Numbers

Everyone in this new world has a number. From 1 to 789000, that is a person's name. The Evens are the police force, the government, the rulers - the Odds are the criminals, the rebellions.
I am 987. This is my story.

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5. 571?

I sit on the Port on the way to school. The Port is a large hover like what used to be "buses". I sit hunched, my head down, brow furrowed, tapping away on my Pod.

"ILLEGAL ODD ATTACKS". "RUNAWAY ODDS". "ESCAPED ODDS".

Bing. Bing. Bing. No hits.

I tap in "PRISON ESCAPES". A single result shows up and I touch it with a fingertip. It leads to a page about modern prisons.

"There have been no prison escapes since 3901. Before this date runaway Odds were common as Protect Evens were not properly trained. Prison security has been tightened for the safety of our citizens - a number of the technological advances include motion and sound sensors, high-def cameras, up-to-date Pods for guards, new cables for........."

I sigh and give up, shutting the search and closing the Pod in two swift movements. I stuff it into my satchel and climb off the Port, down onto the dusty grey pavement.

763 is waiting for me by the school gates. She smiles as I come near and she waves.

There is someone beside her.

I frown. I've never seen her before.

It's a smallish girl, a little taller than me, very slim and pretty with rosebud lips and startling auburn hair reaching to her waist. Instead of being tied back neatly, it's in two high ruffled bunches, and she has a big grin. Her grey jumper is oversized and baggy, her shoes big and clumpy.

'987, this is 571,' 763 says lightly, gesturing at the girl.

'How come I've never seen you before?' I ask 571 as we begin to walk toward the school.

'I've been in hospital since I was a baby,' 571 says smoothly. 'I only just got well enough to come to school.'

'What was wrong?' chirps 763.

'Weak bones,' 571 answers. 'And a bad heart.'

'You didn't get corrective surgery on your bones?' I ask, puzzled.

'My heart wasn't stable enough,' 571 says cheerfully.

Hmmmm.

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