Book 2, Chapter 30
Theo sets off for the village. He scans several houses and eventually decides to enter a small, well-maintained one next to an abandoned house. He peers in the window and sees an old couple watching Neighbors, an old soap opera. Theo rings the bell and pretends to be taking a survey for the local council. Once inside, he pulls out the revolver and instructs the couple to go upstairs. He promises not to hurt them and ties them to their bed. Theo tells them that he will notify someone that they are tied up in twelve hours. He tries to make them as comfortable as possible, helping the old woman to some water and allowing each of them to go to the bathroom before he leaves. Theo packs up a few provisions and leaves in the couple’s car. As he drives back, Theo thinks about what Xan will do. He reasons that Xan will attempt to fetch Julian himself as her pregnancy is too important to entrust to the SSP or even the Council. Theo thinks that perhaps the group should double back and hide in London because it is the last place searchers will be expecting them to go. He fantasizes about making a life in a small cottage with Julian and Miriam, but he knows that it is not truly a possibility. He tries to take comfort in Julian’s belief that there will be other children—perhaps one day hers will not be of such importance to Xan. But Theo acknowledges that all of that is in the future and he can only afford to worry about the next few weeks leading up to the birth.
In this chapter, Theo must steal from an elderly couple to help Julian just like he used to steal pictures for his mother. The elderly couple is watching Neighbors (a soap opera from the 1990s), which serves as a reminder of how quickly and thoroughly the Omega has devastated society; it is now normal for many people to watch an old soap opera not for its quality but because it stars young people, allowing the viewers to momentarily forget that such people no longer exist. The family life of the 1990s is, for those experiencing the Omega, a fantasy.
During his interaction with the couple, Theo wavers between frustration and kindness. He apologizes to them and tries to make them as comfortable as possible, but he is immensely irritated when they request that he untie them so that they may use the bathroom. Despite his inclination to just leave them there, Theo cannot bring himself to cause them further humiliation and suffering. This shows that at heart, Theo is not a ruthless person.