Genre: Young Adult Speculative
Word Count: 70,000
My Main Character's Most Stressful Relationship is:
Caden's most stressful relationship is with Dom, a Nobody at the Home for orphans. Dom is Caden's opposite in every way: he's large, cruel, and has no interest in Iltech – illegal technology. When Dom and Caden are adopted by the same man, Dom threatens to kill Caden if he doesn't find a way to get it called off. Caden tries to make peace with Dom by calling him "brother," but that just incites him even more. Caden wonders what happened to Dom's family, but he can't ask for fear of being smashed with Dom's favorite tool, the sledgehammer.
Thirteen-year-old Caden isn't even a Nobody. Sure, he's been stripped of his name and family like all the other kids at the Home, but while they get to sleep in beds under the same roof, he's an outcast who spends his nights in the horse stables, gazing at an illegal photo of the father he's never met.
Ever since the technological apocalypse, the Church has outlawed all metallic devices and remnants of humanity's advanced past. They fear angering Metl – Earth's artificial second moon, worshiped as mechanical god in the sky – and causing another disaster. Those who defy the Church’s sacred law are erased, and their children are sent to the Home to save their technologically-tainted souls.
But unknown to anyone, another disaster is looming. One night a fiery red X appears on Metl's surface, the same red X that now marks Caden's palms. This ominous development leads him to a horrible discovery: he's a human-robot hybrid created as a weapon to finish destroying the world.
If Caden is to unlock the purpose behind his creation, he realizes he must find his father, a near impossible task. Not only is he being hunted by the Twelve Apostles, an elite and ruthless team of religious police, but time is against him. Metl has started on an impact course with Earth and it's all his fault.
First 250 words:
Caden lined up with the Nobodies outside. All the other children were dressed in their best outfits – boys in clean trousers and white shirts, girls in sunny yellow cotton dresses – but Caden wore the only clothes he had, his stable-cleaning uniform. Rubber gloves, thick boots, and a heavy pair of denim overalls that hung loose on his small, wiry frame. He could never quite get the stench of horse manure out of them, no matter how hard he scrubbed.
The Nobodies formed an orderly row in the grassy front yard of the Home, a long steepled cottage built from a mishmash of wood donated by the town carpenters. Behind the Home rolled one hundred acres of farmland bursting with corn, potatoes, hay, grain and apples that the Nobodies tended, along with pens for chickens, cows, pigs, and horses. It was only noon, but the Nobodies had already spent a full day working the fields. Up at five, prayer at five-ten, breakfast of boiled eggs and potatoes at five-fifteen, and then outside to work by five-thirty wasn't an easy schedule, but it was better than starving alone in the streets.
Above them Earth's metallic second moon Metl shimmered bright in the clear blue sky.
Today was adoption day, the first in months. As soon as it was announced, Caden heard the same whispers that always preceded adoption days: everyone hoping they'd be picked. As usual, Caden wanted to join the excitement, but he couldn't.