Part 2 (1/2)

”Isn't that what it's for?” Jennette asked innocently.

”I dunno. I never had a moon.”

”Let's sit down here,” she said abruptly.

They were eating pomegranates, biting briefly into them and sucking on the sour juices. The moon had risen higher during the past hour, becoming a little smaller in appearance. It was a peaceful, contemplative scene. Jennette snuggled up against Mark, thoughtfully tracing a design with fruit juice on his arm.

”This is fun,” she said softly. ”So much more fun than the usual things a person has to do.”

”Mmmm?”

”Oh, you know. Checking reports from the factory, making sure there is plenty of ammunition all the time, pestering the body manufacturers so you'll always have something decent to wear. Always watching or somebody will sneak in and blow up part of your shelter.”

”Yeah. Well, guess that's life.”

Jennette sighed and picked up another fruit. ”It gets so tiresome, always having to keep on the look-out and fighting people. Don't you get bored by it.”

”Sure, sometimes. It's gotta be done though. Otherwise you couldn't tell what might happen.”

”Mark--” Jennette said hesitantly.

”Yes?”

”Mark, would you shoot me if you found me outside your shelter?” She looked coyly up at him.

”Well, sure, unless you had a proper, government-authorized permit to be there.” Mark turned astonished eyes on her. ”What else could I do?”

”Oh, but you _know_ I wouldn't do anything to harm your place.”

”Aw, Jennette,” Mark said uncomfortably, ”of course you would. Anybody would. If people started acting like that, the whole balance would be upset.”

She gently stroked his arm where the fruit juice had dried. Her face crinkled up and she giggled. ”Maybe you just don't know me.”

”Let's talk about something else,” Mark suggested.

”What's the matter? Do I shock you?”

Mark laughed and brushed his lips against her shoulder. ”I'm pretty hard to shock. Especially by you.”

”See?” she replied archly. ”You're just as anti-social as I am.”

Mark's face clouded. ”It's nothing to brag about, though.”

”I'm not bragging.” She sighed again, and resumed her fruit. Eying it speculatively, she said, ”I guess I'm just bored with life, that's all. Sometimes things seem so silly. Like all the times you have to get a new body. You'd think the manufacturers were giving them away free.”

”Yeah. Not like it used to be. Guess business is pretty good.”

”Something ought to be done about it.”

Mark grinned mischievously. ”What do you suggest? Build another factory?”