PW #309: Young Adult Speculative Fiction: NO MAN’S LAND

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor: Molly E. Lee

Mentee: E. K. Thiede


Category: Young Adult

Genre: Speculative Fiction

Word Count: 87,000


Men have been extinct for a century, so when seventeen-year-old Aurelia Skylar finds a male prisoner trapped in her mother’s top-secret research laboratory, she’s stunned.

A good citizen would stay away, but she’s never been one, and the more they connect, the less he seems like the monsters from history class.

Soon she’ll have to choose—set him free and jeopardize her all-female utopia or condemn him to die.



Fifty stories above the earth’s surface, the sky looked close enough for Aurelia Skylar to reach out and wrap a wisp of cloud around her fingers. She didn’t, of course. Because it was impossible. And someone might be watching. But with eyes half-closed, her lashes filtered out the morning sun’s glare until the transparent ceiling over the rooftop pool almost disappeared.

Voices pierced her reverie as three girls from school shed their clothes on the far side of the deck. They spotted Aurelia and waved. She managed a weak smile but made no move to swim closer.

Around her wrist, the silver cuff twitched.

Ten minutes.

Swallowing a groan, Aurelia swam the length of the pool to the far wall and pressed her palm against the clear plastiglass. The drips of water from her hand appeared to rain on the land beyond the windows, blurring her view of the gardens and farms at the base of Tower Eleven.

Through a gap in the low mountains lurked a dark smudge of forest—the edge of the unpopulated wilderness and crumbling ruins called “No Man’s Land.” A ridiculous name. Wasn’t everything No Man’s Land now?


Five minutes.

Aurelia closed her eyes and sank—red hair swirling like fire in the water—until her lungs, screaming for air, forced her back to the surface.

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