In a future in which the World Community Government (WCG) exists, the world has shifted to a socialistic society like the one in which Star Trek is set. People do what they love to do and what they’re suited to do - generally what they’re naturally good at. As with any society, there are square pegs that are shoved into round holes. Square pegs just don’t fit in, but they do their best to get by.
Some people are only good at drinking, or gossiping, or fighting, or sex. There’s a name for free people who have no ambition, no drive, no determination and no hopes and dreams. Those people are called trailer trash. They take far more than they give to society and they believe the government’s job is to support them.
Many of these square pegs choose not to work at all. There are many stories about how they ‘work’ the system in which they exist instead. On the other hand, some families have an honest income from honest work. Dad has an actual job, even though he doesn’t love it. It gives the family a few extra credits to make their lives more pleasant. Less in number are those stories.
As always, the most vocal trailer trash are those whose disposable income is derived from less than honest means and those are the targets of the WCG, for good reason.
These individuals get angry when their ‘right’ to be underachievers is challenged, yet in this universe, they were given an opportunity to stand up for their rights and didn’t bother - and as a result, the government was given the go ahead to create a new law.
Citizens now have to earn a minimum household community score and if they don’t meet the designated minimum for their area, the government will step in.
The new law prescribes that the member (or members) whose scores have caused the household to fail to meet the prescribed minimum, will be inducted into slavery, thereby raising the remaining average score for the household and removing the member or members who fail to add value to the community.
Slavery is no longer only for terminal criminals. Honest (and not so honest but never before caught) citizens can now lose their rights and freedoms too.
This story focuses not on the many that are dishonest nor the even greater number that don’t care. Neither does it deal with the few that want to rise above their peers, leave the trailer park and follow their dreams, but instead, focuses on a single family that have no lofty dreams and just want to get by.
This family is caught in the WCG’s crosshairs purely by virtue of being underachievers. They’re nice people. They’re honest. They’re not really manipulative or conniving. They’re just good, common folk. Dad and mom are both on the lazy side and neither are out to change the world. Their default method of dealing with problems is to ignore a problem until it goes away, or until someone else fixes it for them.
They’re raising their daughters with their values and encouraging them to be underachievers too. It’s not really the parents fault - they teach the way they themselves learned and don’t know how to help their daughters be better than them - that’s just how common folk do it when there’s no reason not to.
The Brown Household
“What the hell is this, Sarah?” Bill asked, looking at the opened email on the coffee table screen, bearing the seal of the WCG.
“I couldn’t figure it out. That’s why I left it for you,” she shouted from the kitchen.
Bill tilted the screen and began to read. He wasn’t too good at reading but luckily there weren’t any really big words. Despite that, he really didn’t understand why the government wanted him to get tested, or what for. The last test he’d ever chosen to have was an STD test when he’d developed an itch.
“Is your dad home, Sarah?” Bill shouted to the kitchen.
“Hell if I know! Call him and see.” She shouted back.
Bill called his father in law and the grizzled old man’s face appeared on the screen almost instantly.
“Hey Dave, were you on another call?” He asked.
“Not now. Just hung up. Had to schedule my test,” the old man replied.
“Is it one from the WCG?” Bill asked, happy that he wouldn’t have to explain much, if it was.
“Yup. Starting to think I wish I’d voted now. Didn’t know what a kettle of worms they’d opened, I reckon!” Dave said with a head shake.
“So what’s it about? Why do I have to register a score?” Bill asked in confusion. “What happens if I don’t?”
“Well ya got to, son. If ya don’t, your score goes in as a zero. If you and Sarah both don’t, you get a combined score of zero. Then there’s Sheila and Rose too. Everyone over 16 has to now. The WGC knows there’s the 4 of you living in the trailer, so your combined score has to at least be 4, although they’re talking about numbers in the hundreds.”
“But why? So what if our score is 4? Who gives a shit?
“The government, son. They provide the electric you use and the food you eat and even the holos ya watch.” Dave began to explain patiently but Bill cut him off.
“My taxes pays for that stuff! I don’t see shit from my job but a few credits a week! We don’t even get to eat out every day like some folk. So why should we do some damn stupid test? I don’t test good, Dave. You know that.”
“You really should start voting, Bill. I didn’t and they passed that stupid damn law as a result. If me and a bunch of other regular folks had voted, this might not have passed, but it did. So now we’re stuck with it. It’s the law.”
“That’s what I don’t understand, dad!” Bill said, getting agitated. He only ever called Dave, dad when he was worked up and Dave knew it.
“People are sick of layabouts and losers sucking up all the resources so the government did something about it. It’s not a problem, son. Just make sure Sarah and the girls get tested too and everything will be fine. You work and Sarah’s a homemaker so you’re not the ones the government is targeting, okay?”
“What the fuck do you mean, dad? What happens to folk that don’t get tested?”
“You didn’t hear? I figured it would be all over the factory!” Dave exclaimed in surprise.
“Well it might be but, ah, I’ve been off for the last couple of days. Public health days, ya know?” Bill replied.
