Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | May 20, 2011

Reality Dome

The following story is taken directly from a dream I had last night…Sorry for the random hippopotamus, but that part of the dream was funny enough that I had to find a way to leave it in!

The dome looked homey enough. Plenty of floor space, furniture that looked brand new and but not too nice to use. “Do you think the other couples are here yet?” Sehna asked her husband. Will shrugged. “The directors should stop by soon. How do I look?”

“Fine.” He’d spent two months talking her into this. They’d never actually make it on the show, it was just a try out! But if they did make it, this could jump-start his career – something beyond voice acting for car commercials.

Sehna was happy for him, she really was. But the idea of a million people watching them every waking moment made her hands shake. What if they were the first couple voted off? What if people laughed at her voice, her clothes, her one chipped tooth?

“Shouldn’t someone else be here by now?” The dome was silent, the road outside empty. Were they the only two people on this lonely asteroid far from Earth?

Will switched on a screen in a little one-person viewing area. Sehna expected to see a friendly face welcoming them, or perhaps a car commercial. Maybe one with her husband’s voice-over. He really was doing quite well with that. His voice was what she fell in love with first, after all.

But no… it was the news. The volume was turned down and Will’s shoulders were blocking most of the screen, but Sehna knew something was wrong when her husband started cough. It was just a small one at first, but then racking coughs that wouldn’t stop. He always coughed when he was trying not to get emotional.

“What? What is it?” She hit buttons on the dome wall until one finally adjusted the volume. “–expected to hit in an hour. Not sure the effect such an impact might have. Citizens of Earth, pray to whatever Gods you believe in.”

And the news anchor started to cry.

Will wouldn’t let her watch out the window. Sehna wasn’t even sure their dome had windows you could look out to see the Earth, but she wanted to see it one more time before… before it was gone. She hadn’t even seen it from the rocket on their way here. And now she might never see it again. Might live and die on this asteroid, a reluctant reality TV star without an audience left to laugh.

Oh, she would give anything for an audience now. Even for another contestant. “They must not have made it up before the impact,” Will said in such a matter-of-fact tone that Sehna almost hit him. She’d never hit anyone before.

A few days later, after she’d done not much more than sleep, cry, and miss terribly her mother, sister, friends, and even favorite trees and rivers she’d never see again, Sehna finally got up and found Will tending to a tray of dirt.

They’d have to survive, and that meant food. The dome didn’t seem to be well-equipped with things to eat, but there were seeds for a garden.

“The asteroid impact shifted our asteroid’s path,” he told her while she helped water the seeds. “We’re flying out into space now, away from the Sun. Whatever heat we have in this dome now is all we’re going to have.”

Will had already covered all the windows with dark cloth. Sehna didn’t know where he’d found it. She didn’t ask.

Cold and hunger filled Sehna’s mind. Dizzy with visions of hot dinner rolls and lasagna and warm sun beating down on a summer lawn, she screamed and pounded her hands against the black, black screen that had showed her the last vision of home.

“Why not me? Why am I here? Why wasn’t I home?” She sobbed while Will stooped over the garden. The things that had grown were so small, so little nourishment. His ribs poked out under his shirt. He didn’t dare go out of the dome.

But she did. He wasn’t watching. What could be worse out there? No air? No gravity? Maybe she’d float away forever, lost in the stars.

Sehna ran for the door, fumbled with the lock.

Will noticed too late – he stood up, “Wait!”

But Sehna wouldn’t. She couldn’t. Not anymore.

“Aughh!” she stumbled out into… bright. Blinking, she turned around. A parking lot? Lights?

A hippopotamus blinked at her from a river. It was real, menacing. So she ran, zig-zagged from that river monster and away, sure now that she was hallucinating.

But the parking lot didn’t stop, and she slipped and fell in a muddy puddle, then she saw the faces, heard laughter.

“What a great ending for the season! CUT!”

Will stepped out of the dome, shook the director’s hand. “She believed it all,” he whispered.

Sehna picked herself up, soaked her hand in the cool, real, earth-mud. Then she walked over to her husband and hit him as hard as she could.

The hippopotamus opened its mouth in a wide grin. Sehna smiled back. “It’s good to be home.”

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