Madison sat in the atrium, feeling utterly alone despite being surrounded by others, including the man that she loved and had taken as her husband several years ago. She stared at the gathering masses as they all watched the ceiling. Standing there, heads raised to the sky, they looked out through the glass dome that protectively encased the room.
As she watched them, she was overcome with the sensation that she was no longer one of them. She knew so much now. Things that they would never know. Knowledge, that if they did learn of, would result in a catastrophe. Even realizing this, she wanted to tell them. This secret was heavy, and she desperately wanted the burden of carrying it to be shared. But it was hers alone to shoulder.
Feeling the gentle squeeze on her hand, she turned her head from the crowd. Her husband, holding her tight, encouraged her not to miss the show. She did as he did, craning her neck upwards, watching and waiting.
The full length of the expansive, thick glass was usually covered in a wash of yellow-orange dust, kicked up by the toxic breeze that roamed freely over the empty landscape. But today, during the late afternoon, a shower of acidic rain fell with force, scrubbing the glass clean and making for clear viewing. The cleansing never lasted long, as the gunk seemed to cake back upon the glass with such tenacity that it was like a magnet attracting metal.
Normally, even when the grime has run away, the low hanging clouds are too thick to permit a worthwhile view outside. Yet today was the perfect confluence of conditions. The pounding rain bled clouds of all their substance, and the barometric pressure, she assumed, stopped any new ones from forming. The unspoiled view of the horizon was blessed not only with a lack of obstruction, but with all the colors of the setting sun.
The sight was still alien to her. The sky was not painted with the pinks, purples, and glorious golds that she remembered. Or, at least that she thought she did. She was never completely certain of anything since she lost her memory. However, on the few other occasions that gave them a glimpse of the sky, her husband had confirmed her recall without prompting.
Tonight, the heavens were smeared with deep greens, an angry red, and a complete blackness that descended far too quickly. This lustrous display coincided with the moment of open time they had each evening after supper.
More people arrived to crowd the room as the natural light dwindled. Disobeying rules, but no longer caring about the consequences, Madison had convinced her man to skip their rations to get a good seat. Despite her growing numbness to the world around her, she still wanted to steal that moment with him, pretend everything was normal, and view what was likely the last sunset they would every see.