Trapped (The Trapped Trilogy #1)
By K. Weikel
Copyright © 2014 by K. Weikel
“The battle you are going through is not fueled by the words or actions of others; it is fueled by the mind that gives it importance.”
-Shannon L. Alder
For my parents and family…
Wiped Sample Chapter
Dome Regulations and Guidelines
About the Author
Other Books by K. Weikel
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.
The Dome is buzzing with electricity. It glows bright with the simulation of the colors of a sunrise, and trees as far as your eyes think they can see.
We (the Mech’s) are suspended from the sky-lid by two wires holding a metal plank for us to sit on with a joystick attached to it so we can move. It’s almost like a swing.
Mechaneers inspect and fix the Dome when needed. That includes everything from the pipes underground, to the lights in the Government building, to the Dome we live inside of. Right now, we are looking for panels that aren’t lit or pieces flickering. If one of the panels doesn’t work, it could blow the rest out in the matter of seconds. The Government doesn’t want that happening, obviously, so
I tap on a panel, the purple rubber gloves loosely moving around my fingers, and I watch and wait for it to change. Nothing happens, so I move onto the next one, and the next one, and the next one, and so on...
Every now and then, I glance at the ball of light hanging from the top of the sky-lid. It’s slowly changing colors, shifting from a white moon to a deep orange color. I remember when I used to believe that it was the real sun. I used to think that the Dome walls weren’t walls, but a sky miles away where birds fly and little insects buzz. And then I turned three.
We start to learn about the old world, the one that fell to plague and that we destroyed. The one that created the Dome. How the teachers explained it to us was very vague and so brief, but we were told to learn it how it is and live like it’s the reason for living. The serum that we are given that year, the year we turn three, gives us a huge advantage at learning, and we memorize things better than anyone did in the past, we were told. They told us that we would learn all we could about each job and what we liked to do and liked to learn. They said we’d get to choose one of them when we learned about the choosing process at five years old.
But I never got to.
A few hundred panels later, I see one flickering wildly, farther down the wall behind some trees.
I push the joystick down with my right hand, and my swing obeys, going as low as it can reach. I groan as I realize that the only way I can reach it is by unbuckling and walking. No one really works on the lower panels because trees hide them. But this one looks like it needs to be reported. The swing will send an automated message to the Government that I am off the swing, should I get off, and I don’t know where that could lead from there.
But if I miss this panel, all of them could go out.
I look around at the other workers above me, tapping away at their section of panels. They are black against the sunrise simulation, and, most importantly, not paying attention to me.
“Seat belt removed,” The feminine voice programmed into the swing says, warning both me and the Government.
I jump to the grass, and walk to the small panel. It sits about eye-level to me. It flickers madly, and bright light blinds me every off-second.
Why would it be so bright? The day is just beginning.
I tap it twice quickly, squinting my eyes, and the flickering stops.
But the blinding light doesn’t.
I slowly open my eyes, and I see something behind the panel. I lean forward, and squint one eye, making sure not to touch the wall.
I see the outside world.
I tap the small panel once more, and all of a sudden, one by one, exponentially increasing speed, each panel becomes transparent, and I see the green grass, the blue sky, the animals roaming in the trees in the distance…
And I see the sun.
The Dome is on a different schedule than the outside world, I think to myself, awestruck. Is there a reason for it? Or is it just the way things are?
Just like that, the system reboots, and the panels turn black all at once.
I hear something moving.
The video panel.
It’s coming toward me.
It’s so much bigger than all of the other panels, and moves across the smaller ones like a fish in the water. In the center of the large hexagon, there is a single red dot that acts like an eye. It moves around frantically to each side and corner, looking for the reason why the Dome acted weird. Why it did something that wasn’t scheduled.
It’s looking for me.
I sprint back to the swing, fumbling around in the dark for the cool metal, and sit. I try to buckle up, but the seat belt doesn’t budge.
The black video panel continues to move toward the small panel that spazzed out the rest of them. It stops, right above it. The panel still projects the light from the outside into the blackened Dome.
Suddenly, the light is cut off, and the Dome is completely dark.
Holding my breath, I hear the swarm of whispers of the other Mech’s above.
“...whoever it was, they’ll find the person working in that section anyway…"
I just died inside.
The days that we work on the Dome, a handful of Government Officials assign us certain sections to check, and they keep track of every person in every section.
I squeeze my eyes shut and hold onto the swings wires so tight my hands hurt. My lungs cry out from holding my breath so long.
I hear the video panel moving away, and I let out a sigh.
Opening my eyes, I see the Dome is still dark.
Suddenly, the seat belt buckles around me. It’s too tight.
The swing tips over, and in a blink of an eye, I am upside down and facing the wall.
The red eye appears in front of me, and then blinds me with white light, the brightness bleeding out into surrounding panels. I shield my eyes and try to breathe.
