Good day, Adventurers! In today’s episode of Choose Your Own Adventure, we pick up where we left off last week: having our faces sucked by one bearded professor! It seems that mayhap the professor won’t be so lucky in this tale, since you almost unanimously voted to B. Smack him. Ask for an explanation. You barely remember this man and he’s sticking his tongue down your throat? The least he can do is tell you what’s going on.

Choose to read on below for another chapter in this harrowing adventure!

Chapter 16: Silly Rabbit, Trix Are For Kids

“Mrrwph!” You jerk your face away from Dr. Artemus and his beard and smack him soundly, before you even realize what you’ve done. The stinging in your hand matches the shocked look on his face. He composes himself momentarily, muttering, “I’ll take that as a ‘no’.”

“What?!” You’re panting, not your best look, you think.

“My kiss didn’t awake the fairy princess from her machine-induced brain-slumber.”

“Um, no.” Flashes of memory ARE coming, though. Mostly of the feeling of the same scruffy beard against your neck and large hands… in places that make a blush creep up your neck. Geez! Old you seriously got a lot of action! Your mind is a whirl, though, of other memories… other lips, other hands. The most recent being the feeling of Chance’s nearness.

You shake your head as if to clear it. You never thought this thought would cross your mind, but right now, all you can think is Too many boys!… and one man. You glance back up at Dr. Artemus, who is eyeing you apologetically. How old is he, anyway? He doesn’t look over 30, but still…

But now is not the time for this! You remind yourself that you’ll never find out what happened to you if these guys just keep confusing you further. So you blurt out the first thing that comes into your mind.

“What exactly happened in Unit 25?” Dr. Atermus sighs. “You were planning to destroy the unit once you found out what was going on in there… but you were betrayed… by someone close to you.”

“Cain?” It comes out as a whisper.

A ghost of a smile appears on the Dr.’s lips before he answers. “Cain… maybe. You must understand something about these young, impetuous boys you keep company with.”

You meet his gaze defiantly. “And just what is that?” He looks taken aback by your question. “Well… that… they’re young and impetuous.”

“Oh.” Your defiance deflates a bit. He continues, “Cain may be acting on his own. He may just be being manipulated by someone else, because he is so blinded by his mission to clear his mother’s name… or,” he pauses, and you are so angry, and so desperate for some REAL answers, you spit out, “Or WHAT?!”

Dr. Artemus looks up at you again, “or maybe Cain didn’t betray you at all… Perhaps.”

Great! Just great! This guy has been LOADS of help! Just then, something else he said flits across your mind. “Nevermind, then. What exactly IS going on in Unit 25, that I was so hell-bent on destroying it?”

Dr. Artemus sighs again, and you find yourself wondering if he’s half as tired as you are.

“They are experimenting with new implants — not just trackers this time.” His face looks grim. “The machines are developing an implant for mind-control. These new implants would send pulses to influence the minds of their hosts… and release a lethal dose of toxin if the mind refused them… It would end the war.”

Well, shitballs. Defeat washes over you, and you suddenly feel more tired than you ever realized. But at the same time, a new resolve settles in your mind. You’re going to stop the machines. Somehow. Some way. And if you can’t trust anybody around you, then you’ll have to figure out a way to do it alone.

“I have some of your old stuff here,” Dr. Artemus turns from you toward his desk. As you stare at his back, you wonder what HE’S been doing this whole time you’ve been brain-washed. You think, he’s an adult, for Chrissakes! Why didn’t he carry on with your mission? Where has he BEEN?!! The other kids, whether you can trust them or not, were at least doing something. But maybe you don’t know everything. You chide yourself with thoughts of Aunt El. She had been fighting in her own way, not going out in the open, until tonight… And look where that got her.

You swallow the lump in your throat at the thought of your aunt, and focus your attention back on Dr. Artemus. As he reaches into his drawer with one hand, he pulls out a small black gun from the pocket of his tweed jacket with the other… It’s a gun that looks very familiar. Was it yours? Or was it used ON you?

As a rush of adrenaline courses through your system, do you:

A.  Stay calm? Maybe he’s just returning it to you. And if not, you DO still have Cain’s knife up your sleeve… literally.

B.  Position yourself behind Sev? If he’s going to use that gun, she can better withstand a bullet than you… you think.

C.  Rush over to him with an “Oh, thanks!” and kiss him again, grabbing the gun away from him?

D.  Pull out the knife and jab him in the arm with it? You can always apologize later if he’s innocent.

Cast your votes below in the comments and tune in next week for another adventure!

Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.