In a dystopian future, you, along with many others, are chosen as a “Social Cleansing Officer”, and are ordered by the government to kill anyone and everyone with a criminal history. One day, your wife’s name shows up on your list.

“How much?”

“A few hundred. Enough to get by for a few months.”

“And the lawkeeper?”

She sighed. As if she could show exasperation at a time like this. The gun shook in my hands and I just wanted to get it over and done with right now. One more for the recycler.

“What about the lawkeeper?” I asked again.

“It was a different time back then. It was either him or a short drop and a sudden stop.” She pushed off of the wall, all playful and demure. The barrel of my gun bumped against her chest. “You don’t know what it was like back then.”

“You’re a fucking criminal,” I spat. “You were going to be the mother of my child!”

“You think you’re any better than me? We’ve all got a history. All of us.”

“I’m clean.”

“‘I’m clean’” she mocked. “I’m clean. That’s what it used to be. I’ve done no wrong. But that wasn’t enough. You and your officers had to take it further.

“Sorry kid but your daddy shot up a bank. You’ve gotta go to ‘protect the peace’. We don’t know what kind of bad genes he might have passed on to you.”

“It was necessary. It was for peace!”

“You killed babies in a prison infirmary. How can you fucking talk to me about raising a baby when you euthanised a kid because his mother stole a packet of fags?”

“He would follow in her footsteps.”

“Says who?”

I shoved her back, sick of it. This was necessary. Society had to be kept clean. Violence and deceit and evil were part of human nature. They could be weaned out.


“And when you ran out of babies you went after the sons and daughters. People who had made a life, an honest life,” she said, chasing the barrel of the gun. “And you cleansed them too.

Teens. Twenties. Thirties. Married men. Older women.”

She snatched the only photo of her grandparents she had off of the mantle over their mock fireplace. She held it aloft, beside her own face.

“The first borns first,” she said, enjoying her own humour. “Then the grandchildren. And the great grandchildren.”

“They were criminals! Their history demanded their deaths.”

“And me?”

I tried to look away but she grabbed my face and forced me to look into it. Deep into the eyes of a woman who I knew to be a criminal.

“They found the records. You have a criminal past. It is necessary.”

She pulled the gun tight to her chest and I felt her heart beating against the cold metal.

“It was three hundred years ago, in a mining town no-one has even heard for two hundred of them. She stole from a stagecoach and now I’m facing the gallows.”

“A criminal is as a criminal does,” I whispered, pulling the trigger. “Mary Louise Ann, you have been found guilty of robbery, nine generations removed.”

Prompt originally posted by Actamis on reddit and received 2 upvotes.

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