Dear Ms. Martindale:
Seventeen-year-old Dodge Tellman would do anything to win
the Game, but his competitors have an advantage he can't afford: enhanced
senses and extra, mechanical limbs.
Dodge lives in the slums of a high-tech megalopolis. The
crime rate is higher than the graduation rate, his underpaid parents take pills
to stay awake for 60-hour work shifts, and his four-person family lives in a
three-room apartment. But if Dodge's team wins the Game, they'll finally have a
ticket out. The team of Gamers who conquer the objectives of all seven levels
win a new life for themselves and their families, a life aboard a luxury space
cruiser headed to colonize a distant planet. And whether the objective is Dare,
which means forcing yourself to take insane risks, or something more vicious,
like the fight-oriented Dispatch, the number-one asset a Gamer can have is a
Most of the Game's previous winners have had advanced
surgery, but the only operation Dodge can afford is a Chancer. A roulette. He
won't know what the operators have done to his body until he walks into the
Game, where the implants will activate. There's no guarantee of getting his
money's worth, but going in without any surgery at all would be like asking to
lose. In the ten years of the Game, no one's won without physical enhancements.
When Dodge and his team first enter the Gamescape, he comes
face to face with his worst case scenario: zero difference in his body. No
operation. But he's changing, all right. Little by little, level by level, he's
transforming into something without a conscience. Something with the capacity--with
the sick desire--to slaughter his teammates, his closest friends.
He can still win the Game, if he's willing to stay in the
Gamescape and fight the metamorphosis.
But if he can't keep control, he'll lose everything. His
family's future. His best friends. His humanity.
And there's no going back.
I'M GAME (72,000 words) is a sci-fi thriller for young
adults. I have short fiction in Bad Austen, an anthology to be published
November 2011 by Adams Media. I've enclosed my first 250 words below--thank you
so much for your time and consideration, and for judging the Agent's Inbox
The com on my wall buzzes, spitting out the voice of my best
friend Tag. “Dodge, you there?”
I don’t want to extract myself from my bunk’s covers to
answer. The heating in our apartment shell is broken for the second time this
winter, and besides this bundle of blankets, there’s no way to ward off the
chill leaking in around my bedroom window.
Despite my lack of response, Tag keeps talking. “I know
you’re there, bud. Sitting in your bunk and trying to ignore me. Don’t think
you’re getting away with it--I’m gonna keep talking until you answer.” A pause.
“Yes, that was a threat.”
I roll my eyes. Tag’s not kidding, either. He’ll go on for
hours if I don’t shut him up.
I slide out of my bunk, the icy air calling the hair on the
back of my neck to attention. As I rub the goosebumps away, my fingers trail
over the microchip beneath my hair. The rectangular chunk of circuiting is cold
to the touch.
I kick my way through the clutter on my floor and slap my
hand onto the wall-com. “Yeah. What’s going on?”
“There you are.” Tag’s voice vibrates in the old silver
disk. “The guys wanna go out. You coming?”
I’m tempted to say no. If I go, they’ll ask me what I’m
going to pitch.
Tag pitched Army. I knew he’d do it--it’s a rich kid thing.
When they pitch, they get their extras plugged under their natural-born arms,
one more arm on each side.