Entry Nickname: Don’t Eat Me!
Word count: 80,000
Genre: YA SF
Query:Seventeen year old Kenzie Cord has never doubted her future as an elite guard on Sanctuary, an orbital prison for superpowered teens too dangerous for Earth. When the prisoners take her hostage, she’s confident her commanding officer -- who also happens to be her mother -- will stop at nothing to secure her freedom.
But Kenzie’s mother chooses regulations over her daughter, leaving Kenzie to engineer her own escape -- easier said than done when surrounded by mind readers, invisible vigilantes, and infuriatingly charismatic thieves who run at the speed of sound. Reluctantly, she begins to empathize with her captors’ desperation for freedom, wondering whether the real criminals aren’t the people imprisoning children in a soulless, AI-controlled wasteland.
But then monstrous alien creatures tear through Sanctuary, determined to harvest the entire station. With Kenzie’s survival tied to the prisoners’, she discovers there is more to her past than she ever dreamed, and more to the alien invasion than she initially suspected. Her worldview in tatters, she’s torn between the future she’s always imagined and the increasingly complex moral web she’s weaving -- a choice that might land her in prison herself.
Of course, that decision won’t matter if the space monsters eat her first.
250 Words:At the shrill of the alarm, I shot straight up in bed, smashing my head against the overhang. My tiny, capsule sized room lurched, bursts of red illuminating the posters on the wall, the tangle of gray blankets around my knees. The dizziness faded -- the alarms didn’t.
I leaped to my feet, jamming my feet into my boots. The lights came up, revealing I had them on the wrong feet. Swearing, I swapped them and tugged at the laces.
“Kenzie!” Dad’s voice boomed outside the door.
“Coming!” I shouted. I took a second to scrape my curls out of my face and into a ponytail before I slid the door aside.
Dad waited, looking like he’d never even gone to sleep. He frowned at the reflective surface of the comm device embedded in his wrist. “I know!” I said, barreling past him.
The alarm was loud enough to wake the dead, ridiculous since only five guards lived on the entire station -- and of course, I made six. I ran down the deserted corridors with Dad on my heels. We shot through the living quarters into the larger area of the station, housing medical supplies, airlocks, a common room, and of course the command center.
The latter was where we found Mom, hands clasped behind her back, not a hair out of place. Guiltily, I smoothed my hand over my own unruly ponytail. “About time,” she said crisply. “Kenzie, pull up the video feed on the prison.”
Title: Lux and Lies
Entry Nickname: Berserk Zombie
Word count: 75k
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
In 2072, a pharmaceutical company, VidaCorp, has discovered emotions cause disease and shorter life spans in humans. For those who can afford VidaCorp’s emotion suppressant pill, reality television provides second-hand emotions without the risk of actually feeling them.
Unable to afford the drug, Wren Qof-12678.3 watches the shows to forget about the lung cancer ticking down her days until a routine police scan turns into a life-changing proposition. The reality star Sloane Lux has overdosed just weeks before the premier of an upcoming reality show. To protect their interests in the show, VidaCorp offers Wren a deal to replace Sloane in exchange for the drugs to save her life at the season’s end.
Wren can’t resist the thought of a future full of hopeful tomorrows. She begins the agonizing physical alterations that turn her into the perfect replica of Sloane—at a cost. Wren enters a new world, marked by a dissociative disorder, with only her quick thinking to aid her. On the first night of filming, she learns a social anarchist group called the Whitebirds has infiltrated the cast and crew with the sole mission of destroying VidaCorp.
To survive, Wren must uncover the anarchists while avoiding their increasingly dangerous acts and navigating the fame-hungry cast members. During filming, she discovers the Whitebirds’ leader is her closest ally on the show. But when Wren learns VidaCorp has been illegally dumping emotion suppressants into the water supply for years, she must decide whether to betray her new friend or join his fight against VidaCorp and the very drug she needs to save her life.
Wren Qof-12678.3 concentrated as she drew the white perpendicular lines on the purpled skin of her bruised cheek. She held the marker steady in her hand, breath bucking against the cancer-pocked walls of her lungs, and focused solely on her reflection in the mirror. Her residence mark had to be perfect or the Links would stop her more often than they already did, and she couldn’t afford anymore docked quotas because of tardiness to work.
Her father’s alarm blared through the paper-thin walls of their government-issued apartment. The marker skidded across her skin, ruining her tedious work.
With her heart in the back of her throat, she stood frozen in front of the mirror. Her wide eyes caught on the yellowing bruises along her shoulder and neck mingling into the newer, fresher marks along her jaw. Marks she hadn’t drawn on.
The alarm cut off with a bang, and Wren easily—too easily—imagined his fist crashing against it. The bed creaked when he rolled over, adjusting into a more comfortable position. A moment later, his snores picked back up, like the sputtering start of a car before the Third World War Peace Act had put a sky-high quota on gasoline.