of the Auditor before him. William was a disheveled man, wearing his Sunday best fresh out of a pile of wrinkled clothes on his bedroom floor. The Auditor dressed in his finest navy-blue shirt & tie with a sharp powder-blue sport coat just to screw with how you’re supposed to feel about him.
“Take a seat, Mr. Stevens,” said the Auditor. “This won’t take long.”
William took his seat in a hard, metal folding chair next to the desk. Looking around, he noticed the office was of perfect, government-approved, symmetrical specification. William had always found symmetry frightening. There’s just something so chilling about anything that can be made to look perfectly reflective from one side to the other. Our world is surely imperfect, so the fact that something could be built this sleek and faceless was quite worrisome.
“Mr. Stevens,” said the Auditor, “I see here that everything appears to be in order. Name, address, occupation, health, etc. All statuses accounted for. All income received and taxes filed.” A wave of relief washed over William. He had known friends to try and pull one over on the Audit system and things were never the same for them after that. For now, it would seem as though he was about to walk away clean.
“There is one final matter though, Mr. Stevens,” said the Auditor. “Your three children.” William’s blood ran cold. Every year since his wife had become pregnant with their third child he had made sure to keep the entire situation off the public record as to not go against the country’s two offspring limit. It has been seven years up to this point and William had done a good job keeping things quiet.
“One of our localized agents spotted three children in Sector Fifty Seven a few months back and we decided to do some voluntary investigating,” said the Auditor, in a low and mellow tone of voice. He pressed the button for an intercom on his desk.
“Bring her in.”
The door slid open like a knife through butter and the secretary brought in a young girl sporadically covered in bandages and slumped into a wheelchair.
“Miriam!” howled William. “What did you do to her? Why is she in that wheelchair? How did you find her? I demand an explanation right now!” William was quickly becoming a man-of-action parody, far from the meek father that walked in several minutes ago. He knew for his daughter’s sake that he had to dial back his anger, for now, or else there might be more trouble than there already seemed to be.
“I don’t exactly have to answer your questions in order, if at all, but I can tell you, Mr. Stevens, that we have ways of finding people; we can assure you that your wife and two other children are safe at home (though will remain asleep for the next 12 hours); but your third daughter isn’t exactly going to get out as easy and I can assure you, Mr. Stevens, that this is all—your—fault.” The Auditor said, as he began to adjust his cufflinks with a smug, nonchalant playfulness.
“She didn’t do anything except be born,” said William. “Exactly!” burst the Auditor, as he popped up from his chair, “and now her punishment is your punishment, Mr. Stevens! You went against our mandate and brought an extra life into this system! That life demands resources that we are unwilling to provide!”
The Auditor began to unbutton and remove his sport coat and hang it on the back of his chair. He then looked down for several seconds, then raised his head back up and began to speak with a raised tone somewhere between friendly and howling mad, but never getting back to either extreme.
“You knew this. You brought the burden upon yourself, your country and now you must repay us with those excess resources in kind,” said the Auditor. “We’re not heartless. We brought your daughter here so you can say goodbye to her one last time before she has to go.”
If William’s blood could run any colder it would have surely frozen him by now. “Where are you taking her?” asked William. “We are going to submit her to the Donor program where she will be harvested for her resources and they will be transplanted into living bodies that could stand to use them,” said the Auditor, “though there’s little you can do about it now. She put up a fight, but we’ve already injected her with anesthetic serum and she’ll be asleep soon enough.”
William sat silent. Everything was happening so fast. All that he had worked so hard to protect was flying out the window and, to the Auditor’s credit, this was all his fault. William proceeded to stand up, look the Auditor square in the eyes, and punch him in his face.
Security swarmed the room and held William down on the ground.
“You think you can control us?!” William yelled. “You honestly think that this ends with me being hauled off and you gutting out my daughter’s organs for your ‘approved’ citizens? This fight has been going on since before you or I were born and it’s going to continue until someone budges.” William began to spit out blood from being knocked to the floor. “You can kill me! You can take my body! Mine’s fully developed! I know you’re still going to take her from me anyway.”
With his head firmly locked against the floor, William could only see a Dutch-angle view of his daughter being wheeled away, never to be seen again. Who knows what horror she will be put through before she is finally unconscious, but at this point William could only hope that moment comes to her sooner rather than later.
“As for you, Mr. Stevens,” said the Auditor, “despite the fact that you might have dislocated my jaw there, you are free to go.” This was the worst news of all.
William knows that there’s nothing he can do to fight back. At least if they had imprisoned him for hitting an Auditor he could feel like there were gears moving somewhere. The fact that he was now being forced back out into the world, having to deal with what just transpired, was true terror. The terror that sometimes life just goes on, even when we don’t want it to.
Spiritually broken and defeated, William let the guards drag him by his shoulders back out from where he came in. There he stood, outside, in plain sight of an unusually sunny day. As he walked down the street and back towards his car he said nothing.
Who knows what happened to William. Maybe he went back to society and planted the seeds of revolution into the foundation of his community. Maybe he went home and immediately killed himself. Maybe, just maybe, he went home and kept living.