“You mean you got drunk, got hungover and couldn’t deal with work again. Shit, son. You’re gonna lose that job if you don’t get serious. You got a family to look after!” Dave lectured.
Bill had heard that same lecture a number of times. This time, Dave sounded a little angry for once.
Bill watched Dave take a deep breath to calm himself before explaining that a large part of the test was to determine how serious each citizen was about providing input in each community and how important it was to at least work the job Bill had every day, reliably.
“Okay, I can see how my score won’t be so great. There ain’t nothing I can do about history, but so what? I get a low score? Big whoop. I don’t even care what the government thinks of me. I do my best for my family. You know that, Dave.”
“They’re adding to the damn slave class, dumbass!” Dave said in frustration. “If you don’t test or you test too low, then you have to either do one of their plans or turn yourself in for induction to the fucking slave class! You understand that? MAKE SURE YOU ALL GET TESTED!”
Dave made his point by disconnecting the call, leaving Bill looking at an empty screen.
“Hey, Sarah? Where’s the kids at?” Bill urgently shouted towards the kitchen, suddenly a little nervous.
“You clear about your score, Mr Brown?” The tech asked as he put away the tablet.
“Yeah. I got a hundred. Better than I ever did on a test at school. I must have gotten smarter since then, I guess!” Bill said with a grin. He was feeling pretty good about himself.
“The test is not about intelligence, sir. It’s just used as a family benchmark. Your wife and daughters’ scores will be added to yours then divided by 4 to get an average. Let’s see if they’re done, shall we?” The tech asked, then proceeded to open a window on his tablet and hit a few buttons with his fingertip.
“Yep, they’re all done. Your wife got a 110 and Rose got 65. Sheila got a 60. That means your combined score is... 335,” the tech said.
“You just done that in your head?” Bill asked incredulously. “I’d need my tablet for that, for sure!”
The tech gave him a small smile but let the matter drop. His job was not to make others feel stupid.
“Anyway, since there are 4 of you in the household, that’s 335 divided by 4, which is,” he paused and brought up a calculator on his tablet to do the math so Bill could watch, even though he had the number in his head already.
“The magic number for your household is 83.75 but that gets rounded up to 84.”
“Is that good?” Bill wanted to know.
This was not the technician’s area of expertise and he didn’t want to tell the guy it was one of the lowest he’d yet seen. Instead, he just told Bill that the minimum number varied by location.
The tech wanted to tell Bill that his personal score was higher than Bill’s whole family, but kept that to himself too. The tech well knew that bragging was not community spirited.
“By the time you get home, you should have an automated email telling you if there are any additional steps that need to be taken. Otherwise we’re all done here. In 6 months, you can retest if you want and of course if there’s a change in living arrangements, you’ll have to retest. Have a good day, sir,” the tech said.
“Hey dad, I think there’s been a mistake or something!” Bill was on the screen with his father in law just minutes after the family returned to their trailer.
As the tech had promised, there was an email waiting but all Bill understood from it was that the minimum average household score was 90 for the trailer park in which they lived. The tech had told him their household score was 80-something.
“To do with the test? How’d it go?” Dave asked, concerned by Bill’s expression.
“I thought I did good, but this email says we didn’t meet the minimum and now we got to go see a counselor. You told me I needed to do the damn test! This is your fault, dad!”
Bill was working himself up more and more, just thinking about what failing the minimum could mean. Was he going to be arrested and made a slave? Would they all?
“Look son,” Dave tried to stay calm. “It’s not the end of the world. You’ll see the counselor and they’ll explain what the options are. I hear there’s a few. Hold on, let me pull up a calculator. You know what each individual score was?” He asked.
Bill had them and he gave them to Dave. In a moment, Dave came back on the screen. “You want me to tell you what I know or would you rather meet with the counselor and get the scoop from them?”
“You can damn well tell me. What!?”
“Okay, but don’t kill the messenger. Sometimes a household score can be raised if a person splits with their spouse. You can’t even if you wanted to, so that’s good, right?”
“Of course I don’t want to! But why wouldn’t I be ALLOWED to?” Bill asked, at least comforted a little at the news they wouldn’t be split up.
“The minimum in the trailer park is 90, you said. If I leave out your score of 100 and get an average of the others’ combined score, it comes to less than that. So you can’t leave your family. If you did, you’d be breaking the law.”
“Well I ain’t leaving Sarah anyways. So what is the counselor gonna say?” Bill asked in a pleading voice.
“I ran the numbers and it looks like there are two options. Maybe three, depending on how you look at it.” Dave admitted then pushed forward, hating to leave his upset son hanging longer than necessary.
“You either have to get someone else into your house that can raise your score or you have to give up one of the girls.”
“You mean like send one of my own daughters off to be a slave? Hell no! I’ll just get a border in. Rose and Sheila can take share the couch and we’ll give the guy their room.”
“It doesn’t quite work like that, son. If you get someone to move in, it’d be their job to run the family. See, the problem is that your scores weren’t good enough. That means you were deemed to be a substandard family in the community. The person that comes in has to have a good enough score to make your household average higher. That means they would be legally the head of the household and you’d have to answer to them, like you do to Sarah.” Dave carefully said.
