115: The Election

on December 11, 2007 in 04: The Body Politick

In Which Mackenzie Doesn’t Win

I had half of a chicken wrap and a few potato chips for dinner. The salt on the chips was a bit much for me, but Hazel took the rest of them off my hands while Two finished my wrap. I didn’t mind. Eating in the lounge meant I could sit on Amaranth’s lap, a treat I’d sorely missed during my most recent trips to the dining hall. It was me, Amaranth, Steff, Two, Dee, Celia and Hazel, though Steff eventually had to leave.

Others started to file into the lounge while we were finishing our meal, including Sooni and her cat girl entourage. Sooni took one of the easy chairs and guided Kai down to a position seated on the floor between her legs while Suzi and Maliko took up positions leaning against either side of the chair.

Honey took the chair that Steff had vacated, giving a polite greeting to all of us but avoiding Hazel’s attempts to draw her into conversation.

Trina and the Leighton twins came in with sub sandwiches that didn’t look like they’d come from the corner store. I would have bet that they had just come from the catered meal in the downstairs lounge. That was probably three votes I could forget about.

“Hey, good luck with the election,” Trina said to me in a sweet, cheery voice as she went to the fridge and got out a bottle of orange soda with her name written all the way around the label.

“Thanks,” I said neutrally. I wondered if she would have sounded as insincere to me if I hadn’t overheard her talking to Feejee before. Well, she could have changed her mind… and her personality.

Sara said something to Tara in what sounded like baby talk, and then they both burst into laughter.

Kiersta arrived after almost everyone else, carrying a box covered in brown cardboard and a stack of cards to the kitchen counter, before going to stand by the TV at the front of the room.

“Can I get the… uh… candidates up here?” she said, as the room filled up. As soon as Sooni stood up, Suzi and Maliko slipped into her chair. The Yokai girls were all so slender that the two of them could fit side-by-side in the seat.

I started to get up from Amaranth’s lap, but she held me back a moment and whispered, “Don’t forget to wish Sooni good luck.” I nodded, and she kissed me on the back of my head and then let me go.

“Good luck,” I said quietly to Sooni as I took my place beside her in front of the glass wall.

“Thank you,” she said courteously, but just as quietly. “I wish you luck as well, though I am certain I will be beating somebody tonight.”

She flashed a toothy smile and I resisted the urge to look at Kai, the much-abused “friend” Sooni’s parents’ money had bought for her. I couldn’t let myself be distracted by her implied threats.

“Is everybody here?” Kiersta asked. I looked around while she counted heads. Barley, Belinda, and Leda were missing. “We’re short four… um, five,” she said, without much obvious interest. “Who are we missing?”

“Belinda said she had stuff to do,” Raquel, the human girl with permanent stoneskin and the nickname of “Rocky”, said. “And Leda said she doesn’t believe in democracy, or something.”

“That’s two,” Kiersta said. “Who else?”

“Puddy,” I said. I’d grown so used to her absence that it hadn’t hit me until that moment that I hadn’t even been expecting to see her. “And Mariel.”

“Oh, yeah,” Kiersta said, not looking particularly happy to be reminded of Puddy’s existence. I really couldn’t blame her for not stopping everything to go tell them they had to come to the meeting. It was probably her job to do just that, but… I wouldn’t have, either. “And, uh, Barley.” Her eyes flickered to the time piece on the wall. “I guess that’s everybody that’s coming, then. Let’s… uh… do this.”

“I think Barley deserves a chance to vote,” Amaranth said. “We could wait a few minutes to see if she turns up, or I… somebody could go look for her?”

“Barley put in her housing transfer form this morning,” Kiersta said. “It’s officially effective Monday but I don’t think she’ll be coming.”

“Oh,” Amaranth said. This shouldn’t have been unexpected, but she sounded like the news had knocked the wind out of her. “Where’s she going?”

“I couldn’t say,” Kiersta said.

Amaranth’s mouth opened and formed the word “oh” again, but nothing came out of it. I mouthed the words “hug her” to Two, and she did.

“So… um… the ballots are over by the sink,” Kiersta said dully. “If you guys want to take turns filling one out and putting them in the box…”

“Couldn’t we take a few minutes to speak first?” I asked.

“Uh… I guess,” she said. “If you want to. Just… don’t take all night, okay?”

“That is a very good idea,” Sooni said, smiling her widest, most painted-on smile, and giving a slight nod of her head to me. “I think that you should be allowed to go first, as you thought of it.”

