Monday, March 15, 2010

Shaping the Election

A response to RJ Clarken's "Messy Monday" in Flashy Fiction.

Malia waited at the back of the line underneath the dome's greenish tint through which the sun illuminated the red Martian rock. People clumped together in the line outside the precinct's squat building.

"What's taking them so long?" asked a man wearing coveralls, a rebreather engineer. People muttered, some of them cutting to join someone they knew. Chatting. Malia was alone.

People emerged from the precinct, always alone, with blue dye dripping from their arms. Workers in their coveralls, grandmotherly figures with their white hair turning bluish, and children. Everyone got their chance to vote. Well, almost everyone.

Her right arm itched from standing in the ultraviolet radiation. Only two more people, a boy and his mother, before her. She took a deep breath and eyed the people with thick viscous gel running down their arms. She was next. They waved her in.

The boy and his mother stood beside an industrial-sized metal barrel with a blue -- unnatural -- liquid in it. The precinct administrator dunked the boy's arm into the vat.

"But, why mom?"

"It's the shape snakes dear. They're allergic to the blue marker and this will ensure the election is fair. We can't let them vote." Malia shuddered at the mother's comment, allergic meant it would leave them convulsing on the ground until they died within minutes.

The boy giggled, "It tickles."

"That's nice dear."

Malia voted and then stood before the precinct administrator and glared at his eyes, blue eyes, rare here on Mars, and she dunked her arm into the vat.

"Do you want an 'I voted' sticker?"

"No thanks, I've got the marker."

She left the election precinct following the wind, watching the drips from her arm and holding it out at an awkward angle so that none of the liquid would drip on her. Once out of sight of the line of voters, she ducked into an alley and peeled the skin from her elbow and below off. She closed her eyes and morphed her skin growing the nose out, adding some curl to her hair, and decreasing her height. She looked like any other citizen. She donned another elbow-length glove and matched her skin tone to it. "Won't let us vote, we'll see how that goes."

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