The sun crests the treetops on election day in Rogers Park. Duna stood faithfully inches from the door, waiting for the assured sound of the autobolt unlocking.
Glancing back, she noted the number of transparent figures snaking down the block. Several of the holograms converged, blurring the silhouettes of limbs and torsos, resembling iridescent blobs.
When she arrived at the lakeside polling station two hours prior, the night’s sky had dulled only a few shades. Living near the lake in constant earshot of nature was a worthy compromise for the 10 months of frigid temps and icy sidewalks Duna endured each year. She couldn’t ever swim in the acidic waters nor bear the outdoor air without a down jacket, but she still had the beat of the waves. They kept her going.
Now at five past the hour, the nine-foot waves crashing steadfast against the 22-mile-long wall were her companions. It was with their rhythm that she tapped her boot. Moment by moment, as her left Doc Marten hit the solid brown metal door and disappeared into the void, she refocused on her task.
Today wasn’t about selecting the better of two evils. It was a referendum on choice itself. Four months ago, as pundits spewed talking points into audio implants and propagandized motion content, she broke.
The absence of control she accepted as a byproduct of modern life, was no longer immaterial. From the coffee prohibition to the erection of the lake-wall, with every cycle she lost more.
She surrendered her time to researching all candidates, no matter the political party, species affiliation or android faction.
It took a toll on her personal life. Canceling brunches with college friends and skipping happy hours. She’d overheard them whisper about her foolishness for taking everything so seriously. It was all a waste of time.
Her current match didn’t understand either. He scoffed as she recited the latest candidate to support Lake Michigan Anew, a 60-year restoration project that hoped to tame the waves and restore the pH balance.
Cool brass ratcheted against the rusty mechanics of the automated entry way. Duna straightened up, pulling the down hemline of her navy sweater. Yet her appearance didn’t matter because like many in line behind her, she too masked her identity with tinted overlay.
Holoview always sported 100% visibility. So the clearly observable gymnasium Duna stepped into was likely absent of artificial light. Left, right, left her Docs skipped across the floor as she reached the console in the back corner of the room. Her credentials filled the screen, as the scan of her retina and fingerprints were instantaneous. When each candidate’s name appeared, Duna’s mind flooded with images of their academic histories, charitable givings, congressional voting records, union endorsements and viral gaffes. Thirty-seven minutes later, after thrice checking that each preferred candidate’s bubble was fully enveloped with blue ink. Before hitting submit, she carefully etched her signature. Erasing it twice before she was satisfied.
Outside, past the front door of her courtyard building and onto the pathways of the park, the lake-wall stood. All was calm, as the shadows walked their pets and bustled off to work.
A short beep interrupted Duna’s peace. It was an automated message from the Chicago Board of Elections. In the 2088 U.S. General Election, Duna Santos-Williams’ ballot along with 489 others were rejected from the official count for a failure of the signature to meet all eight markers of verification.
Duna released a labored breath. Increasing her speed two-fold, she made it to the back of the voting line within five minutes. She measured her distance from the door. Only a mile in a half away. Opening a spare interface, she messaged her job, telling them she wouldn’t be in today. Then she practiced her signature, vowing to keep going as long as it took—as the aggrieved splashes greeted her deftly, promisingly.
About the Author: Patty Nicole Johnson is a senior content marketer living in Chicago with her daughter and husband. When not drafting corporate communications, she’s traveling into the future to help solve the world’s problems through time and space.