The story was to be about people living in domes so the air could be filtered from contagion, but all is not as it seems. Society is oppressed, ruled over by a small group of powerful unelected leaders. Outside the Domes a small group of rebels are working to free the world...
This is an excerpt from when Burna, a young woman who has lived all her life inside the Dome, risks it all, leaving the safety of filtered air to join the rebels outside.
'Taking another deep breath she stepped outside. She felt herself shiver, though she knew she was not yet cold. The shadow of the tent looming over her shared its sense of doom. Burna raised her hand and unclipped the Velcro which held her glove to her suit. Open, she shook her hand shaking out the pendant and chain. She looked back through the hole she had cut in the tent. It was her last chance to go back. If she moved on, this life, this world would be lost to her forever. There was a moment in which she might have gone back, turned around entered the tent. Covered the hole and pretended none of it, not the training, not the planning, not Akeem, none of it had ever happened. But then Burna would be living a lie. The only reason she was here at all, enjoying this freedom, exploring the outside, was Akeem. She glanced at her pendant, it seemed to sparkle at her despite the shadow. The arrow pointed north, straight ahead of her, her path obscured by the tent until the evening temperature inverse brought the winds that would hide her tracks. The plan was perfect. Burna stood tall and began to walk. One hand holding out her Northern pointer, the other lugging a spare oxygen tank.
Burna walked all night, glad of her suit as it buffered the whipping winds and kept some of the desert cold from her skin. The start of the walk had been easy, if tinged by fear. The setting sun had provided a kaleidoscope of dazzling colours, pinks and reds and oranges such as Burna had not even dreamed. But with the last lick of its rays came a darkness so complete Burna's heart seized. A life under fake lights had meant such blackness was only part of the deepest and worst nightmares. Burna spent a night trapped within it. She was forced to remove a glove and feel the pointers direction and walk ahead. Somewhere around midnight her oxygen warning light flicked on. Burna sat in the sand and replaced it with her spare, holding her breath a full minute while fumbling the exchange in the dark. Despite the life she stumbled towards she could not release her fear of the air. She slept a while, waking to a slight greying of the sky above her. Burna dusted herself off and continued walking.
It was early morning, soon she would be missed.
Trugging on as the sun rose, dawn brought new delights to surprise her but also heat like she had never known. She now understood Peter's comment that day she first arrived, it was crazy hot and without the shade of the work site, Burna was sweating profusely. Without water and not knowing how much further she would have to walk, Burna had no choice but to remove all of her protective suit. She sat again in the sand, inspecting her hand for any signs of harm. Finding none, knowing she had come too far to make any other choice, she removed all of her suit. As her clothes wet from sweat met the still air very little relief was offered. The sensation of sweat running down her back and stomach so foreign to her she was glad of Akeem's training. Her body, having never had the need to perspire was struggling. But Burna soldiered on. Movement, she found, blew air around her overheated body, offering some relief. It was not much longer before the warning light for her last oxygen tank came on.
This was it.
Akeem had asked her once “Do you trust me?”
She had replied frevently in the positive. “Good” he had said, “The day will come when you will need to.”
That day was now.
In the middle of the dessert, hours from the Dome, surrounded by sand and out of oxygen, Burna had to trust Akeem. His word was all that would save her. She walked on, sucking in the final traces of air from her helmet. Dizziness overtook her. Burna collapsed to her knees. She had to face it, the time was now. Weak from walking, lack of food and water and oxygen, Burna unclipped her helmet and pulled it up over her head. She held ber breath as long as she could; not sure what she was hoping for. And then, finally, her body convulsed, forcing her to open her lungs and breath, deeply.
Burna sucked in the air, hungrily, greedily, on hands and knees.
Soon her breathing slowed. Burna remained still considering her body. The air tasted dry and almost sweet on her tongue. It smelled different too, cleaner and dirtier at the same time. Burna sank back onto her heels and looked around her, eyes free, no protective layer of glass shielding her sight, for the first time. The dessert was large and sparse, around her rolled mountain after mountain of sand.. The yellow of the sand was paler than she'd though, the sky even brighter. Burna breathed free air for the first time, tasted the outside world and cried her heart out at the joy and horror of the experience.'