Title: The End of the World as We Know it
Entry Nickname: The Nose Knows
Word Count: 69k
Genre: Adult contemporary fantasy. Ownvoice–Latino (two of the multiple POVs)
Eddie Nezevitch has a unique gift—just like everyone else. Though his power ranks low and poses no danger, it is why he’s the best homicide detective in New York. Eddie can smell the emotional content of a crime, and knowing why is half the battle.
But his newest assignment, the scene of a dark, gory ritual, is too much for him to handle alone. He teams up with an aging crank and a not-so-doe-eyed newbie. Together they discover that not only is this murder the work of a brutal serial killer who steals his victims’ powers, but the victims turn out to be worse than the killer. The murderer is going after a crime ring that leads all the way up to the mayor and back into the department itself, and the three investigators realize they can’t trust anyone but each other.
Stuck in the middle and being played by both sides, Eddie’s team has to decide between protecting the worst criminals in the city, and letting a serial killer steal so many powers he’ll be able to warp the very fabric of reality.
The streets were wet, and the air carried the damp reminder of rain Eddie Nezevitch felt in his lungs and nostrils. The barrier in front of him shimmered like a slice of the Caribbean turned on its side, and Eddie couldn’t resist running his hand over the surface, which felt like glass but rippled like water.
Petty scenes got tape, but the department had an officer whose power could make important locations hermetic. Even though he’d seen these seals enough to make them mundane, they remained beautiful. He touched his badge to the barrier and a hole opened to allow entry. The seal closed behind him, leaving the avenue on the other side of the crime scene wavering and distorted.
The door of the home lay open, a sinister invitation into the quiet darkness. Eddie found a light switch and shut the door behind him. The room past the foyer was well furnished, the upholstery soft, though overly stylized, with complex patterns to hide minor blemishes. The wallpaper was excessive, a deep burgundy with gold lines and shading to make it appear as if the walls too were upholstered, perhaps intending to recall eighteenth century France. It only made Eddie think of lunacy and padded cells.
He closed his eyes and mouth, drew a slow deep breath, kept his mind and lungs still, and used his own unique gift—his sense of smell. Lavender…lavender laced with…a soft decay, like mushrooms in the forest. That made no sense. Remorse and despair, for this crime?
~ VERSUS ~
Entry Nickname: The Lake of Haunted Memories
Word count: 79K
Genre: Adult Horror
Ruth’s phobias have ruled—and ruined—her life. She dropped out of veterinary school. She can’t even sleep in the dark. Desperate to conquer her fears and looking for a fresh start, she relocates to Wisconsin. There, she starts a new graduate program and embarks on a field trip with three classmates. En route to Lake Chevinette, she meets Howard, a double amputee in a wheelchair. He claims to be the sole survivor of a logging crew that were slaughtered by trees in the lakeside woods.
Arriving at the site, Ruth finds the lake has strange qualities: the water is dark, but she cannot filter out particles; the plankton net reveals no life whatsoever; and a scientific cable, at least a hundred meters long, fails to reach the bottom, then gets caught and is lost. One of the girls falls in, and, although Ruth rescues her, she vanishes when back on shore. Unable to call for help, Ruth must either abandon her missing companion and live with the guilt, or continue to search after the sun sets and the darkness she dreads falls.
Late for class, Ruth scurried up the stairs and wondered what the animal of the day would be since it changed every practice−certainly not another albino iguana. She would know if she had read the instructions over breakfast, as she had planned. But she had slept through her alarm again, and breakfast consisted of a glass of orange juice at the kitchen counter and a cereal bar while riding the bus.
Sweat had congealed on the small of her back and it made her uncomfortable. She reached the teakwood double doors, grasped the metal pull handle, and opened one of the two panels. In the practice room, students pored over their stations; only one of those stations was free, at the back of the room. She claimed the space. On the butter-yellow counter, a rectangular glass container resembled a fish tank, although it had a closed top and, instead of water, contained something that staggered Ruth. She lurched back and away from the counter.
“It’s docile,” the instructor said, in a white coat. “We can have it restrained if you like.”
Ruth nodded her head in reply. Apprehension clogged and cluttered not only her mind but her vocal cords. The faculty would never expose the students to a poisonous animal; nevertheless, she could barely breathe as she faced the creature. It had never occurred to her that as a veterinarian she might have to handle a patient as horrid as a snake.
The lid of the glass tank went up, and the gloved hands of the assistant descended inside.