Books·Canadian

Oculum

A chapter book by Philippa Dowding.

Philippa Dowding

"I'm Mann, just Mann."

The world is slowly recovering after environmental collapse, and the children of the automated, domed city of Oculum have begun to awaken. Miranda, William and the 998 other children wake to tend the fruit trees and gardens behind the thick, opaque walls of their world. Some speak quietly of Outside, which is forbidden. Until William finds a door...

The children outside the dome of Oculum — Mann, Cranker and others raised by Grannie — live amongst the rubble of the old destroyed city. They live with hunger, hard work, and stories about a time before the fall, of buggies without horses, light without fire ... and magical fruit called "peaches." But it must be lies, until one day Mann and Cranker get close enough to the ancient dome to find ... a door.... (From Dancing Cat Books)

From the book

"Mother?"

"Yes, Miranda my darling?"

Mother says this as she tucks me deeply under my covers.

"Mother, have you seen the Seed Park today?"

Mother hums a bit as she tidies the room and then comes back to my bed. She tilts her head, which always looks so sweet. I wonder where she learned that behavior. The worn leather at her neck creaks, the metal at her jaw squeaks softly.

"No. What is happening in the Seed Park?"

I am so excited, I can barely tell her. But I keep my voice calm. As Miranda1, I cannot be too excitable.

"Buds! Everywhere! The fruit trees are about to return to us, Mother. It has been a long wait."

Mother nods and brings her face close to mine. I love the scent of her machine oil. It is so calming, so motherly. She whispers, "Regulus has told me a secret."

Mother almost never whispers, because it seems difficult for her, but she does, in a raspy, coughy way. There is no one else here. I can't imagine why she feels the need.

"What? What did he tell you?" If she could smile, Mother would be smiling now.

"Oculum will be opened tomorrow."

I gasp and sit up, undoing the carefully tucked blanket.

"Really? I have to tell William1!"

Mother whirrs and tucks me back into my bed.

"William1 already knows," she soothes. "Now go to sleep." She holds me briefly in her cool, metallic arms, and I feel calmer. She does give good hugs, along with the excellent blanket tucking.

"Goodnight, Mother," I whisper.


From Oculum by Philippa Dowding ©2018. Published by Dancing Cat Books.

 

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