Home > Under the Dome(3)

Under the Dome(3)
Author: Stephen King

There was no foot attached.

Barbie ran in what felt like slow motion. He saw one of his own feet, clad in an old scuffed workboot, stride out and clop down. Then it disappeared behind him as his other foot strode out. All slow, slow. Like watching the baseball replay of a guy trying to steal second.

There was a tremendous hollow clang from behind him, followed by the boom of a secondary explosion, followed by a blast of heat that struck him from heels to nape. It shoved him on his way like a warm hand. Then all thoughts blew away and there was nothing but the body's brute need to survive.

Dale Barbara ran for his life.


A hundred yards or so down the road, the big warm hand became a ghost hand, although the smell of burning gas - plus a sweeter stench that had to be a mixture of melting plastic and roasting flesh - was strong, carried to him on a light breeze. Barbie ran another sixty yards, then stopped and turned around. He was panting. He didn't think it was the running; he didn't smoke, and he was in good shape (well... fair; his ribs on the right side still hurt from the beating in Dipper's parking lot). He thought it was terror and dismay. He could have been killed by falling pieces of airplane - not just the runaway propeller - or burned to death. It was only blind luck that he hadn't been.

Then he saw something that made his rapid breathing stop in mid-gasp. He straightened up, looking back at the site of the accident. The road was littered with debris - it really was a wonder that he hadn't been struck and at least wounded. A twisted wing lay on the right; the other wing was poking out of the uncut timothy grass on the left, not far from where the runaway propeller had come to rest. In addition to the bluejeans-clad leg, he could see a severed hand and arm. The hand seemed to be pointing at a head, as if to say That's mine. A woman's head, judging from the hair. The power lines running beside the highway had been severed. They lay crackling and twisting on the shoulder.

Beyond the head and arm was the twisted tube of the airplane's fuselage. Barbie could read NJ3. If there was more, it was torn away.

But none of this was what had caught his eye and stopped his breath. The Disaster Rose was gone now, but there was still fire in the sky. Burning fuel, certainly. But...

But it was running down the air in a thin sheet. Beyond it and through it, Barbie could see the Maine countryside - still peaceful, not yet reacting, but in motion nevertheless. Shimmering lice the air over an incinerator or a burning-barrel. It was as if someone had splashed gasoline ever a pane of glass and then set it alight.

Almost hypnotized - that was what it felt like, anyway - Barbie started walking back toward the scene of the crash.


His first impulse was to cover the body parts, but there were too many. Now he could see another leg (this one in green slacks), and a female torso caught in a clump of juniper. He could pull off his shirt and drape it over the woman's head, but after that? Well, there were two extra shirts in his backpack -

Here came a car from the direction of Morton, the next town to the south. One of the smaller SUVs, and moving fast. Someone had either heard the crash or seen the flash. Help. Thank God for help. Straddling the white line and standing well clear of the fire that was still running down from the sky in that weird water-on-a-windowpane way, Barbie waved his arms over his head, crossing them in big Xs.

The driver honked once in acknowledgment, then slammed on his brakes, laying forty feet of rubber. He was out almost before his little green Toyota had stopped, a big, rangy fellow with long gray hair cascading out from under a Sea Dogs baseball cap. He ran toward the side of the road, meaning to skirt the main firefall.

'What happened?' he cried. 'What in the blue fu - '

Then he struck something. Hard. There was nothing there, but Barbie saw the guy's nose snap to the side as it broke. The man rebounded from the nothing, bleeding from the mouth, nose, and forehead. He fell on his back, then struggled to a sitting position. He stared at Barbie with dazed, wondering eyes as blood from his nose and mouth cascaded down the front of his workshirt, and Barbie stared back.



The two boys fishing near the Peace Bridge didn't look up when the plane flew overhead, but Junior Rennie did. He was a block farther down, on Prestile Street, and he recognized the sound. It was Chuck Thompson's Seneca V. He looked up, saw the plane, then dropped his head fast when the bright sunlight shining though the trees sent a bolt of agony in through his eyes. Another headache. He'd been having a lot of them lately. Sometimes the medication killed them. Sometimes, especially in the last three or four months, it didn't.

Migraines, Dr Haskell said. All Junior knew was that they hurt like the end of the world, and bright light made them worse, especially when they were hatching. Sometimes he thought of the ants he and Frank DeLesseps had burned up when they were just kids. You used a magnifying glass and focused the sun on them as they crawled in and out of their hill. The result was fricasseed formicants. Only these days, when one of his headaches was hatching, his brain was the anthill and his eyes turned into twin magnifying glasses.

He was twenty-one. Did he have this to look forward to until he was forty-five or so, when Dr Haskell said they might let up?

Maybe. But this morning a headache wasn't going to stop him. The sight of Henry McCain's 4Runner or LaDonna McCain's Prius in the driveway might have; in that case he might've turned around, gone back to his own house, taken another Imitrex, and lain down in his bedroom with the shades drawn and a cool washcloth on his forehead. Possibly feeling the pain start to diminish as the headache derailed, but probably not. Once those black spiders really got a foothold -

He looked up again, this time squinting his eyes against the hateful light, but the Seneca was gone, and even the buzz of its engine (also aggravating - all sounds were aggravating when he was getting one of these bitchkitties) was fading. Chuck Thompson with some flyboy or flygirl wannabe. And although Junior had nothing against Chuck - hardly knew him - he wished with sudden, childish ferocity that Chuck's pupil would f**k up bigtime and crash the plane.

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