“Sarah answers to me, dammit.” Bill took exception to his father in law splitting hairs like that.
“Whatever,” Dave waved his hand dismissively. “Just like Sarah answers to you, you’d both have to answer to the new person. If they told you to, I don’t know, take out the trash for example, you’d have to take out the trash. Taken to the extreme, they could have you arrested for refusing and that would mean you would head off to induction, leaving Sarah and the kids with them.”
“I ain’t having a guy tell me what to do neither! This is my house!” Bill stormed.
“So go looking for a female, then. But they’d still be in charge. Or see if one of the girls wants to submit to slavery and save all that hassle. One of my buddies said goodbye to his son this morning. It was his son’s idea.”
When Bill put down the phone, he drew Sarah to him. She’d been listening to his call, off screen. “What are we gonna do, baby?” He asked.
Increasing the Community Score
“Honey, we don’t have a choice! If we don’t get someone in, one of the girls will be enslaved. Do YOU want to choose which one?”
“I ain’t taking orders from a man. I ain’t a kid. We’d have to choose a woman. What about my mom?” He asked, brightening.
Bill’s mom was a widow living in Barcelona now, but Bill was certain he could get her to agree to join the house. Bill began to recall memories of growing up with his mom. She was a great choice, he decided. She’d never bothered him about anything, not even making him go to school if he didn’t want to. She didn’t mind that he brought girlfriends home and she never made him clean his room.
“You know I don’t get on with your mom, Bill,” Sarah reminded him. We both got on good with that Tech where we took our tests, though. He seemed like a nice guy. I just don’t like the thought of yet another female in the house. Imagine what it’d be like when that time of the month comes around!”
“You heard your dad, babe. When we find someone, we have to do whatever they say. Think about it. We have to do EVERYTHING they say. What if we got the tech and they want to fuck Rose? Or Sheila? We’d have to side with them because if we didn’t, we’d be breaking the damn law. Shit! What if the tech likes guys and he wants to fuck me!? Hell no. I ain’t getting a guy in here.”
Sarah was certain the technician wasn’t gay by the way he’d kept stealing glances at her cleavage before a different tech took her for her test. If she’d been even a little interested in him she could have seduced him, she knew, but she liked guys like Bill, not short weedy guys like the tech. And she wouldn’t ever cheat on Bill anyway. She’d had opportunities before.
She was also a little irritated that Bill didn’t even consider the idea of HER being made to screw the tech if he wanted her to even though SHE wouldn’t want to. Bill could be such a male chauvinist sometimes. She decided to let it go like she usually did. Better not to cause waves.
“So we get a girl then. You know how I feel about you, honey, so we would have to find a woman who just wants a place to live and isn’t interested in you in that way, okay?”
“Sure babe. I don’t need a bossy bitch around the place anyway. Just someone who needs a place. Hey that was easy!” Bill said, happy for the first time since being told they’d failed the test.
“So if it’s just a place to live, then it doesn’t matter if it’s a guy or a girl then! But how are you going to find someone like your mom but that I can get along with?” Sarah asked.
“I guess we have to post an ad on the boards. What can we offer though. The room’s pretty small.” Bill said with uncertainty.
“We’ll just have to see what’s out there. Just say we need someone and see who responds. Don’t forget to make that appointment with the counselor though. We can tell them what we decided, just like dad said.” Sarah reminded Bill, thinking that what her dad had said was really true. She did run the house more than Bill.
After dinner Sarah put her ad on the boards. The next morning she eagerly checked for responses but there were none. Saturday night she checked again just before bed and there still wasn’t anything. Sunday was the same. Monday morning just as she was saying bye to Bill, there was a notification saying email had arrived.
Sarah told Bill to wait a minute in case it was a response to their ad. It was! Sarah couldn’t believe how relieved she was. They needed to have a name to give the counselor today and she had been freaking out that no one had replied.
Bill was happy to have Sarah deal with the email and left for work, wondering what Morgan Anderson would look like. He pictured an old black man with a cat. Bill had no idea why he thought the guy would be dark skinned or have a cat, but it was a strong mental image. The idea comforted him, like he was tuned into the guy even though he’d never met him or something. He just felt that any guy named Morgan would have to have a cat. Maybe he watched too much TV or something and some character on TV or a holo had the name Morgan? He’d never had pets before, but he figured he could get used to it if the guy did own a cat. The girls would be happy too. They’d wanted a pet forever.
After work, he met Sarah at the counselor’s office. “Did you speak to Morgan on the screen today and set things up? What’s he like?” Bill asked excitedly, before even saying hello to his wife.
Sarah bit her lip. She was sure Bill would be angry - or at least HOPED he’d be at least really disappointed, but so far, they really had no choice. Unless this counselor could suggest something. Sarah really hoped so.
Morgan’s a girl’s name too, honey,” Sarah cautioned her husband.
“It’s a woman?” Bill said in surprise. “Well okay. It is what it is, as my boss used to say. So does Morgan have a cat? I figured someone called Morgan would have a cat,” Bill said. He’d been obsessing over a dude with a cat, but it was easy enough to translate the image in his head into an old woman with a cat.