Dilcher “Pipkin” Kidd had worked for the Internal Revenue Service as an auditor for nearly two years when his employers realized that he did not exist.

This fact came to light during a routine background check in the auditing department–an audit of the auditors, as it were. Pipkin Kidd’s file was found to contain a number of impossibilities, from his bizarrely unlikely name to his even more bizarrely unlikely nickname to his place of birth in a town that had been swallowed by the sea 100 years ago. The inconsistencies were too legion and too flagrant to be mere forgeries or mistakes; the IRS auditor general came to the inescapable conclusion, as did his colleagues, that Pipkin Kidd simply could not exist.

As a result, the auditor general called Kidd into his office and confronted him with the evidence of his non-existence. Kidd, unable to argue, obligingly ceased to exist at that very moment.

A thorough review of the case by special agents of the federal offices of inspectors general found no wrongdoing; as Kidd had not existed, no one could be held liable for his cessation of existence but himself. Furthermore, the inspectors general found that people like Kidd who did not exist constituted a security threat–they could be blackmailed, or maliciously cease to exist at inopportune moments.

The IRS therefore conducted a thorough existence audit and found 14 other employees, ranging from mailroom clerks to the Undersecretary of the Decimals and Fractions office. Each was duly confronted with the fact of their nonexistence, ceased to exist, and was replaced. Alarmed, the government instituted procedures to broaden the scope of the audit and began a program of thorough existence testing at regular intervals, as hiring procedures did not allow for such screening.

Critics decried this as the most vicious form of discrimination, but as the people so discriminated against did not exist, the Supreme Court upheld the decision (in a landmark case that led to three counsels ceasing to exist in chambers). In the years since, non-existence has become more difficult to prove, and accusing someone directly cannot be done without a thorough paper trail. In turn, people worried that they might be non-existent (existential crises do not seem to have the same effect as a direct accusation backed by proof) have taken to increasingly elaborate means to protect and disguise themselves.

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