I feel as though someone has pinched my mind, shaken my brain around, and asked it to work again. I try to open my eyes, but they’re heavy and clouded and I begin to worry that maybe they are open. I just can’t see.
I flinch at the sound, so close to my ear, yet far away. Or maybe it’s my understanding that’s far.
“Ari. We’re out of time. Wake up!”
My mind flashes into focus, but I don’t open my eyes. I can feel, sense, everything around me. The beeping sounds that alternate in succession. The breathing in and out of the person beside me, yet I can’t make out who the person is. Even if it’s a he or she. But what I can sense is danger, danger so intense that the hairs on my arms are at full attention and the xylem in my body has sparked, causing me to instantly want the person beside me dead. If he or she—it—is dead then I am free to escape, even if I have no idea what or who I am escaping from.
“Fine. Just call this payback.”
I have one second to realize that the person is Cybil, before a gut wrenching pain slices through my left arm. My eyes snap open and she’s in front of me, so pale and rattled that she looks like a ghost of herself. I glance down at my arm to see that Cybil ripped out my IV and is now holding it in her hand like a toy.
“I warned you. Look. This likely triggered an alarm. We have to get out of here. Right now.”
I try to nod, but my body is sluggish and I’m not sure that I’ve moved at all. Cybil loops her arm under my back to help me sit up, and instantly the room begins to move in and out of focus. “What happened to me?”
“They happened. Now move.”
I start to climb off the table I’m on, when Cybil’s eyes round out and her body begins to quake. “Cybil? What is it?” I reach out for her, just as her body collapses to the ground and a metal door behind her slides open. Two men dressed in thick white suits rush in, followed by a shorter man. A man I recognize.
“Hello, Ari. Nice to see you awake,” Kelvin says. Kelvin Lancaster. I remember him from the talks with Earth, how he seemed to be in control, how everyone around him acted uneasy in his presence. Like he was more enemy than friend. I start to respond to him, when I feel a sharp pinch in my arm. I look up to see another white-suited person behind me, syringe in hand. I try to push the person away. I try to open my mouth to scream. But suddenly my lips feel tingly, my arms limp. I focus back on Kelvin, on the grin on his face, and then the world around me disappears, and I’m once again alone in the darkness.
Melissa West writes young adult and new adult novels for Entangled Teen and Embrace and Penguin/Intermix. She lives outside of Atlanta, GA with her husband and two daughters and spends most of her time writing, reading, or fueling her coffee addiction.
She holds a B.A. in Communication Studies and a M.S. in Graphic Communication, both from Clemson University. Yeah, her blood runs orange.
Want to win your very own eARC of Collide? Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway. Good luck everyone!