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Musical Chairs

Triton was built on the floor of an alien sea. It was a network of austere rectangular facilities connected by titanium tunnels that channeled the water like a hulking industrial Venice. Triton wasn't a city in the organic sense, although people did live within the sunless confines.
Its growth was not an organic process. It was a prefabricated facility built for the practice purposes of housing a specific population of humans while they toiled to extract the resources buried in the ocean floor.
For a time, Triton was a success. Rising production lead to growth, but the precarious balance between population and resources was always maintained. A creature of unimaginable sized suddenly and without warning seized the entirety of Triton in its grasp. The beast engulfed Triton and slowly began to crush the life out of it the way a boa constrictor does to its prey. The aquatic monster was so enormous no one could see it in its entirety, there was no way of knowing what it was, but it held Triton in its iron grip. There was no way in or out.
A restless crowd was swelling in the damp metallic chamber. Rumors were passed around like pathogens as the frightened and agitated people watched the small watercraft fill up under the watchful eye of visibly nervous armed guards.
"There won't be enough boats."
"They won't be able to take us all in time."
Standing near the front of the horde was Anne, a young woman with two young boys at her side. In her right hand, she clasped the palm of her nine-year-old son Twain, and in her left hand, she held on tight to his friend James.  James was the same as age as Twain. He had recently become Anne's charge after appearing alone in her family's living quarters with a letter from his mother. A letter explaining she and her husband were permanently relieving themselves of all existence's burdens.
Sections of Triton were caving in under the pressure of the monster's squeeze. Essential personnel and their immediate family were being moved to different parts of the facility, but only essential personnel. Fortunately for Anne, this included her and her Twain. James, however, was another matter. The boy's life depended entirely on the compassion of the security forces.
Anne kept her composure despite the mounting terror gripping the swarm of desperate people that surrounded them. Her face showed no fear, but clammy palms and darting eyes betrayed the dread that was enveloping her at the core.
The crowd shuffled forward, and the people at the head of the pack jammed themselves into a vessel bobbing in the narrow waterway. Anne gripped the hands of the two boys to reassure them and herself
"Alright, This one's full announced!" a guard.
The crowd grumbled in response.
"When's our boat?" asked Twain.
"Don't worry, we'll get the next one," Anne reassured him.
The sound of compressing steel echoing in the chamber silenced the crowd. The walls buckled and pressed inward, and water began pouring in from the ceiling. The floor trembled with the resonating force of the mammoth creature's moan.
Panic ensued, and the crowd surged forward. The guards formed a wall to break the human tide. Anne was at the front, and she could see another boat approaching.
"Load up quick! This is the last one!"
The boat docked, and the people rushed it. Some tried jumping past the guard and ended up in the freezing water, pleading in vain for someone to pull them out.
At last, Anne made it to the boat. The guard looked them over.
"Let's see your passes!" he demanded.
Anne produced the passes issued to her, and the guard looked them over.
"This is only good for two of you!" the guard shouted.
"I know, but this boy's parents are-"
"Hey! Get back!" The guard shouted to someone to Anne's side.
"Please," she began again.
"I can only let the people named in the passes on the transport!" the guard reiterated.
Another moan reverberated through the walls, and there was the ear-piercing screech of breaking steel. A hole opened in the ceiling and water poured in.
Anne could see the boat was filling up fast.
"Please, you have to let us all on! This boy is an orphan!" She pleaded.
"Ma'm, we have to go! You can either come with us and leave the kid, or all three of you can stay here!"
Anne froze, she looked down into Jame's sad pleading eyes then back to the nearly full boat. Instinct commandeered her senes, and she let go of Jame's hand and pulled Twain to her.
"Wait!" the boy screamed as the panicked crowd swallowed him.
"We left James!" Twain cried.
Anne ignored Twain's cries and pulled him onto the boat. The rumbling motor kicked into gear, and they sped off down the waterway. Anne never looked back.


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