A Circular Economy

Entry by: Seaside Scribbler

7th February 2018
"The Dome is like the Earth's atmosphere: closed. Nothing gets out. Whatever we put in stays there and so we live knowing this, having known it since we were children, taught to be careful and 'live lightly'. The Live Lightly campaign came as a direct result of studying what went wrong, in the pre-Dome days, when chaos ruled and we lived with heavy feet upon the Earth. After the Domes were built order was restored and life continued. Those who didn't or couldn't belong lived outwith the Domes and everyone else took their place inside. This meant..."

Mia stopped typing and yawned. Why did she have to write this stuff? Everyone knew it. It wasn't as if she had a choice about what she was going to do, so why bother graduating? She gritted her teeth and made a growly annoyed sound, chucking her Tab onto her bed where its light died as it automatically shut down. Mia jumped up from her chair and paced the room. She tried the door, but it was, of course, locked. Study time didn't finish for another hour and unless there was an emergency she was stuck.

'Boring boring boring boring...' she muttered. Until study was over her Consul wouldn't work so she couldn't chat with anyone. Her M and F, her givers and the only people she was allowed to communicate with, were busy at work and wouldn't be back until after Meal 4, so she was stuck.

She threw herself back on her bed and did a bit of mindmonitoring, just in case anyone peered at her through teachercam. She could pretend to be studying, but really, she was floating about in her mindlocker, looking at her thoughts.

She thought again how pointless her essay was. She wasn't leaning anything new, simply parroting back at the teachers what they all knew. Brainwashing, Nico called it. She didn't agree; to her it was more a lack of imagination. 'Imagination is Dangerous!' read some of the Mindads glowing around the dome. They also said things like 'All for One' and 'Collective is Directive', which, as far as Mia was concerned didn't even make sense. Her least favourite of all was 'Know Your Place: Wheel of Life For All'.

As well as living lightly, they were all taught about the wheel of life early on. Givers would be told which slots were open and all education was to be towards that particular role: in Mia's case, as a Grower. She was preceded by a Seeder and followed by a Composter. She'd started training on some of her College days and she hated every single minute. Growers were stuck in the bowels of the Dome, under harsh lights, and they had to wear stupid coveralls to stop them wrecking the growing cycle. Her wheel of life, for her whole life, would begin and end in the growers' corp, as stuck in place as the plants she stuck in pots.

At least as a composter she got to work with people. Okay they were dead but learning hot to turn them into food was interesting. You added vegetable matter and certain minerals and what came out supplied more compost than was needed. And the seeders, they got to work in the lab, experimenting with new species, making up plant names, looking for immunity to the ever changing disease cycle. Then there were the cooks, not much change from the pre-Dome days, the washers, who made sure everything got reused - even that would have been more interesting than simply putting things in pots, day after day after day. When she graduated she'd be cutting and grafting, but that would take ages.

Deep in her mindmonitoring, Mia huffed and sighed.

Her givers were both Organisers, the ones who made sure that the Wheel worked properly. 'If one spoke in the wheel breaks down, Mia, the whole wheel stops turning.' How often had she heard that? She got it, she totally got it. But it was so DULL. In her dreams, Mia fantastised about breaking a spoke. Just to see what would happen. She told Nico once, and he was horrified.

'They watch you, Mia,' he'd said. 'They'd kick you out. You'd no longer be a Domer. Look at what happened to Nils...'

Nils was too stupid though, Mia thought. Unlike Nils, she knew where the cameras' blank spots were. She could cause a little chaos out of sight, easily. It was so tempting - and nobody would know it was her... When Nils was caught tempering with the genetic computer, to make more females, he was cast Out. By law, everyone - including his givers - had to turn their backs on him and walk away, whilst he was pushed out of the airlock into the Outer world, where, it was said, the radiation was too strong to survive for more than a year. Nils had shouted that it was rubbish, and that he'd made contact with some Outers and that all the Domes did was support their own crazy ideals to produce water, which the Heads then hid away and stored, for those times when the water ran out.

