The expectant mother and her inspecting husband waited.
It had been an hour since they arrived and both felt anxious that the baby would come before the doctor, but both also knew it would be most irregular to cause a fuss and breach procedure.
Occasionally they spoke but said nothing, at least not as much as the looks they exchanged.
But they had hope, everyone hopes. The whole world hoped. But the fact remained, there had not been a successful procedure related to childbirth in at least fifty years.
Not that babies weren’t born during this time, like anywhere else people we’re conceiving.
But not one baby in half a century had been able to correctly follow procedure and completing the necessary paperwork.
If this was to be the case with their own baby, the parents knew what lay in store. Expulsion.
Banishment to The Moon and a life without rules, where anything goes, chaos, disorder…
Inefficiency and a total lack of paperwork. Like all parents before them, this was a price they were willing to pay, to be a family.
Quite abruptly the doctor arrived followed by a nurse. The preliminary paperwork was checked to the sound of ha-hums then an approving nod from the doctor.
“I admire the uniformity of these upward strokes, your hand writing?” An enquiring look to the father.
“Actually my wife’s” the father beamed. The wife smiled and blushed.
“Very good then,” getting back to business, “Let’s get you to the theatre”.
Like any soon-to-be father, he paced. The contractions were becoming more frequent, but marginally, so he paced the hospital corridors.
The building was in immaculate condition. Everything in its place, everything in good order, clean, staff moved with efficient strides, the maternity ward clerk passed orders and paperwork, received paperwork, nodded a friendly hello then received more paperwork.
This hadn’t always been so…
He remembered stories from his own father about how their world used to be. Utter Chaos. Public transport that never ran on time, water shortages, litter, non-standardised opening and closing times. If a doctor in a hospital for example became too good at his job, they stopped him from operating and put him in charge of paperwork!
How they had not destroyed themselves was beyond comprehension, but everyone knows how the world was saved. Clerks.
Or one particular clerk.
Kevin Trolley had been a clerk during this time of anarchy, blindly going about his business, never knowing there could be something better, like a life with order.
That was until the horrible accident that took his parents from him.
Like all clerks Kevin was in his mid 30’s and shared a cosy two bedroom cottage with his parents. As the story goes his father and mother were newly retired and took their first ever holiday, destination Saturn and its beautiful gas rings.
When it was time to return there was a mix up at the spaceport and the parents were forced to stay an extra night. Seemingly no big deal, one extra night at the airports expense.
No-one, not even the scientists had predicted Saturn’s collision with an errant asteroid the very next day. A collision that spared no-one.
After that Kevin became a recluse. Disappearing from normal society until he was forgotten by all but the children in the neighbourhood, who considered the pale, unkempt little man as something akin to a sideshow act. They would stare through his window, hoping to catch a glimpse of the ghoul-like creature in their midst and dare each other to knock on his door, laughing their way to the bushes to see if he would emerge.
Then one day and without notice he reappeared. Neat, clean shaven, well dressed…and armed with a plan.
He approached local councils, politicians, the media, whoever would listen to his grand scheme to make things right.
“Clerks”, he said, “will save our society”.
In a little while the politicians who were no more than clerks themselves started saying “It just might work”.
Then on a slow news day “Paperwork is king” said the headlines in the newspapers.
It caught on, his grand scheme…
The inspecting husband left his musings and made another visit to the hospital room, his wife was sleeping for the moment, making little noises and twitching. He returned to the corridor…
Kevin Trolley you see hadn’t been idle during his self imposed exile, he’d been studying. Looking for a solution to the ills of the world. After two years of searching he’d happened upon an archive from the planet earth, it was a repository of information from something called the Department of Taxation. Apparently earthlings were given varying degrees of recompense for goods and services they offered society, and then the Department of Taxation took some back. Obviously a flawed system but it was enough to get him thinking. He then studied the methods of other worlds. When he emerged with his grand scheme, it was a strategy based upon all the good ideas he’d ‘borrowed’ from these other worlds. Holographic document storage from SuderFed, skills and experience remuneration strategy from Typhus, variable equity totalisation from Playus II, and a host of other ideas. in the end his only disappointment was not being able to incorporate the Department of Taxation idea but no matter how he tried he could not find the logic behind it, maybe the records on this were incomplete.
