Heat

             1

     “Puff, puff, puff”

     “If I’m late one more time’

     “Puff, puff, puff”

     “Yes, there is still one in the back row.” the humming started.

     “Puff, puff, puff, puff, puff”

     “145, 145, I need to get up to 145 and hold it.”

     “Puff, puff, puff, puff, puff”

     “Only 30 more minutes.”

     “Puff, puff, puff, puff, puff”

     A bell ring and the buzzing of the stationary bicycles comes to a muted hult.

     “You have meant your quota of daily heat generation.  Please proceed to the transfer panel.”

     A small roar arose from the room of cyclist.

roar  muted hum buzzing

             2

     When I was young I remember reading about the seasons of the year and how the Sun and Moon moved through the sky everyday in a never ending dance.  The thought used to scare me.  The idea of these two large objects floating and looming over me day after day.  I know they’re still there, but I have never seen them.  Nor has anyone else, except maybe the few who used to work on the outer walls of the colony domes.  But, no one has done that in decades.

     It was the same with day and night.  Every evening exactly at 8 pm, the dome’s pale blue sky began to turn darken into a deep orange and then black over an hour.  This has always been my favorite part of the day.  Mika and I would wonder out behind our house and watch the stars appear.  Well, they weren’t the real stars but if we were outside I guess that is what we would have seen.  Mika and I have spent many of days talking about those nights.  

     Mika was my older sister.  It seemed that when we were younger, she was always mad at someone for pronouncing it as “Micah”.  Her full name was, Mika Jade Ryan.  I have always called her “Mik” (Meek).  Jade was my maternal grandmother’s last name.  My parents decided that for our middle names they would use our grandmother’s last names.  This worked out well for Mika.  My parents were not very creative when it came time to name me.  Kami Boi Ryan was what they gave me.  Kami was just a anagram of Mika and all the other kids always called me “Kami Boy” when I was little.  By the time we hit high school, everyone just called me “Boi”.  That was around the time when the Porter twins moved in across the field from us.

     Sjofn and Sif were fraternal twins and two years older than me.  And, not ever a year younger than Mik.  They had been named after Norse gods.  Sjofn was the Goddess of love and Sif was the Goddess of harvest.  I’m sure this had something to do with their parents jobs.  Mrs. Porter was Deputy Under Secretary of Plant Propagation and Mr. Porter was the Director of Reproduction.  The first time we met them was when Mik and I were watching the stars come out one night.  All of a sudden, I felt as though my leg had been crushed and flattened.  And, before I could even grab it or yell, Sif was lying prone across Mik and I.  With her face still half buried in the grass and arms stretched out, she introduced herself and Sjofn.   As was the social norm when meeting new people, we all shared Heat.

     Heatsuits are the pillar of society and survival.  Each suit was custom fitted to its owner.  The heatsuits were a biochemical and biothermal marvel that had saved us before the domes were built.  Each suit is capable of reclaiming all heat and energy produced by an individual.  It is through the palm pad that heat can be transferred.  In a frozen world, heat had became the universal currency.

     Dad said that long ago people use to shake hands when they first met each other.  When I told Mik about this, she told me,

     “Don’t pay any attention to dad’s silly stories.  It makes no sense at all that people used to just shake hands.  How could some share heat that way?”

     I always believed anything Mik told me.  She was the smartest person I knew.  And, Mik never lied to me.  Or, so I thought.

     I guess it was due to our parents jobs why both my family and twins’ lived here.  Both my mom and dad were great scientist.  Mom was the Director of Forest Restoration and dad (although he called himself a Palo-geneticist) was the head researcher fellow at the Anti-viral and Nanotech Department.   He was the one who found the Svalbard Global Seed Vault created by the ancient ones.  Not only did they find well over four million seeds in the vault, but also silica-encased DNA.  It was the prospect of finding the DNA that originally led dad on the search for it.  Some scientist claim the vault was nothing more than a legend or myth.  While others believed that if it had existed, the vault would have been destroyed by now.  Dad proved all the sceptics wrong.  It was that success and its contributions to the entire dome colony that saved his career.

     Mik said that dad had discovered something else when he went on the expedition to find the seed vault.  Neither he nor mom would talk about.  But, when he tried to share the findings, Dometech shut down his lab and had us moved to another dome.  Dad still is not allowed to speak with anyone who was on the expedition with him.  Since finding the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, dad has worked here with nano-genetics.

