(The gif above is representative of this chapter...)
We both froze.
Just like that, the noise removed any choice we might've had. Our single escape route was blocked, and we didn't even get the luxury of knowing what by. Footsteps could've belonged to anything. Government officials, the head of the police force, even Max Snowdon himself. With nothing but the tap of feet on a cold floor to go by, the vision of our immediate future remained murky.
The only positive was that the noise seemed to pull Jace from the trance. His eyes were still vivid blue, but the shift in demeanour was enough to convince me something had changed. The fear splashed across his expression, it seemed, was the only thing necessary to bring us together.
I barely had time to think. The footsteps were getting closer, and the door to the room sat slightly ajar; when faced with an empty lab, the intruder would only have one place to go. The realisation hit me with no time to consider, and I launched myself toward the door in an effort to close it.
Maybe, if it was inconspicuous enough, we could escape notice. A weak assumption, of course, but the only real option we had at that point.
And yet, as I tried to push the door closed, my force was met with a sudden resistance that sent my heart plummeting to the pit of my stomach.
There was someone on the other side. If there had been any doubt before, it had all disappeared. We'd been caught, there was no escape, and in that moment, it truly was game over.
"There's no point hiding," said a voice from the other side. "I know you're in there."
I'd expected a deep, gruff tone – for no other reason than this seemed like the voice of the person who'd be our downfall. A sound of authority that neither of us could question. And yet, in those few words, it served to shatter every expectation.
It was a female voice. And one – surely not? – I recognised.
With my palm still flat against the door, preventing it from opening further, I glanced back at Jace to see if my surprise was mirrored. For an inexplicable reason, his face had drained of colour, though I couldn't find the words to ask why. It was like there had been a sudden shift in gravity, the force now so strong it tugged all our organs downward.
There was no time for questions before the door opened. Instinctively, I looked over, in time to see the gap widen and more of the lab come into view. Only once it had met the wall behind was I really able to see the figure in the doorway, and from that moment on my world turned upside down.
Because that was the point when Nova walked in. Two years had aged her features more than their time; those once soft and warm had hardened like stone. And yet it was still unmistakably her. It was impossible not to recognise the smattering of freckles, sharp arched brows, high cheekbones. And then, the hair. My mental images of Nova never failed to include what had once been her signature hairstyle: a tangle of fiery waves that framed a pretty face and cascaded down her back. Her hair had been what turned heads in the street; as if it would be wasted potential, she never tied it back. Yet here, while the vivid fire burned brighter than it had ever done, it had been tamed. The golden streaks had been weaved into a thick braid, one that pulled every strand of hair from her scalp and let them curl over her shoulder.
She'd always been one for colour, but here she was dressed head-to-toe in black. A leather-look jacket, zipped up to somewhere below her chin. Slim trousers that emphasised her impressive height. Knee-high boots with a heel that looked like it could spike through someone's chest.
I couldn't believe what I was seeing. My eyes must have failed me. Perhaps this was another weird side effect of my own: hallucinations bearing no resemblance whatsoever to real events? The sister who'd disappeared two years ago could not be here, stood in the doorway of perhaps the most protected lab on the UNL campus, facing me and the boy I was not supposed to know in the first place.
Really, it was only Jace's equally disbelieving expression that told me I wasn't going crazy.
There didn't seem like anything else to say or do, so her name escaped me on pure instinct. "Nova."
What I hadn't expected, however, was for something to leave Jace's lips at the exact same time. "Eden."
I turned to look at him so fast the movement put a crick in my neck. And yet as hard as I tried to make eye contact, to lock onto those that had since turned such a scarily vivid blue, it seemed like there was nothing in the world that could drag Jace's attention away from my sister.
This was not Eden. This was my sister, my half of our motivation for getting ourselves into this mess in the first place. I had a right to feel that sense of belonging: to her, and in some strange sense, to Jace. The experience we'd had over the last couple of months fell so far out of the realm of normal that nobody else could possibly understand, and that was what had linked us all this time. I couldn't have been crazy for thinking it meant something, right? But as I really took notice of the way he was looking at her, the single glance seemed to shatter everything I thought I knew.
Still in the doorway, Nova folded her arms. I could only wonder whether the ghost of a smirk on her lips was anything more than a figment of my imagination.
"Well, to say you two took the bait is an understatement," she said. "Now, I've come to get you out of here. There's no need to thank me yet. Just one condition: nobody asks any questions."
SOOOOOO... I have no words. It's done. And Nova just walked in. And there's pretty much no resolution in book 1. Yeah... sorry about that ;)
Also, I've mentioned before, but Human Error is going to be a trilogy! There are two more books coming. So if you have any interest in finding out this story's resolution: DO NOT DELETE THIS BOOK FROM YOUR LIBRARY. I'm not sure when the sequel will be posted, but it will be sometime in the near future, and I will most likely announce it with a link in a chapter of this book. So archive it if you like a tidy library, but DON'T DELETE IT!
Also (x2), I am about to begin editing this story, and I know there are plot holes. There are definitely a LOT of plot holes which need to be filled in. And I'm aware of some of them, but others I might've missed. So if you can think of things from this book that didn't quite make sense, please let me know! I won't be offended -- it'll actually be really helpful.
Thank you so much for your ongoing support on this book, especially as it's been a leap into a new genre for me (can you believe I was a teen fiction only writer just a year and a bit ago?). It's been an experience, and I'm so glad I got to share it with you!
Until next time (i.e. the sequel...)
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Human ErrorScience Fiction
BOOK 1 // Human Error (COMPLETE) BOOK 2 // Human Instinct (IN PROGRESS) *NOW OPTIONED FOR A TV SHOW* "Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness engineered right into their DNA." - William Shak...