As soon as mum enters our living room again, she pulls the curtains shut quickly. She locks all of the windows, and even goes out for a second to double check the kitchen door and the front door again. Then, she sits herself opposite me, and waits.
I guess she’s waiting for me to compose myself. I wipe the last tears away- no more can come, I’ve cried too much- and I face her. Nervously. Does she know I know something? Is she going to report me for having information? I… I was only defending Kirsty. She’s my best friend, as well as more recently… a criminal.
“Cassie. You have to keep quiet about this. And you do not say a word, to anybody. Do you understand me?” She asks. Her voice has dropped to little more than a whisper, and I have to lean forward to catch her words.
“Kirsty is fine. I phoned her about an hour ago. She’s safe, outside. She’s annoyed you didn’t join her, but she’s waiting for us, when we’re ready.”
My head drops to one side and I open my mouth to reply, but no words are coming. What does she mean? And what’s phoning?
“Cassie, our family and Kirsty’s go back a long way. You know this, obviously.”
I nod, unsure of where this is going.
“Both of our families are part of an organisation. You won’t understand it, because you grew up here, in Haven: You don’t know what the outside world is like.
But Haven is not what it seems like from everything you know. This is not what the name says it is. I am not from Haven. I can tell you more of that later. But, we need to leave. Us and the Silvertons- we were all planning to leave systematically, in larger groups than one or two at a time, but… complications happened. You might understand that in a minute.”
I’m too shocked to speak. Haven is safe. Haven is our home. Haven is the way forward, as the Council’s mantra drones, before and after every announcement, Haven is the light.
“You were meant to leave Haven last night, with Kirsty- but Kirsty said she could never find the right time to explain to you- she was going to tell everything to you last night, at the orchard, but the spies came to you two. So we went with plan B, which was to get Kirsty to go on her own. We’re going to follow her. Later.”
“Wait. Stop.” I shout, much to mum’s disapproval. She hits her lips with her index finger, making a shushing gesture.
I lower my voice. “Kirsty… Me… we were meant to escape? Escape Haven? What is phoning? What spies? What?” With every question my voice becomes higher pitched as the reality hits me like a stormy wave, crashing over me violently.
“You remember Kirsty started to talk to you about leaving?” I nod. “She was going to start explaining, but there was a spy. She spotted him in the tree behind you,” I gasp and glance around myself as if he might still be there. It feels eerie, to think there someone had been behind me, watching me, whilst I sat in that orchard innocently, only hours ago. “- so she had to stop talking and pretend she was only joking. Luckily the spy didn’t overhear properly, so alarms weren’t raised; Kirsty managed to get out a few hours ago.”
“I… I don’t get it, though, why are we escaping? What’s this resistance? What is phoning someone?”
“Cassie, you don’t know how much it hurts to have kept you in the dark like this- to be keeping you in the dark right now…” Mum sniffs, and she brushes a stray strand of hair from her face. I realise that she is shaking almost as much as me. “I want to tell you everything now, but I’m sorry, we don’t have time. Someone could be outside. Hell, someone could be in here, right now…”
With that statement, we both cast nervous looks around the room, as if somebody was to turn the corner and gun us down at any moment. Which, actually, could happen any moment.
“Our bags are packed. They’re underneath the stairs. When the announcement rings, as the Sky Screen turns to day, you’re not going to school.”
Stupidly, I frown. I’ll never know if I get dad’s old job from my Aptitude test. I don’t know why… but it hurts to know that I’ll never know whether or not that, in a world where he and Cal were still alive, I’d go to work with them.
“We’re going to walk to the edges of the wilds, and there will be a jeep waiting for us. You’re to sit in the back and keep your head down. There’s a guard who’s a… who’s a bit of an insider, he works for us, in a way. He’s driving us through, to the Barrier. Then we get out of Haven. Do you understand?”
Slowly, I move my head back and forth. No, I don’t understand anything. But I’m too bewildered and paralysed with fear to object to anything she’s said.
“We have ten minutes.”