Title: DETOURS AND OTHER DANGERS
Genre: Middle Grade Mystery
Word Count: 35,000
My Main Character’s Most Stressful Relationship is:
Olivia’s most stressful relationship is definitely Mr. Smith. Not only is he ruining her new look by showing up early all the time, the new bus driver gives her a death glare with those creepy black eyes every time he sees her. He lies all the time, and he has to be dangerous. Why else would he have it in for a bunch of harmless kids? No matter what it takes, Olivia will figure out the truth. The most important year of her school career might soon be destroyed if she doesn’t.
Olivia’s big plan for the first day of eighth grade is to show off her sophisticated image, but everything changes when the new bus driver arrives fifteen minutes early and proceeds to run the bus like a prison. As if the yelling and assigned seats aren’t enough, “Mr. Smith” makes an unscheduled stop. The location—a creepy abandoned gas station where he disappears inside for several minutes with a bulging shopping bag. He returns and threatens to have the kids banned from the bus if they tell.
Getting kicked off the bus would mean big trouble, so the group agrees to wait and see what happens. Mr. Smith continues his routine, but when a student notices him drop a hypodermic needle in the parking lot, it’s time for action. The kids explain the situation to their parents. Unbelievably, Mr. Smith is one step ahead. He’s already called parents, claiming the kids are misbehaving on the bus. He even found a way to alter the security camera footage to back up his story to the principal. All of the detours to the gas station are erased.
Olivia’s determined to figure out what’s going on, but she needs help. She forms an unlikely alliance with the kids around her. Together they follow the driver into the gas station. Inside a tiny room they discover a shocking secret. Before they can act, Mr. Smith appears with a gun. The group bolts into the darkness. If they can’t find a way out before Mr. Smith finds them, their detour to the gas station may be the last bus ride they’ve ever taken.
First 250 Words:
Olivia Ryan slammed the front door and glared at the school bus. Fifteen minutes early. Was summer so long her bus driver had forgotten how to tell time? The doors groaned open as if they too were protesting the early start. She hesitated, tightened her fingers on the strap of her backpack, and climbed the steps. Swiping her bangs to the side, she raised her eyes to Linda, ready to remind her what time the bus was supposed to pick her up. The words died on her lips.
Instead of the familiar middle-aged woman with dimples and glasses, a lumberjack gripped the steering wheel. His head rotated slowly until black eyes glowered at her. “Back seat, driver’s side.” His deep voice practically echoed through the silent bus.
Olivia shivered. What genius had decided this guy should work around kids? She glanced over the mostly empty seats and sighed. A new bus driver, a longer ride, and assigned seats; not exactly the perfect start to eighth grade. Her new, sophisticated image required more time to get ready, not less.
She squinted at the shadow in the back seat. Seriously? Jenna McKinley; Ashwood Middle School’s cheerleading princess. This day was getting better by the minute. Lumberjack must have assumed all eighth grade girls were friends. Wrong.
"Hi, Olivia." Jenna swiveled, forcing Olivia to squeeze by and sit next to the window. Of course Jenna wouldn't scoot over, and Olivia would rather do the chicken dance in front of the entire student body than ask her to.