No one replies.
‘Anyone walked here through some snow?’
‘There are no seasons,’ Slob says and glares at me. Then he goes back to his room.
Silence. Then Mama Mandy starts.
‘Well, I think Slob’s wrong.’ She stares at the little ones. ‘We all remember what our parents told us. About streets and cities and cars… Those things are real.’
‘Yes,’ I say. ‘And we can get there. Outside. We can go there!’
Mandy looks at me and switches to her mum voice.
‘Yes, Shev, we could—but would we want to? Remember why our parents came here. Disease, starvation, food riots… It’s dangerous Outside. I’m not sure it’s a good idea.’
Geek knows what to say now. ‘There’s floods and fighting… The people Outside, they might not like us…’
That’s a new idea. I hadn’t thought of that.
‘So what are you going to do?’ I shout. ‘Just sit and eat goo for the next sixty years? Until we’re old?’
Geek and Mandy exchange a strange look and I guess something.
‘What?’ I say. ‘You’re going to do that? Together? Have babies? Here?’
Mandy gives a funny little smile and looks down at the floor.
‘I’m not yet ready to have children,’ she says softly and smiles at Geek. ‘But Shev—Think about it. What’s the most upsetting thing about living here?’
‘PARENTAL CONTROL, of course.’
‘Well, you see, once I had a baby, then I’d be a parent, and then…’
‘Mandy, you idiot! The Hub’s a machine. It won’t know you’re a parent. It just reads your pass card.’
‘You can think that way if you want, Shev. But we don’t think that what you’re suggesting is a good idea. We want somewhere nice and calm for us and our baby. We think it’s best to avoid Outside. In fact—’
She looks at Geek.
‘—in fact, I don’t think we can let you go there.’