's 2013 Horror Write-off:

"Election Day"

Submitted by Thom Wanton

Its election night right, and we're all tuned in to watch the entire
thing play out live on 6 different channels; someone's got an iPad out
and they have a livefeed up from something like Prison Planet, and we're
basically flipping from channel to channel - CNN, Fox, MSNBC, The Daily
Show pretending to cover it, Fox, MSNBC, CNN, a local station.... We're
a pretty moderate non-partisan family, so we like to get a real broad
spectrum on the issues. Anyway, so there are all these maps and shit
everywhere, states turning red and blue moodily, all sorts of
speculation, debate recaps, a bunch of really self congratulatory
forecasts, and then they roll a clip of Obama sitting there with that
stone even smirk, leaning obtusely away from Romney, and Romney just
leaning slightly forward, breathing a chuckle, being real humdrum. Obama
is tempered steel in this shot; Romney is amber like waves of grain, and
the question hits like a chicken ruckus "Climate change tho, guys?"
Someone flips the channel, we all panic, but it's the same shot. Except
now it's hanging like a paused VHS, quivering, and then it zips out into
snow and silence. No one looks away. No one looks at each other. Someone
has the remote, making little clacking noises, 'cause their hands are
shaking. And then the picture comes back. It rolls up a few times like
they were fixing the horizontal, but this is 2012; this is a HD fucking
live broadcast. When the screen settles, it's this still shot of just
some guys face, staring blankly, in a suit, framed perfectly, perfectly
clean lighting, no shadows, against a black background, from about
halfway up his chest, all they way to his precision combed hair, filling
the screen - and I can't stop looking at this face because it is looking
right at me, right into my eyes.... And his tie is just so fucking
crisp...god the suit is the most perfectly died solid black...its like,
the only thing that sets him apart from the background is the way that
the black jacket seems to wrinkle to enfold around his shoulders.... God
that tie is tied so perfectly, like its part of it too...the knot so
impossibly squared beneath his jutting Adam's apple that sinks and rises
with a smug swallow like he's getting read to speak.... That's when I
realize that it's not a still. Which is a little weird, because he is
just staring straight into my eyes, not even movement
except that preparatory swallow; this face is pores carved into marble,
and I can't do anything but stare back into his piercing little
camcorder lens eyes...perfectly undialated pupils set in granite
iris.... And then there's this voice, but it's not his. Instead, it sort
of fades in around this guys face, coming in from the background, kinda
hard to hear, tinny and almost whispering. you can hear shuffling
footsteps, chair creaking, and the voice gets a little louder. The voice
sounds anxious like it's answering a question, "You know oppositional
ideologies really depend upon dehumanizing their opponents.... I mean,
that's why corporations really want to be people, and that is why the
idea of class war sounds like fascism to most of us. I mean, those
people that live in tenements are people, just like the ones in the CEO
towers and suburbs, but you nor I would know this looking into either
window. So, really, we don't vote to win a war, we just vote to bury
best friends or build walls around castles -- " Then there is this
sound, a drawn out mechanical ratcheting and a click of metal sliding
into place and the voice cuts off, stops dead, almost chokes.... Then
silence. Like that slow-motion silence in a car wreck that is really
filled with screams and shatters, and then a few short ragged breaths, a
throaty swallowing sound and the voice starts back up again. Except it's
just repeating "Smash the State" over and over, quiveringly. I guess
just terrified of its own cycle.... And that face on the screen stared
straight ahead the whole time. I suddenly get this real empty feeling
sitting there staring back, like my body just stops pumping adrenaline
or I just run out of fear. Then that face just smiles,
eyes lifting at the corners into origami precision creases, and his lips
pull back, baring these goddamn chalk white teeth that glisten in that
sickeningly perfect light that made no shadows.