Tuesday August 30, 2318
I found it during my walk back from the laundry today. I traveled through long hallways fitted with small long slits of triple pane glass that lighted the narrow passages. This area was not important enough, not large enough, for the graceful self-lit arches. And there it was a spot barely visible from where I stood, oddly splashed in sunlight as if the gray mists opened up soley for the pleasure of caressing that one place. A sacred place.
My wash-worn hands trembled when I saw it, a fleck of color on a rough, dull landscape. Excitment sang through me, warbling trembles. But I walked along, averting my eyes each time they darted to it even as it silently screamed for my attention. I rushed as fst as I dared to the journals, flipping madly through the pages of my father’s stories looking for a name to give it. The word sat on the tip of my tongue relentlessly holding on as I tried to spit it out. Was it this page? That story? No, no, no!
I almost screamed my frustration nearly hurling the precious book against the whitewashed wall but something inside stayed my hand, my voice, pulling back the momentum just enough that the book fluttered briefly before landing on the bed. And there I saw it, exactly what I had been searching for.
I made love to the word with my mouth, arching muscles and lashing tongue against the textures of sound emitting from my throat. I whispered it, afraid the others might hear. Afraid I was being watched even though I scoured every crevice of the room for bugs each day. I made a decision then. One that only took a small flash across my brain to gain complete acceptance. Everything about my choice felt good, right, even as fear wound it’s merciless way up from the core of my stomach.
There was no way I couldn’t do it. My body, my soul, mind, would never be settled if I didn’t. Every cell resonated, every molecule urged me to move. Now. I emptied the white pillow case and fashioned a sort of bag out of it, tearing it down the middle and tying the ends. I didn’t have much to take with me and everything else would be too noticable. It would be better if it wasn’t white but I had to make do.
The bird, the journals, pen, clothes and a few small rations I tucked away make their way into the makeshift sack. My hand hovered over the crumpled scrap for a moment before I thrust it in my pocket. As I placed the last of the nutrition cakes inside I wondered briefly if I hadn’t somehow known this would come to pass. Perhaps, some higher power spoke silently to me, telling me what I needed to do to be ready for this day. Perhaps, it was my father.
Along the western corridor there is an emergency exit. Double doors splashed with red warnings like streaks of blood on pale skin. A few morning’s ago I saw one of the officers sneak into the hallway when he thought no one was looking. I rushed over and stood on tiptoes, peeking through the high glass window to see where he was going. A woman waited for him. I turned away embarassed as he wrapped himself around her. But, I noticed as I hurred to get to the laundry, the alarm hadn’t sounded. I wasn’t sure where the hallway went but it must be abandoned enough for secret rendevous. Maybe that is when my mind started planning.
Lights out was a Dome wide event set at the same time every day, 20:45. Energy was a precious commodity, we reserved it whenever we could. I wished I had a flashlight or something to see by but there was nothing to be done about it. Thankfully, the colorless landscape lent itself well for nighttime excursions emitting a faint glow that was only mostly difficult to navigate. I cringed as the door to my room clicked shut, holding my breath, waiting to be discovered, heart pounding in my ears but no one came. Slowly, I made my way around corners and down long passages where there was no place to hide if someone else walked these halls except the rooms of other worker’s where I knew I wasn’t welcomed. Everything was quiet, nearly peaceful. How different the Hygrodome was out at this forbidden hour.
I made my way and before I knew it, stood before the red marked door. Could they have reactivated the alarm? Could the officer have had a special key I hadn’t noticed? The door looked ordinary, no bioscans or anything otherwise but I still worried. What would happen if I was caught? My nerve faltered, my feet shifted heading back toward my room. Then a voice echoed down the abandoned hallway. I had no way to know how close they were. Someone was coming!
Adrenaline spiked and worries about alarms vanished. I quickly, though quietly, I pushed open the door, my heart lightened when nothing happened. I closed the door behind me just as the voices turned the corner. The wall supported me while cold fear nearly took me to my knees. Please, please, please just pass by.
I let the noise die into long silence and waited for what felt like hours before straightening. No other voices bounced along the hallway. I took a deep breath trying to flush out the fear, adjusted the sack and ran as fast as I could down the hallway, left, sprint, left, right, sprint. My heart beat in my ears. My feet made split second decisions on direction. I prayed hard to a faceless God, let me make it. I was sure the ragged sound of my breath was echoing through the entire Dome alerting everyone but I kept going. I kept readjusting my path heading for the outer walls, towards that yellow burst of hope.
One last set of doors stood before me. I was in what looked to be an abandoned reception area. It remineded me so vividly of my arrival except thick dust covered everything and the molded plastic chairs were stacked in a corner. I don’t know how I found it but I wasn’t going to question it too hard. The outer door was the last barrier. I knew I couldn’t go back. There was no way for me to remember how anyway, futher wandering of the dark halls didn’t seem like a smart idea. But the idiocy of both choices warred with each other.
I took a breath, closed my eyes, recalled that sunkissed image and the words from the book that weighed against my back. I needed that flower. With my eyes still closed I opened the door.
The alarm was so loud and the lights so bright I stood still for a long moment before I realized what was going on. Then instinct took over and hurled me into the night made day by the abundance of bulbs. I ran as fast as I could, shouts sounded from far behind me. I was confused, turned around trying to gain my bearings on where I was. The dandelion was to the right, self-preservation headed me straight ahead, as far away as I could get. I turned, the voices grew louder in the blaring scream of siren. Finally, I spotted it in the night. I fell to my knees panting before the yellow bud in the dry dead dirt. It was so small, it was a wonder I ever saw it at all.
Right there that flower reaffirmed my belief in God. It filled me up with hope, happiness. Tears streamed down my face as laughter bubbled up from a secret well deep inside me. How was this possible? The earth was dead, died, and here life, Life!, sprung up from it. Hearty, healthy, impossible.
The voices were growing louder, the lights I left not far behind were traveling now, looking for me. I couldn’t let them have this. I couldn’t let the Government, the selfish people of the world, destroy this miracle. I remembered my father’s stories about the roots. I tore a thick piece of cloth from the front of my shirt, then scooped my hands wide around the base of the fragile little thing, my nose came close and I dipped my head for a quarter second to smell it. It smelled horrid and wonderful at the same time. A thick tang settled in my nose and I sneezed but I managed to remove the plant from the dry earth quite easily. I wrapped the ball of dirt and roots in the cloth, careful not to damage the thin green stem.
I clutched it to my breast ready to run as far and hard as I could from the searching lights when a figure stepped out from the shadows. I froze, terrified, crouched ready to spring. It walked toward me hands raised to the side. Tension filled my muscles as adrenaline seared my veins. Then it spoke,
“I wondered how long it would take you to escape.” A half smile I despised emerged from the darkness. My feelings exploded like a shot from a cannon. I reared back, baring clenched teeth and punched Tybal straight in the mouth. The dandelion swayed in approval.