Chapter 2Mature

Sarah sighed at the wind flew by her, letting her blond hair out of its messing ponytail. The forest was so lovely. She felt so free in there, as compared to the many other places she could be. There were no restrictions. It was one of the few places you could go above ground without being watched.

The forest was located on the outskirts of the city. You could arrive via portal, or, as Sarah always liked to, you could walk. There was a large plain of grass, neatly mowed for picnics in the spring and summer. At the end of that plain, was the forest.

It wasn't a very big forest - there could only be a couple hundred trees max. There was no need to worry about people running away though because, one, who would want to run away (ideally)? And two, beyond those trees was the dead land - an endless mass of death and destruction. That was not a place for someone without any survival skills to go to.

In the forest, Sarah usually spent her time chasing animals. Exercising wasn't a huge thing for the people here, but Sarah wasn't just another person here. She had goals to achieve and being gluttonously out of shape would not help her at all.

But Sarah quickly settled down after a quick jog, swinging onto a tree branch. She chewed on a berry (which no one ate because they were apparently “poisonous”) and leaned back against the tree trunk. How would she break the news to Hannah?

Sarah was never from the Domes in the first place. She'd rather not live in such a restricted place where all you do is go around visiting little environments created to mimic time periods from back them. How stupid and boring was that? But no only that, the lifestyle was just so restricted. There was no freedom other than the occasional escape to the forest from time to time, but even then you were never alone.

Underneath that beautiful shell with those ridiculous domes, was a dark world - the Slums. But in Sarah’s opinion, it was a better world. People in the slums were more independent. You learned to walk by yourself. You taught yourself how to speak. Sarah was born in this dark underground world, lit only by rows and rows of torches. Sarah had to leave that place, for various reasons of course, but she was forced to leave and now, Sarah planned to go and claim back what was rightfully hers.

She planned to leave next week, not for any other reason other than that she absolutely could not stand living here anymore. It was so terribly tiring and Sarah swore this place was starting to turn her mind into mush with it’s crazy ideas and ridiculous lies.

The morning passed quickly as Sarah submerged herself in her own thoughts, trying to figure out what to say to Hannah. The afternoon came, but Hannah did not show up. Sarah's forehead creased into a frown. What happened?

Life in Vinya was so structured that it was practically impossible to be late for anything. Everyday, your life was packed to the brim with whatever was scheduled for you. Well, with the exception of off days and breaks. Hannah could just have decided not to come to the forest, but why?

Sarah jogged back to her dorm, her stomach growling from skipping lunch. She would have to stop by the food court some time to grab a Quick n' Go, but first, she had to find out where Hannah was. She rushed upstairs and burst into the room.

"Hannah!" She shouted, but the place the empty. The lights were off and everything was just as it was before she left. No one had been in here since this morning. Hannah had not come back yet. Sarah frown as she walked out of her dorm. What could have happened?

This was deeply troubling.

Maybe she got hungry.

Sarah shot out of her dorm, almost forgetting to lock the door and rushed off to the food court.

The food court was a large plaza that contained rows and rows of shops, all that sold Quick n' Go of different sorts. But, despite it's size and the speed at which Quick n' Go could be made, lines were still dreadfully long at peak hours. Right now was considered down time, but the lines were still extremely long.

Sarah sighed. It would take her forever to find Hannah in such a mass of grey uniforms, even if she had painted herself pink and blue. There really was nothing that she could do here. She took another quick sniff at the smell of Quick n' Go in the air and left the food court. Not until she found Hannah would she go and get some Quick n' Go.

The dorm was still dark when she go back. She flicked on the lights and sat down on one of the air chairs, staring at the door. Questions whirled through her mind and worry creased her brow. What happened? Why didn't she show up? Could she be at the forest now? Or at the food court? Why didn't she come to the forest to tell me first?

The sun was setting quietly and Sarah was getting more and more worried as the minutes ticked by. The food court would be closing soon and she was really starting to get hungry. She couldn't just sit here and wait anymore.

Just one more minute. She'll be back in a minute.

But Sarah knew it would be hopeless. She couldn't waste anymore time waiting here anymore. She would get food and then report a disappearance. Then everything would be fine. They'd find Hannah, who probably just got lost somehow and then everything would be back to normal.

Yes. Back to normal.

Sarah let out a shaky breath as she got up, closing her eyes to calm herself. This would not do. She couldn't let something as small as this get a hold of her. Nothing could be wrong with Hannah. She was still alive, even in the worst case possible. Sarah was sure of that.

Leaving the dorms, Sarah ran quickly back to the food court which was now almost abandoned now. The people of Vinya never seemed to like the dark. After it got dark out, no one went outside. Curfew wasn’t even a thing here.

Stuffing her face with Quick n’ Go, Sarah rushed off the portal and stopped by the Missing and Disappearance House. She entered the desolate building and saw a secretary at the desk ready to leave.

“Can I help you?” The secretary set down her stuff. Sarah could see the annoyance on her face.

“Yes, I’d like to report a disappearance.”

 

Sarah stormed angrily out of the MnD, slamming the door behind her.

After explaining to the secretary what had happened, the secretary only rolled her eyes and pushed everything off as paranoia. She refused to file a report and then she expected a compensation for working late. Sarah had to pay her 50 Gangabank points for a piece of advice on patience. How frustrating.

Sarah ran a hand through her hair. If the DnM wasn’t going to help, she would have to find Hannah on her own. Sarah closed her eyes and tried to figure out where Hannah could have gone.

Hannah said that she had China this morning. China was just recently slummed. Sarah had meant to tell Hannah that, but she somehow forgot. Hannah would have done just fine though. The dome just got moved to one of the new domes. One that didn’t seem to be quite stabilized yet.

