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.


10. Mercy and Melanie

She has a messy ice blonde fringe, but the rest of her hair is loose and sleek, reaching her shoulders. Her pale blue eyes are outlined with a mass of black eyeliner and mascara, and her lips are stained dark red in her porcelain face. She's in very good condition for someone of forty-six - no wrinkles, no flab. Flat stomach, excellent legs. A plain black vest with a high neck, a short grey pencil skirt, black high heels - the sort with the thick cotton criss-cross straps. She holds herself very straight and sure, her arms ever so slightly held out from her body. She looks very young and sexy.



'Good evening. I expect you have chosen names?'

Mercy has the sort of deep voice you don't expect on a woman, with a soft rumbly undertone like a cat purring.

'I - I'm Tess Carron,' Tess stammers. 'I used to be 763.'

'My name is Amarie Fender,' I murmur. 'My number was 987.'

Mercy sits on the opposite sofa, on the other side of the black glass coffee table.

'My name, as I'm sure you know,' she says, 'is Mercy Atkinson. Although they do still insist on calling me Odd 311.' Her lip curls with distaste. 'I don't believe in numbers, girls. I believe in words.'

'I've noticed,' I mutter before I can stop myself. Tess gasps quietly.

Mercy eyes me. Not with hostility - more curious. Then she suddenly throws back her head and laughs. 'Oh, yes! I do like someone with a bit of fire.'

I smile nervously.

Pearl walks in with the coffee. She sets it down on the table and backs out of the room, asking respectfully, 'would you like anything else?'

'No thank you, Pearl,' Mercy says pleasantly. 'That shall be all.'

Pearl nods and shuts the door.

'I don't know if you've heard,' Mercy says, 'but I have a daughter.'

I blink.

I had no idea Mercy had a daughter.

Tess looks as bewildered as I do.

Instead of calling her daughter in, Mercy presses a small red button on the coffee table. It flashes and buzzes. The door opens again and a girl of about seventeen or eighteen walks in.

She looks very like Mercy. Same ice blonde hair, same pale blue eyes. Same white skin, high cheekbones, tall stature. But this girl has her hair in two little high buns on either side of her head. No red lipstick, just pale pink lipgloss. A dark purple minidress with a flared skirt and capped sleeves. Bare legs. Black and white trainers.

She smiles at us and makes an odd movement with her hands.

'Tess, Amarie,' Mercy says, doing the same movements, 'this is my daughter Melanie Atkinson. Melanie, say hello to the girls.'

Melanie makes a strange noise in her throat and does the same movement. 

I realize.

Mercy Atkinson's - leader of the FNO, officially a terrorist - has a daughter named Melanie who is deaf.

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