Title: I'M GAME
Genre: YA Sci-Fi Thriller
Word Count: 73,000
A hundred teams. Seven levels. One prize.
Dodge Tellman has been stuck in the slums of his high-tech city since birth, but if his team wins the Game, his family will finally get their ticket out. The Gamers who conquer all seven objectives win a new life for themselves and their families, a life aboard a luxury space cruiser headed to colonize a distant planet.
Too bad his competitors have an advantage he can't afford: an operation to get enhanced senses and extra, mechanical limbs.
Dodge only has enough money for a Chancer, a cheap and risky roulette operation. He won't know what the surgeons have done to his body until he walks into the Gamescape, where the implants will activate. Though there's no guarantee of getting his money's worth, his best friends - his teammates - reassure him it's better than nothing.
But when he and his team enter the Gamescape, they realize something's wrong. Dodge's metamorphosis, unlike any they've ever seen or even read about, is gradual, uncontrollable - and there's no way to deactivate. Little by little, level by level, he's transforming into something without a conscience. Something with the capacity - with the sick and animalistic desire - to slaughter 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 friends. His family's future. His humanity.
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.
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.