Home > Under the Dome(7)

Under the Dome(7)
Author: Stephen King

But the last of those profitable pollution factories had closed in 1979. The weird colors had left the Prestile and the fish had returned, although whether or not they were fit for human consumption remained a matter of debate. (The Democrat voted 'Aye!')

The town's population was seasonal. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, it was close to fifteen thousand. The rest of the year it was just a tad over or under two, depending on the balance of births and deaths at Catherine Russell, which was considered to be the best hospital north of Lewiston.

If you asked the summer people how many roads led in and out of The Mill, most would say there were two: Route 117, which led to Norway-South Paris, and Route 119, which went through downtown Castle Rock on its way to Lewiston.

Residents of ten years or so could have named at least eight more, all twolane blacktop, from the Black Ridge and Deep Cut Roads that went into Harlow, to the Pretty Valley Road (yes, just as pretty as its name) that wound north into TR-90.

Residents of thirty years or more, if given tame to mull it over (perhaps in the back room of Brownie's Store, where there was still a woodstove), could have named another dozen, with names both sacred (God Creek Road) and profane (Little Bitch Road, noted on local survey maps with nothing but a number).

The oldest resident of Chester's Mill on what came to be known as Dome Day was Clayton Brassey. He was also the oldest resident of Castle County, and thus holder of the Boston Post Cane. Unfortunately, he no longer knew what a Boston Post Cane was, or even precisely who he was. He sometimes mistook his great-great-grand-daughter Nell for his wife, who was forty years dead, and the Democrat had stopped doing its yearly 'oldest resident' interview with him three years previous. (On the last occasion, when asked for the secret of his longevity, Clayton had responded, 'Where's my Christing dinner?') Senility had begun to creep up shortly after his hundredth birthday; on this October twenty-first, he was a hundred and five. He had once been a fine finish carpenter specializing in dressers, banisters, and moldings. His specialties in these latter days included eating Jell-O pudding without getting it up his nose and occasionally making it to the toilet before releasing half a dozen blood-streaked pebbles into the commode.

But in his prime - around the age of eighty-five, say - he could have named almost all the roads leading in and out of Chester's Mill, and the total would have been thirty-four. Most were dirt, many were forgotten, and almost all of the forgotten ones* wound through deep tangles of second-growth forest owned by Diamond Match, Continental Paper Company, and American Timber.

And shortly before noon on Dome Day, every one of them snapped closed.


On most of these roads, there was nothing so spectacular as the explosion of the Seneca V and the ensuing pulp-truck disaster, but there was trouble. Of course there was. If the equivalent of an invisible stone wall suddenly goes up around an entire town, there is bound to be trouble.

At the exact same moment the woodchuck fell in two pieces, a scarecrow did the same in Eddie Chalmers's pumpkin fied, not far from Pretty Valley Road. The scarecrow stood directly on the town line dividing The Mill from TR-90. Its divided stance had always amused Eddie, who called his bird-frightener the Scarecrow Without A Country - Mr SWAC for short. Half of Mr SWAC fell in The Mill; the other half fell 'on the TR,' as the locals would have put it.

Seconds later, a flight of crows bound for Eddie's pumpkins (the crows had never been afraid of Mr SWAC) struck something where nothing had ever been before. Most broke their necks aid fell in black clumps on Pretty Valley Road and the fields on both sides. Birds everywhere, on both sides of the Dome, crashed and fell dead; their bodies would be one of the ways the new barrier was eventually delineated.

On God Creek Road, Bob Roux had been digging potatoes. He came in for lunch (more commonly known as 'dinnah' in those parts), sitting astride his old Deere tractor and listening to his brand new iPod, a gift from his wife on what would prove to be his final birthday. His house was only half a mile from the field he'd been digging, but unfortunately for him, the field was in Motto a and the house was in Chester's Mill. He struck the barrier at fifteen miles an hour, while listening to James Blunt sing 'You're Beautiful.' He had the loosest of grips on the tractor's steering wheel, because he could see the road all the way to his house and there was nothing on it. So when his tractor came to a smash-halt, the potato-digger rising up behind and then crashing back down, Bob was flung forward over the engine block and directly into the Dome. His iPod exploded in the wide front pocket of his bib overalls, but he never felt it. He broke his neck and fractured his skull on the nothing he collided with and died in the dirt shortly thereafter, by one tall wheel of his tractor, which was still idling. Nothing, you know, runs like a Deere.


At no point did the Motton Road actually run through Motton; it ran just inside the Chester's Mill town line. Here were new residential homes, in an area that had been called Eastchester since 1975 or so. The owners were thirty- and fortysomethings who commuted to Lewiston-Auburn, where they worked for good wages, mostly in white-collar jobs. All of these homes were in The Mill, buc many of their backyards were in Motton. This was the case with Jack and Myra Evans's home at 379 Motton Road. Myra had a vegetable garden behind their house, and although most of the goodies had been harvested, there were still a few fat Blue Hubbard squashes beyond the remaining (and badly rotted) pumpkins. She was reaching for one of these when the Dome came down, and although her knees were in Chester's Mill, she happened to be reaching for a Blue Hubbard that was growing a foot or so across the Motton line.

She didn't cry out, because there was no pain - not at first. It was too quick and sharp and clean for that.

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