A bare, utilitarian room with a desk and an ageing computer. The receptionists sits at the desk.
Alan: Excuse me, is this room 573?
Receptionist: Who are you looking for?
Alan: Character assignation and reassignments.
Receptionist: That’s room 375.
Alan: But it says here-
Receptionist: Only kidding 375 in the national institute of obfuscation.
Alan: So you’re-
Receptionist: The department for character assignation and reassignments? Yes.
Receptionist: So how can I help today?
Alan: I don’t like my character.
Receptionist: Well, Mr-
Receptionist: Well, Alan, as you know we’re each assigned a role at birth. Parents have a standard 28 days to query that role. Did your parents query that role.
Alan: No. But they were both assigned meek and fearful of reproach so-
Receptionist: I see. And have you at any point in the past…
Alan: I’m 36.
Receptionist: In the past 36 years raised a query regarding your role?
Alan: Well, I’ve been dancing. A lot.
Receptionist: And that’s your assigned role?
Receptionist: Well that’s nice-
Alan: It’s exhausting. Always dancing.
Alan: Most of the time.
Receptionist: Ok. Well, let’s pull up your file. Do you have your character code?
Receptionist: 65-97-09-82-13-1. Bare with me. Here we go. So, Alan, what have we got here. You’re tall. That’s nice.
Alan: I hate it.
Alan: I hate being tall.
Alan: I don’t know. It’s in my character.
Receptionist: Oh yes, so it is. That’s a shame. What else. You’re a virgin-
Receptionist: No, it says here virgin.
Alan: It’s a typo. It was corrected in 1998.
Receptionist: Oh, yes. There’s a note at the bottom of your file. What else? You have seven pets, you’re an anthropology graduate and you drink 8 cups of coffee a day. That’s not good for you.
Alan: I know, but I can’t stop, can I?
Receptionist: No. Good point. What else; You’re Receptionist: a polyglot – there’s a cream for that; adopted child; about to get married – congrats; you like building things; you volunteer locally every day; you once killed a cat-
Alan: It was an accident.
Receptionist: Was it?
Receptionist: I see. Well, looking over your file you look pretty deep to me.
Alan: But I don’t want it. My character. It’s just not me.
Receptionist: You see, Alan, that’s just where you’re wrong. You’re exactly who you should be. It’s all in your file.
Alan: But who decides that?
Alan: Who decides that? How do you know that’s who I’m meant to be.
Receptionist: Well, you see, it’s all about balance. There’s an algorithm, you see, a giant computer if you like and it knows everything. So it decides who you, me, everyone is going to be.
Alan: So it’s a kind of anthropologist? It looks at the structure of society-
Receptionist: Yes, and the it makes adjustments for the good of society in the future.
Alan: So, what if I want out of it?
Receptionist: Ah. Well, there is a reason why we are the department of Character Assassination and reassignment.
Alan: You can give me a new character?
Receptionist: No. Only if you were a new born. As I said, it’s all about balance.
Receptionist: Well, the only option is the character assassination.
Alan: But what does that means?
Receptionist: Well, death.
Receptionist: Yes, at the hand of a hired killer. I hear it’s practically painless.
Alan: From who?
Alan: Who said it’s painless? Do the dead fill out a post murder survey.
Receptionist: We, at the department of character assassination and assignment take pride in our humane approach to our work.
Alan: I’ve offended you.
Receptionist: I’m easily offended. That’s how I am written.
Receptionist: No offence taken-
Receptionist: No. I was being polite.
Alan: So, if I chose character assassination, what would happen?
Receptionist: To you? That’s a big question-
Alan: No, to my character?
Receptionist: It would be redistributed. Divided up between a new batch of citizens for the-
Alan: Good of society.
Alan: And what would happen if I just rejected it all?
Receptionist: What do you mean?
Alan: Just said fuck it and became an antisocial plumber who liked being tall, or a right wing LGBT advocate who only ate out of peoples hands and burped Pachelbel’s Cannon?
Receptionist: You can’t. You know you can’t.
Alan: I can try.
Receptionist: Alan. You can’t. You know you can’t. It’s not in your character.
Receptionist: So, what would you like to do?
Alan: Do I get a choice? I mean, it’s not in my character is it.
Receptionist: Oh, Alan, of course you have a choice. We’re not monsters after all.
Alan: I’d like to see your manager.
Receptionist: Are you sure?
The receptionist presses a buzzer.
Receptionist: Sorry. Can you come out please?
A large man enters the room.
Receptionist: This is Alan. He doesn’t like his character.
Alan: I’m not going to be my character anymore.
Receptionist: He’s going to be a gay Nazi.
Alan: I demand a reassignment.
Man: And what if you don’t like the character you are assigned?
Alan: I’ll try another.
Man: And then what?
Alan: I’ll keep going until I find one that fits.
Man: Is he stupid?
Receptionist: It’s not in his character.
Man: We must all play our roles. It’s all about-
Alan: Balance! Society!
Alan: And what if I don’t give two hoots for society?
Man: Is that true?
Alan: Yes, it’s true.
Man: Is that true?
Receptionist: No. It’s a lie. Alan is very conformist.
Alan: I am not. Stop telling me what I am. It’s all very well on paper but-
Man: That’s not how people work. We’ve heard it all before.
Alan: This is ridiculous. Who is your manager? I want to take this to the top.
Man: Are you sure?
The man pulls a gun from a holster. There is a loud bang.
Alan looks down at his chest. There is blood flowering on his t-shirt. He falls slowly to his knees, gurgling.
Man: Say hello to the boss for me. Oh, and before you go, on a scale of one to ten, how painless would you describe your experience? One being not at all; ten being absolute agony.
Alan gives one final gasp and falls to the floor. The Man and the receptionist watch as blood oozes across the floor.
Man: I’ll put that down as a one. Another satisfied customer.