Story Snippets: The Compound (Katie)
Amelia stood on her tiptoes but it didn’t help. Hammond stood in line in front of her—the big oaf—and she couldn’t see a thing past him. She wiped her sweaty palms on her pants and tucked a wisp of blond hair back into its bun at the nape of her neck. She took a deep breath to calm her nerves and her irritation.
It would be different if she hadn’t been waiting her whole life—twelve years—for this moment. Twelve years of living indoors, never seeing outside. No sun, no stars, no fresh air.
But this year she’d reached the mark. She had turned twelve just last week, and that qualified her for this quarter’s new worker assignment ceremony. They waited in line now for their first tours of the outside world and their assignment stations. Life outside the dormitory walls would be amazing. Amelia knew it.
“Can you believe this?” James whispered. “We’ve been waiting our whole lives for this moment.”
Goose bumps prickled Amelia’s arms and she grinned at her very best friend in the compound. “Yeah, but this is different for me. They let you outside last week. Today is my first time.”
James opened his mouth like he would reply, but they were interrupted.
“Amelia, did you have something important to say?” Guard Meyers strolled toward her in the narrow hallway, swinging his electricity stick in a long arc.
Amelia eyed the stick. “Sorry Sir. I’m just excited.”
His gaze hammered her. “Everyone’s excited. Keep quiet, please. We have these rules for a reason.”
“Of course. I mean, yes sir.” Amelia quickly looked away. Her mother had warned her to show more respect to the guards, but especially to Guard Meyers. He’d been her father’s best friend back when her father was alive. Not that she remembered much about her father now, but she did know he’d been close with Guard Meyers. That made Guard Meyers her favorite, and she was his favorite too. Everyone knew it. But if she was caught being too familiar or disrespectful, it would cause trouble. That would be bad, for Amelia and possibly for Guard Meyers.
She craned her neck again to see around Hammond. How far back were they from the door?
Finally, the buzzer sounded and Amelia’s breath caught. This was it! She was about to see sunlight. Smell fresh air. Maybe even feel a breeze on her cheeks.
The doors started their slow crank apart. Amelia pressed her eyes closed and took a deep breath. Would she cry?
Don’t be a baby.
The line inched forward, and Amelia marched in formation toward the doorway. Already the air felt different. Sticky instead of dry.
Amelia glanced at the guard. It was someone she’d never seen before, a woman. She didn’t smile at Amelia, even when Amelia smiled at her. “Amelia Linden, twelve.”
“You are all twelve,” the woman said. “I only asked for your name.”
Amelia gulped. “Sorry.”
The woman typed something into her comp screen. “You may pass,” she said without looking up.
Amelia gulped again and stepped outside. Warm air hit her arms and she grinned. Sunshine. It was sunshine on her arms! She let herself look up toward the sky for the very first time ever. Her breath caught and she paused. A bluebird—something Amelia had only seen in pictures—swooped through the sky and landed on a tree branch. An actual tree!
A large courtyard surrounded the front doors of the compound. Intricately carved bushes and plants lined the concrete walkways, and benches were placed throughout the area.
She could stay here forever.