Author : Ian Hill
They all gradually woke up, rising from the steely cradles to stagger to their feet and peer around in confusion. The mismatched assortment of befuddled people shuffled around the large circular room, taking in every detail of their surroundings while trying to find someone they recognized. A haze of the unknown settled firmly over them all like an unholy cowl.
A few of them woke up screaming, their already forgotten nightmares transitioning into what was presumably the real world seamlessly. As hours passed the people clumped up together in cliques. Some of the groups were ethnically similar, some were comprised of people of comparable height. The people naturally sought out those who they could relate with most.
They waited for a change. The domed room around them was featureless and sterile. The rounded ceiling parted at the middle to rain down a glorious beam of sunlight. There weren’t any doors, hatches, cracks, or crevices. The only break in the monotonous stone grey was the circular port that allowed light in from the foreign outside realm.
“What do you think is going on?” a thin, unhealthy man asked to his quickly acquired friends.
One of them looked up from and frowned. “Maybe we got kidnapped.”
The man shook his head and glanced all around at the large group of chattering people. “Why us though? What’s the common factor?”
Territories were subconsciously formed and the cliques became fewer as larger masses absorbed smaller groups into their fold. Occasionally a would-be leader stood up and silenced everyone with their booming voice. They called for a combined effort to continue the search for any sort of detail that would open a hidden door or something to the same effect.
Someone’s stomach grumbled. He laughed uneasily. “Getting a little hungry.”
His wan friends gazed at him suspiciously.
A day went by. Nights were always the worst under the dome. The few that could sleep were plunged into unrelenting nightmares that caused them to wake with an outcry of fear. Subtle blue moonlight drifted down to meet the middle of the bleached basin.
Rain came like a halcyon, sending torrents of precious liquid down to the ground. The desperate people all clambered to hydrate themselves. This was where the first whispers of competition arose. Some were thirstier than others, but the most powerful and driven of the pack filled themselves without pause.
There was a sect of nervous people that paced around the circular chamber on a regular basis, hands thrust into pockets and heads trained on their faded shoes. Tempers wore thin and arguments broke out nearly every hour. Cliques disbanded as schisms formed and smaller amassments compartmentalized themselves to form invisible partitions. No one crossed the unspoken boundaries.
The inevitable finally came on the third day. One of the thinnest walkers stumbled to the side and collapsed to the ground in a pitiful heap. After a brief moment of hesitation a flock of scavengers surrounded the prey and began to harvest his flesh.
Chaos took the reins as the large group of wayfaring strangers descended into a free-for-all. The concrete ground became encrimsoned with the blood of the weak. All human decency was set aside for the individual’s greater good. However, flesh was a finite and dwindling resource.
After some unknown period of time went by there was only one left. An obese shadow of a man, laying in his filth and gazing up through the distant port to the alluring sunlight beyond. An ocean of picked bones sat strewn about around him. What was once necessity became gluttony.
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