Code Kitessa

April 12, 2012
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The sun stops shining, the winds cease to blow, and the world comes to a standstill.
Kitessa stares, appalled, at the scene before her. The bleak colours of the barren land swim around and settle on a palette of murky colours. Ominous looking clouds cover the sky, and old, shriveled tree stumps line the ground. Cracks in the dusty land reveal withered, gnarly weeds. Little to no sunlight filters through the rain-burdened clouds.
Kitessa shivers. This is a terrible place, she has no doubt. But what was worse, was that there was no perfect outside. No trees, no foliage, no greenery. The realization hits her hard in the face. Her hopes are shattered.
Slowly, and forlornly, Kitessa looks back at the seemingly never ending expanse of the Dome. But she can’t go back now, not after that.

The Master’ voice reverberated throughout the Dome, loud and clear. “Citizens of my Dome, it is four hours after noon and I announce the end of schooling.”
Kitessa gathered her books and left the classroom, struggling not to break into a sprint as she neared her secret spot.
Kitessa prowled the deserted hallway, her footsteps amplified. She dropped her books and lay down, squinting to see through the cluster of faulty pixels near the bottom edge of the wall.
There were no windows on the wall of the Dome. There were windows within the Dome, but no one saw out of the Dome and no one saw in. Likewise, no one exited the Dome and no one entered.
The Dome was of extraordinary size. Some of the people who lived near the middle, sometimes never reached the side of the Dome in their lifetimes. The Dome’s environment was synthetic, controlled by the Master. Since there were any thunderstorms or blitzing winds, Kitessa assumed the Master was in a good mood.
Everyone wondered what the rest of the world was like, but the Dome was the only thing standing between imagination and reality.
Kitessa peered through the transparent pixels, enjoying the moment when her breath caught in her throat. She couldn’t get enough of the beautiful landscape. Lush grass, blooming flowers, the prettiest colours of leaves on the trees. The glistening lake reflecting rays of sunlight. Paradise.
They had all of that in the Dome as well, but it wasn’t real. The grass wasn’t alive. The leaves and branches swayed at the Master’s will. And they certainly didn’t have the magnificent, titanic, fireball in the sky.
Kitessa ran all the way to her Home. Tardiness was not something that was tolerated. She had learned that the hard way, starving through the night. She bolted through a Japanese garden, silently apologizing to the Master as plastic flowers were crushed under her feet. She crashed through the door at the other side of the garden, one of many doors in a row. A plaque on the door read “Scholar 14”. All students aged fourteen in this part of the Dome lived in this building.
Luckily, Kitessa wasn’t labeled as Tardy. Ladies bustled around the rooms and hallways, shooing students to their rooms and dragging cleaning supplies behind them. One woman in a plain gray uniform waved her hand at Kitessa. “Go work on your Project!”
“Yes Perfect Sophie,” Kitessa mumbled as she made her way to her room.
All Scholar 13s started a Project, and were required to finish it before they turned fifteen. This Project decided your fate – whether you became a Perfect, or joined the Dome’s dormant army.
The Perfects were the ones who continued their education past Scholar 14. They were assigned to work various jobs around the Dome, such as in the Kitchen, Daycare, or in one of the Scholar residential buildings. In addition, all mothers were Perfects.
Kitessa had never met her mother, but she knew her mother was in the Dome, somewhere.
Kitessa flicked on the lamp on her desk and took out her Project. There were two components to her Project. One was a model of outside. She had it down to every detail, even the ripples of the lake. In the middle, there was an empty space where she would place a model of the Dome.
She pulled out the written component next – an almost-complete record of her ponderings of the Dome.
Kitessa unfurled the scroll and continued to write. So far, it measured 2 feet 2 inches. Her goal was to get it to 10 feet. She’d heard that every Perfect’s Project scroll was at least 8 feet.
Time flew by and soon, it was supper time. Kitessa didn’t bother listening to the Master’s “It is seven hours after noon and I announce…”
Supper consisted of soup, bread, salt pork, beans, and a small exotic purple-skinned fruit, its name Kitessa forgot.
Afterwards, she extended her essay to 2 feet 5 inches. Then the Perfects came around, knocking on doors and yelling, “Lights out!”
Kitessa lay in bed, trying not to think about what she was about to do.
And when midnight struck, the Dome powered down. All lights turned off. The automated birds halted their chirping. The rushing rivers became still. Not even the bugs stirred. Kitessa knew it would stay that way until dawn, when the citizens of the Dome experienced a controlled sunrise.
Quickly and quietly, Kitessa snuck out of bed, careful not to make any noise. She crept along the corridor, making sure to keep well out of eyesight of the security cameras.
Kitessa exited the Scholar’s building. She knew she was nearing the Master’s place, so she made an extra effort not to step on anything. If she touched just one blade of grass, more than ten cameras would immediately swivel in her direction. But that actually worked in her advantage.
The Master’s house was just ahead. The Master’s secretary had told her, “Get to the front door without being seen and knock one time. I’ll answer the door.”
Kitessa unclenched her hand, fingering the smooth rock in her hand. It was now or never. Kitessa hurled the rock to her right, and broke into a mad run for the Master’s house as soon as all nearby cameras were pointed at the innocent rock. Her feet pounded up the front steps and she clutched her knees, panting, before straightening up and knocking on the front door.
The door opened, just a little bit. A male voice asked suspiciously, “Who goes there?”
Kitessa slammed herself against the wall just in time. A head, not the secretary’s, poked out from the gap in the door and scanned the surroundings.
Kitessa didn’t dare breath. Don’t look to the right! The head turned, slowly, to the right, and she swore it was mocking her, so let me look to the right…
The security guard was going to spot her, any second now.
“What are you doing?”
“The cameras saw something, ma’am.”
Kitessa had never been so relieved to hear the secretary’s voice.
“Who was seen?”
