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By: A.R.

    Once the global depression started, there was little hope for any of us. Governments were helpless to stem the tide of environmental devastation brought on by decades of thoughtless greed. The age of nuclear terror had reduced once thriving cities to lawless ghettos. America was not the first great nation to fall. But in a short time, they too would follow the others, as citizen revolts and economic chaos opened the door to a succession of self-serving, fundamentalist dictators.

    I took a deep breath and surveyed my surroundings. Everything had changed once the Supreme Leader had taken control and dismissed Congress and the Constitution. My job was simple; find the violators and turn their names over to the authorities for collection. Social offenders needed to be identified, collected, and retrained. Disobedience was no longer allowed. The new system created a manageable, compliant population.

    The building that held me had been a public school in a previous life. But, there was no need for schools now. Education was only for the elite. The children had all been taken away and screened for genetic flaws. After the screening, only the most perfect children were returned to their parents. Some say the others were sent to training camps, but I suspect a much different destination awaited the ones who failed to pass.

    Everyone worried about transgressions that would bring unwanted attention from the Social Authority. In order to survive, I started working for the SA. Like I said, my job was simple. Violations that were previously overlooked, because nobody had the time, could now get you into serious trouble. I was a Refuse Compliance Officer, a fancy name for a garbage inspector. There was a long list of items that could not be discarded and it was my job to make sure people in my sector complied.

    They had Compliance Officers for everything under the sun. Some were responsible for communications, resource rationing, code violations, and numerous local ordnances of known and unknown origin. In the beginning, neighbors would report on each other for simply walking an unlicensed dog, smoking a cigarette in public, or watering their lawn. When jobs became scarce, those of us without transferable skills were recruited into the Social Authority. For the Supreme Command, this solved the unemployment problem and created a pervasive sense of paranoia.

    Before my own identification and collection, I felt like I had purpose in my life. I took my compliance prescriptions religiously and had none of the violent or self-destructive urges that brought forth the global depression. One cold morning, I was working my sector, checking to make sure only eco-friendly items were being disposed, when I heard a faint crying noise coming from one of the tall plastic trash containers. I should have walked away, but instead, I wrapped the whimpering child in a blanket, and brought it to my government-owned apartment.

    Like most men my age, I had been forced to have the operation that cancelled my reproductive urges. They told us that superior, gender selectable offspring could be produced in a lab, and that there would be no need to worry about negative outcomes anymore. Almost overnight, the epidemic of addiction and assault had been eliminated. Placing everyone in the DNA registry reduced violent crime. And, to control population growth, married couples were only allowed to have one child. Of course, any deviation from the limit would result in severe penalties.

    The baby was less than perfect, so I knew it had been conceived naturally. All day and into the night, the infant cried. I did my best to calm the child, and eventually, she did fall asleep in my arms. That night, I dreamed of being a father. I felt a long dormant sense of pride and responsibility. I had deferred my arranged marriage to payoff my government loans and credit card debt. But now, maybe it was time to start a family unit.

    The next morning there was a knock on my apartment door. Two large men in white contamination suites burst in and promptly collected me and took the baby. I struggled against an iron grip. I wanted to yell out as they took the child away, but before I could, I felt a syringe pass a compliant drug into my arm. As they lead me away I knew that my own neighbors had identified me. I knew that my momentary lapse of judgment would lead to involuntary relocation and retraining. I had always done my job well. Maybe this was payback from the soulless citizens of the New World Order.

May 3, 2008

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