“Don’t you hate it here?”
I glance over at Kirsty. She’s sprawled out on the grass below the tree I’m in, head rolling to one side, a bored expression on her face. She exhales loudly.
“It’s boring. Everything is perfect. There’s no… action.”
“So you’d rather live on the Outside?” I laugh, nervously. Kirsty daydreams too much. She hates it here- okay, most of us do- but would she really rather live Outside? That place is plagued with crime, violence, destruction. Hell.
“Well, yeah. Everything’s a bit different every day there, right? Here it’s just same old, same old. I hate it. I know what time everything happens here, it’s all the same. Bo-ring.” She moans, dragging out the last word.
I swing my legs back and forth over a branch, mulling over her thoughts. She is right, in a way- Outside is a living hell, with no government and no rules, but at least they don’t have to live on a strict schedule for everything like we do in Haven. Here, we have allocated weather times, run by intelligent, artificial skies. Here, we don’t have a choice in what we do.
I gaze up at the Sky Screen. It isn’t really a sky. It’s projecting the ideal weather for the moment; we’re in the recreational activities hour of the day at the moment, but our time’s nearly up. We have ten minutes, according to the Clock. It shines down from above, a replacement of sorts of the sun. Its digital green figures glare down at us, 13:50.
“Okay, Kirsty, you go find a way out,” I snort as I jump down from my tree branch. I land in the grass with a soft thud, making Kirsty jump. Her eyes flick open.
“Okay! Come with me.” She says. I look at her, in between disbelieving laughter, but I realise she looks dead serious.
“You’re serious.” I exclaim. The laughter flies away on the breeze and my smile fades into a frown.
Kirsty props herself up on one elbow, so she’s nearly at my sitting height. She raises an eyebrow at me and shrugs. “I want to know what’s out there. I need to know. Callum, he-”
“No.” I say, a little too loudly. I hear my voice bounces from tree to tree of the orchard. “No. Kirsty. Not this again, you know…”
“He might not be dead. How do you know?”
“You set foot outside, you might as well be dead. That’s what Council say.”
“Okay, Council says ‘jump off a cliff’. Would you do it?”
“Dummy. You know what I mean. It’s dangerous enough trying to get out of here. You could get shot for disobedience. Do you honestly think, even if you got out, that you would find Callum? He’s probably-” I stop myself, midsentence. Talking about Callum around Kirsty… it’s not the best idea at any time. And you especially don’t say Callum and dead in the same sentence.
Kirsty leans forward, slightly, so that her hair hides her features. She does this when she’s emotional; she doesn’t like people seeing her cry; she’s tough, and that’s the reason she’s known by most in Haven. Shoulder length black curls mask her tanned face.
“Kirsty… All I’m trying to say is, it’s just not a good idea. Think of how big Outside is. Think of how dangerous and stupid it would be to go out there. Heck, to try and get out.”
Kirsty peeked out from under her wild hair and I saw her wipe away a tear. It’s been a year since Callum went missing but sometimes, when I walk past her house, I see her in her room, crying. She regains herself, grasps reality again, and sits up to hug me. Suddenly, she’s not upset or seeking a life-threatening adventure anymore; she’s happy and almost buzzing. She squeezes me tight.
“You’re totally right. It was a stupid thought and I’m just imagining things.”
I nod slowly, glad she’s come to her senses. We only have three minutes until recreational activities time is over and we need to get going.
“Of course I won’t run off and look for him.” She finishes, but Council’s announcement drowned her voice out. No one knows quite how Haven’s monitoring technology works; no one has ever spotted a speaker of any sort- but somehow the announcements are broadcast all across Haven and everyone can hear them. They must be hidden in-between the thousands, millions of little lights that make up the Sky Screen.
“Citizens are to report to housing for Curfew, commencing in ten minutes. I repeat, Citizens are to…”
I tune out and link arms with Kirsty. We trudge through the soft, lush grass of the orchard, weaving in and out of the apple trees, on the way to the estates. When we reach my house, which is the first one to walk past, Kirsty leans in and kisses me on the cheek.
“What’s with the sentimental goodbye?” I joke, but Kirsty’s already unlinked her arm from mine, and she’s already on her way up the road.