Sunday, September 16, 2012

CAGI Finalist #6

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Word Count: 79,000


Alex Daily’s first superpower appears out of nowhere on the last day of fourth grade, right in the middle of the Great Egg Drop. Just as he gets used to the idea of learning to be a ten-year-old superhero, his power disappears and a brand new one takes its place. Every morning Alex wakes up with a different superpower. Yesterday he had telekinesis, today he can turn invisible, but he has no way of guessing or controlling what power he’ll have tomorrow.

Alex doesn’t know anything about being a superhero but his best friend Melanie is allowed to watch PG-13 movies, which makes her practically an expert. She tells him everything she knows, like keeping his powers secret so that the government won't take him away. The friends sneak into the nearby university, hoping to get some answers from Alex’s stepsister Cora, who’s a biology student. Cora ends up needing Alex's help more than he needs hers when she discovers that a rival professor and his grandson are planning to sabotage her research. Meanwhile, the cop on duty has a pair of handcuffs with Alex’s name on them.

Saving Cora’s research means saving millions of lives, just like a real superhero, but his mom is getting suspicious, his powers aren’t cooperating, and Alex is distracted by new secrets about the biological father he’s never met. Life’s not easy for anyone, but it’s especially difficult for a superhero with a different power every day and a nine o'clock bedtime every night.

First 250:

The day before getting his first superpower, Alex Daily found himself climbing to the top of his stepdad’s forbidden twelve-foot ladder. The sun-soaked metal burned his fingers and the cardboard box under his arm kept catching beneath each rung and throwing him off balance. He’d be grounded for life if Mom or Walter caught him climbing this ladder. The worst part? He didn’t even want to climb it.

Melanie watched from below, a half-smile tugging at the corner of her tiny mouth. He was afraid of heights and of breaking rules, but he was most afraid of being called a wimp by a girl. Melanie was a tomboy but she still counted as a girl, and her smile (which threatened to open wide and start calling him names) was the only thing that kept him climbing.

When he got to the final rung he set the box on the little shelf at the top.

"Okay, Melanie, you ready?" Alex asked. He wanted to get it over with.

“No!” she said. “You have to go to the tip-top.”

"The box is on there. Besides, it’s for paint cans and tools."

"Not that part, stupid. Look! You’ve still got a step to go."

Melanie was right, as usual, but she couldn’t see the sticker that covered the top rung. "NOT A STEP!" the red letters warned. There were pictures of stick figure men falling to horrible stick figure deaths. One fell forward, bringing the whole ladder down with him. Another fell backwards somehow landing directly on his head with his legs straight up in the air, which didn’t even seem possible but scared Alex nonetheless.

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