OVERCAST | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 04, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:42 PM, January 05, 2019

FICTION

OVERCAST

The dark clouds over my head got even darker as I got off the Hovakab. Even though this new part of our old capital city—named dhakaX without much thought—had recently been declared the area with most skyscrapers per square foot in the world, one is still able to see the sky when looking up.

I was looking up at the hazy sky, sure, but I wasn't looking forward to this day. Today was Election Day.

It's funny how things haven't really changed since the days of yore. One would probably expect, like yours truly, for government systems to have evolved over the course of time. We lost the concepts of democracy and republic a long time ago; monarchy is a fairy tale. Even then, we're not really far off either. The singularity form of being was widely popular and practiced here—in simple terms, everyone defined their own choices and lives, each to their own. Sufficient, however, in solitude.

But then why did we have to elect an authority?

I beamed myself up to the security gateway on the eleventh floor. Every security personnel here donned a headgear, covering their face with zettablack screens, so as not to send any form of message to the electors. The air covering the building contained inert particulate matter; any sort of unusual muscle movement and behavioural pattern would be detected and dealt with. I walked towards an officer to get my retinas scanned. A part of me wished I could look through those screens to know what he, or she, looked like.

A deafening silence took over as I proceeded into my personal Election Cube. The walls were made of multi-reflective panels—you couldn't know what was happening outside, anyone outside wouldn't know what you're going through in here. The vacuum of sound made my insides uncomfortable but I needed to prepare for more than just ear bleeding.

Standing at the corner of the room was a Leagotron 8500K. Understandably, I felt my heart fall to my intestines; with my throat drying faster than a zaptrain in maximum velocity, I remembered why I felt this way.

One. The Leagotron 8500K was the latest innovation in political warfare. A state-of-the-world technology to go beyond intimidation and consequent domination, this was the weapon of choice for the leading candidate in this decade's election. Recently nicknamed “defenders of damn-ocracy” in academia [I am an Alternative Historian by profession] were ruthless aggressors; we were human, they are machine.

And two. An 8500K was not supposed to be in the Cube with me.

As the panels closed behind me and the walls turned black, a screen appeared in the middle of the square room. Two holographic figures emerged—the candidates in contention—their personal history written beside them. I sighed, recalling why I preferred singularity to any other system of governance, and why being non-partisan was a blessing.

I would have to swipe over one holographic figure to cast my vote; the other figure would disappear. As I took my time in deciding between a rock and a hard place, I felt what seemed like a fingertip behind my head. A cold, metallic fingertip—one with a directive, one with authority.

“You know what's good for you. You know what to do,” I heard. Or I think I did.

And all that was left for me to do, was to swipe right.

 

Kazi Akib Bin Asad is Sub-Editor of SHOUT, The Daily Star. Find him collect puns from around the world at instagram.com/akibasad

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