The Saved – Sharif Gemie

I went in his pod once. It stinks. All round his bed, piled up one on top of another, there are goo-cartons, most with bits of uneaten goo left in them. 

Mandy frowns. Slob’s getting out of hand. She worries the little ones will start following him instead of her. 

Anyway, Slob’s wrong. Even with PARENTAL CONTROL, there’s still loads on the Hub, far too much for anyone to view it all. Sometimes I remember music that my parents listened to and I get the Hub to search for it. Once, I remembered someone called Bark, who played the piano. Eventually, the Hub found Bach for me: hours and hours of music. But I couldn’t find the song that my parents liked. 

My parents liked The Simpsons, which was made for children. Sometimes the three of us would watch it together. They’d laugh out loud and I’d join in, just for show. I mean, I could see it was meant to be funny, but… Why did the children get in that long yellow car with the benches to go to school? Why wasn’t the school next to where they lived? There was so much I didn’t understand. Music makes more sense, especially music without words. Like Kind of Blue, another of my parents’ favorites. That sort of music creates shapes and images in your mind… It doesn’t matter if you never saw a supermarket or a road or a tree, that music still means something.

I eat my goo and look around the table. Mandy is telling one of the little ones to use her spoon properly. Geek is looking at Mandy. Frizz is singing, in her irritating way. Box is saying he doesn’t want to learn to read. Mandy looks at me: I’m the teachers’ child. 

‘If you can’t read,’ I tell Box, ‘you won’t be able to use the Hub.’

‘Yes, I will. I just click with the arrow. Easy.’

‘But some things are more difficult. You need to understand what they say.’

He snorts, then throws his carton on the floor. Mandy tuts. 

Could I leave these people? Or would they come with me? I’ve got to say something. 

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