The rest is history. Kevin became a household name, a saviour, and eventually President. The very hospital the husband now stood in was even named the Kevin Trolley Mercy Hospital.
Of course this was all long ago and Kevin is long gone, but his legacy lives…an efficient, well run society.
Unfortunately this would not help the husband and his wife in their current situation; he could see no way how his baby would be able to complete the Application for New Residency. It was The Moon for them.
An efficient ward Clerk interrupted the husband’s thoughts. It was time.
The birth went well, the child, a little boy was named Kevin.
A very common name these days.
Then the time came the parents were expecting with silent dread, time to do the paperwork. The clerk leant over the crib and with a kind voice, began asking the necessary questions.
The husband looked at his wife with a gentle smile, reached out and held her hand.
The baby gurgled a little, eyes wandering, then focussed onthe Clerk and said…“Kevin”.
The clerk dropped his pen, the father stood bolt upright. No-one quite comprehending what had just happened.
The clerk gave the parents a quizzical look then expertly wrote the name on the form. With a halting voice he asked the next question.
“Date of birth”?
“1524 of Nova X”.
“Kevin’s above!”, exclaimed the Clerk.
And so a new chapter in the neat little history of Kevinalia commenced. It didn’t take long for the news to spread, holographs everywhere spread the word of “The baby that did the paperwork”. Little Kevin became an instant celebrity, his face everywhere; the family even appeared on The Blurtzer Tonight Show where the baby endeared itself even more to the whole world by telling Blurtzer his tie was crooked.
The biggest honour of all was an invitation to dinner with the President. Kevin Trolley the XVIII hosted them at his own mansion and allowed the proceedings to be televised world wide, an obvious coup for his re-election hopes.
The night was going well, the baby congratulated the President on how straight the cutlery was aligned, the parents were congratulated on producing such a fine offspring, before all attention returned to the baby, the President was delighted at the publicity, all was well.
Then mid way through dessert the Presidents aid, a weaselly faced little man entered and asked if he may have a quite word in the Presidents ear.
“Yes it is urgent he was heard to respond”.
After an absence the President returned to the table, a little paler than before and maybe there was a bead of sweat on his forehead?
“Mr Turntable”, he said without sitting.
“Yes Mr President” the husband beamed.
“Did you at one time have the privilege of working for the Pirox Ruler & Measuring Device Company”?
“Yes” the husband beamed, blushing. “I still do, nearing twenty years service”.
“And did you commence employ with this company in 1512 of Red X”?
“Yes that is correct”.
“And is it possible that on your Acknowledgement of Employment Form, that you failed to enter a gender”?
Now the husbands face went pale as well, the smile disappearing from his lips in an instant. His wife seated next to him, involuntarily shifted her chair an inch away from her husband.
“No I can’t say that I did. I have always prided myself on my paperwork. I have even duplicated my personal administration records so to keep them both chronologically and alphabeti…”.
The President cut him off. “That may be so Mr Turntable, but do you recognise this handwriting”?
The President handed over a copy of the form in question, the husband stared at it for a seeming eternity.
“Please honey”, said the wife. “Tell them it isn’t so”.
The husband looked up, first to his wife, then to the President, then slowly around the room at the others gathered with baited breath, aids, officials, dignitaries, numerous holographic recorders. All could not believe what they we’re hearing.
“Yes it is my hand writing”.
At this the aid stepped in using his most officious tone of voice. He was after all performing a very solemn and serious duty in front of the whole world, yet an act even the founding Kevin would be proud of.
“Sir you have failed to acknowledge your right to a gender, this means you may not legally parent child, by default baby Kevin is illegitimate”.
So the night ended, the Turntables moved to The Moon and the mother never once blamed her husband. The world of Kevinalia continued to shrink and continued to give thanks to the saviour Kevin the Clerk; while old men sat around telling horror stories of the life on The Moon, The Moon of total lawlessness, where anything goes, where no records are kept.
The clincher of course, the line that never fails to remove the blood from the listeners face, no matter how often they had hear it.
“You know The Moonies don’t even have a gender”.