“My mother once told me I was like water. Water can carve its way even through stone. And when trapped, water makes a new path.”
-Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha
For my parents and family…
My eyes open to the sound of my name.
“How old are you?” A familiar voice asks.
My eyes struggle to adjust to the light.
“Thirty.” It comes out as a whisper, as if I have forgotten how to speak.
“I mean seventeen,” I correct myself.
Is that my voice?
“What is your occupation?”
“I was a Mechaneer.”
I hear more typing.
“Am. I am a Mechaneer.”
My eyes are able to focus and I look at my surroundings as best as I can.
I’m in a round room. A Doctors’ office. My head is strapped down. It’s the only thing I can actually feel. I’m numb from the neck down.
“What is your most recent memory?”
“I was coming here to die.”
“No,” I croak, my brain pulsing with pain. I can feel the needles poking out of the skin surrounding my aching skull; one of them dangles on my forehead. “No, I... I was coming in for a checkup. I, uh...”
A pain in my wrist.
“I hurt my wrist,” I say, wriggling it. It’s restrained as well.
“Do you know how?” The voice asks.
“No.” I try twisting around to see whom it is that is talking, but the straps are too tight around my body. My peripheral vision shows a blurry figure hunched over something square and white to my left.
“Well, the important thing is that you’re okay. Come back into the Hospital tomorrow for a check-up, so we can make sure you’re alright.”
I try to nod, but my head doesn’t move very much. The strap cuts into my forehead.
How long have I been in here? And if I just hurt my wrist, why am I strapped to a chair as if I would harm somebody? Or as if I will escape?
“What are your parents’ names?” The man asks, and I get a clearer view of him.
“Tama and Murkas Cern.”
“Good,” The voice sings. “What does your father look like?”
“Short, round... he has dark skin and dark eyes... he has short black hair...”
“No. No, I’m sorry, he has none of those things,” I say, and look over at the man through the corners of my eyes. He’s leaning over a clear monitor. “He looks like you.”
“Good, Brynlea. Now, tell me,” He picks up a mirror and puts it in front of my face. “Who is this?”
It’s not my face. This face’s skin is light and the eyes are big and the lips are full. The hair is blonde and the eyes are blue.
“I don’t know.”
He smiles and goes back over to his keyboard.
He holds the mirror in front of me again.
“No, never mind. It’s me. This is what I look like. I don’t know what came over me...”
He smiles and nods.
“Do you know who I am?” He asks, walking back over to the monitor and typing something else in.
Do I know who he is?
He returns in front of me.
“You’re my father,” I say. “Murkas Cern.”
“Yes, well, I’m glad you remember who I am, Brynlea,” He chuckles. “Because I’m the new President of the Domes. I have three more years in office and then maybe you can be the next to reign.”
He smiles, and I smile back. What an honor to be in shoes like that. What a life goal to achieve. Anyone can be chosen to be President, and they can be chosen from any job. A Mechaneer has a big chance of becoming President because we understand all there is about the mechanics of the Dome and its workings.
To follow in my father’s footsteps... it would mean the world to me.
He unstraps me from the chair and I get up, rubbing my wrists and cracking my neck. How was I sitting there?
“Your house number has changed to one-thousand two-hundred and two, and you’ll start up work again tomorrow morning starting with repairing the Dome.”
“Why was I in here?” I wonder aloud, rubbing away the soreness in the back of my neck.
“You hurt your arm.” My father smiles forcefully, and I see beads of sweat collecting on his forehead.
“Do you know how?”
“You fell off of a swing off of the highest parts of the Dome. A handful of Safeties rushed you in and we fixed you.”
I nod, not completely believing the story and walk out. After all, my father has never been a good liar...
The Safety Belts on the swing would not have let me fall, considering we repair them every other week. I shouldn’t doubt it, but I am, and I never do that. What the Government says is what goes, and I don’t have any problems with it. I’ve always been curious about why people doubt and why people want to go against things, because everything has its purpose of why it’s there, and everything has a history behind it. There is always meaning behind why something is a certain way, and that’s the same with people. I don’t doubt because I wasn’t trained to doubt, wasn’t raised to doubt. I wasn’t raised to doubt myself or anyone else, and that’s worked out pretty well for me.
Maybe I’m just overreacting. Of course I am. That’s why I had to think all of that out. It’s just the medications they probably gave me to dull the pains.
I walk out into the light, feeling the fake wind brush across my face. The orb of light hanging from the sky-lid is illuminated with an afternoon glow.
Our history says that our Dome was made to protect the remains of humanity. Our ancestors destroyed the Earth, and, consequentially, made it to where Earth was inhabitable. Life outside the Dome is impossible and deadly—diseased, even.
