A/N: This was the story submitted to the Sunday Herald competition 2009. The "trigger" was LIGHT and the limit was 1000 words. I tried to combine both physical and non-physical (ideas/concepts) of light into the story. This got up to round 2 of the competition which constitutes the top 10% in the state. I hope you like it.
The Dome was situated under the earth's surface. A giant machine block, it was operated by over a hundred workers who travelled down an elevator to the underground grotto. It was a long passage with a grit lining, digital screens on the ceiling and around the walls. The Dome was a device that collected electromagnetic data from the cities above and fed it into screens. The Dome picked up and displayed emotions and feelings, and was a more efficient, anonymous way of tracking crime. The system worked with a satellite. Electronic devices turned up as bright blue pinpoints on the screen, buildings and material possessions as black voids, unless they were in close contact with a human being. People, on the other hand, glowed varied RBG colours.
Deep underground, staring at an LED display, twenty-five year old Richard "Card" Thomas spoke into a mouthpiece, holding up a speaker that traced into the wall. 'We've got an upcoming murder at 108489. I repeat, an upcoming murder at 108489. Request to use visuals.' Card waited a few moments, staring at the bright screen with the dark grey point moving gently along the edge. 'I repeat, request to use visuals-'
'Yes, yes, Card-y we heard you! Sending visuals. Please identify the target.'
The coloured dots on screen disappeared momentarily as a satellite image was received. With a few light touches to the screen, it zoomed in on the culprit's face.
'White male, around sixteen, thin build, gelled black hair sticking up in different directions, brown eyes, thick eyebrows –'
'Target identified, sending backup. You will lose visual transmission in ten seconds.'
Card watched the screen as a van pulled up on the road and somebody in a white coat jumped out and immobilized the teen who began to yell and struggle. A taser attacked his neck. Now powerless, he was pulled into the van. It skidded away just as the LED display came back on. The pinpoint that had previously been dark grey was now a bluish-yellow: physical paralysis. Card sighed and continued to walk down the hallway of screens.
The American public was aware of The Dome and its purpose. The Dome could help prevent violence, rape, murder and any crime in a public or private sector. They could see it before it happened and stop it, dragging the culprit away to be clinically examined.
Card let out a huff of breath and spoke to his colleague, a burly middle-aged man with crooked teeth named Jared. 'As I was saying… about my wife…'
Jared was blunt. 'You should quit your job.'
'If you want to help take care of the baby, quit - or take parental leave, whatever it is.'
'But I need this job - for money.'
'You don't understand, Jared! Denise told me last night that she was going to leave me – she said she was going to take care of the kid herself, for Christ's sake!'
Jared grunted. 'Guess you should pay more attention to her.'
Card exhaled and continued watching the little blips on screen. Birds of a feather flock together was how it normally went. It was incredibly easy to pick out an outcast; he would have been if he were on screen. 'She's due any day now. I just hope that…' Card trailed off and shook his head, exhausted. Minutes passed. Card gave a wry grin as he watched a coloured coupling inside a building. Pink, red, a flash of white, pink and then blue. Then one would leave.
'Love never lasts,' Card commented, shaking his head. 'The pink rarely stays for that long.'
'I know. It's sad, isn't it?'
It was quiet as the two men paced and moved images around with their fingers. 'I wished I knew what sector my apartment was in… then I could figure out how Denise is going.'
'I'm sure she's fine.' Jared mumbled, and then his blood-shot eyes perked up. 'Whoa, what the heck is that?'
'Where?' Card followed Jared's stumpy finger to a blip on the screen frozen the middle of the road. 'Is it suicide?'
'Nup, wrong colour.'
The blip was flashing quickly from pink, orange, green, yellow to grey. 'Orange and yellow represent bursts of energy, right?'
'Yeah, but I don't get what's going on. Was someone hit?'
'Let's call up,' Card said, pressing a button on the tiny electric board in his pocket. 'Requesting imaging for 294802. Unidentified source. I repeat…'
Jared waited patiently for the picture to appear whilst Card yammered into his mouthpiece. Suddenly, it appeared: real life imaging. They zoomed in on where the blip resided and Card's eyes widened in shock. It was Denise. Her tired yet beautiful face was contorted with pain as she clutched her bulging belly and foot that twisted at a sick angle. It took awhile to register.
'Wow, she broke her ankle. How'd she do that?'
Card panicked. 'She's in labour!'
Jared stared at the picture in amazement. 'Hey, you're right.'
Card began to do a little dance on the spot, unsure what to do. In the picture, people quickly approached Denise and cars stopped in the middle of the road. His wife was helped to the sidewalk. Card's eyes were bulbs in his head. A static voice spoke in his ear.
'Visual off in ten… nine… eight…'
Soon the LED display was back and Card screeched in distress. He was being thrown looks of alarm now.
'I have to go!'
His departure was sudden, but not unexpected. Card strode down the tunnel to the elevator, knowing exactly where to go, the street a block away from their apartment. Card's face turned grim with wild determination. Denise needed him.
Meanwhile, the rapidly changing colour blip was swarmed by dots; beings offering comfort and aid. The crowd grew, the colour exploded, and soon every blip on screen was glowing a bright hopeful pink, love speckled across the LED monitor and growing across each screen.