     Dometech had built all the domes in the colony.  Sometimes it seemed that everyone worked for them.  There are people who work for the government, have farms, or other small businesses that are not controlled by Dometech or one of its branches.  Because most of the major science and research facilities were here, it seemed that everyone’s parents did work for Dometech.  

     Since Mik and I were babies we’ve lived in the Citrine Dome.  It was not one of the newest or fanciest, but it was almost the largest.  People from all over the colony would come here on vacation to see the flocks of birds, the herds of deer, the Lake of the Sky, or just the rain.  Well, it was not rain like before but just condensation falling from the top of the dome sometimes.  I loved it when we would go to the beaches on the north shore of the lake.  They say it is over 2 million years old and that it’s the largest freshwater lake in all the domes.  Miss Reynolds, my Modern Dome History and Faith teacher, who by the way loved living in Citrine Dome, always came across with a sense of superiority when comparing our dome with others.

     “With Citrine Dome being over 40 miles across and 20,000 feet high, well, we might as well be outside.  Can you say the same for the others?  I think not!”  Miss Reynolds would proclaim.

     I remember telling dad this once, since he was the only person I knew who had ever been on the outside.  He just got up and left the room.  Mom chastised me and Mik said,

     “You should know better then to bring up the outside with him.

     “What?  Really, what did I say?”  I pleaded with Mik.  

     With pursed lips, she shook her head and left the room too.

     We lived in the Southern part of Citrine Dome in the main residential district with our housekeeper and cook Geovonie.  He had been with our family for as long as I could remember.  Actually, Geovonie had started with mom’s family when she was a little girl.  In fact, my parents could have been his children.  Geovonie was not a large man, shorter than most.  He had fine smoky gray hair that was kept short and always well groomed.   I never once saw him with stubble on his face in the morning.  Every morning we were greeted with a smile that was as wide as the dome, a spring in his feet, and a contagious energy.  But, Geovonie’s hands spoke of the long years of labor and age.  His fingers were gnarled and rheumatic, plus there were an uncountable number of age spots on the back of his hand.  Mik and I were playing dot to dot on the back of Geovonie’s hand once when mom came in.  She led us out of the room by the little hairs on the back of our necks.  It is the only time I ever heard her speak firmly to Geovonie,

     “Do not let them treat you this way.  I will not have my daughter's acting like someone low class girl from the Onyx Dome.” she said curtly.

     With a mischievous smile and a slight raising of his shoulders and hands Geovonie said,  

     “Why, I remember the most polite and well mannered little girl who used to do the samething.”

      “ They are my…” mother began to say before Geovonie cut her off.

     While turning away he said,

     “Whatever happened to that little girl?”  

     Geovonie always won any disagreement this way.

     With our parents working long hours most days, it was Geovonie who ran the house.  He and was an expert at it.

     The last day of the month was always Geovonie’s favorite.  That is when the Westerlies came exactly at 7 pm.  There are breezes off and on in the domes.  In school, my science teacher said it was caused by the pressure in one dome being different than in the adjoining one and when the main seals were opened air would move into the dome with lower pressure.  Just like sometimes when you open the door to a store and you feels the air rush out.  The the Westerlies were something different.  In order to ensure air quality, once a month all the colony’s dome seals were opened along with the top of the Sky Dome.  Since we were at the Northern end of the colony, it took awhile for the Westerlies to reach us.  But, when they did, Geovonie and I thought they were fabulous.   They showed up with a rumble that began in the tops of the trees.  Once when I was little, I asked Geovonie if it was the breath of God.  He bent his head back and laughed.  Geovonie said,

     “God is here.”  he was pointing to my heart.

     “So, listen when he talks to you.”

The Westerlies did not last long.  Maybe a half hour to an hour.  But in that short time, we used fly a kite that Geovonie had made.

     It was Sjofn who told us about the student delegation from the Onyx Dome.  Sjofn had played a major role in putting the student exchange program.  

             3

     I am not exactly sure when someone becomes your friend.  I definately don’t know when they become your best friend.  It just happens.  It’s easy, like putting on a glove.  That is how it was with Sif and l.  I think it happened when the four of us went to the lake or when we got something to eat after the movies a few weeks ago.  Sif was my first true best friend.  I have always had Mik.  Mik was my big sis, my confidant, my protector, and my friend.  But, it was different with Sif.  Sif got me on level that was different than with Mik, we really contected.