En mass, the acolytes drew the attention of passersby. Daniel noticed the expressions of those he passed: fear, disdain, sometimes envy. He lifted his head proudly. He believed fully in the tenets of the Leader and knew that in the apocalypse to come, both his soul and body would be saved.
The final task before complete acceptance into the cult was to spread the message and bring more people into the fold. The young acolytes went where they knew best: the local teen hangouts. Here, the search for self could be directed towards a man striving to be a demi-god.
A new day was to begin. Pathways had been cleared during the night, the plough’s work breaking the night’s quiet. Once the sun had risen, the roads would be filled with the trudging footsteps of weary workers. The promised New Beginning had morphed into a living nightmare. Life had returned to the decades of hardship filled with mind-numbing labour. The exorcism of technology had benefited a few – those with power and money. The middle class had joined the working class and the habit of living from day to day. Would they ever have the energy and mindset to revolt?
Sitting in a plane seat for hours, inactive and restless, was difficult for Tate. It reminded her of high school and the ongoing drone of the teachers’ voices. The Haagen-Dazs, however, made her think of sunny days with her girlfriends. As each scoop melted in her mouth, thoughts of their antics and conversations swirled in her mind. Sighing, she savoured the last mouthful. She needed to get back together with them. They had been her rock and she had been drifting along aimlessly since her departure. The plane was taking her home and bringing her closer to her people.
Time spent in the garden breathing in the scents of damp earth and perfumed flowers were her best moments. Gazing up, she looked past the checkered dome to the clear blue sky. She itched to be out there like the birds she saw flying high. But she would never have the courage to leave on her own.
“I wonder what it would be like out there. The elders claim the dome protects us. But is it necessary?”
The boy had twinkling eyes and an earnest gaze. Her heart leapt out to his. Connected. Maybe he would venture out with her.
She was here. Finally. Macy breathed in the foreign smells and allowed the cacophony of sound embrace her. No longer would she have to hear her mother’s repetitive criticisms hurled at her in bitterness; nor would she have to apologise for every misstep by her younger siblings. Instead she was free to breathe without restraint, to sing with joy, to shout from the rooftops if she wanted. The bonds tying her to her family had been broken with no regret. Her sense of relief had been palpable.
She hailed a taxi and stepped into a life of her own making.
The emptied lockers told of those who had left in desperation seeking safety from what was to come. Emptied spaces echoed with the footfall of the caretaker as he meandered the corridors with the knowledge that soon the remaining boxes would be gone. He had no desire to run and was ready to meet his death. He had lived long enough and was tired of the day to day struggle to survive. He would stay here, defend what belonged to others, and buy them time. And in so doing, he may – maybe – absolve himself of a life lived selfishly.
Harsh sunlight shone on the desolate playground; the lack of children’s voices echoed in vacant spaces. Life was emptier and less purposeful without the younger generation. Two months ago, children had forcibly been taken en masse. Adults were still unsure of the reason for the forced removal; but rumblings were beginning to stir. Distrust of those in charge fanned hidden embers of discontent.
Children were hidden deep within the bowels of the earth. Their DNA had the key to unlocking the solution to future disaster and their resilience made them the perfect guinea pigs. Echoing screams were unheard above ground.
All over the city, lines of people snaked around corners humming with resignation and discontent. Two weeks had passed since the last time these adult men and women waited to receive living assistance from their government. The Industrial Revolution had finally peaked and the machines were doing all of the human work; people had lost a dignified way to earn a comfortable living. Each year the lines got longer; and each year the restlessness grew. The assistance given was paltry causing families to co-exist in small, cramped spaces. The time was near for an anti-industrial revolution. The masses were ready.
Looking up, Mira wondered how she was going to get out. Not only was the underground room far from the main house, but there was no ladder in the vicinity. She thought of her daughter and the question this morning:
“Mommy if you had a super power, what would it be?”
She’d answered flippantly. Now, though, she wished she had the strength of Superman and his ability to fly. Screaming with frustration, she paced the musty space. Her only hope was that Mitch remembered her intention to come here when he got home. If not, she’d have an unpleasant experience.