Silence. I tapped my fingers on the countr. It was a very old make: barely floating above the ground. Shifting on my seat, I cleared my throat, breaking my Grandma from her stare. Why was she so entranced by this one?
“Sorry Pips, I didn’t mean to stare that long,” she said. But she still had that sad look in her eyes. Even though she smiled, it was like she had seen something. Something bad. I peeked over at the screen on her phone. All I could see on it was green. An unusual colour…different from the many shades of white, grey and blue. Sitting back, I cleared my throat, just about to ask a question when she interrupted me. “A tree” she whispered. “FINDING RESULTS FOR TREE” the familiar unfamiliar robotic voice of Nevtar said. She came round the corner, her face flashing a faint pink.
“No Nevtar, it’s fine we don’t want that, bye…”
“BYE MISS SHADREW,” she hummed out, back to her pod.
“A tree?” I asked when Nevtar had gone. Grandma turned her screen round. I gasped. I didn’t know much about this thing that stood on the screen, but I did know that it was against the Cers to ever speak about things with green attached to them. In our learning pods we didn’t get told much about them, just shown a picture with a big red cross. If the Certalent decided to check through phones of the Dome occupants then Grandma would be executed. Full stop.
“Grandma… you can’t… what is this?” I stammered.
“A tree in the last park. Before it was Fletted. The bark, it was so real. So fresh. You could scratch your hand if you rubbed it too hard. Nature. Not Nayfure. Nature. It was the world as it was supposed to be, not made of metals and plastics and glass. It wasn’t illegal to smuggle air. You breathed it in all the time. And when you looked through a window you didn’t have to wear masks or goggles!”
I looked at the picture again. It wasn’t like the parks here. There was no dome covering it. No Certalent soldiers making sure you didn’t shout, laugh too loud or run about. It didn’t look to me like there were children lined up to go to the slides, then 60 seconds on the swings, finally ending with a climb to the top of the frame and back down within 80 seconds.
There was no routine about this tree. All the leaves sort of grew where they liked. The swing was made of wood, it looked like. Wood. The material that you saw in bomb-proof glass in the Great History Museum. I was stunned to silence. This…this tall creature was so beautiful. It had an effect on you that drew you in. Just standing there. The tree. Everything about it was fresh; the colours, the shape and even the name felt somewhat refreshing on the tongue.
I couldn’t understand, why would anyone want to get rid of it?
Was it alive? Did it scream when they dropped Flett on it?
Suddenly I realised.
“Was that in the upland Grandma?” I said. I checked that Nevtar wasn’t around to eavesdrop. “In the…outside?” I whispered, almost choking.
“Before the war, we all lived in the upland. In small houses made of stone, brick and sometimes wood,” She talked of it so confidently. Like a murderer talking casually about her victims. Who would ever want to destroy a world that looked like it was so beautiful?
“I’m going to get a drink.” I eventually announced. Down the short, white corridor was the kitchen. Everything was in its place, tidy. Nevtar. I pressed the button for cold and water came out of the small nozzle. I took a sip and contemplated. What was the motivation behind my Grandma’s explanation of the tree? And how on earth did she have a picture?
When I walked back down to the living room something caught my attention. A faint buzz… I turned around and saw her. Nevtar, her light flashing. She was ‘on’. I heard the glass hit the tile floor; I saw the water spilling out of the cup. I noticed my grandma notice Nevtar.
I stared into her eyes. They were black. Cold. The eyes of a spy.
And suddenly I remembered.
“FINDING RESULTS FOR TREE”
BANG! BANG! They thumped on the door.
“OPEN UP! CERTALENT!”
But we couldn’t hear them, because we were running down the back exit of Dome 275.