“Eenralla Land,” A booming voice projects from the panels.
I slowly remove my hands from in front of my face, and my eyes adjust to see a man staring at me, into me, over hundreds of panels on the Dome wall.
“Yes?" I manage to croak through the death grip of the seat belt and my head, dizzy from the change of gravity.
“Can I be turned upright first?” I breathe heavily.
Something flashes in his eyes, and I’m quickly turned back around, my spine cracking violently.
“Status report,” He repeats, more forceful this time.
“Well,” I start, rubbing my neck, and adjusting my weight under the seat belt. “I was almost done with my section of panels, when I saw that one over there,” I point. “I tapped on it like we’re supposed to and—”
“And what?” He asks, almost threatening.
I feel all of the eyes on me from my coworkers, watching, waiting. What would he do if I told him everything I’d seen? I definitely saw more than those above me, considering that the panels changed from that one small one and went all the way up, and quickly worked its way down back to me. I would be the one to see the outside world the longest. The world we’re not allowed to see.
“Well?” He’s impatient.
“And—” I begin again. I have to tell him something, and I’m not quite sure what that should be.
“And the whole Dome went clear,” I say, not wanting to talk anymore.
“Did you see anything—anyone?”
I feel my heart rate speed up and my breathing shallow out. This could be the end of the line for me. The Government won’t accept that I’d seen outside of our Dome, and who knows what they could do to me? To anyone because of my answer.
I see the scene replay in my mind. The green grass and the trees that line the open field, the flowers and the rocks that are scattered among them… The whole Dome went clear all because of one little glitchy panel. I couldn’t have been the only one ever to set it off, could I?
But what if I am?
“No,” I say strongly. “Uh, the panels flashed too fast, and it was so bright I couldn't see.”
My heart pounds in my ears.
The President smiles and nods.
I’d said the right thing.
“Well, that’s good to know, isn’t it, Eenralla Land? If it was changed for any longer, then you could have exposed the whole Dome to dangerous radiation from the outside world.” He leans closer, his eyes wild. “Do not touch that panel ever again.”
I nod. “Yes sir.”
“And, Eenralla?” He says, leaning back in his big black chair.
“Yes sir?” I say, my heart pounding in my ears.
“This is another strike. You have one more left.”
I gulp. “Yes sir.”
He smiles a cold smile, his whi
“Have a Dometastic day.”
The connection goes dead.
I have one more strike, and then I’m out.
The Government has a three-point striking system. It starts over as you grow older though, because they know that humans aren’t perfect. It restarts at ages five, thirteen, and twenty. If you get any before you turn five, they are counted against you after you turn thirteen. You only get those if you do something big enough, like purposely breaking a swing, as I did. But that’s when the striking really starts, and it’s also when we choose the jobs that we will get when we turn thirteen. When you reach the age of thirteen, it starts back at zero and adds strikes given to you before you were five. It also starts over once you turn twenty, because that is when your child will be born.
No one knows what happens after these strikes go down on your life record. There are theories that they are thrown to the animals outside of the Dome, or they were killed right there by the Government. In the Dome Regulations and Guidelines it says that the Government will carry out what they think the punishment should be.
The projection of the sunrise begins again, and the orb of light above starts to change from the moon to the sun, as if it had never been interrupted.
And no one would ever know what I really saw.
I decide to walk home when we’re done with the panels, which is not abnormal, I think. People walk all of the time. It’s what legs are for. Surely I won’t get a strike for deciding to walk.
Oh, what good would it do me now? It’s obvious I’m a screw-up. I’ll bet that the Government’s Analyzers have already calculated when my next mistake will happen, and are just watching behind their computer screens, waiting for me to mess up again. I bet that’s what the Computes do all day anyway: watch people just in case they go crazy or something. And they really could, considering there’s a camera every thirty feet.
I know, because we had to repair all of them one day.
Maybe I’m just paranoid, I think to myself.
I look at the sky-lid, and watch it as the simulated clouds move overhead. I wonder how many people actually believe all of this is real. I mean, I used to.
I see my house about a block down, the trees beside it getting thicker as they get farther from my doorstep.
I walk past my house, careful not to pick up my pace, because that would be suspicious to the Computes, and they would tell the Government and so on. I fight my way through the trees and past the branches and over the brush. I hop over one more log... and there it is. The Dome wall.
I can see it. There is a slight shimmering over the simulated trees as I walk parallel to the wall. I can’t touch any of the panels, or the Government will know within the span of a minute. Maybe less than that.
I keep walking, the trees letting up a little.
Where are you? I think.
I see the small panel projecting light. It’s dimmer than it was this morning when I first saw it.
I slowly walk up to it, and take a deep breath. Glancing around quickly, I take three steps forward and close one eye, peering through the thumbnail-sized hole with the other.
