Gabby couldn’t believe how quickly things had changed. It started with avoiding companies based on owners’ views.
If a CEO supported gay marriage, you either went there or boycotted based on how you felt about that issue.
But then the riots started and the cities stepped in, and knowing a company’s affiliation on controversial issues became a matter of zoning. Support abortion? You build in this part of the city. Tax breaks for the wealthy? That side.
They argued that it was safer.
Keep the different-minded people separate and there will be peace.
Some thought there would be a second civil war, but the band-aid of separate-but-equal seemed to work.
That is, until people started infiltrating.
When it seemed like people weren’t just going to leave each other alone, the state stepped in, and then the federal government.
Now every person had a barcode on their arm that was loaded with their views on current issues, and every building had a scanner, which was really kind of arbitrary since cities were sectioned into zones: “liberal” and “conservative.” To change zones, you had to go through a long bureaucratic process that involved extensive background checks and voting pattern analysis. Any inconsistencies brought you a denial, and any denial effectively labeled you a Person of Suspicion.
Something you did not want to be.
People who refused to register as either “liberal” or “conservative” were Persons of Suspicion, and they were shuttled off to camps in the middle of the country. They said the camps were voluntary, and that Independents could leave as soon as they picked a side, but Gabby had heard that Independents’ paperwork was always denied. Gabby could think of only one thing worse than being a Person of Suspicion, and that was being a Level-Two Person of Suspicion. At level two, the camp was no longer voluntary, the rights of citizenship like voting or a fair trial were stripped and family members were no longer allowed to visit. Not that they did anyway, with trans-zoning passes being so hard to obtain.
Plus it was illegal to procreate with anyone of a different zone, and children who declared a side different than their parents were ostracized; photos of those children were taken down, their clothes, shoes and any personal belongings were thrown out and their parents’ shame forbid them from ever being mentioned among the family again.
Gabby shook her head and looked at her sleeping granddaughter. She was 15—nearly voting age. Gabby shuddered. Her granddaughter, Lily Ledbetter, had never known a world outside of this regime. She thought this life was normal and she dutifully hated all things conservative with a vehemence of someone who has never known choice. It made Gabby sad.
It also made her tired.