Home > Under the Dome(10)

Under the Dome(10)
Author: Stephen King


'Fuck,' Sea Dogs said. He spoke in a small, breathless voice. He approached Barbie through the field, cutting a prudent east-tending diagonal away from the blazing pyre. The trucker might h ive been overloaded and moving too fast, Barbie thought, but at least he was getting a Viking funeral. 'Did you see where that one log landed? I was almost kilt. Squashed like a bug.'

'Do you have a cell phone?' Barbie had to raise his voice to be heard over the furiously burning pulper.

'In my truck,' Sea Dogs said. 'I'll try for it if you wan:.'

'No, wait,' Barbie said. He realized with sudden relief that all this could be a dream, the irrational kind where riding your bicycle underwater or talking of your sex life in some language you never studied seems normal.

The first person to arrive on his side of the barrier was i chubby guy driving an old GMC pickup. Barbie recognized him from Sweetbriar Rose: Ernie Calvert, the previous manager of Food City, now retired. Ernie was staring at the burning clutter on the road with wide eyes, but he had his cell phone in his hand and was ratchet-jawing into it. Barbie could hardly hear him over the roar of the burning pulp-truck, but he made out 'Looks like a bad one' and figured Ernie was talking to the police. Or the fire department. If it was the FD, Barbie hoped it was the one in Castle Rock.There were two engines in the tidy little Chester's Mill firebarn, but Barbie had an idea that if they showed up here, the most they'd be able to do was douse a grassfire that was going to putter out on its own before much longer. The burning pulp-truck was close, but Barbie didn't think they'd be able to get to it.

It's a dream, he told himself. If you keep telling yourself that, you'll be able to operate.

The two women on the Motton side had been joined by half a dozen men, also shading their eyes. Cars were now parked on both shoulders. More people were getting out and joining the crowd. The same thing was happening on Barbie's side. It was as if a couple of dueling flea markets, both full of juicy bargains, had opened up out here: one on the Motton side of the town line, one on the Chester's Mill side.

The trio from the farm arrived - a farmer and his teenaged sons. The boys were running easily, the farmer redfaced and panting.

'Holy shit!' the older boy said, and his father whapped him backside of the head.The boy didn't seem to notice. His eyes were bugging. The younger boy reached out his hand, and when the older boy took it, the younger boy started to cry.

'What happened here?' the farmer asked Barbie, pausing to whoop in a big deep breath between happened and here.

Barbie ignored him. He advanced slowly toward Sea Dogs with his right hand held out in a stop gesture. Without speaking, Sea Dogs did the same. As Barbie approached the place where he knew the barrier to be - he had only to look at that peculiar straightedge of burnt ground - he slowed down. He had already whammed his face; he didn't want to do it again.

Suddenly he was swept by horripilation. The goosebumps swept up from his ankles all the way to the nape of his neck, where the hairs stirred and tried to lift. His balls tingled like tuning forks, and for a moment there was a sour metallic taste in his mouth.

Five feet away from him - five feet and closing - Sea Dogs's already wide eyes widened some more. 'Did you feel that?'

'Yes,' Barbie said. 'But it's gone now. You?'

'Gone,' Sea Dogs agreed.

Their outstretched hands did not quite meet, and Barbie again thought of a pane of glass; putting your inside hand up against the hand of some outside friend, the fingers together but not touching.

He pulled his hand back. It was the one he'd used to wipe his bloody nose, and he saw the red shapes of his own fingers hanging on thin air. As he watched, the blood began to bead. Just as it would on glass.

'Holy God, what does it mean?' Sea Dogs whispered.

Barbie had no answer. Before he could say anything, Ernie Calvert tapped him on the back. 'I called the cops,' he said. 'They're coming, but no one answers at the Fire Department - I got a recording telling me to call Castle Rock.'

'Okay, do that,' Barbie said. Then another bird dropped about twenty feet away, falling into the farmer's grazeland and disappearing. Seeing it brought a new idea into Barbie's mind, possibly sparked by the time he'd spent toting a gun on the other side of the world. 'But first, I think you better call the Air National Guard, up in Bangor.'

Ernie gaped at him. 'The Guard?

'They're the only ones who can institute a no-fly zone over Chester's Mill,' Barbie said. 'And I think they better do it right away'




The Mill's Chief of Police heard neither explosion, though he was outside, raking leaves on the lawn of his Morin Street home. The portable radio was sitting on the hood of his wife's Honda, playing sacred music on WOK (call letters standing for Christ Is King and known by the town's younger denizens as Jesus Radio). Also, his hearing wasn't what: it once had been. At sixty-seven, was anybody's?

But he heard the first siren when it cut through the day; his ears were attuned to that sound just as a mother's are to the cries of her children. Howard Perkins even knew which car it was, and who was driving. Only Three and Four still had the old warblers, but Johnny Trent had taken Three over to Castle Rock with the FD, to that damned training exercise. A 'controlled burn,' they called it, although what it really amounted to was grown men having fun. So it was car Four, one of their two remaining Dodges, and Flenry Morrison would be driving.

He stopped raking and stood, head cocked. The siren s:arted to fade, and he started raking again. Brenda came out on the stoop. Almost everyone in The Mill called him Duke - the nickname a holdover from his high school days, when he had never missed a John Wayne picture down at the Star - but Brenda had quit that soon after they were married in favor of the other nickname. The one he disliked.

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