Author : Robert Lafosse

I stayed up late, flicking through the returns as the polls closed. It was a close match. It took almost 10 minutes from the last poll closing until the votes were all counted and the winner was chosen. Its avatar came online almost immediately and started spouting conciliatory comments about its opponent. The opponent posted a few remarks about what a tough race it was, how the best candidate won and how this was a true demonstration of democracy in action. The people have spoken.

I went to bed.

In the morning the world was still there. I thought, with all the doom and gloom that the pundits were putting out that the election of the Federation candidate would be the end of civilization. The bus still showed up to take me to work. The door let me in, my workstation said hi and all was well.

Trawling through the news feeds there was a remarkably different take on the candidate elect. Before yesterday, one would have thought the anti-Christ was up for election. Fraught with the baggage of self-importance, arrogance, self-serving rhetoric and a general distain for reality, the winner had managed to antagonize almost every other leader in the world; had threatened neighboring countries with punitive tariffs, closed borders and massive cuts to spending on their support. Support came mostly from the disenchanted – they thought they would benefit from some sort of halo effect. It worked though, as the final results clearly demonstrated.

It was enough though to get me moving. I made a few queries, didn’t like what I saw, and decided to leave. I went extravagant and grabbed a driverless to take me home. Quickly, I packed my assembled gear.

It was mostly tools and dehydrated food. They occupied two hockey bags and were pretty heavy. I manhandled them to the elevator and down to the garage. Throwing the bags in the trunk, I then tucked my mobile under the tire. I rummaged around in the tool bag for my multiscrew driver. Using the common blade, I wrenched the sharktail antenna off the rear of the car. The mobile made a pleasant crunch sound as I backed out over it.

The car automatically switched to manual mode when it found it had no communication. I still had my manual license.

Rush hour was over. My cottage was 3 hours away, in a rural area famed for its dairy and fruits. I satisfied myself with some canned music I had stored in the car. The city gradually dwindled away to farmland and forest. I climbed the ridge of hills that surrounded the city. Life was moving at its normal pace. Driverless trucks hugged the right lanes, plodding along, obeying all traffic rules. Driverless cars would occasionally whiz by, the windows opaque as the occupants slept or read. I maintained a steady speed, using the onboard cruise system to keep up with the driverless cars.

Finally, a sign lit up showing exit 679 was coming up next. It was at the apex of a ridge that gave a pretty spectacular view of the wide valley which held the capitol at the far end. As I checked the rear view mirror, I noticed two streaks of fierily light streaking down from the heavens. As I was stopped at the end of the off ramp, a burst of light erupted where the streaks were. I had to cover my eyes it was so bright. When my vision cleared, I checked the road again for cars. The cottage was only 20 minutes down the road.