We received a good number of entries, giving us plenty to consider. But the winner stood out above the rest.
One judge said the tight writing of this intriguing and well-paced story, along with a strong grasp of showing not telling, made it the clear choice. The other agreed, saying the story was skillfully developed and the writing showed few of the usual "newbie" errors.
I won't keep you in suspense any longer: the winner is The Breakout by Rachelle Harp of Providence Village, Texas.
In the meantime, enjoy the first chapter of Rachelle's entry:
“This will hurt if you don’t hold still.” I grab Zinnia’s wrist, but she tries to wriggle free. I hold firm, and she relaxes for about two seconds. There. I manage to prick her thumb with the lancet and steal a drop of blood.
Zinnia trembles on the stainless steel table. Her eyes widen. Small hands crush the hem of her white dress. Bright red seeps from the thumb prick, staining the fabric.
“That wasn’t so bad, was it?” I pat her arm.
Zinnia glares at me.
She’ll get over it. I drop the scarlet bead of blood onto the gold chip and shove it into my scanner’s data port. When I press the button, the laser comes to life and pulses across the sample.
“You don’t have to be afraid,” I say. “You can call me Trina if you like.”
Zinnia’s mouth clamps shut, and she bows her sun-kissed head as though her prayer will somehow change the results. I almost ask her why she’s so scared. What would make her feel better. But then I remember my own Counting and shudder.
“I was five, too, when I was Counted.”
Zinnia peeks at me. “Did you get that then?” She points at the scrolled, metallic tattoo, dark against the pale skin of my right wrist.
“Sure did. When I finish your test, you’ll get one, too.” Everyone is marked. Chosen and Defect alike. I suppose the tracking tattoos are the Union’s way of making sure we don’t run away, though I don’t know why anyone ever would. “Can you guess what your results will be?”
“I don’t wanna be Chosen.”
“What are you talking about?” I say. “Everyone wants to be Chosen. It’s a privilege.”
Zinnia scrunches her nose.
The scanner clicks and trills a mix of high-pitched notes. I expect to see another common reading in Zinnia’s test results, that she’ll be a Tradesman or a Laborer – just another Defect. But I’m surprised when the number pops on the screen.
“You’ve got a Selectee Index number of 7.9831,” I say. Zinnia gives me a blank stare, so I smile. “That’s good news. You’re Chosen to be an Engineer one day.”
Click here to continue.
Check out what readers are saying about her space fantasy series, Gateway to Gannah:
Book 1: The Story in the Stars “…captivates readers from exciting start to satisfying finish…”
Book 2: Words in theWind is “…a thoughtful and nuanced piece… remarkably solid…”