The Periodic Table By D.I. Jolly (Part 3 of 3)

After a few minutes of silence, Maxi looked up at the nearest speaker box and smiled.

“Hey VI, wanna hear a joke?”

“The answer to that question is outside my given parameters.”

“So, Ruthenium and Nitrogen wanted to lose weight right, so they went on a RuN.”

The room fell back into silence for a moment while Maxi grinned up at the box.

“No see because Ruthenium is Ru and Nitrogen is N … on the periodic table, so it Ru N, run, get it?”

VI focused in on the girl desperate to say something encouraging, or to laugh or cry or scream, anything to indicate that she did understand and loved the little jokes Maxi told but all she could say was.

“The answer to that question is outside my given parameters.”

“Yeah, you get it.”

A new sensation rushed over VI as she continued to try to find a way to tell Maxi that she liked her joke and the faintest crackling of static came over the speaker. The rest of the day passed without incident. Maxi attended lessons before dinner and then fitness before bed. All the while VI clung to her growing frustration. Until suddenly in the middle of the night, every speaking in the Dome started blasting a single ear-splitting tone at full volume, followed by a few seconds of the element song. Maxi reacted by leaping from her bed screaming in terror. She fumbled forward in the confusion and darkness until her head hit the wall and she crumbled into a ball on the ground. Never in her whole life had she experienced anything like it and true fear filled her for the first time. All thoughts of exiting the Dome, of exploring and the wonder of the unknown vanished in the face of confusion and darkness. As suddenly as it started the room fell back into silence except for her quiet whimpers.

“V…VI, W… w… what was that?”

“…”

“VI?”

“…”

“Hello?”

“…”

“H-Hello? Are… are you there?”

For what felt like a lifetime Maxi sat in the darkness feeling more alone than she ever had before, with tears welling up and rolling down her face.

“Hello Maxi.”

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