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.


8. Shower

'Amarie, Tess,' Rosetta says, 'this is Pearl Levenson and Fabian Neeson.'

Pearl, the young woman that was with Tess, is a smiley but worrisome woman of twenty-three, with shoulder-length chestnut brown hair the flicks out at the edges. She's not very tall but not tiny either, with bright hazel eyes. She's wearing a black and white checked long sleeved top, cropped, black leggings and a pair of dark grey knee boots.

Fabian is the middle aged man. Very big, very strong, with a bald head and chin stubble. Big green t-shirt, black dinner jacket (for some unknown reason), black trousers, big black walking boots. Stormy grey eyes.

'We need to get you two dressed properly,' says Rosetta, eyeing me and Tess up. 'Pearl, can you please take them to the showers? I need to have a talk with Mercy.'

Pearl nods and takes our forearms, walking us off.

'This is exciting!' she squeals when we're out of the others' earshot. 'It's always great to have new recruits, because you get to hear their new names. My number used to be 534. What was yours?'

'987,' I say.

'You already know mine,' Tess snaps.

Pearl is unfazed. She talks constantly as we head down a few more identical corridors, through a big door, through a smaller door, and into the showers.

It's a steamy, surprisingly bright and clean place. White tiled floor and walls. Cubicles for showering. Big sinks and some other cubicles with toilets for getting changed. An enormous rack taking up one wall laden with fluffy towels.

'I'll leave you to shower,' Pearl twitters. 'I'll go and get some clothes for you!'

Then she scurries off.

Tess decides to change in a cubicle, but I'm not bothered. As soon as she closes the door, I tear my grey trousers off, unlace my shoes and rip off my socks. My grey jumper goes over my head. I take off my underwear and remove my hair from it's hairband, then fold up all my clothes in a pile by the door. I step into the nearest shower cubicle and lock it, before pressing the button.

A warm rain comes down on my and I sigh with pleasure. The water beats at my skin as I observe the small shelf stacked with washing things. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, flannel.

I pick up a kiwi and blueberry shampoo and squirt some into my hand before massaging it in. It smells divine. The hair washers we had at home were always plain and gritty and didn't smell of anything. I rinse out the shampoo before doing it again, then finally adding some kiwi and blueberry conditioner. It seeps into my hair, untangling the knots.

I rinse it out and then pour some of the lime body wash onto the flannel. I massage it in, cleaning myself, before noticing the razor.

A razor?

Nobody ever shaved at home.

I pick it up. It's a plain blue plastic thing. I run it over the downy hair in my underarms, watching it fall to the floor and get washed away down the drain. The bare skin feels stubbly, but it looks a lot better. I do the same to my legs.

I wash again before reluctantly turning off the shower and stepping out. I grab a fluffy blue towel from the rack and wrap it round me. Tess is already there, wrapped in a pretty soft orange towel.

We wait in the shower room for about five minutes when Pearl comes in, laden with clothes.


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