Entry Nickname: Tag, You're Dead
Title: Tag, You're Dead
Word count: 80K
Genre: YA Thriller
In present-day Chicago, six teenagers play Tag, but with a twist: if you get Tagged, you get Dead.
The three "Its" have their reasons for buying a place in the Game: Brandy, the surgically-enhanced debutante, is dying to destroy a naturally beautiful girl; Robin, the so-so basketball player, desires his target's position on the school team; and Charles, the brainiac, craves a battle against an intellectual equal.
Laura, William, and Amanda, three hand-picked innocents forced to play as “Runners,” want only one thing…to survive.
From the moment the Runners “Go,” we follow their separate paths as the Game rockets them through the city, from the El to Michigan Avenue to the Lincoln Park Zoo. They must plan circuitous routes, for if they head directly to their Home Bases, they’ll run straight into their opponents’ murderous arms. Since the Runners’ coordinates are transmitted to the Its every half hour from smart watches locked onto their wrists, there is no time to rest, and barely a moment to register the threats made against their loved ones should the Runners refuse to participate.
With only so many places to hide, even in one of the nation’s largest cities, the Runners must use their unique skills – Laura’s charismatic personality, William’s brute strength, Amanda’s computer hacking – to outsmart their Its. The Game will not end until someone is Tagged, so the Runners must choose how to play: will they accept death, murder their Its, or create a third option that could end the game before anyone dies?
Six players began the Game. How many will live to see it end?
First 250 words:
“I can’t choose,” Brandy Inkrott said. “I want to kill them all.”
“Tag,” her mother said. “You want to Tag them all.”
“No. I don’t.”
“Either way,” her father said, “I’m afraid you have to pick one.”
Brandy studied the images of the teenage girls on the screen. Brunettes. Blondes. Asians. Hispanics. Light-skinned. Dark-skinned. Every one of them gorgeous. Every one of them middle-class. No-names. None of them like her. “They’re all so perfect. Can I pick more than one?”
A woman’s voice pierced the air, emanating from the Surround Sound speakers. “The price for two would be extravagant, Ms. Inkrott.”
“But I want—"
“Tagging more than one Runner would also be difficult. Almost impossible.”
“I don’t care. I can do it.”
Her father shrugged. “If that’s what you want.”
“I suggest this,” the woman said. “Play this time with one Runner. If you are successful, you may play again, and go after two.”
“I’m smart,” Brandy said. “I could do it the first time.”
“I know it’s tempting when you see all those beautiful faces, but you’d be setting yourself up for disappointment.”
“What do you know? You’re probably some fat old lady in a trailer park somewhere. I could Tag you."
Silence sizzled over the speakers.
“I’m sorry, Madame Referee,” Brandy’s father said. “She didn’t mean it.”
“Did so,” Brandy said.
“Bran, honey, please.”
The girls’ faces on the television disappeared, replaced by only one, which took up the entire surface of the eighty-inch screen.