The Man in the Dome
Hands spread fingers against the smooth glass, cupping inward as I pressed against it, yearning to escape out into the world on the other side. I could see beyond the tunnels that the sun was starting to fade in its leftward horizon. Morning saw it perched to my right, its faint glow growing until the burn of its light blasted down around me, enveloping me in its warmth and blinding goodness.
The glass was already starting to cool, to leave the blanketing warmth of the day and propel me into the dark confinement of my prison.
I was not always here, but I remembered nothing about life as it was before the dome. Sometimes I could hear the cries of some faraway human, screaming to be released, but I had already given up the ghost of freedom long ago. Those parched lips singing for release were not the notes of songs I wanted to hear and I often ignored them, wrapping myself in my own lonesome thoughts.
I peeked up as the final sliver of light escaped my view of the outside world.
“Goodnight,” I whispered, the sound of my voice reverberating of the smooth curves surrounding me.
Often times I found myself feeling as if I was drowning. The atmosphere around me seemed more as if I was encased in water than actual air. Usually, those night terrors drove me closer to madness until the sun chose to rise and rescue me from the imagination strangulation of my morbid sub consciousness.
I could recollect the days where I dreamed of release, tearing at the thick glass with numb fingers, doing nothing but harm to myself. Those days were long and uninviting for life; the nights even darker and problematic to my soul.
It was a miracle when I gave in to the dome. My fascist scheming to escape the comfort of my cell tore away at me more than the burden of my rot. I used to count the days of the lights leftward droop, the only pause for comfort being the starkly contrasted beam of ultraviolet radiation killing me slowly in its heat.
I once dared to open my eyes, straining to glimpse the sun in its radiance, but tears flooded my vision before the darkness took my sight away.
I suppose it could have been worse, more permanent.
I paced the dome, walking in cramped circles to keep from hitting my head on its ceiling. This was how I past the time between meals and inner torment. I struggled with the decision of whether or not to count the steps, but often chose not to because I had no one to share the numbers with and I couldn’t fathom caring to keep score with myself.
As I paced I ignored the world, the light fading into existence just to disappear again. I ignored everything.
That was when she arrived.
A tap of the glass, repulsive at first, drew my attention to the shadows on the eastern inner wall. Cold eyes stared at me in confusion. I imagined mine looking back at her in the same way.
“Are you surprised to see me?” she asked, hands clasped behind her back. Her hair was drawn back, maybe in a braid, but I could not tell from the lack of light.
I halted my pacing and stepped to the edge to get a better look at her, my hands pressing against the glass as they had often done in the countless days of my incarceration. “Yes,” I said hoarsely. I had never had visitors before and for the life of me I had no clue who she was.
“My name is Sara and I am here in devotion to you,” she said.
“I don’t understand,” I said.
A sad turn of her lips expressed something behind a veil of skin I no longer recognized in the face of a human being. “You are the man in the dome, nameless, sinless before God. You were chosen to bring us closer to the light by being absorbed by it, immortalized by it. My devotion is to the conceptualization that you are the closest thing to God that our world has to offer.”
My shoulders sunk at the weight of her words. I knew nothing of God, nor did I want anything to do with him or her if they existed.
“Do you know how long you’ve been in the dome?” she asked.
I had no idea. I stared up at her blankly, the silence answering the question for her.
“You have been inside this dome for three-thousand years.”
I shrugged; the relevance of time no longer meant anything to me.
“May I ask you a question?”
A smile returned to her face and she lit up with the opportunity to ask her concept of God a question. “What would you do if you were no longer confined to this dome?”
Her question seemed easy enough, but I thought on it for a moment or two before responding. “I would see the world,” I answered. It was simple yet profound for my mind to imagine that opportunity to see the expanse of what lay beyond.
Sadness rushed back to her cheeks and she looked down for a moment, dread drawing her shoulders closer to the floor. “That’s why I am her, Master,” she said solemnly. The hushed tones of her voice evoking an emotional response I was unfamiliar with. “The world is dead,” she finished.
“I don’t understand,” I said. “If the world is dead then how are you here?”
A delicate hand lifted fragile fingers towards the glass, but as they seemed to make contact they passed through the dome onto my side of eternity.
She was standing before me now, her eyes meeting my gaze. “The difference between you and I is that you are the only one really here.”
I lifted my hands to her, to embrace another human for the first time I could remember. There was nothing standing before me. “How is this possible?”
She stepped back out of the dome, looking away from me and up towards the trickling light. “Peace was never an option and faith became ash in a torrent of wind. We never forgot you, but now we ask that you never forget us.”
“What?” she sounded mad, this small inhuman woman; her words so foreign I thought she was speaking in riddles.
“I am Sara, the last memory of our people; the ones called to devote our lives to you. The world above is dead and we failed to stop it. Now, you are alone and no one will ever know the truth.”
A tear fell from my cheek as realization set in. All these years and all those screams had been the world beyond falling to dust. I had closed my ears to it all as they yearned for some profound statement from me to escape my ignorant lips. They put faith in someone unworthy and it costs them everything.
“What truth is that?” I asked, thinking to myself that I knew the answer.
Sara turned back to me, her own tears trickling down her face. “That the truth was always a lie is disguise.”
And with those words she was gone and I was once again left to my confinement; the man in the dome for an eternity of nothingness.
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