Carrie grinned up at her mother, to her five year old mind 55 was old. Ancient compared to the faces she saw every day. Everyone on the Arc was less than 60 give or take a few geniuses of science. But these people were seldom seen. And the woman her mother was telling her of was 'gone'. She had been too old to get on the arch. But her daughter, Lydia had been perfect , only nine years old she was very intelligent with a 165 I.Q as well as an 0 positive blood type.
Lydia was the type of person god needed for this arch she had been there for almost twelve years now. Her daughter was born there and would probably never see the sun, enjoy the touch of the wind on her face or even see the stars above her at night. She would never see it but she would know of it. She would know of her grandmother the woman she was named after Carolyn Annette Macoy. She would know of her aunts and uncles all five of them all long 'gone ' but as real as anything she would ever see down here.
To Carrie they were all real a part of the scenery a section of the arch she never got to see but knew was there. As plain as the cracking gray stone walls, sure in some places they had been painted , but that was so long ago. Now there were no resources to waste making paint , nothing to keep the walls from cracking and falling in around them.
Just today several people had died and many others trapped or injured when Corridor thirty two collapsed. Screams and occasional moans could be herd through the mountain of debris hidden by a thin white backdrop. A backdrop that did nothing to hide the fact that more than half the population was either locked in or out of the West wing sleeping areas.
Carrie snuggled closer to her mothers chest. They were amongst many others huddled in the a cramped corridor of Beta section waiting for maintenance to clear out a storage area to accommodate them.
This is what Chief Engineer Douglas Garrison had been fearing, he drummed his fingers on his desk angrily as the computer screen flashed again. Finally the monitor settled and a diagram of the facility focused with a blinking highlight on the section of destroyed work space. Just a sleeping quarter , nothing more... scans didn't pick up any fissures leading to the surface, no leakage's.. About a mile up the rock layer was untouched by the cave in and would hold ..but for how long?
This was just another of their many problems, the Central Arc was only built to last for five years or less. The walls were crumbling under the massive pressure of almost five billion pounds of rock sand and debris as well as whole lake of water. The power supply was fading, in a week Central arc would be unlivable. It would be the end of more than half the surviving population of the United States.
Doug sighed and rubbed his eyes , he had been awake for nearly three days running scans , taking measurement checking results and feedback from surface probs. He glanced down at a picture on his desk.
A little boy in blue jeans an faded gray T-shirt and beat up converse all star sneakers, he stood under a tall tree in a field of thick lush grass, a golden retriever was racing away from him after a flying disk.
That was almost 42 years ago.. he was seven then on his grandfathers farm in Kansas. He thought back to the days he and his dog "homer" would rump and play in the fields all day. But that was a long time ago, too long to even matter, there were no open fields no dogs no trees .
"No Kansas either ." Doug said turning the picture away so it faced the blank gray walls.
"What about Kansas sir?" a young man asked coming into the small office with stacks of paper in his thin arms. His eyes were blood shoot and puffy which made an odd arrangement when paired with his long pointed nose , thin lips and sunken cheeks.
"Oh nothing , nothing.. just a memory kid." Doug stood and took half the stack from the boy looking at the top sheet. " This is a print out of the earth quake ?"
"Yes sir ." the boy started as the lights blinked of and on again. They both stood staring up at the stuttering light fixture.
"Been doing that a lot lately sir, is there something wrong with the generator?"
"ah its probally just interference then.." The boy said in a shaky voice still staring up at the light. It sputtered once more then faded away along with the computer monitors and emergency lights. A deafening silence settled over the complex followed by thundering footsteps and loud shouting.
"Whose there !" a bright light shone in Doug's face.
"Oh Mr. Garrison its you !" the man holding the flashlight sighed noticeably relieved . " What's going on with the power levels."
"Main power is down and the back up generators aren't kicking in. The quake must have upset the tracking . See if you can get some guys suited up and out there ." Doug was back in his element giving commands and seeing them carried out. He felt his way down the hall with the young man Joel Barber. Recently added to the work force he was only fifteen , born in the arch. The thought of going outside scarred him and it was evident by the flushed look on his face as he was shoved into vacuum duct and into the Outer Patrol Guard station.
" Mr. Garrison sir I cant go out there , I am not qualified!" he begged , knees knocking as he was born closer to the suit lab.
"That's ok its only basic maintenance work resetting tracking and rewiring the system you'll do fine. Follow Dakota's lead." He clapped a passing officer on the back and shoved a sealed yellow suit into the boys arms .
"I cant go out there sir !" Joel begged again falling to his knees with fear. "I am only fifteen! This is my first day you cant send me out there to die!" Tears rolled down the boys face as he tucked himself up into a tight ball pressing his head between his knees.
The other patrol men filed passed him and into the first decontaminate room. No one even looked down at the kid as he moaned rocking slowly back and forward.