Title: I'M GAME
Genre: YA sci-fi thriller
Word count: 72,000
Seventeen-year-old Dodge Tellman would do anything to win the Game, but his competitors have an advantage he can't afford: enhanced senses and extra, mechanical limbs.
Dodge lives in the slums of a high-tech megalopolis. The crime rate is higher than the graduation rate, his underpaid parents take pills to stay awake for 60-hour work shifts, and his four-person family lives in a three-room apartment. If Dodge's team wins the Game, his family will finally have their ticket out. The team of Gamers who conquer the objectives of all seven levels win a new life for themselves and their families, a life aboard a luxury space cruiser headed to colonize a distant planet.
Most of the Game's previous winners have had advanced surgery, but Dodge only has enough money for a Chancer, a cheap and risky roulette. He won't know what the operators have done to his body until he walks into the Game, where the implants will activate. Though there's no guarantee of getting his money's worth, he figures it's better than nothing - going in without any surgery would be like asking for elimination.
When Dodge and his team first enter the Gamescape, he thinks he's come face to face with his worst case scenario: zero difference in his body. But he's wrong. His metamorphosis, unlike any he's ever seen or even read about, is gradual, uncontrollable, and inexorable. Little by little, level by level, he's transforming into something without a conscience. Something with the capacity - with the sick desire - to slaughter his teammates, his closest friends.
He can still win the Game, if he's willing to stay in the Gamescape and fight what he's becoming.
But if he can't keep control, he'll lose everything. His family's future. His best friends. His humanity.
And there's no going back.
I have short fiction in Bad Austen, an anthology published November 2011 by Adams Media. I also attended the Backspace Writers Conference in New York in November 2011. Thank you so much for your time and consideration.
The com on my wall buzzes, spitting out the voice of my best friend Tag. “Dodge, you there?”
I don’t want to untangle myself from my bunk’s covers to answer. The heating in our apartment shell is broken for the second time this winter, and besides this bundle of blankets, there’s no way to ward off the chill leaking in around my bedroom window.
Despite my lack of response, Tag keeps talking. “I know you’re there, bud. Sitting in your bunk and trying to ignore me. Don’t think you’re getting away with it – I’m gonna keep talking until you answer.” A pause. “Yes, that was a threat.”
I roll my eyes. Tag’s not kidding. He’ll go on for hours if I don’t shut him up.
With a sigh, I slide out of my bunk, the icy air calling the hair on the back of my neck to attention. As I rub the goosebumps away, my fingers trail over the microchip beneath my hair. The rectangular chunk of circuiting is cold to the touch.
I kick my way through the clutter on my floor and slap my hand onto the wall-com. “Yeah. What’s going on?”
“There you are.” Tag’s voice vibrates in the old silver disk. “The guys wanna go out. You coming?”
I’m tempted to say no. If I go, they’ll ask me what I’m going to pitch.
Tag pitched Army. I knew he’d do it – it’s a rich kid thing. When they pitch, they get their extras plugged under their natural-born arms, one more arm on each side.