We reported to the town hall, the cool air of fall striking out against our skins, as if the very Earth was trying to fight against the abnormality of the situation. But we pushed forward, moving slowly, the changed, cheery atmosphere of the weeks before suddenly sucked away from us. This would be the last day of true peace, where it would all end so that the cycle could be repeated. All of us, men, women, and children deemed old enough by the government to bear the responsibility of another's life, entered the familiar cramped room, rubbing our hands from the cold of both the wind and our souls. Across thousands of other communities, we knew that millions of others were doing the same thing we were. We took the small scrap of paper from the government attendant, and brought it to a booth, designed to conceal our sin, though this was hardly necessary. A single pen waited on a table inside, and, taking it, we inscribed the same name upon the tiny pieces of paper before folding them carefully and putting them into the large black box with VOTES displayed in dimmed white block letters on the side. Once the deed was done, we all filed into the meeting hall just as we always did, and awaited the results of our transgressions.
It didn't come of much surprise when Margret Heinz won that year. Yet, until her name was announced, there was still a sense of apprehension amongst us. Suddenly, thoughts of betrayal and deceit entered our minds. What if this had all just been a ploy against us? What if it had been a test, that everyone was seeing if we would condemn Mrs. Heinz for this crime, and by doing so, had merely sealed our own fate? These questions and emotions are merely something that we have to deal with when it comes to the Vote, something that we have come to expect every year. Each of us has attempted to create a face of normalcy, completely unrecognizable to the masses, to not draw attention to ourselves, and yet, despite these efforts, someone must, and will, win.
This is the way of the Vote, the way of our world. There is something sickeningly beautiful about it, how well it was crafted, how perfect it is for the purpose it serves. The Vote, just by existing, creates the ultimate form of control; a way to force each of us to do exactly what we are told without any risk of rebellion. We choose who will live to see the next fall, we choose who will die. So to act out, to draw attention to oneself, is to sign one's own death warrant. Those who would be brave or foolish are immediately crushed, for the cowards certainly outnumber the valiant and the idiotic. Soon all that remains are the those who are willing to be content with the lives that they have, the lives constricted and controlled by society in exchange for life itself. We are powerless against it and, by now, we no longer care.