I lay on my bed staring at the ceiling wide awake. Sighing I glanced at my clock, 5:58... so close. I promised myself I wouldn’t get up before 6:00 am. Today was far too important to be sleep-deprived, I had to be at my best. The second hand in my clock ticked so slowly, seeming to mock me in the anticipation.
“That’s it!” I declared to my empty room, “I’m getting up!” Leaping out of bed, I knocked over my clock with satisfaction and watched it fall to the ground. I rushed to put on my regulation outfit.
The last Day of Sun had been a decade ago, I was only 12 at the time. These last few weeks, it had felt like an eternity ago but as I got dressed the memory was sharp in my mind as though it were yesterday. I remember the feeling of raw natural light on my face, dangerous but dazzling. A light that wasn’t fabricated and filtered; the kind that didn’t have a green hue to it that always made the people around you look sickly.
I stood with butterflies in my stomach. I scarfed down my breakfast, fuelled by excitement. I’d chosen meal cube #13 today, and it looked as bad as it tasted. I really hadn’t soaked it long enough and it was still hard inside. However, today it was especially important to have all the nutrients I needed so I swallowed what I could.
I ran out my door, it was only 6:30 but the city was wide awake. It was strange to see people flooding the streets, all heading to the same place. The Day of Sun seemed to bring our city together. People I hadn’t seen face to face in years wandered by. Someone had patched up the usually run-down streets for the festival. It seemed a waste to me, the streets were hardly ever used. There was really no reason nowadays to leave the comfort of our homes, especially since the new 6.4 bots could deliver meal cubes directly to your door. Even social engagements occurred in residential blocks as the air outside was musky and grey.
I stumbled into the town square, dragged along by the flow of the people. Groups of young teenagers, too young on the last Day of Sun to remember it, chatted excitedly. Elderly folks whispered quietly, having already experienced many before. Young children held their parents' hands anxiously, not knowing what to expect.
“Welcome everyone,” said someone in an authoritative voice. The crowds of people fell silent. I turned around trying to place the speaker and my eyes landed on a man, barely visible through the crowds despite his bright blue shirt. He climbed up onto a raised platform.
“I am the head of the council and would like to welcome you all to our Day of Sun,” he said as he adjusted his tie.
“I’m sure you are all excited but before we start, I’d like to go through a few safety precautions.” He began explaining in detail the importance of safety and order in our lives. After all, we were the lucky ones, saved here after the mass pollution of our earth.
I tried to pay attention, but I was distracted. My mind wandered, this man was clearly wealthy as he sported a blue shirt and a black tie. These were imported dyes, colors like that couldn’t be made here. He stood out among the sea of people wearing faded browns and greys. He probably lived in a nice area, close to the surface.
I was taken out of my daydream as people around me began to stir. The man was done talking, it was time. The crowds flowed towards the ladder, the hatch was opened, and we climbed. The people were united, all sharing the same anticipation. We peered above the surface, little by little we emerged as though we were coming out of hibernation. The sun shone in my face; the room was full of light. The kind of light people were made to stand in. It radiated off of us making people appear godly and surreal. The air was so fresh, free of dust and earth. We stood in a large hexagon banquet hall surrounded by a dome of glass. I could see the sun-soaked land, so close I could almost reach out and touch it. I stood with my hands pressed against the pane of glass peering in wonderment. Black soil with no life stretched as far as the eye could see dotted by glass buildings. The wealthiest folks lived there, on sun-soaked soil in the light with their homes dripping in color.
We had 2 hours to stand under the warmth of the sun. That was all our city could afford as the price for sunlight had gone up again this year.
There were picnics and games, but I was happy enough to stare into the sky dreaming of life only the most privileged could afford. What I would give to be able to walk out there as my ancestors once did before the land became unlivable.
20 minutes passed; I watched some children play a game of ball. One kid swung a bat and hit the ball a little too hard. It smacked against the glass wall making a terrible sound. People glanced up from the festivities; someone pointed up at the ceiling. The room slowly fell silent as people turned to see a fine little crack slowly crawl along the surface of the dome. Suddenly the room erupted in chaos.
“Move! Get back down!” yelled the head of the city council. Little kids cried as their parents grabbed them up as the ran towards the trapdoor. The people became a mob, destroying everything in their path as they ran in panic. I stood frozen to the stop in shock. I could hear the pulse of my heart pounding in my chest.
“Get moving!” yelled a man, he grabbed my arm pulling me forwards. “What are you doing?! If that crack opens the radiation from the sun will kill us all!” he shouted, bringing me to life. I ran alongside him to the open door. He looked so familiar. It took me a while to realize he was one of my coworkers. He looked at least 5 years older than his profile picture and was so much taller than I had imagined.
We climbed urgently down the ladder. I tumbled as someone shoved me from behind. I screamed as a fell the last few meters and landed on my back; hard. I could hardly breathe as I peered up at all the people frantically climbing down. It was then that I noticed the city councilor, standing way up above the surface in his bright blue shirt. We locked eyes; I watched in horror as the trapdoor slammed shut trapping people above the surface and plunging our underground city into another decade of darkness.