Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer

Doctor Flynn had a difficult decision to make. He looked up from his desk. The afternoon sun was beaming through the window alleviating the need for candle to see by. Out in the massive garden two-dozen people knelt, keeping the commune alive, keeping the family thriving.

He looked back to the ancient leather binding on his desk and traced the archaic symbols. “Never more than half a billion,” it read. It was their credo. It was the ultimate law.

They were already at their maximum of one hundred people. No one was supposed to be pregnant yet. Cassandra was definitely an anomaly. But it had been happening more often in recent years, women were becoming fertile again.

Flynn looked out at old Ben as he tottered by with a wheelbarrow. He was looking frail and sickly. Flynn knew that if he guessed wrong and Ben lived another year he could be risking the entire commune. It had happened in the past to one of their nearest neighbors.

Maxwell Commune only fifty kilometers away had been caught with new children, half a dozen people over their allowable, and the authorities had repelled from airships and razed the place. He remembered seeing the black smoke in the western sky.

He looked up and to his surprise saw Cassandra looking through the window at him. Her face was hopeful yet it was obvious she had been crying, she absentmindedly ran her hand across her stomach and then, her tears welling up again, turned and ran toward the sleeping quarters.

The doctor loved her as he did all the people of Flynn Commune. And he desperately wanted her to have her baby. But rules were rules and he had to tread lightly. A surprise audit was always a threat. They had been here in the past and they would come here again, especially to a community whose numbers were at capacity.

He still had a week. He would watch old Ben’s health carefully.

Two days later the northern gate sounded the horn. They had visitors. Flynn walked out to the edge of the farm flanked by his closest advisors. The envoy from Jefferson Commune escorted an official auditor and his two assistants, both armed with government only technology in the form of long-range communication devices and electrical weapons. Old man Jefferson shook Flynn’s hand and said, “We passed with flying colors. Down to ninety since I lost my wife.”

“I’m sorry,” replied Flynn.

“No need to be sorry.” He nodded to his envoy. “We’ll be off.” Then nodding back at the officials, “They’re your problem now.” And with that they turned and began their seventy-kilometer walk back home.

The commune gave no trouble to their unwanted guests as they were all assembled and counted. Cassandra came into the common room bundled up in a thick robe. Flynn hoped the officials wouldn’t notice the garment’s heaviness for the current warm temperatures.

Then finally, “I see you’re at capacity Flynn.”

“Yes, it would seem so.”

“ Well I’m afraid I can’t leave until we administer pregnancy tests to all women under fifty.”

“What? Since when was that the law?”

“Word travels slowly by foot my friend. It was passed into being several months ago.” The auditor stepped forward and eyed Flynn. “What are you worried about?”

Suddenly old Ben burst forward toward the auditor, a fire poker raised high. Both guards drew and fired simultaneously, their weapons sending forth lightning blasts, leaving poor old Ben a smoldering mess on the floor.

Flynn gasped, and then looking up he answered the question. “Nothing at all.”


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