Genre: YA/soft Sci-fi
Word Count: 94,000
17-year-old Ibbie collects numbers. They’re logical, safe; everything her life isn’t. The most important number; thirteen—how many days till she’s forced to mate with Logan, whether she likes him or not.
Speciation: An evolutionary process by which new biological species arise.
LE4XI8––A label, more importantly, what is tattooed on the inside of the wrist of my right arm. It is my identification; it is my name.
Numbers stay with me, filed away in my mind, ready to use at a moments notice. I understand numbers; they are logical, rational, safe. Perfect for collecting. I collect them, because my life is none of these things.
Facing the door, I hesitate, but that only makes it worse.
Six––minutes I am late.
I quickly place my hand on the pad that scans my fingerprints, unlocking the door, but also starting the timer, telling them what he and I already know: this is my fault. A smothering feeling of unease, invisible molecules of discomfort fill every corner, every crack, every wide-open space. And if I wanted to, I could stretch out my tongue and taste apprehension.
Thirty––extra minutes we have to stay now because I was late.
Taking a deep breath, I walk quickly in the room careful not to make eye contact or look in his direction, but I feel his eyes on me. I know what he wants. I will have to look at him eventually. The door slides shut, trapping me.
Five––how old I was when I came here.
Seven o’clock – the time I am required to be in the room with LE4XI7
Two––the amount of friends I have.
0.0000001––the percent of people who are like me.