“Well, we didn’t see a person, ma’am, but a rock was-”
“A rock? Of course, a rock would try to break into the Master’s house at night. Get back to your post!” the secretary snapped.
“Yes ma’am,” the security guard said meekly and slunk away.
As soon as the guard had disappeared, the secretary ushered Kitessa in. “Sorry about that, Kitessa. I heard your knock but I was a little too late.”
“It’s okay, Perfect Haley,” Kitessa said as they stepped into Perfect Haley’s office. The room, with a fireplace, paintings on the walls, and an intricate rug on the floor, was familiar to Kitessa. She had been in here many times, and the Perfect had grown fond of Kitessa.
“I have what you wanted,” Perfect Haley said, and pulled a large book from a black bag. The book was dusty, tattered and worn, many pages kept together only with tape. Kitessa handled the book carefully, gingerly flipping through the pages. In fancy lettering, the cover read “The History of the Dome”.
“I…ah…borrowed the book from the Master’s personal collection,” Perfect Haley said, “It’s the only copy in the entire Dome.”
“You did what?” Kitessa exclaimed. “The Master will-“
“Shh!” Perfect Haley clamped her hand over Kitessa’s mouth.
"Sorry," Kitessa mouthed. "But still, everyone knows that the Master has an evil, twisted mind."
"He does," Perfect Haley agreed. It was the first time Kitessa had heard an adult agree that the Master was evil. "He has a plot. I don't know what it is, but I know it's just as terrible as his mind is." Perfect Haley pursed her lips before continuing. "Don’t tell him I said that."
Kitessa grinned at the secretary.
"Everything that was ever recorded about the Dome will be in here," Perfect Haley said. "What are you looking for?"
Kitessa hesitated, not sure if she should tell the secretary about her intentions. But she decided that she trusted Perfect Haley. "I'm looking for a way out of the Dome," Kitessa explained.
Perfect Haley gasped. "I understand your desire to see the outside and all, but to escape the Dome? That's impossible!"
"It's possible," Kitessa said fiercely. “It has to be."
"I'm not going to stop you, Kitessa. But I need the book back by tomorrow. "
"Thank you Perfect Haley." And Kitessa set to reading the thick book. It started out with a well known ancient quote, "When the Dome shatters, catastrophe will rule." Everyone knew the quote like the back of their hand but no one actually believed it. The Dome had been standing for centuries, so why should it shatter now?
There was a way out of the Dome, Kitessa just had to find it. She was getting close, she could feel it.
Page after page, Kitessa forced the information into her head. But she couldn't concentrate now. Someone was shaking her shoulder.
"Get up! Go home!" Perfect Haley whispered urgently. “The sun is rising and I need the book back. Check your pocket. Go, go, go!"
Kitessa barreled out of the room and down the front steps, across the front yard, past the Japanese garden, and didn't slow her pace until she reached her Home.
Kitessa eased open the door and was about to sneak into her room, but found her way barred by an angry lady.
“Where in the Dome were you?" Perfect Sophie demanded.
Kitessa frantically tried to come up with a cover story but came up blank. "Um..."
"And what's that in your pocket?" Kitessa followed the Perfect’s gaze and saw a piece of paper sticking out of her pocket.
Before Kitessa could stop her, Perfect Sophie reached over and plucked the note from her shirt.
"Please excuse Kitessa..." Perfect Sophie read, "She was helping...fell asleep halfway..."
Kitessa almost raised her eyebrows at that.
"Hmm", Perfect Sophie sniffed. "Fine. Go get some sleep then. You'll have to wake up soon."
Kitessa knew that her time at the Master's house hadn't been a waste. There was a way out, and it was right under her nose, but still it evaded her mind.
Kitessa woke to the extremely loud, shrill, sound of the alarm. She bolted upright as Perfect Sophie barged into the room. "Get in line now," she snapped. "There’s a code aquamarine."
Kitessa was shaking with horror inside but she tried not to let it show as she nonchalantly got into line. Code aquamarine meant that someone had illegally gained a piece of information that would put the Dome in critical danger. And Kitessa knew only too well who the code aquamarine was all about.
The Scholar 14s marched down to the courtyard, passing the Master's house. Kitessa dared not look at it.
All scholars were gathered in the courtyard where Perfect Haley was addressing them. "If anybody has any information about what happened last night, come forwards immediately. If you are the one who stole information from the Master, give yourself up."
Kitessa locked eyes with the secretary and she could have sworn that the secretary shook her head ever so slightly.
"In addition, the master has dispatched the whole army to search for this convict."
Murmurs arose from the crowd of gathered students. The army was enormous in numbers.
Perfect Haley wasn’t finished her speech. "The Master has also told you not to worry. We will have the convict in our hands very, very soon. They think they already know who it is." Perfect Haley was staring directly at Kitessa as she repeated, "They already know who it is."
Kitessa glanced around quickly. Five burly security guards were advancing towards her from every side. Where was she supposed to go?
And then she remembered. Look around you, the book stated. Left, right, forwards, backwards, there is nowhere to go. You are surrounded by the walls of the Dome and the ever hardening ground. But remember, once upon a time, the citizens of the Dome had to enter it to be able to live there. And they will always be able to recite the ancient quote and retell it in the name of Haolin.
Kitessa was taking a big risk. But time was running out and she was willing to try anything to escape the clutches of the master.
Kitessa scanned her surroundings again. The guards were only a few meters away. Students were whispering to each other and pointing at Kitessa. She looked at Perfect Haley and saw her nod once. That was all the encouragement she needed.
She looked up to the top of the Dome and shouted, "In the name of Haolin, when the Dome shatters, catastrophe will rule!"
The ropes came out of nowhere. Kitessa grabbed them and was pulled upwards. As she swung up and close to the secretary, she heard the Perfect's last words to her, "Good luck, Kitesstralphie."
Kitessa nodded and noticed how the secretary knew her full name even though Kitessa had never told her.
She rose upwards, above everyone, above the clouds. A hatch at the top of the Dome opened and Kitessa welcomed the cool morning air.

