For this weeks interview, I managed to get hold of Macie Turner. You might remember her from the Dome Diner on Reevis (Ribbonworld); she was working there to save up enough money so she could leave, just as fast as she could!
I asked her a few questions and then she said that she wanted to tell me a story, about how other people had made her change the way she saw Reevis.
Qualified in plant genetics and terraforming on Reevis, when Miles Goram met her she yearned to be free of the whole way of life under the dome.
“So when did you leave Reevis Macie?” I asked her.
“Right after all the re-organisation, I think that Miles had a bit to do with it, certainly after he arrived things started to change.”
She was right, MilesGoram was the catalyst, though he didn’t know that he would be at the time they met.
“He was a nice man,” she continued, “I remember him coming in the diner, Harris Morgan picked on him for being an off-worlder, which seemed a bit harsh.”
“Yeah, the Balcom workers hated people who weren’t Reevis born, they called them off-worlders. Mind you, the die-hard’s hated anyone who wasn’t one of them. You had to have been there before the dome, or perform some vital function to be accepted.”
“You were accepted though?”
“Sure, my dad worked in the power plant; he produced the air so he was acceptable. Mum worked on the farm. That was trickier, we needed food but it wasn’t a Balcom company. I was training to be a dome engineer so I was OK, they left me alone.”
“But you still wanted to leave.”
“I did. I wanted to see if you could be free, free to be what you wanted without judgement. And I wanted to see what it was like living without a dome over your head.”
“And once you were on another world, out in the open, what did you find?”
“I’ll tell you this story.”
“So what was it like, growing up on Reevis?”
The question came from a tall, dark haired girl, sitting just behind me in the lecture theatre, I had noticed her on the way in.
I swung my head, “it was different I guess, I still can’t get used to the idea of there being no roof over my head. It makes me feel kind of apprehensive, in case I try to breathe in and there’s nothing there.”
Her face crinkled as she tried to imagine it, she took an exaggerated breath sucking the air into her open mouth with a loud inverted ‘whoosh.’
She shook her head, “weird,” she said, “I’m Dizz, great to meet you.”
“Macie,” I replied.
The speaker rapped on his lectern for attention and I turned back, the comments had got me thinking, about what it had been like. Reevis wasn’t just the dome; it was a whole lot more than that. And now I wasn’t there, like home always does, it felt wrong to moan about it too much. With all its faults it was my home and I felt that it deserved respect. Even if I had been desperate to leave.
Dizz came up to me at lunchtime, I was sat outside with the sun beating down, it felt hot to me but then under the dome it was always eighteen degrees. Unless you went to the farm, where it was twenty-five. And that always felt really hot.
She had three other students with her, another girl and two boys.
Can we sit here?” she said, I was glad to be making friends, but I had that moment of doubt, could I trust them? Then I thought, ‘you’re not on Reevis with the gangs and all the intrigue now,’ and tried to relax and see what happened.
“Sure,” I said, “It’ll be nice to get to meet some people here.”
“You don’t see many from Reevis,” said one of the boys, “I’m Grant,” he held out his hand. He was the archetypal kid from Centra, Blond and fair skinned, muscled and confident.
“I’ve heard it’s the Balcom punishment planet, at least it was while Donna Markes was in charge,” added the other, he was darker skinned with jet black curls and a gold stud in one ear, “Chester Thornton,” he said formally, “from Callix.”
“We’re together,” Dizz added, “I’ve known Chester since we were six. The quiet one is Moire. Grant’s after her but she’s playing hard to get.”
The girl went red, setting off her auburn hair nicely. “Dizz,” she said, in a tone which suggested that she said it a lot. “Hi,” she whispered to me, smiling.
“So tell us all about it then,” Grant encouraged me, “tell us what it’s like living under the dome.”
Where should I begin? The good bits or the bad, looking from a distance I could see that there had been both.
My first memory of the dome was of being taken to see where it met the ground. I must have been around five, it was just before I started school.
My father, who worked in the atmosphere control plant, took me by the hand as we walked towards the metal framed panels.
“This is the dome Macie,” he said in that deep voice of his, “it’s important because it keeps us alive.”
“How?” I asked. I had never really considered being kept alive before. I just was.
“Well,” he said, “inside the dome is air that we can breathe, “outside is nothing.”
I remember my four-year-old mind trying to work out what nothing was. I could see through the dome, there were hills and vehicles; people worked outside. I had even been outside on a trip myself, for my birthday so I knew that there was something out there.
My father continued, “the air that we breathe is made by me and the people that I work with, we need the dome to hold it in and stop it all blowing away.”
I could tell them that, or I could mention the bit about the paranoia, the security and the control of every aspect of life under the dome that Balcom exerted, under the guise of benevolence.
“It’s normal to me,” I said, “as far as I’m concerned, it’s strange that there isn’t a dome here to keep the air in.”
There was laughter, “and I suppose that you think that the breeze is strange as well,” said Moire.
“Oh no,” that was one freaky thing that people didn’t expect to hear about Reevis, “we have a breeze in the dome, quite a strong one as it happens.”
“Yeah right,” said Grant sarcastically, I noticed then that he was gazing at my thighs as he spoke, perhaps the shorts were a bit skimpy but it was hot. “If you have a breeze, then why don’t you run out of air?”
Thanks Dad, I thought as I realised that I would be able to explain it, all I had to do was listen to his voice in my head.
“How much detail do you want?”
“Short words,” said Dizz, “Chester can’t cope with long ones.” This remark resulted in a wrestling match between them which ended up with the other two cheering.
“OK, simply, the ice is melted using a lava flow, the liberated gases make fuel and atmosphere. But there are so many leaks in the dome that the air rushing out makes a breeze. So more and more needs to be pumped in to maintain the pressure.”
Grant stopped looking at my legs and turned his attention to my face, “you mean that if the plant stops making air, you’d all suffocate and die?”
“Worse than that, the pressure from the atmosphere helps hold the dome up, if it falls too much the dome will collapse before we had a chance to suffocate.”
“So why do you live there, if it’s so dangerous?”
“It’s not, as long as the plant works we’re fine. You couldn’t build something that huge without a few leaks. Anyway its home, and there’s a lot of scientific research and other useful stuff going on, I could ask you why you live here?”
“Fair question,” said Moire, “it’s what we get used to I guess, as far as I’m concerned, we don’t need a dome and that’s great.”
“It just sounds funny for you to say that the reason we feel secure is the reason that you don’t,” added Dizz.
“Great story, I see what you mean Macie,” I said.
“Yes it’s all relative, and do you know what, I miss it, I’m going back as soon as I can.”
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