Title: Still Life
Entry Nickname: Men Aren’t Dying
Word count: 95K
Genre: Adult contemporary sci-fi
On the same day the world is enveloped in a virus-laden preternatural fog, Samantha Davis’ ex-boyfriend survives a horrific car accident against expectations. As he begins to recover, his radically altered personality is hard for Samantha to explain.
Active virus samples in men begin to emerge, where the viral DNA is dominant. Samantha’s ex is among them. Research confirms, since the date of the fog, men under fifty are no longer dying. Or they are, but they come back, their organic death proving to be the trigger for activation of the virus. When infection rates start to exceed the normal mortality rates, it becomes clear they are killing men to speed up the transition.
Samantha must prove the threat men with the new virus pose, before their numbers mean they cannot be stopped, or risk that women will be subjugated, useful only as breeding stock in the enforced evolution of humanity.
I peered into the darkness, the thick, swirling fog making it difficult to see any other traffic on the dark Brighton streets. As I accelerated, my foot slipped on the clutch, the car lurching onto the roundabout. Edward’s hand shot out, gripping onto the door handle, his other fastened to the side of his seat. My next gear change wasn’t much smoother. I could feel Edward looking at me, wanting to talk. “Sam-”
I jabbed at the radio button, to shut him up and avoid having to listen to any more of his bullshit. The cool, professional tones of the BBC news reporter helped, today’s events a welcome distraction:
“An unusually heavy fog has led to transport delays and disruption worldwide today.
Despite reports of an apparent ‘luminosity’ in the fog, the Department of Health has issued a statement saying the phenomena is not believed to be a cause for concern — however they’ve advised children and the elderly to stay indoors as a precaution.
Continued travel disruption is expected while the fog persists-”
Edward flicked the off-switch.
I took my eyes off the road to glare at him. “I was listening to that!”
“Sam, we need to talk about what happened.”
“I know what happened. I was there, remember?” I slowed as we hit another mini-roundabout, the fog hiding it until the last moment. A pedestrian hurried across the road in front of us, head down, his skin and clothes coated with a pink film of whatever shit was in the fog. It was everywhere.
~ VERSUS ~
Title: Engine of Change
Entry Nickname: Super Powers and Problems
Word Count: 100K
Genre: Adult SciFi
Seeing twenty-seven-year-old Jenna downing shots at the local dive bar, you’d never guess she was once the feared supervillain Engine. That’s because everyone knows Engine is dead, just like the rest of the Specials–the teens who ten years ago tried to take over the world.
Or so the old headlines read. Jenna would tell you different.
Burdened with guilt over being the last of her kind, all Jenna wants is to be left alone in the secret life she’s built in New York City. That hope is shattered when the man who created the virus that eradicated the Specials threatens humanity with a new strain of the plague, and a government agency aware Jenna survived demands her help. Help she has no intention of providing until they reveal they possess the only thing Jenna would care about: more survivors of the original virus.
Can Jenna overcome her demons, revive the leader she was, and save the world? After the genocide committed against her people, will she even try?
First 250 Words:
The worst thing about having gained immortality at sixteen was being treated like a scamming teenager any time I wanted a fucking drink.
“ID,” Jimmy said as I climbed into the rust-red swivel seat at the middle of the bar. He leaned over the stained bar top and eyed me like I’d trailed dog shit in on my shoe.
I ripped open my wallet, nearly knocking over a half-empty glass of skunky swill someone had abandoned. “I’ve been in here a hundred times. Why are you still being a tool about this?”
Jimmy flicked his bald head up and to the right, at the fist-sized black camera aimed at the bar. His engorged belly swung around under his blue sweat-soaked t-shirt. “Because I still don’t buy that you’re twenty-two, Jenna.”
Jimmy was right, I wasn’t twenty-two. I was twenty-seven, but got carded everywhere. I couldn’t even buy cigarettes without catching shit. Immunity to physical addiction was a nice perk to the whole doesn’t-age-or-get-sick thing, though. Take that, Philip Morris and Anheuser-Busch.
I yanked out my well-fabricated driver’s license and passed it over. Jimmy looked at it just long enough to satisfy a judge, and handed it back.
“The usual? Beer and a bourbon shot?”
I nodded and jammed my ID back into my wallet.
The place was pretty empty; only three sad sacks scattered around, hunched in shadows, nursing their regrets. Of course it was a Tuesday at five PM and the place was a shithole.