The artificial wind brushed my face as I walked to the park—the only place we were actually allowed to go at this time. Curfew was in about two hours anyway, and I didn’t want to go home just yet. My dad was out hunting, and my mom was working from home on the computer.
I sat on the safety swing and its white belt buckled around me with a loud click, so I wouldn’t fall off.
Back and forth I rocked, looking at the top of the Dome, also known as the ‘sky-lid’. The simulated stars sparkled and twinkled. A few of them zipped across the simulated sky every once in a while. The moon, a ball of light hung by a large pole from the center of the sky-lid, lit up the world around me. In a few hours, it would slowly morph into a brightening sun, reaching its full potential of brightness at exactly noon.
I wondered what they really looked like. Out there, beyond the dome, behind the walls, past the panels that deceive your brain into thinking there’s more to them than just little holograms.
Going higher, the safety swings’ bars started to send off warning signals that I was swinging too high.
I ignored the beeping and I swung higher and higher until I was parallel with the top of the set.
The joints of the swing started to spurt out smoke.
As I swung back, I could see the machine start to break, and I swung forward one last time before it fell apart. The seat I sat in went flying through the air, and I started to tip backwards, the moon almost disappearing from my vision.
The earth came rushing up, and I felt the ground meet my shoulders and neck with a loud crack. I just laid there, for who knows how long, staring up at the artificial sky. My vision was blurry, and my mind started to wander.
Maybe that’s why our Domes are so safe. I found myself thinking. So when we fall, we don’t get hurt.
I felt urgent hands grabbing at me, and blurry faces with white hats hovered above me, and touched me with their rubber-gloved hands.
The last thing I saw was another artificial shooting star, and I felt some strange urge to make a wish.
When I awoke, I was in a round room with white walls. A Doctor walked over to me, and asked me my name and my age. I told him, and he nodded as he typed in something on his tablet.
“Well, young lady, I hope you know that you are in big trouble for this, and it will not go unpunished by the Government, as it says in the Dome Regulations and Guidelines, and it will be listed forever. And you know that it might just come back to haunt you later in your life after you turn thirteen. But because it’s your birthday, I will not notify your parental units about this dangerous encounter.”
I nodded, and stared at the ground, wondering how many times he had given this speech. Probably not very many times. There weren’t a lot of troublemakers around here, and usually, if there were any, they didn’t last very long. Three strikes and you’re out.
“The Government created this environment to keep you safe, healthy, and so that you can live a long, happy life,” He said and smiled. “So, make use of the twenty-three more years you have.”
At age seven, I slept with all of my lights on that night. I was scared to think how fast twenty-three years would pass by. After that…
The world has changed a lot, according to the vague history classes we take in school. But no one knows exactly how much unless you are a part of the Government, and I’m not even sure about how much they know. They’ve had control for many generations and they control everything.
I used to like the way they did things, how everything was almost perfect. That is, up until the day after my thirteenth birthday.
You see, that little stunt I pulled when I was little apparently was a big deal. It’s the reason why I couldn’t choose.
When you turn five, you choose three different jobs to train for for when you turn eight. At that age, you only train for your top two options; your third one is a back up plan, just in case you fail the last and final test for your job. You spend the next five years training and when you turn thirteen you choose between those three options as your career for the rest of your life.
Well, the Government puts you in a class with other children that are born a few days a part from you, so you all choose at the same time.
When that day came, I was sent to the front desk, then to the executive of the school. The man told me that because of some rebellious action in my past (the swing), I would not be able to choose my first or second job that I’d trained for for five years, got regular brain injections for (they’re required by law to advance our brains to learn quicker), AND took tests over both of them that were so hard that I barely passed (which were governed by the stupid Government too). Instead, I would be forced to take my third option, and relearn everything.
I had to start over.
So now I’m a Mechaneer—a mechanic engineer.
It’s not that hard of a job. Just a lot of math and whatnot. At least it all comes easily to me, and I didn’t choose something I could never do like being an analyzer. Besides, all you have to do as a Mech is check and make sure everything inside of your Dome works. If something doesn’t work and you were supposed to make it work, you get a strike. Get three of those and you’re out.
Strikes are issued out when someone does something outside of the Dome Regulations and Guidelines, or if they go against what they were told to do. It’s our punishment system. It always has been, and always will be.
At this moment, I only have one.
But here comes number two.