Shattered, Mar and Stone arrived at the Park parliament. Outside, on the long street that stretched from the bottom of the hill near the river up to the top, the sun shone on the dark, heat absorbing pavement. Shattered looked at the buildings along Park Main, or as the locals called it, The Long Road. The five-storey buildings, all identical and built from densely packed recycled wood, with large glass windows, housed various shops on their ground levels. Above most of the apartments were occupied by the traders, merchants and store owners’ families. Some officials lived on this street, alongside others who needed extra care and attention. “Come on, S” – Mar tugged at Shattered’s old woolen trench-coat, which he eccentrically wore on a day when the temperature was a searing 32 degrees Celsius.
They took their seats as members. Through an odd turn of events in last year’s election, when Shattered and Mar placed their names on the ballot, in the midst of a night full of libations, they had won enough votes to sit in the 70 member chamber. Stone had run a more serious outreach, but given his reputation for being reliable, combined with his well-known strong work ethic, he won easily. Shattered and Mar each one their seats by a fluke. The voting age stood at fifteen, and a group of very young people decided to tip the scales and vote for these two outsiders. Despite being old, quite old, Mar won on The Youth and Freedom of Movement Platform. She found great joy and irony in this after the results came in, “Age ain’t just a number. Hell, it has done a number on me. Sure. But it sure as hell it didn’t affect the number of votes! I didn’t believe it, not until I received the official letter!” Shattered had won because he wanted resources to leave, and many of the youngest in the population felt that movement outside of the Park region should begin again, given how long it had been since the calamity. Mar’s support came from the fact that she and Shattered were so close, and The Youth and Freedom of Movement Platform had decided, two nights after these two picaresque candidates placed their names for candidacy, to endorse them.
Three major factions controlled the Park parliament: The Merchants and Traders Cooperative Alliance, often just called MT, held thirty seats; Park Regional Best Interests Column, an inward looking coalition of people who felt that trade or movement to and from the outside should be limited, and that the interests of developing Park as a non-electrical society (an amendment had been made to ban electronics two-years after the calamity), held twenty two seats; and finally, The Youth And Freedom of Movement Platform, a well-organized group of teenagers and people in their twenties, with older allies, run by Autumn Spring, held the remaining eighteen seats. Autumn Spring, when she’d turned fifteen, founded The Platform, held meetings, organized and emerged as a force to be reckoned with within several years. Now twenty-and-five she held various positions of great importance, yet her main focus, her driving aim, was chiefly working with the more open-minded traders and merchants on trying to reverse the ban on electronic equipment. She’d traveled to the Marin Region, just north of the now abandoned cities of the Bay Area, and studied computer science at the various compounds inherited, run and maintained by the adult children of the wealthy elite who had built them. She’d been awarded dual citizenship with Marin, and traveled their frequently, meeting its the aging premier, Morph Zed.
TJ Tallie, the new administrator, had been elected by a coalition of more agrarian and conservationist traders and merchants and Parks Inside, the common name of the Park Regional Best Interests Column. He took the platform on the main stage. The members had all taken their seats. “I am pleased to be back in Park, my time on the edges of our wonderful region has given me an experience, and a lesson in the need to pursue the interests of maintaining security, stability and health. We are not a people longing for long speeches, and we have never been. I will administer practically, and in accordance with the Park Prime Amendments. Amercements, fines and punishment for those violating our customs will be severe.” Tallie, a stalky, large man with rough, tanned skin and a glass eye, looked – for nearly a minute after this last remark, where he placed especial emphasis on the word ‘severe’ – directly at Autumn Spring. She sat in the front row, and returned his stare with complete insouciance. Her long flowing robe, a mixture of lavender, Tyrian purple with crimson collar loosely floated around her silky white skin; the outfit had been a gift from Marin. She never brought electronic equipment to Park. She wasn’t a rule-breaker, yet there was no ban on outside clothing. Unlike most of the others in Park who wore simple white, beige and recycled clothing, Autumn Spring always dressed like a Marin citizen. Her parents were both leaders in one of the largest merchants’ cooperatives, and she was regarded with either disdain or love by the denizens of Park.
Autumn Spring, next to speak, stood and took the podium. She looked at the members, and the crowd of residents packed on both sides of parliamentary platform. She took off her shoes, and spoke; she spoke loudly, louder than Tallie, who’d never been a great public speaker; there was no electrical voice amplification equipment, yet the entire hall could here her. “We, denizens of Park, must not allow fear and ignorance to keep us isolated from the world. I respect the Prime Amendments, and the ban on electronics. You know I am trained in electrical engineering, computer science and regenerative medical practices, and you all know that my opinion is that these technologies, available in Marin, could benefit us greatly. But that’s not what I am going to argue for to-day. I want communal assent to allocate resources, and allow a party of ten-and-twelve volunteers to use electrical equipment outside of the bounds of Park, to go to 53°N 132°″W. Shattered, a man of great dreams, must be allowed to make this journey, and The Youth and Freedom of Movement Platform fully endorses his desire to explore the possibility of another, even more technologically advanced than Marin, region.” Autumn Spring’s best friend, and a fellow member of Park’s parliament, Joyful, a Lassik, a people more native to the region than any other, shouted, “I second the motion!” The hall stood in silence. Autumn Spring walked gently from the podium platform, sat down, and waited for TJ to return. He came, red and slightly trembling with anger, but he dutifully, as required, called the vote.
37-33, the motion passed. Shattered’s sweaty palm grasped Mar’s dry hand.