Title: GUIDE DOG
Genre: YA thriller
Word Count: 55,000
Fifteen year old Irene's got problems. Being skinny, homely and acne-prone is just a small part of what's making her miserable, but thanks to the girls in high school it's the biggest thing in her life. Sometimes it seems like the world (including her mother, sister and former and current schools) have rendered their verdict-she's a mess with a capital M.
But when her mother insists she take a summer job, she finds herself working for Cyrus Wozniack, a scientist who spends his hours running DNA samples and using them to create serums, pills and creams for the purpose of transforming the recipient. And he'll let Irene sample his wares. The only caveat is that she has to be his collector, which means traveling with Cyrus's creepy son to collect DNA samples. Okay, it's a little weird, but it seems harmless. At first.
But when two of her targets turn up dead, she begins to realize just where her usefulness lies. Not so much as a collector, but as a guide dog. And with that realization comes another-she can use her newfound role to get back at her tormentors. But will the price prove too high?
One of the first things we learned at Catholic school was that God had a purpose for everything. Sometimes, we'd been told, you couldn't make sense of that purpose until you'd been around long enough and really thought about it. Now, as I sat in the principal's office looking at my hands (versus meeting the disappointed gaze of Mr. Mickford, or Father Mickford as he liked to be called), I wondered if I'd found my purpose in life-to really piss people off. Even people who wanted to help me.
Now Father Mickford glanced at the book on his desk. My dog-eared, frayed copy of Jane Eyre, the one I'd marked up with an aggressive combination of yellow highlighter and ball point pen. He hadn't opened the book to see the damage, which was good-how many detentions could I take? I watched as the light shafting through the stained glass windows turned his balding head into a veritable Easter-egg of green and rose and yellow, and waited for the fall.
"Mrs. Cole says you were very dismissive of the book."
I shrugged. "Didn't like it."
"Okay, well...there's nothing saying you have to like everything you read. But she said..."
I knew what she'd said. But it felt like good form to ask. "What?"
He cleared his throat. "That the book was...um...masturbatory wish fulfillment for ugly girls."
The words fell between us. I propped my chin on my hand, as if considering. "Yeah, well..."
"So you did say it?"