Who would want to live anywhere else anyway? This place is heaven compared to the past world. We have everything we need here, and everything is always in supply. We never run out because all of our products and all of our people work together to take care of each other. Gardeners take care of plants and crops and growing food inside of the Domes, and each Dome has one large gardening spot to the left of the gates. Hunters take care of the animals in the Hunting Dome, and those animals multiply quickly. Those two careers take their gatherings to the Cookers, who make delicious, well-portioned food. Shifters deliver that food to our doors to eat, and do just about do every other odd job that needs to be done.
There are also Doctors, who take care of sick patients and people with broken bones. There aren’t very many, considering that no one ever gets sick or hurt anymore. They give the brain enhancement shots and they deliver babies as well.
Then there are the Mechaneers, who take care of every electrical and mechanical thing inside of the Domes. They send information to the Computes, who are split up into different categories. There are the Techers: the ones who make the simulations on the Dome walls, and other simulations like the ones in the Matching Ceremonies. And then there are the Watchers: the ones who watch security footage all day and night, and that monitor what is seen on the Domespeople’s tablets and computers. If they catch someone doing something wrong or bad, they inform the Analyzers. The Analyzers pull up data about the person, and decipher if the Safety should or should not intervene, depending on the percentages. If so, they notify the Safeties. The Safeties approach people that aren’t doing the right thing and try to figure out what to do. They also go door-to-door to deliver messages from the President. If a problem occurs, they alert the Government Officials. The Government Officials have more forceful tactics. They only come into a Domesperson’s life if they are needed to clear up something or reassign someone. They also take care of people who turn thirty. They report back to the President for everything, and they watch and make sure he is doing what he is supposed to do as the President. If something goes wrong in his reign, they can replace him or suppress his abilities. The President is supposed to watch over the Dome and create a safe environment and make calls based on our document, Dome Regulations and Guidelines.
Everything in our society works together and fits like a puzzle. If anyone thinks that any of this is wrong, then they’re wrong. It’s all perfect.
I walk down the (strangely) empty streets, looking for my new house. It’s weird that I have a new house, but I know it’s for a good reason.
I open the door and look inside. Everything is the same as my old house, and everything is in the exact same place. The lights flick on as I step inside, and I run my hand over the white clothes in the closet. Someone will come in tonight and change out these clothes for ones I can wear around the Domes, because I’m no Safety or Government Official, and I’m okay with that.
I look at the clock. It reads three-thirty.
After taking a shower and relearning where everything in my new house, I sit down on my bed. It’s strange how familiar this room is, besides the fact that it’s exactly like my last one. Maybe I’m still overreacting.
If I go to sleep, all of the medication the Doctors gave me will wear off, I know it will. I’ll wake up in the morning and be perfectly fine, and be myself again. No more thinking too much.
There’s a knock at my door, and I go to open it.
Two Shifters stand in the doorway, holding out a white box with handles to me. My food. I thank them and take it inside.
When I’m finished with the food, I throw away the package and lay down under my covers. Maybe I’ll sleep well tonight.
There’s a girl running in my dream. She looks like me, but she isn’t me. Can’t be me. She’s running from something.
Explosions. She’s running from explosions.
Her white dress glows in the light of the fire, and her blonde hair streams behind her. She stops, dead in her path and turns around. I see her eyes, intense and bright blue.
“Wake up,” She whispers.
My alarm goes off right after I sit up in my bed. I sluggishly step onto the floor, shivering because it’s cold—almost too cold.
I was right about someone coming in and switching out my clothes. My closet is filled with bright colored clothing and I stand in front of it. I don’t know why I’m so happy about it, but I am.
I put on a set of bright blue clothes and head to the Dame’s Dome Government Building. There are twenty Government Officials standing in a line with clipboards in their hands. They flip back and forth as the Mechaneers start to arrive and line up. They read off the jobs to do.
I’m assigned to tapping panels on the Dome wall.
I start to walk to the center of the Dome as the swings are slowly fed down to the ground from the sky lid. I find the number I was given and I sit in it, typing in the panel numbers I had been assigned to onto the screen that pops up. The swing automatically moves across to the section, and I slip on the purple gloves.
The rubber starts to burn and slide off of my finger.
I shake my hand and close my eyes, panicked for a moment. Then I open them and it’s back to normal. Nothing happened. It was just my imagination.
Come on, focus, I tell myself.
I tap each of the panels one at a time, and I see a panel down near the grass level, hidden behind some trees. My stomach twists inside of me, and something tells me not to go down there. I know I’ll get in trouble if I jump off of the swing, but that panel...
Maybe I should just report it.
All it takes is one panel to ruin the rest. I could really get in trouble for missing that panel, but the lower level isn’t my job. No one really works on it because it’s hidden by the trees.
I push my joystick as far down as it can go. To get to the panel, I would need to jump off of the swing.
Something pulls at the back of my mind. Something tells me not to do it, that something bad will happen to me if I do...
I’ll just report it. I don’t need to get up and get it because it’s not my responsibility. My responsibility is my section of panels.
I push the joystick up and type in a message to my father.
Panel on lower level at the back of the Dome out.
I send it and continue with my tapping, something in my mind telling me I did something different.
But different from what?