A piece of work which will never make it into my novel about Daniel's childhood.
|Like most afternoons of summer, children of the community came out to play in the filtered light of the cavern’s communal area. Given their pent up energy, it was ordinary to see the boys playing games, participating in races, and often just picking on the smaller, younger members of the community. The girls tended to congregate in smaller groups off to the sides whispering among themselves their secrets and pointing out whom among the boys was their newest boyfriend. The Cavern's floor could be the play yard of any school anywhere or in anywhen.
It was during this midsummer afternoon that a young boy noticed a shadow moving along the play yard floor, and he began to follow it, slowly until it stopped. Trying to find the source of the shadow, the small child looked directly overhead and saw for the first time the figure of the shadow's owner standing on the roof of the dome. The child began to scream; a scream that went unnoticed by all.
On the top of the dome made of simple metal and glass. The structure created to cover the opening of the cavern and protect the residence below from the toxic elements of the atmosphere and the damaging rays of the sun. There on the apex stood a soldier in mop gear protected from the toxic atmosphere with his personal filter which he wore on his back like a backpack and covering his face. Kneeling low, he placed an explosive device which he activated never looking at the children playing far below or any other feature of the residential cavern. Once the soldier was satisfied that the explosive device was armed, he stood and walked back the way he came toward his waiting troops, and before stepping off the dome he clicked the button in his hand igniting the charge.
The explosion sent vibrations throughout the community followed by several explosions further away. Each child responded in the way they were trained from birth; they dove for the benches and wall to find the personal air filters. Almost as soon as they had the mask fitted and working, they were seeking the safety of the caverns natural overhanging rock. The toxic atmosphere could be seen rolling into the cavern. The clouds of swirling gray-green clouds caused more fear in the children than the initial explosion.
The boy who had watched the soldier on the dome had already placed the lifesaving filter over his nose and mouth. The clear shield that covered his eyes and ears was a little too large for him, but the design of the filter was adequate even if there was no seal created. Holding the mask in place while he tightened the straps, he looked up to see what was now causing the children so much fear. Behind the rolling toxins, the dome was cracking, and the first of the glass panels was already falling.
Only a few of the children had reached the safety of the overhanging rock, but some had to return to the benches to find a filter and were still placing them over their faces as the first of the dome reached the cavern floor. The impact of the panel broke the glass into shards which flew in every direction. The young boy hid behind the bench he had been standing by and was protected, but he heard the screams of children who not so fortunate. The next several panels of glass reached the floor followed by the first metal beam which landed beside the young boy. He was prompted into action and ran from the semi-safe location to the tunnels entrance.
"Over here, Daniel, over here!" The children called to the small boy hoping to direct him to the safety of the overhanging rock. Daniel did not hear the cry over the crashing of the glass and metal behind him. He continued to run.
Running as fast as his small legs would carry him, he darted for the tunnel and another fallen metal beam landed directly in front of the entrance. With falling metal and glass, Daniel reached the closest wall and looked up in fear. Making himself as small a possible, he felt rather than saw a beam land beside him and then fall toward him wedging itself against the cavern wall. Sensing some safety, he opened his eyes and looked out to see other children across the cavern trapped in a similar fashion; he saw a few children who were lying on the play yard floor, and he saw sprays of blood reaching out from under some of the fallen beams. Those that were still moving were running from one tunnel entrance to another looking for a way out of the yard only to find it was blocked either by beams or fallen rock. It appeared that the tunnels had also caved in. A scream alerted him to look up, and as he did, one of the largest panels of glass fell and block his escape.
Daniel was trapped behind metal and glass and could only watch the remaining children as they ran from one side of the yard to another either finding some place to hide or being struck down by the falling debris.