Started on it, but I think this is a way bigger story than I have time for in one weekend :)
The night the sky went dark Katarina was staring intently at her computer screen as it crunched through the forty terabytes of data acquired from the marine data stations. She knew it wouldn’t be good news. It never was, but she always held out hope.
The screen changed, showing several sloping lines, all reaching down to the x-axis, and two shooting upwards at what she could tell was an expected, although hazardous rate. She switched off the screen, leaned back heavily in her swivel chair and ran her fingers through the short fuzz on her scalp. After a few deep breaths, she got up, swung her jacket over her shoulder and walked out.
Outside Gartner Marine Research Lab, hoards of people were gathered in clusters outside the doors of apartment buildings and scattered in public arenas. Most people were craning their necks, looking straight up. Katarina followed their gazes and sure enough, the Sky Dome was finally done.
She was too tired to care at the moment. Her eyes sore from the hours of screen time at the office and too much coffee.
After a meandering walk, she made it to her door. Her landlord was sitting on the stairs, drinking a can of soda.
“Would you look at that? Not even one star. Just pure alloy now.” He huffed.
“Yeah. I mean, we all knew it would happen… “ Katarina realized she was being insensitive and tried to backstop, “It is sad though, I guess.”
“When I was young, I loved playing with my telescope. Sure, it was hazy and with the light pollution I couldn’t see much… but it was about imagining something beyond Earth.”
Katarina nodded and reached into her pocket for her keys.
“I just don’t know what kids these days are going to think… you know, to dream about!”
Katarina had looked up the stars as a kid. She had imagined the beginnings of other forms of life far away, maybe just single-celled organisms at the time, although with her age and wisdom she realized she’d pictured these single-celled organisms as those green algae she had found stuck to rocks when she went to the ocean. The green algae that had changed the oceans only to cause its own demise. The graph she’d left on her computer flashed before her eyes.
“Mm, yeah. I don’t know.” Kat mumbled as she turned her key and went into the humid lobby of the 12 Fischer Street apartment complex.
On the elevator ride, she thought about the algae and the stars. How the city had finally completed the sky dome that promised everyone clean air, protection from UV radiation and homogenous climate control. It was an ambitious project, but Kat couldn’t help but remember so many of the governments’ promises that had fallen through due to funding: sky views, a speed rail around the perimeter and, most important, ocean station habitats. According to the government’s PR they had done their best to bring the natural world into the dome and try to keep as much of the sky in view, but they also had to think about tax dollars and do this economical. This meant cheap plants would serve as “habitats”, the “snail rail” that had been breaking down for fifty years would have to suffice for transportation and the sky views would have to be left until more money came through for “public art”.
She imagined little Katarina looking up at the Sky Dome, seeing the cold lines of the alloy structure when the “sun” lights were finally dimmed enough that you could make them out. Would she have ever seen the ocean? Would it have been so toxic back then?
She tucked her legs underneath her, laying her head on the arm of her enormous easy chair and sleep came quickly. Her vision filled with the steep lines on the graph, painted on the alloy walls of her sky…