Atmospheric BreakPoint

5 min

On the way to our floats, we passed the usual scenery: the government and hunter floats, the food outlet, and The Dome 4278 Dispensary.

The Dispensary was an imposing metallic structure ten times the size of any regular float. It oozed nothing but unforgiving decay. Unlike all the other floats, the chain holding The Dispensary to the top of the Dome seemed brittle, threatening to snap at any moment.

As we passed it, AJ asked, “Has your mom found your lazy eye yet?”

“It’s pretty minor so it’s not too hard to hide, but it gets worse every day. I just try to stare straight ahead on the odd occasion she talks to me. When she finds out, I'm definitely going to The Dispensary.”

AJ contested, “How do you know she’ll send you there?”

“If they send people there for the littlest things like broken fingers, ADHD, or any other defect, they will definitely care about my lazy eye.”

“Why doesn’t she just keep it a secret?”

“No one besides you would do that.”

The only reason why I agreed to see the Sky with AJ is because I knew my time was almost up. I didn’t know how much time I had until my lazy eye was found.


After some swimming, we were just outside AJ’s float. “Ok, just to go over the plan once more,” AJ made sure to think everything through, “We meet outside my float tonight at 2:00, I use my dad’s old Key to open the small Dome door leading to open waters, and then, it’s about a two-hour swim to the top.”


I arrived at my float and stepped into the Depressurizer. The doors behind me closed, the water started to drain, then doors in front of me opened. I took off my suit and stepped inside.

After doing all my dreaded house maintenance and school practices, I had to refill my mom’s nutrient dig. My mom had been in hibernation for 4 uninterrupted weeks. She’s like most people who have given up. Many would rather explore their mind instead of trying to endure.

After tending to my mom I had nothing to do, so I decided to start organizing my supplies for tonight: my suit, Oxygen tanks, a light, my Sound Notifier, and a Booster.

All I had to do now was wait. Besides pacing back and forth while exploring my thoughts, there wasn't much to fill up the 8 hours of waiting. I could’ve just gone out and done something, but I didn’t want to put on all my gear again. It was too difficult.


It reached 40 minutes before AJ and I would meet. I packed and put on the supplies, and then I left my float and swam towards AJ’s.


I arrived at AJ’s float, he was waiting outside. He nodded his head in the direction we needed to swim. After about 20 minutes, we arrived just outside of the government and hunter floats. Just behind these two dominant floats, was the exit to the Dome. The atmosphere changed as AJ and I swam closer to the exit.

The government and hunter floats were large, imposing buildings that exuded dominance. What were once cleaned and maintained palaces, eroded through time into degraded husks. Even though these floats didn’t compare to what they used to be, no other float in 4278 matched their size and beauty.

AJ pulled the Key out of his vest pouch, “We just need to swim to that triangle.” AJ pointed towards one of the triangles behind the government and hunter floats making up Dome 4278. There wasn't much security. No one ever expected someone to attempt escaping. Why would you guard something that has no need to be protected?

We got to the triangle that would lead us to open waters.

AJ signed to me, “Are you ready?” I gave him a nod.

AJ slowly twisted the Key inside the lock. The door cracked open. There were no alarms, just as expected. We both pushed against the heavy door, exposing us to the open waters.


Empty darkness is all I could see. I turned on my light. I was afraid to swim out of the Dome. I looked at AJ and we nodded at each other. Our grips slowly loosened on the edge of the exit. We swam out into the vast.

AJ signed, “Use your Booster. It’ll help us get out of high-pressured water faster.”

I watched as AJ shot upwards through the open waters as his booster carried him.

I tilted my Booster up and pushed the propeller. I was hit with momentum as the booster started carrying me to the surface. The Monoxide Engine would cut our swim time in half.

I turned around and looked at the Dome. It was an enveloping sphere, trapping everything inside. There were tiny bright lights scattered around the Dome. I’ve never seen what the Dome looked like from the outside, I don't think many people have. Everything seemed so small from up here. My life seemed so insignificant compared to the massive size of the Dome.


The Booster died. AJ signed to me, “Ditch the Booster. We have to swim from here.”

We let go of our Boosters. Before I had time to think, AJ started swimming.


After a copious amount of swimming, we were almost at the top. We had about 100 meters left to go. I looked behind me. Through the dim ocean, I saw bright orange and red lights slowly approaching us. The hunters found us. AJ was a couple meters below me, he wasn’t as good of a swimmer as me.

I shot my Sound Notifier at AJ. He looked at me. “Look behind. The Hunters.”

AJ turned around. How did they find us? They couldn’t have seen us sneak out.

AJ and I started swimming faster. I felt weak and my muscles were begging for rest. But I couldn't stop. Who knows what would happen to me after this, I’d probably be put in the Dispensaries. I kept swimming with everything I had.

The hunters started closing in on us. I was so close.

AJ was giving his all, but it wasn’t enough. One of the hunters grabbed him. AJ would never get to see the Sky. This whole thing was planned by him, and he wouldn’t succeed. I wanted to go back for him, but I knew he would want me to keep going.

I could see a bright light through the ripples of the surface. It was mere seconds away, but the hunters were right behind me.

With 5 meters left to swim I pushed myself to the breaking point.. Finally, I burst through the surface of the water. I unplugged my heavy Oxygen tank and took the goggles off of my closed eyes.

The Sky.

I took a slow, shaky breath and instantly, a rush of crisp air entered my lungs. I hesitantly opened my eyes, scared to see the Sky.

The sight seemed surreal, a thin veil of shimmering gold crested the pale blue horizon. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of tiny clouds seemed to stretch into the vast skyline, far out of sight. In the center lay the sun, slowly dipping down into the clouds, painting them in it’s burning glow. It was as if time stood still. I blinked, the cold air was beginning to sting my eyes but I didn’t care. I was captivated by it all. I could’ve stared at the sight forever, always finding something new to be entranced by.

Just as I was about to take another breath, I was pulled back down to the other side. The Hunters cuffed me to their Booster and forced an oxygen mask onto my face. One Hunter peered up at the sky, curious to see what was on the other side. His captain stopped him from taking a look and ordered him to drive us back to the Dome.

I didn’t want to go back to the Dome. I wanted to keep exploring the Sky. I was never going to experience anything like that again. Nothing in my life could compare to the few moments I had on the other side.

For my whole life I have done nothing. I have just waited for the time to pass and then moved onto the next empty event. What is the point in being here if we are going to live unhappy and unsatisfied. I wish I could have done more.

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Glen Sollors · ago
Great story and loved the message at the end. Live life in the now, take some risks and know that happiness and adventure awaits. Life is full of events to learn and grow from beyond the dome that holds one near. Truth, love and beauty may be outside of our confines if we are open to finding it. Amazing metaphor Nicolas.