Chapter 5 The Voting Day
Never mind searching for who you are. Search for the person you aspire to be. ~Robert Brault
That night Nemo told everything to Jochim. Jochim listened without speaking until Nemo was done but with a shake of his head and shrug of his shoulders indicated that he knew nothing more than Nemo. “I’ve never been to Marcadia,” he said, “The people there are pretty much just like us. Not as much magitechnology, they are mostly farmers with big families. Everyone knows about Mt. Phaestus; it’s the only land volcano in the world. All the others are in the ocean. Maybe you knew someone there before your accident and seeing the volcano on the tapestry triggered a memory? But don’t worry, tomorrow’s the vote. Your luck will turn.”
“I hope so,” said Nemo. “I really want to go back home,” he sighed. “Jochim, do you think that I’m a nemo?”
Jochim smiled at him, “I think that you are very special. I’m sure that everything is going to turn out all right.”
Nemo gave him a doubtful smile and went to bed.
There was a terrible earthquake in the night. The ground shook and everyone hid under their beds. Nemo also shook, but in terror and sweated in fear that he would again be buried beneath the rubble and this time never found. But eventually the shaking settled down and they gathered around the table waiting for the dawn.
Nemo had fallen asleep with his head on the table when the growing buzz of noise woke him. He looked through the dining room window to see groups of excited people walking toward the Cathedral. The bright primary colors of so many different uniforms gathered in one place made the whole street into a moving rainbow. In a flash he remembered, today was the vote. Everyone was making their way to the Cathedral to watch the presentation of the G.L.O.B.Es.
He got to his feet and washed carefully in the bathroom, combing his light colored brown hair and staring into his hazel eyes as he did every morning. And just like all the mornings before, they told him nothing. He changed into his cleanest clothes and reported to Jan Seirzant for his list of jobs that day.
“You look different today,” was his comment as he handed Nemo a pile of things to be delivered. Jan Seirzant looked different. His hair was well brushed and moustache combed. He had on his most ornate robe with many embroidered curlicues woven in a variety of bright colors. “Well, be back by noon and we can…” brush, brush, “…all go to the presentation together,” he said.
Nemo flew through his deliveries, concentrating on finishing them and not thinking about what might happen later that afternoon. Jochim had already described the ceremony to him so he would know what to expect.
Every village and town in Validian that had its own council of Presbyters was asked to send their G.L.O.B.Es at least a week before the election. The G.L.O.B.Es, when activated by an election official would produce a holographic image of the eligible voter from the town. In all of the holographs, the Presbyters were shown in their special robes, blindingly white with gold embroidery around the necks, cuffs and hems.
The Cathedral, the only place large enough to host the event, would have a celebration day and encourage everyone to come and see the official activation of the G.L.O.B.Es. Members of the President’s committee would have tables and brightly colored banners and pennants set up. There would be bands playing and merchants selling exotic wares from every corner of the continent. Electioneers would try to persuade the Presbyters to vote one way or another. Once the ceremony officially began and all the delegates were in position next to their activated G.L.O.B.Es, the President and the Prevost would visit each one, to verify their eligibility and hand out the ballots. It was an exciting time and hundreds of people came from all over to watch. Especially as this vote had such strong feeling attached to it.
Finally the deliveries were done and Nemo and Jochim were standing in the very back of the courtyard craning to see over the excited crowd that had gathered. The G.L.O.B.Es had already been activated and tiny holographic images of Presbyters were shining at their tables. The noise from the bands and the chattering people was deafening. Two men in deep red tunics were talking, “Did you see the table from Wickliffe?” one asked.
“No, what special about it?”
“Apparently that’s the G.L.O.B.E they found buried in the avalanche a few weeks ago.”
“Oh, that’s right. Does it even work?”
“No, you can see it. It’s at that table over there. The Presbyter is having a terrible time convincing people he’s eligible to vote,” he chortled.
Nemo’s ears pricked up and he and Jochim exchanged glances. “Wickliffe, where’s their table?” asked Nemo.
“I don’t know,” answered Jochim.
Nemo began to push his way forward through the crowd of bright colored tunics and every now and then an embroidered robe, feeling with every step he was getting closer to knowing the truth of who he was. Finally he was close enough to actually see some tables, decorated with ribbons and garlands. The Presbyters, in gold embroidered robes, were standing in front, smiling and shaking hands with people. But all of these had glowing holographs on them, so Nemo began to walk down the line looking for a table without one.
