The Saved – Sharif Gemie

I wonder what sunlight feels like. I can see it through the monitor: a warm, yellow light. But what would it feel like on my skin? Like putting my arm too close to a lamp? Can’t it burn? I remember a word in an old book: sunburn

And rain? Wind? I think a lot about things like this. All I’ve got is pictures from the monitor. I used to be able to move the camera, but now it’s stuck. In summer, leaves grow on the tree in front of it and I can’t see the hill opposite. In spring and autumn I see the hills and one little white house opposite. In the evenings its lights come on, tiny gleaming spots. What sort of people live there? In winter it rains and I don’t see much.

I want to go Outside—at least, I think I do… I’ve got to make up my mind. In three days, I’ll have my chance.

 

‘Shev!’ Someone calls me from the Big Room. I don’t move.

My mum and dad called me Jasmine, or Jazz. But after they went… After that, I started reading. Shevek was a man in a book my mum liked. I didn’t understand all of it, but I loved this story about a man who travelled between two places. I talked and talked and talked about it to the other children, but most of them don’t read books. To tease me, they called me Shevek. 

After the grown-ups went, most of us got new names. There’s Mama Mandy, who’s 19 and isn’t a mother, but she treats us like children. There’s Geek, who says he knows how the programs on the Hub work and there’s Slob… I guess his name is obvious.

My parents were teachers. There used to be two teachers, two nurses, two engineers and a biologist and a technician, and eight families of executives. My dad explained it all to me. 48 people moved here, before I was born. I’ve checked the date on the Hub: 20 April 2025. There was a disease, people died and there were food riots… My dad told me this many times, but I always had questions. If everyone was dying, why did 48 people move here? Who decided who would be saved? Dad would smile and say: 

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