Home > Under the Dome(15)

Under the Dome(15)
Author: Stephen King

'Oh, no,' Gendron moaned, shading his eyes. Then he shouted: 'Get back, you fools! Get back!'

Barbie chimed in. 'No! Stop it! Get away!'

It was useless, of course. Even more useless, he was waving his arms in big go-away gestures.

Elsa looked from Gendron to Barbie, bewildered.

The chopper dipped to treetop level and hovered.

'I think it's gonna be okay,' Gendron breathed. 'The people back there must be waving em off, too. Pilot musta seen - '

But then the chopper swung north, meaning to hook in over Alden Dinsmore's grazeland for a different view, and it struck the barrier. Barbie saw one of the rotors break off. The helicopter dipped, dropped, and swerved, all at the same time. Then it exploded, showering fresh fire down on the road and fields on the other side of the barrier.

Gendron's side.

The outside.


Junior Rennie crept like a thief into the house where he had grown up. Or a ghost. It was empty, of course; his father would be out at his giant used car lot on Route 119 - what Junior's friend Frank sometimes called the Holy Tabernacle of No Money Down - and for the last four years Francine Rennie had been hanging out nonstop at Pleasant Ridge Cemetery. The town whistle had quit and the police sirens had faded off to the south somewhere. The house was blessedly quiet.

He took two Imitrex, then dropped his clothes and got into the shower. When he emerged, he saw there was blood on his shirt and pants. He couldn't deal with it now. He kicked the clothes under his bed, drew the shades, crawled into the rack, and drew the covers up over his head, as he had when he was a child afraid of closet-monsters. He lay there shivering, his head gonging like all the bells of hell.

He was dozing when the fire siren went off, jolting him awake. He began to shiver again, but the headache was better. He'd sleep a little, then think about what to do next. Killing himself still seemed by far the best option. Because they'd catch him. He couldn't even go back and clean up; he wouldn't have time before Henry or LaDcnna McCain came back from their Saturday errands. He could run - maybe - but not until his head stopped aching. And of course he'd have to put some clothes on. You couldn't begin life as a fugitive buckytail naked.

On the whole, killing himself would probably be best. Except then the f**king short-order cook would win. And when you really considered the matter, all this was the f**king cook's fault.

At some point the fire whistle quit. Junior slept with the covers over his head. When he woke up, it was nine p.m. His headache was gone.

And the house was still empty.



When Big Jim Rennie scrunched to a stop in his H3 Alphj Hummer (color: Black Pearl; accessories: you name it), he was a full three minutes ahead of the town cops, which was just the way lie liked it. Keep ahead of the competish, that was Rennie's motto.

Ernie Calvert was still on the phone, but he raised a hand in a half-assed salute. His hair was in disarray and he looked nearly insane with excitement. Yo, Big Jim, I got through to em!'

'Through to who?' Rennie asked, not paying much attention. He was looking at the still-burning pyre of the pulp-truck, and at the wreckage of what was clearly a plane. This was a mess, one that could mean a black eye for the town, especially with the two newest firewagons over in The Rock. A training exercise he hac approved of... but Andy Sanders's signature was the one on the approval form, because Andy was First Selectman. That was good. Rennie was a great believer in what he called the Protectability Quotient, and being Second Selectman was a prime example of the Quotient in action; you got all of the power (at least when the First was a nit like Sanders), but rarely had to take the blame when things went wrong.

And this was what Rennie - who had given his heart to Jesus at age sixteen and did not use foul language - called 'a clustermug.' Steps would have to be taken. Control would have to be imposed. And he couldn't count on that elderly ass Howard Perkins to do the job. Perkins might have been a perfectly adequate police chief twenty years ago, but this was a new century.

Rennie's frown deepened as he surveyed the scene. Too many spectators. Of course there were always too many at things such as this; people loved blood and destruction. And some of these appeared to be playing a bizarre sort of game: seeing how far they:ould lean over, or something.


'You people get back from there!' he shouted. He had a good voice for giving orders, big and confident. 'That's an accident site!'

Ernie Calvert - another idiot, the town was full of them, Rennie supposed any town was - tugged at his sleeve. He looked more excited than ever. 'Got through to the ANG, Big Jim, and - '

'The who? The what? What are you talking about?'

'The Air National Guard!'

Worse and worse. People playing games, and this fool calling the -

'Ernie, why would you call them, for gosh sakes?'

'Because he said... the guy said...' But Ernie couldn't remember exactly what Barbie had said, so he moved on. 'Well anyway, the colonel at the ANG listened to what I was telling him, then connected me with Homeland Security in their Portland office. Put me right through!'

Rennie slapped his hands to his cheeks, a thing he did often when he was exasperated. It made him look like a cold-eyed Jack Benny. Like Benny, Big Jim did indeed tell jokes from time to time (always clean ones). He joked because he sold cars, and because he knew politicians were supposed to joke, especially when election time came around. So he kept a small rotating stock of what he called 'funnies' (as in 'Do you boys want to hear a funny?'). He memorized these much as a tourist in a foreign land will pick up the phrases for stuff like Where is the bathroom or Is there a hotel with Internet in this village?

But he didn't joke now. 'Homeland Security! What in the cotton-picking devil for?' Cotton-picking was by far Rennie's favorite epithet.

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