Chapter 22 by Avish Patel
Back at the Lifalabs apartment, Ken lunged towards Rob, syringe dripping with the purple liquid in hand. Rob went into fight or flight mode; his pupils dilated, vision in portrait mode, and with the world becoming a blur he dodged Kens advances and took off down the hallway. As he ran all he could hear was Ken screaming after him. Rob stumbled near the stairs, and felt a grab at his leg. He turned and saw Ken trying to inject him. With a look of panic on his face Rob screamed, aimed his foot at Ken's nose, kicking him square in the face. Rob was free from Ken's hold, shot to his feet, and bolted up the stairs. As he emerged into the waiting area, he saw the locked apartment door in front of him. Rob accelerated and without hesitation he dropped his shoulder, closed his eyes and exploded through the door. Broken pieces of timber were strewn around him as he fell to the floor. Fight or flight mode. Heart racing and blood streaming from the splinters on his face, Rob gathered his senses and slowly climbed to his feet. In the hallway outside the apartment, he gathered pace and headed towards the lift. As he approached he glanced back and saw Ken emerge through the remnants of the door syringe in hand, dripping purple, nose broken with blood splattered down his shirt from the swift boot to the face moments earlier. Rob ran past the lift and straight to the emergency stairwell, where he flew down the stairs losing count of how high up they were. He could hear the footsteps and calls of Ken coming down behind him. Rob burst through the emergency exit into the bright hot sun outside. He stopped. His brain in overdrive, with adrenaline rushing through his body he spun around and faced the door. Sweat dripping, mixing with the blood coming from his cheeks, he ignored the numbing pain in his face. Rob quickly rolled the apartment dumpster in front of the door, blocking it. Just as he had it in position, he heard a hard thump against the door. Ken. He heard Ken yell out, inaudible, and in frustration.
Rob had escaped, but as his heart slowed he realised he had left the others behind. Nadia was still there. He knew he had to go back for her. And Samuel. And Melissa. He spotted a lone drone flying in the distance. He jogged towards the back alleys and mentally mapped out the quickest way to get back to his apartment without being spotted. A few moments later Rob slowed down outside a pharmacy, tempted to step in, get a fresh batch of syrup to ease his pounding heart but for the first time in a long time Rob wanted to remain clear-headed. Fifteen minutes later, a panting Rob was outside his 5 story apartment complex. As he impatiently paced the length of the lobby waiting for the elevator, he prayed that Tara was home waiting for him.