Sunday, September 16, 2012

CAGI Finalist #2

Genre: YA Science Fiction
Word Count: 74,000


Marisa has fallen a long way since her days as a famous circus performer. Once known for her magical ability to charm animals with her silver flute, she was left penniless and homeless after a tragic accident tore her family apart. Now seventeen, she lives in the worst slum in Los Angeles. She has managed to survive with the support of her neighbors, especially her close friend, Josh. But she’d give anything to escape the ghetto.

When valuable lab rats from pharmaceuticals company, Dyna Corp, invade the slums, Marisa sees a chance to profit from her unique talents. Assured of a generous reward, she uses her flute to help capture the rodents. But after she discovers she can also control people with her music, a high-ranking scientist at Dyna makes her a proposition. If she lets him study her powers, she’ll earn enough to start a new life.

The offer tempts Marisa, until she learns her neighborhood is overrun with a deadly new species of rat, infected by a disease created in Dyna’s labs. With Josh seriously ill from a rat bite and the slums at risk of an epidemic, Marisa must decide whether to put herself first or help her community—even if it means taking on Dyna Corp.

An urban twist on The Pied Piper fairy tale, PIPER GIRL will appeal to fans of Marissa Meyer’s CINDER or Anna Sheehan’s A LONG, LONG SLEEP. I am a member of RWA and SCBWI.

First 250:

The sirens sound like they’re right outside my door.

Burrowing my head under the pillow, I try to block out the noise. Enough, already. It’s no use. I reach over to turn on the lamp, but nothing happens. The electricity’s out again.

Without my fan whirring away, I don’t stand a chance of falling back to sleep. I’ll toss and turn on my mattress, growing sweatier by the minute. I fumble in the darkness until I feel the hard plastic of my flashlight. When I twist it on, a few cockroaches skitter into the shadows.

I slip on my flip-flops but hesitate before unbolting the door. Do I really want to go out there? Sirens usually mean cops. If they’ve ventured into this neighborhood, the situation must be serious.

But I’m too restless to stay cooped up inside. Maybe just a quick peek.

Before I go, I shine my flashlight around the room, making sure my valuables are safely tucked away. What little cash I have is hidden behind a loose cinder block in the wall, along with my precious silver flute. I couldn’t care less about the money, but I’d be devastated if someone took my flute.

I lock the door, pocket the key, and navigate the narrow stairwell to the ground floor. Out on the street, a blast of hot, dry air hits me in the face, bringing with it the smell of smoke. Something’s on fire.

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