by Colby Cox
by Colby Cox
It was my first time outside the white-painted dome, and I was immediately struck by the colors. I had heard the stories of the colors before, but I wasn’t sure whether I believed them. All I had known—all I had ever known—was black, white, and grey.
I blink my eyes, and I notice that some of the other Hunters are doing the same. The Head,
Anton Meier, and the rest of the seasoned Hunters laugh at us for doing so—they know that they looked the exact same way when they came out here for the first time.
The world is immensely different. Where under the dome we had skyscrapers, in the Outer
World, there are thin, dark towers that stretch to the sky and end in dome-like canopies the color of the ground. These towers stand in a large group together, stopping only for the dome that covers the White City and continuing as far as I can see. The spaces in between these towers are dark, the light from the whitish orb in the sky blocked by the vast canopies at the top of the towers.
Anton Meier stops laughing at us and points towards the dark areas. “Well,” he says. “Let’s
roll out! Come on!”
The lot of us walks behind Anton into the darkness. We have to step over things that have
fallen from the canopies now and then. At one point, a river, much like the artificial one that men
have built in the middle of the White City, comes up in front of us and we have to jog over to a
simple footbridge that can only handle one of us at a time.
Anton holds up a hand, stopping us. “Michelson, come here,” he says. At the mention of my
name, I step forward, stopping slightly behind and to the right of Anton. “You can be the first
newbie to see this. Look—between those trees.”
I look, but I see nothing at all in between the towers—trees. “What…What is it?” I ask.
“It’s an Empty. Do you see him?” he asks.
“I don’t,” I respond honestly. “What am I looking for?”
“Look for something that looks like a man, only it doesn’t move quite like one. Don’t expect
to see smooth movements—they will be slower and more rigid than what you would expect to
see from a man.”
The other new Hunters stand far enough back that they don’t hear what we’re saying, but curiosity is obvious on each and every one of their faces.
Suddenly, I notice movement, and I jolt. The Empty, as Meier called it, looks exactly as he
had explained it—like a man. However, you can easily understand how it got its name—the
creature seems like it has a missing piece of the puzzle—the one thing that keeps it from being
“Is that what we hunt for?” I ask, confused.
“Yep,” says Anton.
“So…we’ve been eating Empties in the Mess Hall all of this time?”
Anton laughs out loud. “No, Michelson, we don’t. It always gets me that the newbies believe
that we actually hunt for food out here.”
“Well, what are we eating, then?” I ask, annoyed and embarrassed that he is laughing at me.
The other new Hunters look very confused; they can’t quite hear what is being said.
“It’s all manufactured in that factory by the river. Hell, I couldn’t respect myself I caught
what was made into that slop that they call food.”
He sets his sight on the Empty and lets his arrow fly, releasing the bowstring. The arrow
sinks itself into the creature’s head, and it falls over.
Anton Meier motions for the Hunters to follow, and we walk through the space between the
trees deeper into the woods. He explains to us that the Hunters used to hunt for food, before they had to cover the city with the dome because the Empties were multiplying too quickly. Then, the city officials ordered engineers to come up with a way to make food out of synthetic materials so that the Hunters could focus all of their efforts on the eradication of the Empties. He explains that people used to live past forty in the Outer World; that they would eat animals and plants; that they would run and lift heavy things to stay healthy and keep themselves alive longer; and that all of that changed when the dome was added.
Soon, we come to a clearing and Anton stops us. “This is where the White City was
originally. If you will notice, the ground changed from where we have been walking. You can
see the roads and building foundations from the old city.”
I look to the White City that we live in now. It is odd to see it like this—convex instead of
concave. It is an absolute behemoth.
“This is where we take our breaks. We always sit on this foundation for about thirty minutes
before getting another start. It’s outside of the trees, so it is much safer because we can see
We sit down on the hard ground, and only now that I’m sitting do I realize how badly my
calves hurt from all of this walking.
But almost before I get a chance to rest, something on the horizon changes. It is moving,
throbbing, unnoticeable at first, like ants on an ant hill. But there is something coming up from
below the ground.
“Um, Anton,” I say, but when I look at him, I see that he is looking at the same thing as I am.
Empties. There are at least fifty of them, outmatching the fifteen of us greatly.
“Lukas, do you know if the buildings that were over there had basements?”
“I’ve never been over there.”
“I think they did.” Anton draws his bow and, and we all do so, but the Empties are moving
much too fast. Within seconds, they overpower us.
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