Title: Storm Traveler
Entry Nickname: Sugar and Blood
Word count: 107K
Genre: Adult Dark Fantasy
Twenty-one year old Malika knows her days are numbered. When she was eleven, a horrific bus accident claimed the lives of thirty-two students including her brother, leaving Malika the sole survivor. She has blocked all memory of the trauma except one: the demon king Oroth who caused the accident promised to return for her in ten years.
When Oroth shows up to claim her, bent on revenge for an ancient grudge, he drags her through a portal to his world. The magic of Malika’s amulet traps him behind a barrier, but the portal to Earth is on his side, a ticking time bomb which will soon allow the merging of the two worlds and the destruction of both.
Malika needs help to open the barrier, escape Oroth’s revenge, and close the portal before two worlds perish in darkness. But the immortal shadows in this world, known as nefas, keep humans as slaves, and her life soon belongs to a handsome nefas with a secret connection to her family’s history. In a dangerous world where magic is power and cruelty rules, Malika must choose the right side to save her homeworld and herself. Trust the wrong monster and humans in both worlds will pay the ultimate price.
First 250 words:
I’d waited for death to claim me since six in the morning.
With a sigh, I paced my bedroom, rehearsing the speech for the tenth year memorial taking place in a few hours. Soon it would all be over, but still, I wanted to make it perfect for all those who’d died―especially my brother.
“The losses…” I mumbled, then skipped ahead, trying to get the middle part just right. “Though this tragic accident…” My voice shook with the empty words.
Glancing toward the patio door, I checked the lock for the hundredth time. Not that it would matter… if he wanted to get in, he would find a way.
I stared around my room with detachment. None of this stuff mattered; it wasn’t like I could take it with me once I was gone.
With my impending doom nearing, I sat by my plants, taking a calming breath. Nature had been a sanctuary of sorts, but today the usual Zen wasn’t working. My breathing accelerated and heat rose through my body, drenching me in sweat. Despite continuing with my kickboxing classes until yesterday, nothing seemed to relieve the stress burning me inside out. It was hard to stay calm when I’d known the year, month, and approximate time of my death for the past ten years.
Well, at least I got to turn twenty-one before dying… an adult for seven full days―lucky me.
A knock on the front door jolted me out of my reveries, and I frowned when an unfamiliar voice spoke.
~ VERSUS ~
Title: Fresh Horizons
Entry Nickname: Humankind Is Basically Screwed
Word Count: 86K
Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Addisalem Worede never asked to be the last hope of the human race, and to be honest, she’s not that great at it. As the unofficial leader of a mission meant to ensure that the end of Earth is not the end of humankind, her two main concerns are keeping the last twelve humans in the galaxy alive and maintaining their meticulously curated trove of gametes.
Except the other humans seem to be on a mission of their own to die, one by one. A fire onboard their spaceship threatens the precious genetics banks, and it is defeated only at the cost of a colonist’s life. Addi guides the grieving crew through an unprecedented Sisyphon jump and averts disaster as the co-pilot of their crash landing on their new planet, but it’s not enough to prevent another casualty. The colony is foundering before it has even begun, and Addi is in no way prepared to deal with it. The planners back on Earth developed endless protocols for the mission, but Earth is a quadrillion kilometers away, and the colonists—and Addi—are on their own now. She doesn’t dare reveal just how precarious their position is, even as she agonizes over every decision she makes. Their colony is supposed to be the continuation of humankind, but Addi may just be presiding over the final demise.
Space is mind-bogglingly, indescribably huge—so of course they all had to attempt to describe it.
"It's like a drop trying to picture the whole ocean," was Sasha's offer. She only said it to hold up the bare minimum of participation in the conversation. She wished everyone else would just shut up or go away, but they wouldn't, so she had to play along. At least it wasn't the worst way they had passed one of their post-dinner evenings, trying to assuage the boredom of being cargo.
"The cramped conditions of a spacefaring vehicle will require extra attention to interpersonal relations," her mission therapist had said.
Fine. She tried to disregard the others, biting her tongue against Moa's idiotic statement that the universe was a giant womb. Sasha didn’t want to think about wombs, or the suspended gametes a couple decks below her boots. She pressed her forehead against the porthole. The velvety blackness stretched away in all directions, speckled with a few stars bright enough to be seen past the Mayflower's lights.
One of those stars was not a star at all but Earth. Almost impossible to believe, if she hadn't spent the past few months watching it grow steadily distant and miniscule. Longing lanced through her. The craving to see blue skies overhead, to run until her lungs ached and still have a limitless horizon in front of her. To feel the sun on her face.
Yeah, and then die an excruciating death. Don't be daft, Sasha.