All eyes turned towards me. It was obviously a trap. This wasn’t a formal debate, but by going second she would have a chance to address what I said, and she looked gracious for “letting me” go first.

My throat constricted. So did my stomach. Why had I eaten so much?

“Hi,” I said. “Um… everybody knows that there’s something wrong with this campus,” I said. “Some of us may have it worse than others, but we’ve all been shoved into a corner by people who would rather we weren’t here at all. I don’t know how much I’d be able to do as a single freshman senator, but I could keep pushing and make sure that our issues are issues. As your senator or on my own, I already plan on doing whatever I can to make sure we’re not excluded from any student activities… and I’ve got a few other ideas, too. Like, what if instead of catering meals in the basement, the dining hall catered to our specific needs? I mean, not everybody has the same requirements for food. That’s just one example,” I said, hoping nobody would ask for another, because at the moment I was coming up blank. “But it’s a good example, because it shows a very simple way the school administration could be more responsive to our needs without any real cost to others. That’s the kind of thing I would push for as your senator. Um… thank you.”

There was some clapping, mostly from exactly who you would have expected to clap for me, with a little polite pushing-together-of-hands from others.

“Okay,” Kiersta said. “Sooni?”

Celia hissed.

“That’s enough of that… um… Cecily?” Kiersta said.

“Celia,” Celia said. “And I was just wishing her well in the language of my people.”

“It’s true,” Amaranth said. “She was.”

“Oh,” Kiersta said.

“Thank you,” Sooni said, beaming.

Celia hissed some more, and the reptile woman who I only knew as “Hissy” made a sound that might have been a laugh.

Celia!” Amaranth said reproachfully.

“Everybody settle down,” Kiersta said. “Sooni, you want to get this over with?”

“Yes, please,” Sooni said. “Before I begin, I would like to apologize to my opponent for the mean-spirited and poorly spelled campaign posters some of my more zealous supporters put up. I have spoken to those who were responsible,” she said, as if she had command of a vast political machine instead of a trio of indentured servants posing as her friends, “and they have assured me it will not happen again.”

There was applause… from “those responsible,” naturally… and she smiled demurely and waited for it to subside.

“Now then… now then…” she said, and opened her mouth as if she was about to speak, then closed it again. She raised two fingers to her closed lips and puffed her cheeks slightly… the girliest of girl burps.

“Oops… pardon me,” she said, giving a little giggle that was echoed by her feline followers. “I just had a delicious deli sandwich with lots of ham and turkey from the downstairs lounge. In my homeland of Yokan, we do not have any meat except for fish and sometimes birds, because there are no other ‘animals’ such as the outside world has. Some nights, I do like to go to the dining hall because it reminds me of home: there is lots of rice… but not much meat.”

There was some scattered laughs at this, and more than a few knowing nods.

“My friends, we have one of the nicer dorms to live in,” she continued, tenting her fingers in front of her and tilting her head at different angles as she spoke, as though to make sure everybody got a good look at her elaborate braided buns and her furry fox ears. “It is supposed to be racist that we have a whole room of crystal balls downstairs? Some of the other halls have magic mirrors in every room. Some have scented jet spells in the baths. Some have private showers but no baths. Are we going to protest because every dorm hall is not exactly the same? Maybe the only way to make things fair is to not let anybody have anything at all? I do not think anybody would enjoy that. Also, some of you have human friends or relatives… how do you think they would feel if they found themselves placed upon the menu to meet Miss Mackenzie’s ‘specific needs’?”

“That wasn’t what I meant!” I protested.

“Shh!” Maliko hissed. “You had your turn!”

“Let Sooni talk!” Suzi added.

Sooni inclined her head slightly and affected a sympathetic tone, pretending not to have heard the interruption.

“I do not ask anybody to vote against Miss Mackenzie because she is a demon,” she said in a simpering purr that would have suited one of her nekos better. “That would be wrong. But remember that the person you select to represent you today will represent you, as far as the rest of the campus is concerned. I will not drag anybody’s personal life into this, but you would do well to think about what image you would like for Harlowe Hall to have. Thank you.”

She gave a deep bow at the waist, giving all those behind her… that being me… an entirely unnecessary view of her ass, bare except for a black thong. How did a culture which required bows like that produce skirts like that? There had to be some kind of substantial undergarment that she’d decided she could do without, here in the decadent west.

