After the Great War of 2016, America became a devastated, post-apocalyptic wasteland, ruled by an authoritarian overlord with limited language skills. But then the Resistance rose up. This is a first-hand account from the front lines of the guerrilla army of social justice warriors as it fights back using every tool at its disposal, from social media accounts to self-published books. But will they be able to overcome their internal divisions long enough to #resist? Ugh, I can’t believe I just used a hashtag like that. I’m so sorry.
Election Day. The Day of Elections. I remember how it used to be: a line of people waiting for their turn in the voting booths, the whirr of dozens of machines. Stickers.
No one wears stickers anymore. They stopped making them after the sticker rebellion.
These days, voting happens differently. To start with, all of the polling places are locked, constantly monitored by a fleet of drones and bands of roving thugs. In order to vote, you have to break into the polling center, disable the drones, defeat the guards, and reboot the voting machine so that it doesn’t explode as soon as you’ve made your decision.
The exploding voting machine was one of the things that most ravaged the grassroots organization of Democratic Party during the Great War of 2016. The other thing was that the national party organization had largely failed to provide sufficient resources to down-ballot races, thereby contributing to a gradual hollowing out of the party infrastructure over the several previous election cycles. But the exploding voting machine was also important.
I awoke to the buzzing of my phone and a leaking roof, the last droplets of Siri’s battery seeping away like tears in the rain. My team had camped out in an abandoned, half-collapsed house the night before, in preparation for the Election Day ahead. A sound came from the shadows behind the ducts in the corner of the room. Breathing. There, in that corner, was the reason why we were all here. It was something that hadn’t seen round these parts for many years.
We had heard the legends and the rumors, of course, but until yesterday I had never set my eyes on a real one.
A real off-year voter.
And for the next 24 hours, we had to protect him. He was the only thing that mattered now.
My phone buzzed again. I looked at the screen before it went black:
Resistance Communiqué No. 724 TOP SECRET
Initiate Battle Plan No. 22: Get Out the Vote Operation C.
“Operation C,” someone whispered. “That means that the plan has been compromised.”
“Never compromise,” I replied. “Resist.” My comrades snapped in agreement.
We all looked at the off-year voter, who shivered as he woke up. One of the guards took off her coat and put it around his shoulders. Faint music played scratchily from a radio in the corner.
“Shh, it’s going to be all right,” said the guard. “We’re going to get you to that voting booth. And it’s not going to explode this time.”
“I don’t know if I can do it,” said the voter.
“You have to,” said our commander, standing up, her body armor silhouetted against the wet crimson glow of a giant neon sign in the distance. “We’ve come too far to turn back. I get that you’re scared. Heck, we’re all scared. It’s a post-apocalyptic election, and everything hangs in the balance. But we’ve got to try.”
“It’s just…” he sighed, and shrugged his shoulders. “Well, I just finished reading Donna Brazile’s new memoir about the 2016 election.”
“Brazile,” the commander hissed.
“Brazile?” I whispered.
“Brazil!” sang the voice on the radio in the corner, which was playing the song “Brazil” from the 1985 movie Brazil.
“It just, well, it kind of irks me,” said the off-cycle voter, describing the new book by the former chair of the Democratic National Committee. “I want to vote, but I don’t like how the Clinton campaign was run in 2016.”
“How is this relevant anymore? Those are two completely separate things!” the commander shouted. “It’s 2017! We have gubernatorial races to focus on!”
“Brazil!” answered the voice on the radio. I’m sure there were other lyrics, but this is the only one I can remember right now. I like to focus on the future. That’s how I remain optimistic in this hell.
“I guess you’re right,” said the off-year voter. We opened the door and began trudging down the road. The sky was becoming lighter as the sun rose behind the rain-soaked clouds. In the distance, we could just make out the drones circling the polling center, projecting the word ELECTION against the sky, in red, white, and blue.
The polling center loomed in front of us, a cement fortress. When we had almost arrived, though, the drones suddenly seemed to halt in midair, and then they careened towards the building. A puff of smoke, and they were gone.
It could only mean one thing. We had won.
Except we hadn’t. It was just one Election Day, and there would be more Election Days to come. But for that one moment, it was the only Election Day we were thinking of, and we said to ourselves that maybe, just maybe, there would be stickers again. And the voting machines would stop exploding.