Yes, I’m dead and tried to vote, but only because I had to kill myself in order to access my polling station.
I used to vote at the elementary school and before that the fire station. Then I received a letter in the mail saying I would need to be in Hell if I wanted to vote in this year’s election. I tried filing an absentee ballot, but it was returned to sender.
I read Dante’s Inferno. It didn’t help. I wandered the woods at night, but Virgil never showed. I visited the zoo and tempted a leopard with my frail limbs protruding through the gaps in its cage, but the leopard just yawned and flashed the pink indifference of its tongue.
I tried sleeping with gold under my tongue. For a month I did this—thinking I could kill two birds with one stone, that I could choke on the coin and pay my way to the Underworld in one desperate act. But that idea worked about as well as eating Greek yogurt with pomegranate seeds inside it. Neither trick worked. My actions made me nothing more than transparent.
I read a father and son book about odysseys. I kept reading maps and pestering the blind, but directions to the afterlife are much more complicated than finding a hole in the ground. I contemplated mummifying a cat I found dead in the road.
I walked the neighborhood, but I kept finding dead ends that were immaculately cared for and clustered with flowerbeds. I peered through yellow-lit windows at what heaven does and does not bear. I spelunked and spelunked again.
Seriously, I crawled in the morning, walked at noon, and slithered at night. But I ran when the subway beamed into the tunnel. I started to lose hope. I thought about pulling out all my teeth and burying them in a field, so my children might live in an accursed city where they could at least select their doom. I thought, if not me, then maybe them. These were not healthy thoughts, I admit, but I had started to concede victory to the opposition, even as I ran with scissors to greet old ladies with untamed balls of yarn.
I tried stepping on snakes, but by late October, the ground was too cold for them and they retreated into the earth. I tasted dirt and turned to singing dirges. And it was about this time I was accused of identity theft and ripped to pieces. I watched one of the culprits take my credit card from my wallet and then I saw nothing.
I awoke in a crowded hall. I could not feel my arms or legs, and by that, I mean I don’t think my arms and legs were attached to me. I was a head sitting in a pile of parts. I felt like a prop in Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus. I felt like debris after an epic battle. The hall was filled with clanging goblets and dagger handles banging on tables. Shouts rang out. Voices cheered, Valhalla in the highest! Iwinked and blinked. I could not believe my eyes—I had made it.
They popped my head back onto my spine—or at least a spine that connected with arms and legs. I do have to admit, though, there was no symmetry to my reassembled frame. My left arm’s fingertips only reached to my right arm’s elbow. I stood in line for some of the famed Valhalla slop. I nudged my tray down the cafeteria rails. I heard the rumors. I knew this was all too good to be true. The only polling station still open was in Xibalba, and even though it was open, votes were not promised. An official notice was read before the dessert line opened: To vote in Xibalba, one would first have to win a game of dodgeball, or something like that—glyphs don’t always translate well into runes.
We were ruined. We were lost. Like most things in the world of the living, the election was much closer than it appeared. Limping on my asymmetrical legs, I exited the great mead hall. I walked a good ways out onto the rainbow bridge—its surface still cracked from the last apocalypse—when I noticed how it sloped upward.
As I stopped to catch my breath, a man rolling a large boulder strained by me. He glanced sideways at me. He almost stopped, but he kept going for fear of losing momentum. I limped over to him and offered what assistance I could. I asked him what he was doing, and he exhaled against the stone’s weight: Trying to cast my ballot.