10. frozen in time.

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The distinct smell of old paper and paint attacked my nostrils, while my eyes tried to take in everything in sight. To my right was a standing cork board with colored push pins, yarn, post-its, and photos attached to it. It was like the "crazy wall" of a detective. In the far back was a desk with stacks of paper and pens scattered on it, and throughout the room were boxes filled with crusty, old books. What caught my eye was the enormous vault door next to the desk.

As my hand grazed over the surface, I sarcastically asked, "Is this where you turn people into frogs?"

Augustus chuckled and glanced over to the papers on the desk. "That would explain the dozens of chemical formulas, but no."

"You're a mad scientist," I exclaimed.

"That I do wish I was, so I could grow you a brain," he snickered, causing a frown to form on my face. He gently pushed me aside and punched in a code onto the keypad on the vault door. When he pressed "OK", the door popped open and a coldness filled the air. "Remember my dead sister?"

I winched at his sudden question and nodded, remembering the night I found out about the relationship between my mother and Augustus.

"She's not exactly dead," he mumbled, "But she might as well be."

I moved behind him, and he opened the door, revealing a glowing, blue capsule with a little girl laying in it. The same girl from the picture I had seen in his room. Her long, wavy hair fell against her pale skin, and she was wearing a lacy, white dress. She was absolutely stunning. I guess good genes do run in the Brownell family line.

"Why?"

"Selfishness," he sputtered with hatred ringing through his voice," My old man can think of no one but himself, and my mother is simply a coward."

"Oh wow," I commented while trying to process everything I was seeing and hearing.

Augustus pressed a red button on the side, and the cover of the capsule sprung up. He ran his fingers through the top of her hair and softly traced her cheekbones before placing a kiss on her forehead. His eyes closed, stopping the tears that were threatening to spill.

"Dahlia suffered from Batten's disease—"

"Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses," I mumbled. He turned his head and raised his eyebrows in utter confusion. "What? I like medical terms."

He cleared his throat and closed the capsule. "Yeah, that."

"Which gene was affected," I asked, making sure not to show too much excitement. I always enjoyed sciency stuff, and well, Batten's disease is rare. "If you don't mind me asking."

"You really are Audrey's daughter, but it was CLN1."

"Oh. So why the whole futuristic thing?"-I waved my hand around to address the capsule- "Isn't it a little too early for stuff like this to be working?"

"When Dahlia turned 10, the chances of her living declined dramatically. She knew it. My parents knew it. And I did too," he said, sighing. "What I didn't know was my parents planned to have her cryogenically frozen, so she could be cured in the future. Dahlia tried telling me days before she passed, but I was too busy doing other things..."

"It's not your fault."

"It is. I could've stopped my parents." He began walking out the vault and back into the storage room. "She just wanted to die peacefully."

I followed him out and went over to the desk, flipping through the stacks of paper. There were scribbles of notes taken from experimental testings of the "cure" on rats, various modified chemical formulas, and diagrams presenting the changes after the cure was injected into the rodents.

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