I wrote this short story for the HitRecord collection called ‘Are You There Democracy? It’s Me, The Internet,’ allll the way back in February 2016. I thought it was more apt than ever, so here it is for those who didn’t see it then. Oh and Charlie Brooker, if you fancy using this for a Black Mirror episode just drop me an email 😉
Imagine you step into the voting booth to put your mark in the box. Only instead of a piece of paper and a pencil, there is a headset.
“Pop it on, minion” says the label attached.
You put the headset on. It’s quite big and heavy, but you’re excited about what is coming next so you don’t let that bother you.
Welcome to the VR Voting System. Would you like to see the options? Nod for yes and shake your head for no.
Option 1: The Super Green Eco Party, view simulated reality?
All of a sudden everything around you changes. You’re still in that voting booth, but it’s no longer made of steel and fabric. It’s made from some kind of cardboard. And it smells. Like really, really bad. You turn round to see someone waiting in the queue behind you. He smells bad too.
“C’mon man, I’ve gotta ton of horse manure I need to cover my shack in before it collapses again.”
You quickly shake your head.
Welcome back to the VR Voting System. Would you like to see the options? Nod for yes and shake your head for no.
Option 1… You shake your head vigorously.
Option 2: The Laid Back Liberal Party, view simulated reality?
Again, everything around you changes. You’re still in the voting room, but it seems a bit empty. It’s time to explore a bit further. You make your way outside the building and walk straight into a protest.
“What are you protesting about?” you ask the group of teens brandishing signposts.
“Oh, you know. Human rights, animal rights, the rights of oxygen. That kind of thing.”
You walk further away from the building and notice that everyone you walk past is holding some kind of sign. You’re stopped by a stranger, holding a sign that reads “EVERYTHING IS ACTUALLY A-OK”
“Why don’t you have a sign?! You’re one of them! Get out, get out, get out.”
You quickly shake your head again. It’s back to the booth and this time you’re going straight for option 3. You don’t even listen to what’s been said.
You’re transported to a world that seems dark. Much darker than any of the other worlds. Again, there is no one around so you decide to explore your surroundings. The streets are empty and the windows are boarded up. You can hear wailing and crying in the distance, but you have no idea where it’s coming from.
Out of nowhere appears a man in a very official-looking uniform.
“Are you trespassing?” he asks.
“I don’t think so. I don’t really know where I am” you stutter.
“You should be in the workhouse. Where is your ID card and permit to be walking around?”
You begin to get nervous and open your mouth to speak.
“Do you understand English imbecile?! Nod if you can understand me.”
You nod your head.
Your vote has been cast. You have chosen the Children of Trump reality. Thank you for using the VR Voting System. We will see you again in four years!
If only you’d paid attention and listened. If only you’d looked through the other options. If only you hadn’t been so quick to choose or so easy to trick. The man in the official looking uniform puts his hand on your shoulder as he walks you to what looks like a stable. The wails and cries get louder, they’re coming from inside…