Killing Maude was the last resort, Kevin thought to himself as he and Lauren paused at the ramshackle entrance to the small, ranch house. The two Reconciliation Agents gazed at the debris-strewn yard.
It looked as if a bomb had gone off.
The reconciliation concept began with the 2016 elections, the winning side decided the others had to reconcile, or else. The Supreme Court legitimized the new administration’s actions. First came re-education, then camps which were too expensive, and finally with the perfection of the small laser, the perfect solution.
Lauren was Kevin’s mentor and this was his final test as a bona fide Agent. “This is not a drill, Soldier. “ Lauren whispered to her student. “This is your final.”
Kevin nodded and rang the doorbell that chimed a song, perhaps a hymn. The two of them waited and Kevin breathed deeply, looking down at his left hand where he had secreted notes.
“Try the door.” Lauren directed. And Kevin reached for the doorknob, and opened the creaking door. He poked his head inside and called for Maude Brown, the recalcitrant neighbor who refused to clean up her front yard among other social-civil infractions.
Suddenly a small dog started yapping and Lauren gave Kevin a gentle push, indicating they should enter the house. The two agents stepped into the living room with a kitchen and a small eating area in the back. To the right, Maude was standing by a brick fireplace holding a poker and glaring at them. At the woman’s side a small terrier was nosily barking, emitting a high pitched yap that unnerved Kevin. The dog was digging at the worn carpet, as if preparing to attack. “Easy, Mr. Piddles.” The woman said, ordering the dog to hold his ground.
Maude Brown wore a faded, brown peignoir that hung like a sack on her thin body. Maude’s red hair stood out as if the frail woman had stuck her finger in an electric socket. She pointed the poker at them with a threatening wave. “I ain’t cleaning the yard.” She croaked. “And I don’t believe in climate change either.”
Kevin glanced at his notes and saw that climate change denial was number four on the list of Maude’s offenses. Lauren nudged him and he knew it was time to start his reconciliation spiel, but as he opened his mouth Mr. Piddles bounced up and down and then lunged at the intruders.
Without thinking, Kevin drew his laser and shot Mr. Piddles as the dog was in mid-air. There was a flash, then a smoldering pile of ashes. Maude’s eyes went wide as she gazed at Mr. Piddle’s remains, then she raised her poker to fling it at the two agents. Again, with no time to think Kevin shot Maude Brown, who vaporized into smoldering ashes next to her dog.
Kevin turned to Lauren to explain, but his mentor had her laser out and without a word she vaporized Kevin. Lauren stood by the three piles of ashes and then knelt down beside Kevin's.“You failed your final, Soldier.” She said with a shake of her head.
“You shouldn’t have shot Mr. Piddles.”