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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7. Tess

'We've been looking for new recruits for a while,' Rosetta explains as we walk along dingy metal corridors, followed by the hostile Dan. 'We decided the only way was by force, really.'

There is a sudden thumping sound from a metal door to my left. 763 comes tumbling out, screaming, followed by an anxious looking young woman and a stony-faced middle-aged man.

'987!' 763 screams when she sees me. 'Are you OK? Let's get out of here! Run!'

She focuses on Rosetta.

'YOU!' she spits, gnashing her teeth. '571, you betrayed us!'

'I'm not a number,' Rosetta says calmly. 'My name is Rosetta Avery, and this is Amarie Fender and Daniel Packard.'

It takes a moment for 763 to register. She eyes me.

'987?' she whispers. 'You - you've joined them?'

I nod uncertainly.

763 aims a kick at me but Dan sticks out a leg and deflects it.

'While you are in this building,' Rosetta says, 'you are required to have a word name. Amarie, you done with the book?'

I don't react.

'Amarie?'

I shake myself - I have to get used to the name.

I give it to Rosetta.

'Pick a first name that isn't crossed out,' Rosetta says, handing the book to 763, 'and I'll pick a last name for you.'

763 attempts to hit her with the book, but the middle aged man jumps forward and restrains her.

After a few minutes of 763 glaring and Rosetta smiling pleasantly, 763 finally opens the book and looks grudgingly down at the names. She's almost at the end when she suddenly stabs a finger down abruptly.

Rosetta takes the book and we all lean in to peer at the name she's chosen.

"TESS".

'Well then, Tess Carron,' Rosetta says pleasantly, 'come with us.'

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