Oct 25, 2014

NoQS Agent Round: NO SHORTCUTS: MG Sci fi

Genre: MG science fiction
Word Count: 42,000

My Main Character's Most Fearsome Obstacle:

“My most fearsome obstacle?” That would be my big sister, Mann. She only pays attention to me if I grab her phone. I need it for homework, but when I slightly-accidentally peeked at her messages, she went ballistic. I've been thinking a lot about that since I got caught in this stupid interdimensional rift. I feel guilty for bugging Mann so much, especially because I've just realized something: my only way home is to get Mann to listen to me. And she's going to be mad. Nothing, not even the rift, is scarier than a mad Mann.


Fifth grade didn't teach Sarah how to be homeless. She had to figure it out herself. The worst part isn't that she has to steal food or sleep in a doghouse; it’s that everyone who knows her is disappearing.

The only person left who can help is the last person she’d choose: Mr. Gomes, the crazy old man who shouts at squirrels and pops your ball if it lands on his lawn. But he’s got a spare room, hot food, and a plan for Sarah to get her life back.

A Cold War weapon Gomes invented is eroding the barriers between worlds, causing Sarah to wake each morning in a different version of her hometown. When Gomes tested the weapon 35 years ago, he also created another anomaly: time wells opened up near the test site, connecting Sarah’s present-day town to that fateful morning in 1981. Now Gomes is desperate to send Sarah on a mission – back to her own dimension, and back in time – to stop his younger self.

All Sarah needs to do is jump back to 1981, take on paranoid military bosses in their secure compound, and enlist the help of her own seriously annoyed big sister who gets dragged along for the ride. If Sarah can stop the weapon, the old man swears she’ll get home: right time, right dimension. If she fails, millions more people will end up just like her, never waking in the same world twice. 

First 250:

I am not hard to get along with. Honest. But the last time I ever walked home with Mann, the way she shouted at me, you'd think I was the most annoying sister in the universe. Ok, so I probably shouldn't have messed with her phone. And I could've been more helpful putting up posters. But you can’t blame me for stomping on the ice-puddles.

They only crunch like this right at the end of winter, so you've got to do them when you see them. The wide puddles with white ice make the best pops, big and hollow like a drum. The shallow ones you can just scuff through and they crack like Rice Krispies. I had a whole string of them lined up and ready when my sister screamed at me like she was being mauled. If you ask me, sixth-graders get way too worked-up about stuff.

“SARAH! Come ON!” Mann was way ahead, leaning against the next telephone pole, holding the flapping poster with one hand. “If you don't quit it and start helping me, I am TELLING!”

“Just four more!” I jumped through them snap-crackle-pop like hopscotch, then I ran as fast as I could. When I reached her I was panting.

Mann stuck her hand out, back over her shoulder. “Thumbtacks.” 

I rattled the box out of my backpack, chose four to drop into her palm and watched her spear the poster at the corners. She stood back to look at it and wiped her hands on her jeans.

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