BOOK 1 // TWELVE: Loophole

33.6K 2.2K 432

            If I thought the cell was hot, it was nothing compared to the testing room.

The place itself seemed like a new addition to the station. I was marched down the full length of the corridor, far enough for metal grilles of empty holding cells to become steel doors, each one guarded by its own collection of keypads. We walked so far that Casey's screams of distress soon melted into the space left behind. Only once the darkest end of the hall drew closer, where a flickering light plunged us into darkness every few seconds, did we seem to reach our destination.

The room was dusty – enough to make me regret my sudden intake of breath when it had me spluttering. I was shoved forward, the sudden offset of balance sending me collapsing into the room's single chair. My attention caught on the machine whirring in the corner. As the only object not buried under a layer of thick dust, it was obvious it had been placed there recently.

And, when I noticed the green sticker slapped onto the side of it, I realised why.

"I'm going to give you one last chance to answer the question," Officer Reid began slowly. He'd moved over to the machine, now tapping away at the screen, which was angled perfectly to block my view. "Are you genetically modified?"

Ignoring the way my heart was racing, I held his gaze. "No."

"There will be no more opportunities to retract that statement," he said. "If – or perhaps I should say when – it emerges you have been lying to me, we will no longer be so forgiving."

Like you were ever going to be forgiving in the first place, I wanted to say. You'd go to any length to hand me over to Max Snowdon on a silver platter.

I watched as he pulled open one of the drawers below the machine, extracting a plastic packet. As he tore into the seal, the machine beeped insistently, like it was waiting for our next move.

"Hold out your arm."

He was holding a syringe; somehow, it had taken a couple of seconds for the sight to register, but the jolt of alarm soon resonated through every inch of my body. This was happening. In seconds, there'd be a vial of my blood in the possession of the police, which was pretty much the same as handing in every other bit of me. All the information they needed could be contained within a few mils.

Frozen in the seat, I couldn't move a muscle. There had to be an escape route. Every second between the results collection and this moment, right here, seemed to stretch before me like a taunting account of missed opportunity. Why hadn't we run while we had the chance? Now, metres below the main city, not a soul would hear even my loudest scream.

Suddenly, my arm was yanked from me, with such force it seemed at risk of being pulled out of its socket. I reluctantly met his gaze, feeling his seething anger jump right out at me. "You don't have a choice about whether you cooperate or not, Ms Oxford," he snarled. "Behaving like an insolent child is not exactly swaying things in your favour."

The needle hovered dangerously close to my skin, an inch away from its path of destruction. Every muscle in my arm was tensed, but his grip stopped me from moving away, grubby nails scraping the skin.

This was it. There was no way out. Here, I begun my downfall.

Until the door was thrown open, moving with such force it went ricocheting off the tile behind it. I looked up in surprise, and Reid's jolt of alarm pulled the needle back those precious few inches. There was no time to realise what was happening before the man stormed right into the room, yanking the syringe from his grip.

Human ErrorRead this story for FREE!