Mia was unsure about all of this. She was more curious than afraid, but she knew she'd not be caught. She just couldn't quite decide what to disrupt - where to cause her tiny bit of chaos.

The water makers gathered condensation on hotter days, urine from individual room-pots as well as other things and turned it back into drinking water. Without water, they'd all die, so she'd leave well alone. Unless...

The food - if she could sneak into the Seeders' bit she'd mix things up a little, but it was nearly impossible to get in there. The composters were a grim lot, she'd like to get in there and lay a few practical jokes - say put some toys in, just for fun, but again they were too highly guarded. And anyway, there were hardly any toys left.

She'd quite like to change the curriculum, ask students to write about something other than the boring history of how we began living in Domes, but the passcodes were inaccessible to anyone her grade.

The programmers' lives were a mystery - they were hooked up to Consuls and stayed there for days on end - she didn't like that idea at all.

So what could she do? Everything went around, and around. Everything in the Dome stayed in the Dome.

And this was where her idea came from.

She leapt off the bed and finished her essay, rushed its boring ending and came to the same conclusion that everyone else did: Domes were Life. Do not disrupt etc etc. She E'd it to her teacher and waited for her door to swish open, freeing her from her room.

The first person she came across was Nico.

'You'll never guess what?' she said.

'What?' Nico said.

'I read a memo from the Heads. Our water ration is being increased!'

'Really?' said Nico, her not so bright, talkative friend.

Mia skipped off, and went to the Rec area, and waited.

The rumour took only two hours to get back to her, by which time there was a palpable frission of excitement in the still air of the Dome. Mia giggled - she'd rarely - and not since Nils - experienced anything other than the stale, everyday experience of everyone all playing their part of the game of Dome Life, running the Wheel.

By eveningtide, there was some anger. This came from the Heads, who stated that the water rations would remain the same due to lack of clean rainfall in the area surrounding the Dome. It rained only 27cm a year, and it was acidic, undrinkable. The anger came from the seed of unrest that grew and grew as people considered that actually, they'd never had enough water. They were being denied this vital part of life.

By nightfall, Mia was afraid of what she'd done. A man had been Outed for hitting a fellow Domer who stole his share of water. His givers verbally attacked his victim's givers, backing him up. There were more thefts. Heads appeared on Consuls imposing a curfew and a ban on bathing. The swimming pool was closed.

Things progressed quickly after that. The last time there was any unrest in the Dome it was when water had run out, before the water circle was established. With the water circle, there was always enough. Suddenly, enough wasn't enough. People broke the curfew. Meal 5 was not made. The water for the plants was stolen, and things wilted fast.

Mia ran to her room and mindmonitored until she had an answer - but by then it was too late.

Domes saved humankind, but they were also very claustrophobic places and it didn't take long for things to go wrong. Mia asked herself over and over what she could do. She thought so hard she gave herself a headache. She went to her water tap, turned it on and - nothing.

She shook her head. There was only one things he could do now - own up and risk expulsion from the only home she'd ever known. She sat down at her Consul.

'Dear Domers,

she began. And then she explained, and apologised. And finally, she understood why she and her fellow pupils were asked to write the same essays, over and over. It was to remind them how they were all going to survive. So she ended her letter with part of her essay:

The Dome is like the Earth's atmosphere: closed. Nothing gets out. Whatever we put in stays there and so we live knowing this, having known it since we were children, taught to be careful and 'live lightly'. The Live Lightly campaign came as a direct result of studying what went wrong, in the pre-Dome days, when chaos ruled. After the Domes were built order was restored and life continued.

The only way life can continue is if we remind ourselves of this, daily. I have learned my lesson. I do not want to be Outed, but if that is the will of the Heads, I will submit, for I have caused a spoke of the wheel to break, and for this I am sorry.

She ended her letter and E'd it to the Heads' address - the one everyone could access, at any time.

And then she waited.

When the knock came she was calm. She opened the door to a quiet Dome. The First Head stood outside, flanked by some officials and both of her givers, M and F.

'Mia 314?' The First Head said.

Mia nodded.

'For what you have done, you will be punished in the following ways...'