THE TELESCOPE SAT slightly apart from the clutter of the room – aloof, cool, shaded by a closed curtain. Azlan Muhammad ran a chubby hand down the length of its metallic form as he whistled a loud and tuneful melody. He paused to thumb the plastic toy rocket superglued to it before covering it carefully with a cloth. He belched, scratched an arse cheek, then traced a circuitous route through the stacks of books on the concrete floor, nimble for a man of his size. He had important things to do, after all.
Coffee first, though. He made it strong, sweetened by condensed milk, making sure not a drop spilled down the side of the cup. He hated that. ‘Coffee first, and the rest’ll fall into place’ – he could hear his old boss’s thick Aussie accent, even now. Azlan turned on the radio, his eyes still trained on the telescope. A serious voice was commenting on the imminent election. The lead-up had been full of skullduggery and intrigue, and there was a sense of excitement that after more than fifty years in power, the government looked to be in its death throes and the opposition was gaining traction. Today was election day.
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