Friday Fiction- The Latest Frontier

underwater dome from zoochatAs the clear elevator descended toward the lowest level of the sea tower, I stretched my neck, craning to absorb every last ray of sunlight I could get. Too soon I was surrounded by murky water which formed bubbles on the outside of the clear elevator shaft. When the elevator stopped, I stepped through the open door and into the long tunnel that connected the tower to the acrylic dome which prevented the Wilson Manor from being crushed beneath the weight of the ocean.

Every creak and groan the structure made as it shifted with or braced against the pull of the currents made new beads of sweat stand out on my forehead.

“Morning, Warren.” Alex, the security guard waved as I approached.

“Morning, Alex.”

“Welcome back.”

“Yeah, thanks.”

Alex smiled at my dry tone and scanned my proffered ID card.

As soon as Alex opened the door which led to the main structure, the tightness in my chest eased enough that I could breathe normally again. The bright yellow light at the end of the tunnel beckoned, and let me tell you, the irony here was not lost on me. I strolled up the white polyester-fiber walkway under the digital projection of a blue sky and pretended that I was topside. The only difference was that it smelled good down here. The air was so clean it even tasted sweet.

I didn’t bother knocking on the front door. None of the Wilsons would be awake at this hour. I followed the walkway around to the side entrance where the smell of fresh cinnamon rolls wafted out from the open kitchen door. I knocked on the door frame, just to let Bea know I was there as I stepped into the warm, inviting room.

“Hey there, how are you?” Bea barely glanced up as she bustled around the kitchen.

“Same as usual,” I replied. “But I bet one of those sweet rolls would bring me up a notch.”

Bea rolled her eyes but smiled as she pulled a gooey hunk of bread away from its neighbors and set the treat on a plate.

“How are the kids?” she asked as she returned to her breakfast preparations.

“Oh, they’re doing all right. Adjusting better than I am.”

Bea shot me a look of sympathetic concern.

“You should have taken more time off after Mary passed,” she stated.

“Can’t afford to,” I replied around a mouthful of dough and cinnamon that melted on my tongue. “And neither can the Wilsons.”

“I hear that.” Bea shuddered slightly and I knew she didn’t like the thought of all that water above us any more than I did.

I swallowed my last bite of the cinnamon roll, then licked my fingers as I gazed longingly at the pan.

“Don’t go giving me those sad puppy eyes. The rules haven’t changed. If there’s any left after breakfast I’ll package a few up…for the kids.” She gave me one of her nose down, eyebrows up looks and I smiled.

“All right, I’m off to work.” After swiping my card through the reader on the wall to clock in, I headed back out into the purified air and false sunlight. I walked around the garden and through the grove of fruit trees that helped supply the family with food and oxygen, then continued all the way to the end of the world, so to speak.

After kneeling down I began to check the seals where the dome met the man-made ground. Once again I was reminded of where I was and fought to keep out thoughts of the ocean pressing down from above. It didn’t help matters that I knew exactly how many leaks occurred every day.

Well, that’s it for today. Here are your questions: 1) What do you think would be a good conflict in this story? or What do you want to know more about? 2) Do you think we’ll ever start to colonize the oceans? 3) If we do, would you be willing to live under water?

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9 Responses to Friday Fiction- The Latest Frontier

  1. Nope. Will never live under water, in a cave system or in a space station. I will have to die if there is ever a major catastrophe, because the claustrophobia I’d feel in any of those situations would drive me crazy or kill me themselves. I hate that the older I get, the more claustrophobic I get. I don’t know what I’ll be like when I’m 80!

    • Nicole says:

      It’s really interesting what happens mentally, isn’t it? I don’t mind enclosed spaces or caves, but when I start to think too much about what could happen I freak myself out! Who knows, maybe when you’re 80 you just won’t care anymore. :)

  2. shadedfaces says:

    I’m with Lara, now way would I live under water, I would suffocate in spite of adequate oxygen. I’d sooner live on a ship. As for a story I am not good with these things, I prefer to read them, selfish, I know. What I am curious about, though, is, why these people are living under water, is it by choice or by circumstance or were they forced into such an alien, even hostile – for humans – living environment? In terms of conflict, not sure, something to do with the main character’s kids, their health, maybe. And a dirty environment on land vs the clean environment in the glass dome. Greedy business sharks or gangsters, blackmail or cheap components, threats to – or failure of – the structure, something like that. I think I am going to be gasping for air reading your story, I struggle just thinking about an environment like this!

    • Nicole says:

      Thanks so much for your thoughts, Sonja! See, you’re great at coming up with interesting twists. I honestly don’t know if I would do it or not. When I’ve been in the underwater observatories at aquariums or zoos, I don’t have any problem at all, aside from the occasional fleeting thought of, “What would happen if we had to swim through all those sharks?” but to live there, I don’t know. Did you ever see the picture about the sound booth that was so quiet people could hear their heartbeat and no one could tolerate it for more than 45 minutes? Part of me kind of wants to try things like that, or like living under water for a while, to see if I could do it. I would definitely want an alternative though, just in case!

  3. shadedfaces says:

    Oops. That was meant to read ‘no way’, of course.

  4. ddfalvo says:

    I love the idea of this–and have often wondered if such a thing could ever be possible. We can do so much with technology and yet, to err is a classic human trait. I can’t imagine the devastation of a leak that went unchecked. But still, it’s way cool. I like the idea of the air smelling sweeter. lol.

    Great metaphor for the light at the end of the tunnel–could be taken either way in the foreshadowing. :D

    • Nicole says:

      Thanks, D.D.! I also think the idea is fascinating. As I was looking up different options for proposed colonization of the oceans, some of it doesn’t sound too farfetched. There are actually a couple of underwater hotels being built right now! Some kind of refurbished ship or man-made island seems more plausible, but this house under a dome could happen…we’ll see…

  5. Story Addict says:

    Nice! You know I’ve noticed you write a lot of dystopia and speculative fics :) It’s good to have a concentration, that way you can really nail it. I’m a huge fan of underwater stuff so I think it could be a great start to a deeper story (pun!). I’m not sure there’s anything I’d want to know specifically except for an expansion on the plot and characters if you plan to write a longer story. Keep it up!

    • Nicole says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Margaret. I do love speculative fiction! Hopefully this is helping me improve. :) I hope you are doing well and enjoying your summer!

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