1659 words (6 minute read)

Chapter Three

“There has been a breach” the pre-recorded woman said over our heads. “Please stay calm. Put on your masks and breathe calmly. Insolation doors are now closing to minimize the damage. If you are not in the same dome as some of your loved once, feel free to call them. Stay calm.”
            At my side Adam went stiff. “Iris,” he whispered, and started running.
            “Adam!” I screamed his name, running after him.
            He didn’t listen. He ran as fast as he could toward the doors, but the insolation door hissed shut. He screamed as he reached it.
            “Adam.”  I touched his shoulder. “Come on, we should put on our masks.”
            “The breach isn’t here.”
            “No, but the virus could have seeped in.”
            “Then we would already be sick.”
            “You don’t know that.”
            He didn’t answer, and I dragged him toward the lockers along the wall. The others that had been working out around The Dome, were already there, putting masks over their faces and oxygen bags on their backs. As soon as my mask was over my face, I breathed easier.
            We were supposed to hold our breaths until the masks were on, and to put on our own masks before helping others, but it wouldn’t feel right to let Adam stand at the door, screaming for Iris.
            Around us people were pulling up their tablets, calling their families and loved once. I looked over at Adam, relieved to see him with his mask on and a vacant look in his eyes. His lips were moving. I tapped his shoulder, and his eyes focused on me.
            “The breach is not in her dome,” he said, relief palpable on his voice. I felt my own shoulders relax, before I called my father.
            He answered within seconds, and his face became visible in the right hand corner of my mask. My mother’s face came in the left corner.
            “Elena, thank the coils!” she almost screamed, and her voice filled my ears, making them ring.
            “I’m fine,” I answered. “Dad, you know where the breach is?”
            “Yeah, the market dome.” I could feel all the blood leaving my face. “Thankfully it isn’t market day. There’s less than two hundred compromised citizens.”
            “So what happens now?”
            “We close down The Dome, and everyone compromised goes into quarantine. There’ll be some work analysing the air to see if the virus is even active. If it is not, they are let out of the quarantine. If it is, they have to stay there for two years.”
            My mom answered with another question, but I wasn’t listening anymore. The thought of being stuck in the underground rooms for two years made my skin crawl. Then again, if I was compromised, Doc would be off my back about the baby issue. I sighed, moving to drag a hand over my face. It hit the mask, and Adam’s laugh made me look up. He was looking at me, a grin on his face. Knowing Iris was not one of the compromised had loosened him up, and he was relaxing with his back to the wall.
            “So how was the doctor’s appointment today?” mom asked, dragging me back to the conversation. Dad was gone. Probably to deal with the damage. He was a White Tech. A policeman with a mechanical education, making taking care of breaches one of his jobs. Thankfully it didn’t happen often, but we had a rehearsal every year. This was only the second time it had been the real deal in my lifetime.
            As I told mom about the check-up, I sank down beside Adam. He was talking to someone else now.
            Time dragged on. Some of the others in our dome went back to their workouts, but not the cardio type. Stretching or weapons work out. But no one spoke out loud. Everyone was worried about the breach. If I was without the mask, I would probably be able to smell the fear.
            After hanging up with my mom, I started stretching too. My body was cooling down, and if I didn’t take care of it I would have a hell of a day tomorrow. Adam joined me after taking two more rounds on the field. We weren’t supposed to run with the masks on, but they had enough oxygen to sustain some laps.
            Outside night had fallen, only showable as a darker background to the purple lightning storm. Again the base of the coil shimmered, and the same woman as in the other pre-recorded message came into view.
            “The breach has now been contained. We ask you all to return to your homes. Keep your masks on until you are in the safety of your home. If your family is one of the compromised, we will get back to you with information as soon as there is any.”
            The doors opened.
            I stood, having been sitting on the floor with most of the others in The Dome by now.
            “Anyone know where the breach was?” one of the others asked. There would probably be signs closer to the breach, but it would be a long way to walk around if you went that way.
            “Market Dome,” I answered. Some people groaned. Others looked worried.
            I walked to the doors, bag over my shoulder and blue poncho on. It was warm in The Domes, but as night fell outside it grew colder. Outside it was winter, but inside it was always summer.
            Adam jogged to my side and we walked side by side.
            We both lived in Quarter 1. To get there we could either take the small, tight underground tunnels into Quarter 3, then out to Quarter 1, but I didn’t like being under ground. Neither did Adam. I didn’t think anyone other than the Tinkers liked being there. So we took the long way. Following one bricked and dark hallway, lit by screens on the wall with info from within and without The Dome – temperatures, population, time, how much power was stored in the coils, the weather – as well as the one part in the middle with a glass roof. Outside it was dark, and snow was resting against the metal holding the glass in place. All around us plants sprang up. Fruit trees and flower bushes. Some people that had been stuck in the hallway was packing up their stuff from one of the benches.
            We walked into the School Dome, then down another hallway much like the first. This one lead into another identical hallway. The glass roof stretched here, giving room to a big, round park. A lot of people had been stuck here, this being one of the main hallways and was normally filled with stalls on days that were not market day. At the opposite side of the park was a hole in the wall, leading to the underground passage to Quarter 3. It went by the dynamos feeding the coils. We went right, toward the hospital.
            As soon as we walked into the open space, my breathing became lighter. Even Adam seemed to stand a bit taller. We took off our shoes and walked barefoot over the grass. Most of The Domes had plants to give enough oxygen to all of us living here. There were some walkways, and on them people passed us on hover bikes or boards. The only sound their breathing. We reached the end of The Dome, put our shoes back on, and walked into another hallway.
            This one was even more crowded with people going home. Some of them disappeared down the doorway leading to the underground walkways. Tinkers going home to Quarter 3. The change was visible in the people as soon as we were past the doorway. Tinkers used mostly dark or muted coloured clothing, most of them tight fittings. Having goggles on their heads in case a light-out underground, tool belts and corsets filled with pockets for all the stuff they carried around. Not that they didn’t have a place to put their stuff, but they worked with machines, so it was easier to just have all the tools on their bodies. The people from Quarter 1, the Elites, wore other clothing. Normally light and tight, and something loose and colourful on top. Like my white running pants and blue poncho.
            The light and sounds of Quarter 1 started to reach us, and we speed up. As soon as we exited the hallway, dark hair engulfed Adam. I smiled as Iris pushed her mask against his, closing her eyes and smiling. Adam held her close to him, letting her body melt into his. My smile died and I looked away.
            Then her arms were around me, and a burst of laugh escaped me.
            “Thank you for taking care of him!” She squealed. I laughed louder, hugging her close. Feeling the warmth of her body against mine. I didn’t want to admit how scared I’d been for her.
            Iris let me go, then linked her arms with us and lead us toward our apartment building. We followed a walkway this time, wanting to get home as fast as we could. Still, most of what we saw was green. Trees stretching high. Plants climbing the buildings. If we looked up we would see foliage bursting from every rooftop.
            I couldn’t help smiling as we walked.
            OK, so the government and Doc wanted me to have children, but other than that we lived a blessed life. A green, healthy life.