Maybe a more naturally assertive person would have tried to counter her speech, but I could only see that playing into her hands. Suzi and Maliko would shout me down for trying to take a second turn… and probably get at least some knee-jerk responses from others by playing on the idea of fairness. Kiersta obviously wanted to get her duties over as quickly as possible, so she’d be no help.

“You guys can go… um… sit down,” Kiersta said. Suzi and Maliko moved and sat on the armrests of the chair, and Sooni took their place without breaking her stride. The pair of catgirls flanking her made it seem almost thronelike. I sat on Amaranth’s lap, of course.

“Sooni… she was staring at your bottom,” Maliko said in a carrying whisper. “The whole time.”

I blushed and turned my face towards the wall. Amaranth gently turned my head back around.

“Okay,” Kiersta said. “Who’s first?”

A couple of people stirred uncertainly, but before anybody else could make up their minds, Hazel hopped down from her chair and began pulling it out.

“‘scuse me, love,” she said as her chair accidentally bumped Two’s. Two scooted aside and Hazel pushed the chair up against the counter.

“I’m voting for Mack Blaise,” she announced, standing on her toes to drop her card into the box, “who would’ve thought better of puttin’ the ballots up somewhere that a quarter of us can’t begin to reach.”

Well, she wasn’t too good with fractions, but I wasn’t going to begrudge the support.

“Um, let’s keep the voting private please,” Kiersta said, though it didn’t sound as though she really cared.

Honey looked abashed at her cousin’s outburst, but Shiel the kobold was already waiting beside the chair when Hazel hopped down and Oru the goblin was the third. I could have kissed Hazel. Not because I find girls inherently attractive, but because she’d managed to give me credit for something I hadn’t thought of, but should have.

Honey waited until a few other people had cast their own ballots before she got up, as if to distance herself from the unseemly spectacle that had come before… but she still used the chair. I liked the fact that she pulled it back over to where Hazel was standing, patient and uncomplaining.

“Um… here you go,” she said, looking unnecessarily flustered about the whole thing.

“Thank you,” Hazel said, and she put her chair back in place and sat down.

Feejee gave me a little smile as she went up to vote… but then, so did Trina. Sara and Tara made no pretense of not looking at each other’s votes as they filled out two ballots in a row with their joint right hand.

“Excuse me, baby,” Amaranth said when she got up to vote, giving me a pat on the butt as I slid off her lap. It was such a small gesture and one that not everybody would immediately have equated with spanking, but the association in my mind left me glowing pink until after she returned to her seat and pulled me back into her lap. “Go vote, Twoey,” she said, and Two did.

Sooni was very pointedly not getting up to vote, so I didn’t, either. Finally, we were the only two left.

“After you,” she said, nodding deferentially at me.

“I spoke first,” I said. “So you should have your vote first.”

“You are very gracious,” she said, and walked with all her natural poise and grace over to the counter and cast her vote. There was no question in my mind that she was voting for herself.

When I’d finished, Kiersta asked, “Has everybody voted?” a couple times, and after being assured that everybody had, she went and took the top off the box and began pulling out ballots, making tallies on a sheet of paper.

We watched her count through the votes twice… and then a third time. She started yet again, this time sorting the ballots into two piles. I counted as she did so, and realized the result the moment before she turned around and announced it.

“It’s… it’s a tie,” she said in disbelief.

What?” Sooni exclaimed in a tone of total outrage that I hoped people were listening to. “It can’t be! Count them again! Count them again!” Her voice was almost as shrill and high as Mariel’s at the end.

“Um… what happens now?” I asked, since Kiersta wasn’t paying any attention to Sooni.

“We’re… um… supposed to do a run-off,” Kiersta said. “Next Friday. Shit!”

That pretty much summed it up for me, too.

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End Of Book Four: The Body Politick
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3 Responses to “115: The Election”

  1. 'Nym-o-maniac says:

    God, Sooni was just fucking awful, wasn’t she? It’s so hard to reconcile her almost childlike behavior with this kind of blatant manipulation…

    Current score: 0
  2. pedestrian says:

    A lot of towns and other local govs have rules in case of tie to use a coin toss or some other random method just to avoid the expense and time lost for runoffs.

    If Mack was clever, instead of smart, she would of made some sort of attempt to acquire at least one of the missing girls proxy vote.

    Current score: 1
  3. Downside says:

    Hey! Only read the title, and hey, spoilers!!!

    Current score: 0