The Voting Quest

Human person living in America goes voting.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Cover Image
By Cecilia Chen

It’s November 3, and I’ve finally decided to embark on the quest to vote. Why didn’t I vote early, you ask? Well, I’ve been very busy sitting on my bed practicing for a role in a Nickelodeon show as a burrito so that the existential dread passes over the decaying specks that are my last three brain cells. You know how it is.

“ARE YOU GOING VOTING?” my roommate hollers from the kitchen, his head wrapped in a cast. His voting sticker is slapped right on top of his head like a laurel wreath.

“Yeah,” I respond, shoving the last of my impulsivity regulation potions into the bag.

“Yikes,” he says, and adjusts his neck cast. “I would offer you some of my breakfast Doritos, but like, coronavirus.”

An apathetic shrug. My preferred breakfast is a dose of daily news that makes me feel overwhelming existential dread and annoyance that healthcare and college still aren’t affordable for us peasants yet. Wakes ya right up. “I’m good.”

I take one last breath of fresh air before strapping on my metal-plated mask.

“Good luck dude, see you next week.”

Outside, the world has turned into a wasteland. Deflated Halloween decorations drift in the dust, abandoned. The local deli is quiet and covered in cobwebs.

Just kidding. Huge crowds are clustered right outside the door, screaming into each other’s faces and licking each other’s elbows. Some are rubbing their ankles on the nearest doorknob they can find. This well-known scene is the first task voters must face—the Plains of Plague.

I’ve heard of this. The task is to simply get across the plains unscathed. I’d seen the (mental and emotional) scars my roommate came back with. With a brave sigh, I forge through the streets. Someone breathes into my armpit. College frat boys laugh obnoxiously. Little trolls with red hair toddle around, and gunshots go off somewhere.

Yay America.

I pull out a bulky shield and push through. The crowd screams at the sight of my mask, stumbling back in fear. “How are they breathing through the mask?” someone screeches.

I emerge, sweaty and traumatized from the grasping arms of the tormented souls. There’s a glob of spit on my shoes, and my pinky finger has been cut in half. I’m alright, though—‘tis but a flesh wound.

The next task is a flock of bluebirds that try to skin me alive and chirp incessantly in my ear. I take a chug of an impulsivity regulation potion and feel the uncontrollable tidal rage welling up inside of me shrink. I resist the urge to find every bluebird fluttering around me and grind it into iridescent blue dust. That would take much too long.

Birds are government surveillance spies. Bluebirds are the heralds of the Antichrist.

One poops right into my recently-dyed hair and I sigh, trying to force a calm, well-considered response. At random intervals, a horrifying screech comes from the biggest bird within the swarm. The sound is unbelievably nauseating. I take several meditative deep breaths and move on.

It’s all right. I chug five more pint-sized potions. I make it through the bluebirds with only a few chunks of flesh missing and depression regarding the state of human society swimming in my veins like Adderall in a Hollywood B-list celebrity’s system or racism in Mitch McConnell’s skin flaps.

Then is the stage of pure boredom. I wait in line for the next five hours. Someone blows the trumpet really badly. I need to use the bathroom, but I also need to stay in line. To the left of me is a line stretching all the way back into the fog, and to my right, people go through swift as the coursing river and with all the force of a raging typhoon.


Eventually, I get through to the next task—people. I am trapped inside a room with a person who never stops talking, and I cannot strangle them. I make it out by chugging my last 15 impulsivity regulation potions.

Along the way, I realize I’ve run out of the ability to actually care anymore about this absolute flaming garbage, so I embark on a side quest for at least five hours to survive in a burning dystopia where there are fire tornadoes, orange skies, and hornets everywhere. I only survive by humming the Star-Spangled Banner to remind myself that I still need to survive so I can tear down antiquated American institutions.

For that, I get 10 percent of my energy replenished, and I continue on, the unquenchable rage I inherited from growing up in an unstable household giving me the ability to violently shove the hordes of knee-high, red-headed gnomes out of my way.

When I finally approach the voting booth, there’s only one poll worker and 20 people in front of me. The sky gets darker and darker. When the last person in front of me goes in to submit their ballot to the machine, the poll worker blinks at me and says, “Hello, fellow citizen. Unfortunately, the booth is now closed. Come back through due process next time, please.”

“But that’s four years away—”

The worker blinks again and says in a cheerfully hollow voice, “We’re also framing you for murder.”

“What?” I say. “Why is this happening to me?”

“Because this is America, and life is a nightmare,” the poll worker singsongs before disintegrating.

And there I stand, in that empty poll booth, the souls just as unfortunate as me yelling in the line behind me.

I fall to my knees, and I scream into the night.