It is over. There is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Kitessa sinks to her knees in defeat. They will reach her any second.
Strong hands grab her by the arms and haul her to her feet. Kitessa has no energy left to even keep her eyes open. The world goes black.
When Kitessa wakes up, she is lying on a bed. There is clothing on the end of the bed and she dons a simple white dress.
There is a gentle knock on the door.
"Come in," Kitessa says stiffly.
An old man hobbles in, smiling at Kitessa. "Ah, you are up. That is good."
Kitessa eyes the man, trying to calculate how much force it would take to overpower him.
But then he says, "My name is Haolin."
Kitessa is intrigued but she doesn't tell Haolin that.
Haolin sits down on a chair beside her bed. He leans forwards to speak to her. "Do you know what your name is?"
"Of course I do," Kitessa says hotly. "It’s Kitesstralphie. What kind of a question is that?"
"Ah, but that is not your name." The old man shakes his head sadly. "Don’t you know? Your name is Catastrophe."

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

TTTeeSS said...
Apr. 17, 2012 at 8:02 pm
I can't believe it ends like that! I was totally sucked in, and it... ends. I loved it, and even though you said it wasn't meant to be a full story, I still want to know more! Wonderful piece!
Ianeke replied...
Jun. 15, 2012 at 1:55 pm
Thank you!
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