Home > Under the Dome(6)

Under the Dome(6)
Author: Stephen King

A police siren started yowling, junior was sure it was for him. Someone had looked in the window and seen him choking her. It galvanized him into action. He started down the hall to the front door, got as far as the towel he'd knocked off her hair with that first slap, then stopped. They'd come that way, that was just the way they'd come. Pull up out front, those bright new LED flashers sending arrows of pain into the squalling meat of his poor brain -

He turned around and ran back to the kitchen. He looked down before stepping over Angie's body, he couldn't help it, In first grade, he and Frank had sometimes pulled her braids and she would stick her tongue out at them and cross her eyes. Now her eyes bulged from their sockets like ancient marbles and her mouth was full of blood.

Did I do that7 Did I really?

Yes. He had. And even that single fleeting look was enough to explain why. Her f**king teeth. Those humungous choppers.

A second siren joined the first, then a third. But they were going away. Thank Christ, they were going away. They were heading south down Main Street, toward those booming sounds.

Nevertheless, Junior did not slow down. He skulked across the McCains' backyard, unaware that he would have screamed guilt about something to anyone who happened to be watching (no one was). Beyond LaDonna's tomato plants was a high board fence and a gate. There was a padlock, but it was hanging open on the hasp. In his years of growing up and sometimes hanging out here, Junior had never seen it closed.

He opened the gate. Beyond were scrub woods and a path leading down to the muted babble of Prestile Stream. Once, when he was thirteen, Junior had spied Frank and Angie standing on that path and kissing, her arms around his neck, his hand cupping her breast, and understood that childhood was almost over.

He leaned down and vomited into the running water The sun-dapples on the water were malicious, awful. Then his vision cleared enough so he could see the Peace Bridge to his right. The fisherboys were gone, but as he looked, a pair of police cars raced down Town Common Hill.

The town whistle went off. The Town Hall generator had kicked on just as it was supposed to during a power failure, allowing the whistle to broadcast its high-decibel disaster message. Junior moaned and covered his ears.

The Peace Bridge was really just a covered pedestrian walkway, now ramshackle and sagging. Its actual name was the Alvin Chester Pass-Through, but it had become the Peace Bridge in 1969, when some kids (at the time there had been rumors in town about which ones) had painted a big blue peace sign on the side. It was still there, although now faded to a ghost. For the last ten years Peace Bridge had been condemned. Police DO NOT CROSS tape Xed both ends, but of course it was still used. Two or three nights a week, members of Chief Perkins's Fuzznuts Brigade would shine their lights in there, always at one end or the other, never both. They didn't want to bust the kids who were drinking and necking, just scare them away. Every year at town meeting, someone would move that Peace Bridge be demolished and someone else would move that it be renovated, and both motions would be tabled. The town had its own secret will, it seemed, and that secret will wanted the Peace Bridge to stay just as it was.

Today, Junior Rennie was glad of that.

He shambled along the Prestile's northern bank until he was beneath the bridge - the police sirens now fading, the town whistle yelling as loud as ever - and climbed up to Strout Lane. He looked both ways, then trotted past the sign reading DEAD END, BRIDGE CLOSED. He ducked under the crisscross of yellow tape, into the shadows. The sun shone through the holey roof, dropping dimes of light on the worn wooden boards underfoot, but after the blaze of that kitchen from hell, it was blessedly dark. Pigeons sweettalked in the roofbeams. Beer cans and Allen's Coffee Flavored Brandy bottles were scattered along the wooden sides.

I will never get away with this. I don't know if I left any of me under her nails, can't remember if she got me or not, but my blood's there. And my fingerprints. I only have two choices, really: run or turn myself in.

No, there was a third. He could kill himself.

He had to get home. Had to draw all the curtains in his room and turn it into a cave. Tike another Imitrex, lie down, maybe sleep a little. Then he might be able to think. And if they came for him while he was asleep? Why, that would save him the problem of choosing between Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3.

Junior crossed the town common. When someone - some old guy he only vaguely recognized - grabbed his arm and said, 'What happened, Junior? What's going on?' Junior only shook his head, brushed the old man's hand away, and kept going.

Behind him, the town whistle whooped like the end of the world.



There was a weekly newspaper in Chester's Mill called the Democrat. Which was misinformation, since ownership and management - both hats worn by the formidable Julia Shumway - was Republican to the core. The masthead looked like this:


Est. 1890 Serving 'The Little Town That Looks Like A Boot!'

But the motto was misinformation, too. Chester's Mill didn't look like a boot; it looked like a kid's athletic sock so filthy it was able to stand up on its own. Although touched by the much larger and more prosperous Castle Rock to the southwest (the heel of the sock), The Mill was actually surrounded by four towns larger in area but smaller in population: Motton, to the south and southeast; Harlow to the east and northeast; the unicorporated TR-90 to the north; and Tarker"s Mills to the west. Chester's and Tarker's were sometimes known as the Twin Mills, and between them - in the days when central and western Maine textile mills were running full bore - had turned Prestile Stream into a polluted and Ashless sump that changed color almost daily and according to location. In those days you could start out by canoe in Tarker's running on green water, and be on bright yellow by the time you crossed out of Chester's Mill and into Motton. Plus, if your canoe was made of wood, the paint might be gone below the waterline.

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