And then a horrible thought hit her - what if she fell through?

What did that mean?

The domes were made of a series of intricate holograms and thick protective coding. The coding for each dome was so thick, it stacked up into piles beneath the dome. But other than taking up space, the coding had not many other benefits and there was no way to shrink it any smaller. So, the creators of the domes came up with a smart idea of weaving the coding beneath the domes to create a thick protective undercover. Not only would it help the dome last longer, it would make the place harder to slum.

But in the process of weaving, sometimes the code crashed and had to be reweaved. Until everything fit in tightly, the dome was considered unstable.

And Hannah could have fell through one of these glitches.

Sarah cursed under her breath as she rushed off back to her dorm. There would be no choice but to leave earlier than planned, even though she wasn’t completely ready. Hannah’s safety was more important now.

 

In the midst of the night, up overland where no one ever came out for the night, a single cloaked figure stole out of her dorm room with a small satchel. She looked around before running towards the line of domes looming in the horizon. The moonlight scattered across the ground and reflected against a strand of pale white hair sticking out from beneath her hood. Two bright purple eyes fleeted alertly across the plain, searching for any possible signs of life. If anyone looked closely, they would realize that this was Sarah.

Sarah approached the glistening rows of domes quickly and neared the China Dome that had just been slummed a few days ago. She walked around the dome until she approached the large gaping hole where the entrance area had once been. There were torn wires sticking out from the seam that once connected the two together and Sarah could still see the little wisps of smoke floating out of the ends of the wire. Obviously, the entrance area had just been ripped off not long ago, maybe even as early as this afternoon.

Sarah inspected the dome for any traps and cameras before running in. Thankfully, there were none.

The dome was a mess. Most of the buildings were destroyed, crumbling to dust from the attack, leaving a large cloud of dust in the air. The few buildings still intact and once so bright and full of live, were now dim, revealing years of wear and tear. It was so dim in there that Sarah could barely see a thing. The thick glass of the domes weren't as transparent as they looked from the outside and the moonlight struggled to get in. All Sarah had to do right now was find a entrance to the slums. If she could find a way in, then she could find Hannah.

There still had to be hole left from the attack. Sarah sifted around the rubble looking for a hole. She winced as a building beside her collapsed causing a loud ruckus. She waved away the dust and continued searching. She was about to try another area when she tripped over a rock and skidded over the rubble. She cursed at herself as she climbed up, but suddenly, she spied in a corner, a hole half hidden by a fallen wall. Her eyes lit up as she jogged over. She inspected it for a moment, contemplating on whether or not she could possibly lift the wall or at least chip it a little so that she could squeeze. It was surprising that they hadn't blocked off this hole. It may have been how the wall had fallen. It was just so cleverly hidden that Sarah wouldn't have seen it either had she not fallen right there.

Sarah bent down and attempted to push the wall, but she couldn’t get it to budge at all. It was just so heavy. Sarah sighed and plopped down to think of an idea. Her foot brushed against the wall slightly and to her surprise, it crumbled easily.

How could something so heavy break so easily? And why didn't it break when she tried pushing it?

Sarah shook her head. No one really knew how or what the domes were made of. They were just there. Even she couldn't get more information about them.

She was about to give the wall another good kick when a small beam of light swept through the area. Sarah ducked and threw herself onto the ground. Guards? Since when were there guards in abandon domes? Didn't they just destroy the dome after a few day and construct a new one? Why would they need guards? It wasn't like anyone was going to get in or out.

But then you're here.

Sarah sighed. Right. She was in here. Did that mean other people had gotten in here as well? Were they searching for someone?

As the questions ran through her mind, she quickly tried to assess the problem. She could try to sneak back out, but she couldn't guarantee that this hole would still be here or that she would be able to get out without getting caught. Or she could try to break this wall and slide into the hole before the guard came over. But she couldn't just wait it out. Every second that passed by, Hannah could be in even more danger and she wasn't willing to risk Hannah's safety because of a stupid guard.

Sarah could hear the soft crunch of the gravel beneath the guard's feet as it approached her. She had to think fast.  She could either take to guard down or try to get down the hole before the guard noticed her. While she knew self-defense, she had no idea as to how strong she was and how strong the guard was. There was no guarantee that she would be able take care of him fast. Especially since she'd also never had no experience (not saying that the guard had any either though).

So the second plan it was.

Sarah took a deep breath and suddenly thrashed out her fist at the wall. A large chunk of it fell off and crashed down the hole. The guard immediately turned in her direction and flashed his beam in her direction.

“Who's here?” He demanded as he began running in her direction. Sarah hacked off another chunk of wall, but the hole was stick not quite big enough. She shouldn’t have waited so long.

Not before long, the guard saw her.

“Get out of here! You’re not allowed to be in here!” The guard shouted, lunging at Sarah. Sarah twisted around and punched the guard solidly in the face, sending him flying backwards, but not before he had lodged his elbow solidly into her cheek. Sarah bit her tongue as she tried to hold back her tears. She hacked off another piece of wall just at the guard began clambering back up, a walkie talkie in his hands.

Oh shit....

He was calling help.

Sarah threw herself against the guard, knocking the walkie talkie out of his hand. She lodge another punch solidly against his face as her elbow edged harshly against his gut. The guard moaned and fell unconscious. Sarah stared at the guard in shock for a moment. She did this?

“Oh.” She muttered backing away from the body with a shrug. Who knew that the guards were so weak here? She quickly kicked out the last of piece of wall away, staring down into the hole, her face set with determination. She gave the guard one last glance before she closed her eyes and jumped.

Sarah was in the slums.

The End

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