Janus opens the front door of the flat and suddenly remembers that he has forgotten the ham and tomatoes he promised he would buy. Theta would be home soon and he had nothing prepared. In truth he should have travelled to the market to buy these items. However despite his 10 years in the Theos zone, he still felt uncomfortable. Even now he worried that somebody would notice that his birthright had been removed by laser and another number and sign had been put in its place.
He thinks of Theta and the plan for tomorrow. If she goes ahead everything will change. He rubs his neck. This comfortable life would be over. But it would not just affect him it, it would also affect his mother. His precious dear mother – his mother who had somehow lived past her expiry date and now secretly colours her hair to avoid suspicion. However if Theta does not do it – how would they live with the guilt of knowing they could have changed history. They have one chance to enlighten the people, one chance. He remembers the passion with which she read her ‘alternative’ presentation. He remembers the way in which he held her hands and brought her back to earth. He remembers pleading with her not to do it, that this was the way the world was and they should not try and change it.
Janus thinks about the tablet that he has hidden in his study. It is identical to the one Theta carries in her work satchel. In the months that she has been working on her speech – he has been painstakingly copying the files from one tablet to another. His friend at the Delegation has shown him how to ‘clone’ a tablet without detection. Even now he does not know if he will make the switch. He is torn between saving Theta and saving the world. But he knows that the world cannot be saved, at least not the way Theta wants. He does not want watch her to press the self-destruct button.
He steps into the cool walk-in larder – the shelves are stacked with cans, bottles, dried meats, fresh fruits and vegetables. Luckily not everything is reliant on him. He starts removing items to make a vegetable soup. While he is chopping and peeling, at the counter in the open plan kitchen,he entertains the possibility of a world where he could share the same table with his brother. Shaking his head, he chides himself – that simply cannot happen. It is not the natural order of things. Despite his own circumstances, despite Theta’s clever and well articulated arguments, he still cannot accept that things could be different.
The soup bubbles away on the gas cooker, Janus turns down the heat and moves towards the leather sofa in the living room. He sinks into the chair and glances at the post that the cleaner has piled neatly on the glass coffee table. The first letter catches his eye and causes his breathe to become shallow. The postmark is from the ergates zone and the handwriting on the centre of the envelope is the unmistakable scrawl of his mother’s.