A gasp floated through the crowd. No-one had spoken like this before.
"...So you will be taken by boat up to the better part of the country, and education and treatment will be provided. You are the luckiest people in the world. How dare anyone be ungrateful. Guards will take you the temporary accommodation until the ferry arrives. Please place you pass-" Pepe stared at the piece of paper in her hand. "-in the appropriate pocket in your uniform, and wash your hands and hair. We don't want...diseases...in our community. Now go- except for that Mae girl and her friends." The voice said.
As she was crowding around the exit, Pepe looked back to try and find Mae. She and several others were shaking. Not from the cold.
Soon the doors were shut and the girls in a corridor. Some were taken down one passage way, some another. The one Pepe had to go down was probably the coldest and the dullest. It lead to a room full of benches and hooks, like a changing room. On the hooks where clean and neatly ironed uniforms.
After the guards left conversation bubbled up. All in whispers.
"What's going on?"
"I want my sister!"
"I want my mum!"
"What's happened to that person that yelled?"
"Is she dead?"
"No, but I heard 'bout the punishments."
"Stupid lady calling us evil and diseased!"
"These clothes are really small."
That wasn't true for Pepe. The t-shirt thing reached her knees, and she couldn't keep the trousers up. They weren't grey but a sort of dead blue. There was a clear plastic pocket on the top for her pass.
"Did you see that lady?" Someone next to Pepe said. Her pass read LALEN SELIA.
"No. I was behind all the tall people." Pepe looked up. Lalen was the same age as her but much taller.
"She was just as you would imagine. Quite old, with this weird hairstyle..." Lalen gestured. "And it was dyed black. She had loads of makeup on and dressed wierdly. Like, all grey and smart. Oh, hi Apielle. I only just saw your name."
"I prefer Pepe."
"I don't know, it's what I was called when I was little and it stuck."
"Yeah, well, Pepe?" She sounded nervous.
"Is there really going to be a war?"