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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12. Training and Street

We spend two weeks training with the FNO.

It's amazing how quickly I sink into life here. I don't even miss 798 or 451. I share a room with Tess - a smallish metal square room with twin beds with blue and white floral duvets. We shower each morning and dress in the same clothes we were given after showering  - when I train, however, I wear my hair in a tight topknot, a plain black vest, tight ice blue shorts and dark grey trainers with purple accents. I become excellent with a gun, practicing with pistols, rifles and even a sniper. I run on the treadmill, shoot arrows, throw knives. Tess trains beside me with her hair in two little bunches, a tight purple t-shirt, dark grey leggings and brown trainers. Although she looks more the part of the athlete, she doesn't have the arm or aim for throwing, she always hits off-centre with a bullet, and she can never run longer or faster than me.

Dan comes to the gym and watches us most of the time. I catch him looking at me several times, and each time he immediately looks away, a ghostly pink shade on his cheeks.

Dan watches me then blushes?

***

My heart pounds and the blood is rushing in my ears.

I am standing in an ordinary street, with grey houses, grey road, grey pavement. I am in a grey jumper, grey trousers, black shoes. My hair is in a ponytail. I am ordinary.

Except for one thing.

I stroke the small gun in the holster tied to my arm, the cold metal pressed against my skin under my jumper, hidden from sight.

There is a shift in the corner of my eye.

I spin, whipping the pistol from the holster and firing in one slick motion. The cardboard outline of a person with plain targets painted on it falls, a fresh ragged hole right through the middle of it's head.

I roll forward and come up on one knee, shooting another target that popped up. I hit a few more before the door of house number 7 opens.

"Good job," says Rosetta.

The artificial sun switches off and the lightbulbs come on. This 'street' is actually a wide corridor, decorated to be just like a street - wooden doors on the houses, artificial shrubs in the front gardens, concrete pavement and all. I observe the targets I shot, lying flat on the ground with smoking bulletholes in their heads and chests.

"You get showered, changed and we can have something to eat," she says, holding the door open for me. I walk past her gratefully, chucking the gun at her as I go. She catches it neatly.

 

 

 

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