BOOK 1 // THIRTEEN: Change of Plan

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Hi, guys! I bring you this chapter from Orlando International Airport, where I'm currently waiting for my (delayed) flight back to England. Over the last two weeks I've had the most incredible trip to Toronto and Florida, which partially explains my absence with this story. I've had a lot of trouble with this chapter but many hours spent travelling have at least forced me to work on it with few other distractions. Now I've overcome this main mental hurdle I'm hoping the rest of the story is going to flow a lot easier.

It's been a while, so here's a recap of the previous chapter:

Astrid was taken to the testing room for a DNA test, but a BioPlus lawyer arrived at exactly the right moment and presented a contract that got her out of the test. She was then taken to BioPlus HQ, where they told her that she was about to become the test subject for a new experimental drug: Dysintax.


            I thought there would be at least time to prepare. But this, apparently, was a luxury we couldn't afford.

The drug name was barely out of Smith-Glover's mouth before he moved onto logistics, determined to have me cooped up in a BioPlus laboratory the following morning. It seemed unlikely even Max Snowdon would move that fast, but it didn't seem to be a risk we were willing to take. All that mattered was that BioNeutral would catch up with me eventually, and I had to be ready when they did.

After all, the consequences of the alternative were unthinkable.

My parents were oddly non-vocal about the entire decision, despite spending at least twenty minutes alone in Smith-Glover's office after arriving at the building. After an eerily quiet taxi journey home, they both disappeared into the study at the first opportunity, leaving me to it.

Apparently, being the guinea pig for an untested, unregulated BioPlus concoction was something I was supposed to handle alone.

Which didn't bother me – at least at first. Only once the scale of the surrounding uncertainty became obvious did I start to feel nervous, and by that point, it was already far too late.

The actual injection was fine. There was something comforting in the fact that I had no other option: that if I didn't accept the flow of neon green liquid through my bloodstream, it'd only earn me a permanent sentence somewhere beneath the streets of New London. Surrounded by a cluster of technicians in pristine white lab coats, I could at least gain some kind of sense that I was paving out an alternative route.

But then the side effects kicked in, and I realised my body was willing to go to any length to make sure I regretted my decision.

Nausea seeped in somewhere on the ride home, and by the time the car pulled up at the foot of our driveway, I was wrestling with the door to avoid emptying my stomach on the leather upholstery. The reflex was relentless, and I could barely stumble ten feet to the house between violent contractions of my abdominal muscles. I wasn't sure what Dysintax contained, but the sudden crippling effort to get rid of every trace was far from a reassuring sign.

I hoped time might bring some relief, but the night hours did little more than provide opportunity for the effects to worsen. On top of the sickness, the oscillating waves of blazing sweats and unbearable cold were just as debilitating. I'd go from ice to fire and back again in thirty seconds flat. The layers of sweat seemed to build on top of each other, and by the time sunlight started filtering through the bathroom blinds, I could've sworn they'd amounted several inches.

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