But I smile and she smiles back, and it’s as if we agree.
‘C’mon, give me a hug,’ she says.
I even do that.
Back in my pod, I think: but they don’t know. There’s a clock in the Big Room and that’s the one that everyone uses to measure the time. But my dad explained on his last day: this place was built in a hurry. The Chief Executive wanted a ceremony to mark the start of The Saved and the clock was put up in the Big Room for that. But all the other things—the Leisure Sector, the Hub—were already working. They have clocks that started the day before the clock in the Big Room. Mama Mandy thinks I can open the door in two days. In fact, I can do it tomorrow.
I turn to the screen in my pod and access the camera. It’s night Outside. The screen shows a thick, blue-black colour. I adjust it and I see the branches of a tree, moving slightly. That must be the wind. And opposite, on the hill, I see two tiny spots of light from the white house. I stare at the shape of the branches, those strange lines and angles, and I realize the pattern is different from everything around me. Everything here is straight and regular, like the benches in the Big Room, or else a mess, like the old goo cartons in Slob’s room. But the pattern of the branches against the night sky is not straight and regular, and not a mess. It’s something else—like the shapes that music makes in my mind. That gives me an idea and I tap in Kind of Blue. I look at the branches moving in the wind. As Kind of Blue ends, I’ve made up my mind. I will go Outside. I think I can come back, though the instructions are a bit complicated. I could ask Geek… No, of course I can’t.
I have to prepare. For the first time in my life, I’m going on a journey.
The alarm wakes me at 7. None of the others will be up: Mama Mandy usually calls us to breakfast at 8.30. I have a bottle of water, a blanket and my pass card. I go through the steps on my screen and press OPEN. It works! It really works. I’ve got five minutes to get to the door. I walk carefully and quietly through the corridors, but there’s no one. I put my card in the door, then wait. Nothing happens. Maybe Slob was right. It’s all just a story. Wasn’t I stupid to believe it! But then: there’s a click, a whirr, a creak and the door opens, showing a grey-white corridor lit by a flickering light.