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In the Atmostheatre

Rachel Yeates

          The line for the new Atmostheatre curls around the block. Mother woke me up with the ticket. It’s grown sweaty in my hand. Streetlights above me twist the ticket’s hologram, make the image look like something falling, first fast and then slow. The pixeled specks plummet and loop, falling up to begin the process again.

          I am the youngest one in line. An attendant shuffles us inside. The waiting area is lined with strange waxy hooked objects. A diagram to the left explains that they can expand into a dome to deflect falling water. Umbrellas they were called. Colloquially: gamp, brolly, bumbershoot.

          The waxy contraptions give way to paper and fabric models. These “umbrella”-like things protected people from direct heat. Before, the skies would turn on you in a moment.

          Someone behind me laughs. They do look pretty hilarious, these people in the diagrams, shielding themselves from otherworldly attacks with thin pieces of plastic and cloth. I can’t grin though. A chill runs down my spine when the next exhibit, a long aluminum rod bolted to a picture of a Before house, is electrocuted from above. I hear several others jump.

          The lightning rod, I read, saved the house’s inhabitants. I would never leave the apartment if I knew the Shield wasn’t there to protect me from that, one woman says.

          Once a woman who was born Before Equilibrium came to speak to my class. She talked about blue skies and this energy called wind that came billowing from above and made things bend and quake. She talked about trees, tall unwieldy growing things that hosted thousands of green leaves, nothing like the manicured farms we had toured earlier that year. These trees grew under the Sun and the Rain, she said. Water fell from the sky, she said. The Sun, this great fire that the Shield now protects us from, gave life to all things. She looked sad, this woman. Her face had turned soft and her eyes were far away. Our teacher told us to practice our math tables and spoke with the woman for a while outside of the classroom. When the teacher returned, the woman did not.

          The crowd has funneled into a single-file line. I hear a whirring blare in front of me. Blue-vested security guards escort a man out. From the other side of the doors, he yells that his ticket is authentic.

          A short woman in a lab coat takes mine. I hold my breath until the scanner’s light flashes green.

          You can go on through, she says.

          I haven’t moved. Another blue vest puts an arm around my shoulders and ushers me into an antechamber. Vents line the walls and the floor is a dark grate, the spaces between gaps are only shadow. The doors clamp shut.

          Please stand still as the air is filtered for any impurities, a disembodied voice says in a light clear tone. A force from the vents presses my linen shirt close to my skin and ruffles my skirt. I take a deep breath, afraid the air around me is being sucked out.

          The doors open, and attendants greet us with sheer plastic suits that can be zipped up over one’s clothing. You may feel a stir around your ankles, one says. This is normal. Flash dehumidifiers at the base of the walls prevent water damage.

          I puff up my chest, proud to know what a dehumidifier is. The doctor recommended one to mitigate the effects of my brother’s asthma. We received special clearance for the thing. Had to put it in a back corner and make sure windows and doors were closed when it was on so as not to disrupt Equilibrium. The chairs face out in tiered circles. I make my way to one close to the top.

          Welcome to Atmostheatre, a unique sensory experience brought to you by Yukimura Labs, the voice lilts. Be aware that exposure to dynamic atmospheric pressure in the theatre may cause headaches, joint pain, changes in blood pressure and difficulty breathing. Please see an attendant if you notice any of these symptoms. Complimentary stabilizers are available by request. Atmostheatre wants you to be a part of their revolutionary meteorological research. Thank you for joining us for today’s show.

Fall, 2016 Issue

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