Entry Nickname: Polar Rush
Word Count: 93,000 words
Genre: Adult Eco-Thriller
John Barrous is out to stake his claim on the rich, virgin continent of Antarctica—up for grabs after a catastrophic global warming has melted the polar ice caps.
After the random murder of his wife, John decides to swap urban strife and his stifling corporate career as an environmental engineer for the freedom to live or die on his terms. Despite his trepidation, his daughter insists on accompanying him on the daring venture. He risks his life, and hers, against ruthless—and armed—competitors in a perilous overland race during the Antarctic Land Rush.
John meets a captivating woman, Lowry Walker, a geophysicist and authority on Antarctica, with deep links to Antarctica’s underbelly. He is attracted to her beauty and intelligence, but still mourns his wife’s death and hesitates to start a relationship with a woman he barely knows, though their lives become entangled in a warren of political intrigue.
Lowry warns him of a shady syndicate, ANT, who pays sham homesteaders to claim tracts, in order to control key land near the proposed capital city, Amundsen. To derail them, she persuades John to infiltrate and expose the nefarious ring, only to discover that ANT is now trying to steal the presidency. Lowry convinces John to run in the special election for president, drawing him away from his simple life, into a maze of power struggles to control this new land.
John Barrous and his daughter pushed their way through a crowd of saris and Bedouin robes intermingled with plain western clothes. His ears rang with the deafening uproar and he wrinkled his nose at the stench of body odor. Desperation etched their faces—these were not the meek, waiting to inherit the Earth—these were the ones to seize it.
Men leered at Ginnie’s fresh face. John wrapped his arm around her. She was only fifteen. He spotted two seats together and they made a dash for them.
Young men, couples, and families with children flowed into the packed hall. Two Bedouin men argued in a row in front of them. John shifted on the hard metal chair and glanced at Ginnie.
“Dad, why would the UN open Antarctica with a crazy Land Rush instead of a lottery?”
He shrugged. “Publicity stunt, I guess. Less land in the world forced them to open new territory for the human race to spill into, or more likely, to screw up.”
The quarrelling Bedouins dropped their traditional robes and circled each other in a ring of shouting comrades. One man feinted towards the other, who struck him in the face. More men gathered, tightening the knot around the fighters. John sucked in his breath at the dull glint of a blade. The first thrust missed, but the second hit its mark. Shrieks echoed in the hall. The crowd heaved away as the combatants fought over the knife. John lunged forward to shield Ginnie.