I can see a little bit of what I saw this morning, in a smaller scale. The green grass and the trees lining the field, an animal scampering across my vision, and disappearing…
I feel myself start to teeter forward, my face leaning too close to the wall. Instinctively, I slam my bare hand against the wall to stay upright. A prickling sensation in my palm makes me jump. I pull my right hand back to me. Tiny dots of red—of blood cover my hand where I had pressed down the hardest. Suddenly, I feel dizzy and my hand starts to throb.
I look back up at the panels, my vision seeming to be slightly improved, and see that each one is covered with tiny needle-like spikes, barely visible to the naked eye. Why hadn’t I noticed them before? Why are they there?
Then a thought dawns on me. It doesn’t matter why I didn’t notice it, and it doesn’t matter if it did anything to me. What matters is that I will get caught.
Here comes strike three.
I find my legs and rush back to my house, tripping over logs, and branches are crushed under my feet. I open my door, pausing in the doorway. The home camera above the door will give me away if it sees me rushing in, so I try to catch my breath before I walk in calmly. It’s hidden behind a panel with a hole in it, and not many Domespeople would be likely to notice it.
I try to control my breathing, my heartbeat. I try to seem like I didn’t notice the home cam come on.
You’re going to get caught! My brain screams.
Shut up, I argue.
I look around at my house, trying to occupy my brain. It’s not really a house, per-say. It’s more like one big room with everything jammed in it.
There’s a small kitchen to the left as soon as you walk in (only to be used to make snacks and such), and a table with two chairs next to that. My tiny bed is lined up in the middle of the right side of the room. Above the head of my bed is a small nightstand with a lamp, and there is a small trashcan in the back corner of the room. A door stands in the middle of the back wall, opening up to a bathroom, which is its own room. It’s the only place to get privacy inside the Dome.
On the right side of the room is a screen the size of half of my wall to watch the President give speeches, or to listen to music the Dome has approved, or to listen to important broadcasts. Under that is the dresser that holds all of my Domesclothes (minus my shirts). Next to the screen is another tiny room, small enough for me to stand in, filled with Domeshirts. We’re only allowed to wear a specific style of clothing, and it all has to be bright colors. I think it’s so if someone sneaks out or tries to escape, they won’t be hard to see in the dark.
But I don’t think anyone would want to try that. Even if they did, they wouldn’t get away with it.
A knock echoes through the door.
They’re coming for you!
I push away my thoughts and stand up. One foot in front of the other, I walk to the door and open it. Two Safeties stand there with their hands clasped in front of them.
“May we come in?” The short girl with long black hair asks.
Her white clothes shine brightly against her tan skin, and contrasts with the big guy next to her. He wears a white coat like any other Safety or Government Official, but he wears a black, skintight shirt underneath it—a color we can only wear during funerals. His hair is shaved short on the sides and sticks up in the front, and he’s so muscular and tall, he looks like he won’t be able to fit through my door.
I realize that he absolutely can as he rudely pushes past me to look around my room and invade my privacy. But that’s regulation.
The girl stands in the door, smiling at me.
“Eenralla Land?” She asks, looking back down at her black tablet.
“Yes,” I confirm, my heart rate speeding up. “But I go by Eenie.”
“Why is that?”
Because I hate my name.
“It’s shorter,” I say.
She nods, and types something into her tablet.
“Eenie, the reason why we’re here is because we think that someone was trying to escape the Dome a few minutes ago,” She pauses. “Know anyone that would try to do that?”
I look her in the eyes, and for a second, they look... purple?
No, they’re brown.
I clear my throat, and say, “No, ma’am.”
It was the truth anyway. I wasn’t trying to escape, and I don’t know anyone who would want to escape. Well, I don’t really know anyone at all to begin with…
She smiles a little. Her teeth are—
No, there goes my imagination again.
They’re perfectly normal.
She’s perfectly normal.
“Well, the ironic part about all of this is that you got a strike this morning in that exact area,” She presses.
Her face flickers like a screen having a feedback issue.
Did the wall do something to me? Could it have? I remember when I was little, there was a man who went crazy after touching the wall, and had said the Government Officials and Safeties looked like monsters. A few Government Officials came and got him the next day, and no one ever saw him again. So could it have been the Dome? Is that possible? Maybe. We do wear gloves when we go to check the paneling on the Dome wall…
“Ironic,” I chuckle nervously. “Maybe they saw what happened and was curious about why there was such a big fuss over it this morning...?”
She smiles a little at me, her face flickering again.
The man walks over and stands beside her, his whole body flashes.
“All clear,” He says, watching me closely.
He leans down to whispers something into the girls’ ear. She looks me over and nods to the man. Smiling at me once more and flickering, she glances down at the tablet.
“Thank you for your help,” They say together quickly and walk out.
What’s going on with me?