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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13. Blushed?

I stand under the beating of the warm water, letting it run over me. I massage the shampoo into my hair, rinse, and apply conditioner.

My sore, knotted muscles loosen and relax under the warmth. I rinse the conditioner out, grab my towel, and step from the shower. My clothes - white t-shirt, pale blue hoodie, black jeans, brown boots - all the same stuff - sit in a freshly-washed pile by the sinks. I dry myself, squeeze my hair dry, and dress. I am just finishing brushing out my damp hair when Dan walks in.

I freeze. He does too.

'Um..........hi?' I say, after a few moments.

'Hi,' he says gruffly. He seizes a towel and slams into one of the changing cubicles.

I shrug, and carry on brushing.

He emerges a few minutes later with his towel tied round his waist. He freezes as he sees I'm still there.

He is lean yet muscled, his chest decorated with scars. He ducks his head, blushing, and heads into a shower cubicle.

I blink.

He blushed?

I give my hair a last brush and head out of the door.

The dinner hall is very, very big and noisy. Six long trestle tables and benches are brimming over, two large hatches with volunteer cooks serving food on the left side. I grab a tray and queue up. I am served a large quantity of lamb and potato hotpot, nothing like the greyish food we got delivered in containers before. I spot Rosetta's red hair beside Tess's black hair and head over to them.

'Hey Amarie!' Tess beams. 'Guess what! Rosetta says we can come on a mission!'

'That's great,' I say, swallowing the steamy hotpot. 'What mission?'

'Mercy's going to be giving us a briefing after this,' Rosetta says. She looks at the thick pale blue plastic watch on her wrist and swears. 'Which begins in five minutes!' She scoops up her plate and runs off, dumping it down on the dirty plate rack.

I stuff down the rest of my food before me and Tess take off after her.

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