“The Accountant and the Polygraph” by Ryan Sonneville


You’re going downtown.

Marcus perspired as the gravity of his situation began to set in. He was warned to avoid traveling from his designated district but found the siren call of the north ensnaring.  Having been crafted in Boston to carry out accounting minutia, Marcus assumed few clones of his make would be wandering about in Northern California. 

Now he faced a hardnosed detective, alone in a brightly lit interrogation room. Scattered about the worn table he was handcuffed to was a catalog of evidence amassed by the Santa Rosa Police Department; fingerprints, DNA samples, and eye-witness accounts all putting him at the scene of the murder.

“We don’t even need your confession,” confidently stated the detective as he ran his hands over the security camera printouts. “There is more than enough here that goes beyond circumstantial evidence pinning you to this crime.”

Marcus wished he had come to town with a friend. He had no alibi that could be substantiated, no good reason for being in a residential area at 3 AM. The picture procured by the detective showed a man identical to himself right down to the tightly trimmed haircut.

“I am telling you…I was tipsy and just wandered into the neighborhood. I swear… that isn’t me in the picture. The agency that designed me built nearly two-dozen copies. The person who killed that woman, it must be one of them.”

The detective smirked in disapproval. Marcus knew his story seemed unlikely; although cloning had become commonplace in the last decade due to a diminishing workforce, happenstances like this were rare.  Clones were designed to be workhorses and seldom strayed from their designated tasks and assigned locales. The itch Marcus had to drive north and visit wine country was not in keeping with his model’s design.

“I want to take a polygraph,” stammered Marcus as he kneaded his temples.

The detective sighed and left the room to get the apparatus out of storage. With the litany of evidence putting him at the crime scene and no credible alibi at hand, his only chance was to demonstrate his innocence via the outmoded device. Knowing that this may be his only shot at proving his innocence, Marcus began to shudder.

He was promptly strapped into the polygraph and the detective fired off a serious of baseline questions to calibrate the device.

 “What’s your name?”

 “Marcus Armstrong.” He stated confidently.

 “What’s your place of origin?”

Marcus paused for a moment. “…Glastonbury, MA.” This was the location of his first memory: being educated in accounting at his manufacturer’s lab. The needles of the polygraph shifted faintly.

“How old are you?”

Again Marcus paused. He was created at his present visible age; he was unsure of an exact date of birth.

“…I was fashioned six years ago.” Again the machine sputtered in response to his hesitant proclamation.

“Why were you in Santa Rosa last night?”

“I wanted to see wine country.”

This was the response Marcus had repeated in private dozens of times leading up to his trip. He muttered it so many times that he almost believed it to be true. The polygraph saw through his polished, studied declaration. Marcus could see the distance between the marked lines grow on the paper expelled from the machine like blood leaking from a split artery.

Marcus did not know what compelled him to do so, but he had determined to escape the life designed for him. With just a change of clothes and the money in his pocket, he intended to leave his prescribed life for an unknown future. He hoped to hide his motivations from the detective; he was technically property of his manufacturer rented out to his employer. The polygraph began to note the change in Marcus’ heart rate.

The detective stared at the hapless clone. He didn’t need the antiquated machine to see something did not match up with the accused’s story.

“Who did you plan to…” began the detective but was abruptly interrupted.

“I need a lawyer…”

Marcus pulled the cords connecting him to the machine and began to weep. The detective smirked, slowly shuffled the papers on the table into a neat stack and filled them into the weathered evidence dossier. 


Ryan Sonneville (@r_sonneville) is a writer and teacher in Sonoma County, California. His work can be found online.

One thought on ““The Accountant and the Polygraph” by Ryan Sonneville

  1. Pingback: March Debut: Introduction | The Evening Theatre

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