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.


4. FNO

I open the Container door.

Every home has a Container - people used to call them "refrigerators". They are tall and boxy and white and our ones are warm, unlike the old "refrigerators", which were cold. They act like elevators that lead into a large complex pipe system underground, where our food is transported along gusts of air. Small foil trays of hot food appear three times a day in the Container with a small ding as an announcement.

I take the three trays of hot noodle soup from it and put them on the counter. I fish knives and forks from the drawer and set them on the table. 798 stabs his with his fork and rips off the plastic film top, taking in a deep breath of the aroma of noodles, before he begins to stuff it down.

I take a fork and a knife and a tray of noodles upstairs to 451 and put them on her bedside table. She is huddled under her blanket, breathing deeply. A small skinny lump. I sigh, shake my head, and go back downstairs.

I rip open my own tray and dig my fork in. The soup is watery, the noodles slightly undercooked, the whole thing over seasoned. Not perfect. Our world is supposed to be perfect now.

That's what the Protect Evens say.

That's not what the Odd Terrorists say.

The terrorists say that the world is so imperfect, so hideous, so unfair, that that is why they do what they do. They are trying to make it better. To have word names, to have different clothes, to eat what and when and where we like.

And how is that achieved by toxic bombs, machine guns, and missiles?

The leader of the Odd Terrorists used to be called 311. She was a pretty girl, they say. Clever, quiet, never betrayed much. She was tall and pretty and slim with high cheekbones, blue eyes, pale blonde hair. She still is - just aged forty-six. And she doesn't have a number any more. Well, whenever we talk about her, everyone calls her Odd 311. But she calls herself a word name now.

Mercy Atkinson is what she calls herself now. Mercy. Strange name for a terrorist.

They don't call themselves terrorists, of course. They call themselves the Free Name Organisation, or FNO for short. Every Odd in it isn't called a number, they have a proper word name.

I keep wondering about what my word name might be.

But I mustn't.

It's illegal.




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