At last he saw it; the remains of G.L.O.B.E. It was easy to believe that it had survived an avalanche too. For a moment Nemo was afraid to look up into the face of the Presbyter; what if he wasn’t recognized? But look up he finally did to see a fussy looking man with a peeved expression on his face. He kept shaking his arms to push the longish robe sleeves back and looking up and down the aisles as if he were expecting someone. Nemo stepped forward, “Uh, excuse me?” he said.
The Presbyter looked coldly at him for a moment, pursing his lips together as if to whistle. He had thinning hair, combed to the side and his eyebrows had such a steep arch to them that he maintained a permanently startled expression. A long moment of silence passed. “Ah, it’s you,” he said at last.
Nemo’s heart flew and his soul began to sing. The Presbyter had recognized him! He was going to find out who he was. He was going to finally go home.
“Go away, boy, I’m waiting for the Prevost,” the Presbyter said waving his hand in a shooing motion. The coldness of his manner began to slowly sink into Nemo’s joy-filled haze.
“W-w-what?” Nemo asked numbly.
“The…Prevost,” the Presbyter said slowly, “Go…away.” As if Nemo were too dumb to understand. By now the Presbyter was standing on his toes, hopping up in anticipation. He actually gave Nemo’s shoulder a little shove.
“B-but, you know who I am! I’m from Wickliffe, aren’t I?” Nemo asked, obstinately refusing to leave.
“Yes,” answered the Presbyter, “And small credit to us!” He pushed his face close to Nemo and hissed, “Just look at our G.L.O.B.E! Smashed to pieces and not working. We aren’t even sure if we are going to be allowed to have a voice in this election. We should have known better than to trust it to a foundling like you!”
“A-a foundling?” Nemo asked. “You mean I don’t have a name or… or a home?”
“You think we should have given you one?” the Prevost asked haughtily. “Why should we have to pay for the mistakes of others? We gave you a place to live, made sure you had food. What more could you ask?”
Nico was dumfounded, he didn’t know what to say. Somehow he just couldn’t accept that his life was never going to amount to anything. A useless nemo. It just couldn’t be.
“Now, go away, foundling, I have important work to do.”
As he said these last words, the President and the Prevost arrived at his table. Prevost Benefix approached with his hand outstretched and a polite smile on his face. “Presbyter,” he began to say. Then suddenly his gaze sharpened and the smile left his face, “Did you just say foundling?”
“Y-yes,” answered the Prevost, “But it is of no consequence, sir. Just a worthless nemo. I can’t tell you what an honor it is…”
“This boy is a foundling?” interrupted Benefix, looking sharply at Nemo and reaching out his hand to his shoulder. “From Wickliffe! Of course! The G.L.O.B.E. that was buried in the avalanche. And you must be the one who was delivering it.”
“Yes, he’s done nothing to offend, I hope…” the Presbyter was saying.
“Jian, look here!” said Benefix as Jian walked over to stare at Nemo. Nemo recognized him as the man he had given the package to the other day. He seemed much more daunting today even without his battle axe. Somehow the twinkling eyes were gone and all Nemo saw was the intimidating beard.
Suddenly fearing that he would be punished for allowing the G.L.O.B.E to be damaged and filled with an aching sadness that he was not an important person after all, Nemo could take no more. He turned around and began to pelt out of the courtyard to the street, determined that tears would not start streaming down his face until he got to the halfway house.
“Quickly, Jian, grab him!” shouted Benefix. But Jian had already taken off after Nemo. The Presbyter continued to apologize and grovel.
Nemo could see the sunlight streaming through the courtyard arches, beckoning him to freedom when suddenly he slammed into someone, hard.
“Ungghh!” she groaned as the impact caused them both to drop to the floor. By now the crowd, sensing something was wrong began milling about and exclaiming. Rubbing his head and looking up, Nemo saw the smiling face of Serah, her bright purple ribbon askew and falling over her face. “Oh, it’s you! I knew I’d run into you again!” she said, laughter in her voice. Nemo rolled to the side quickly.
Just then Jian’s heavy hand landed on right on Nemo’s shoulder as if knew exactly where he was going to be and dragged him to his feet. “Got you!” he said.
"This extract remains the exclusive property of the author who retains all copyright and other intellectual property rights in the work. It may not be stored, displayed, published, reproduced or used by any person or entity for any purpose without the author's express permission and authority."