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Chapter 14 by Zaha Talibuddin

Tara followed Dorian through the warehouse as he explained every room and its relevance to their mission. Somewhere during Dorian’s lengthy explanation of the logistics of his team and how they accessed LifaLabs’ confidential files, which was complete with extensive and pretentious vocabulary, Tara’s mind wandered to the thought of Rob and Nadia. She wondered if Rob had been successful in finding Nadia and assuring her that they were going to help her. Her mind spiraled into different theories about where they could be at this very moment and if Adi knew that Rob had been in contact with her. She pictured Rob finding Nadia and embracing her in an intimate hug. Her thought immediately darkened with the entrance of Adi, who hastily injected them both with some sort of swampy substance. Before she could come up with the next sequence of events, Tara tried to shake the awful thought. Realizing she had allowed her mind to wander off, which was in turn making her miss Dorian’s explanation, she tried to tune back into what he was saying. 


“- we then process that information on our state-of-the-art technological system to allow us to access their community of benefactors—”


“Why do you even need me?” Tara interrupted. “What help could I possibly provide that’s more valuable than your ‘state of the art technological processes?’” Tara asked in a tone intended to mock Dorian. She was losing her patience, one which was already limited. Tara had no interest in hearing about Dorian’s company machines and how they work. At that moment, she was only worried about Rob and Nadia. For the first time in years, Tara was allowing herself to prioritize the thoughts of people other than herself. 

In order to understand Tara, one must know that she immerses herself in her social media presence to distract others from the emptiness in her life. Behind the screen, Tara was another lonely and insecure girl who felt the need to sugar-coat and glamourize her life so as to convince the world that she was happy. She hoped that one day this mask would morph into reality and she could become the version of herself that she presents to society. The only person who was ever able to see past her fake façade was Nadia. Now, her only concern was saving her friends, no matter what the consequences may be. 

Dorian explained that apart from knowing everything about the predicament that Rob and Nadia were in, he was aware of their friendship with Adi, whom Dorian explained they had been monitoring since the beginning phase of the LifaLabs experiments. 


“We’ve had our eyes on Adi Drubber for quite a while now. You see Tara, Adi is just a kid who got caught up in the idea of saving the world. By the time he realized he had gotten himself involved with a dangerous crowd, it was too late to back out and too late to reach out for help. We feel that, with your support, we can convince Adi to help us by serving as someone who informs us about what happens on the inside of LifaLabs.” 


“Okay, hold it right there”, Tara shouted. “How would you have even the slightest idea of what Adi wants? Trust me, he’s no good guy. That guy has had a mask on for years now: pretending to be our friend when in reality he’s letting all those innocent people suffer for a stupid experiment.” 


Acknowledging her concerns, Dorian said he had a way to prove that Adi was looking to escape the hold of the LifaLabs team. However, this plan could only materialize if Tara found a way to make Adi meet with her. Dorian explained that Adi would have to be under the impression that he had succeeded in finding Tara, whom he should think did not want to be found. Immediately, Tara was struck with the perfect idea. She had her doubts about Dorian and his company, however, when she weighed her options, the chance of Dorian and his company being able to help save Nadia and Rob outweighed them. 


Tara anxiously asked Dorian if she could borrow someone’s phone. Without hesitation, he reached into his pocket and gave her his. She opened the app store and downloaded Finsta. As she watched the tiny circle become full, indicating the app was downloading, she explained her plan to Dorian. A smile appeared on his face when he realized that Tara was helping lead Adi to her. Once the app downloaded, Tara logged into her account and quickly ran outside the warehouse to take a picture of herself. Without editing or assigning a thought felt caption to the photo, she hit post. 


She heard the sound of footsteps approaching her and quickly swiveled her head around to see Dorian. Before she could say anything, she watched as Dorian’s eyes moved to look past her. Following his gaze, Tara noticed another man in a black suit. The man was avidly avoiding eye contact with Tara. Instead, his eyes like dark coals were burning back at Dorian to meet his gaze. Tara saw Dorian subtly nod his head at the other man; a small and smug smile emerged in the corner of his face.

About the author:
Zaha is a 19-year-old university student majoring in English and Cultural Studies and minoring in Political Science. She was born in Pakistan but moved to Canada at a young age. She loves to read and write and could bury herself in books for days on end! Apart from reading and writing, Zaha loves watching good films, especially fantasy or indie films. Being a self-proclaimed massive Broadway geek, a huge goal of hers is to be a part of at least one musical!
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