MENTOR: Mina Vaughn

MENTEE: K. A. Reynolds


CATEGORY/GENRE: Literary Fantasy

WORD COUNT: 83,000



Satoru traverses the past, the land of the dead, and the future searching for the woman at the end of his heartstring. However, the ruler of the dead city wants her too, and moves through time continually ripping them apart.



Waking that first time in the Hanuman Hotel equated to snapping awake in the middle of the night naked in the Arabian Desert, alone and desperately cold. In a blink, Zuma went from slitting her wrists in the bathtub, her dead children’s music playing in the background (under a shady tree, you and me), to opening her eyes in hell.

Her sole memories of the world above ground always came fast and threatening: pulling her son down the road in his small red wagon while her daughter rode her pink bike behind him. The images of the accident bit into her brain and hung on, refusing to let go. Her girl’s hair in a long ponytail, cheeks flushed pink from riding and sun. Her innocent face when Zuma looked back, catching her in a wide grin, “Look, Mama, look at me . . .”

Zuma looked, as she always did, even after the ten-thousandth time.

Her boy, dark hair in his eyes, mimicked the birds whistling from the trees as she pulled him across the intersection before home. The broken support on his wagon raked the concrete like a miniature jackhammer. Her son did not mind the sound, more than likely, he did not notice-too preoccupied with the birds and holding his stick like a sword, grinding it against the concrete like blacksmith honing a blade. Almost to the curb, Zuma glanced over her shoulder, smiling brightly at her son and daughter one last time.

Flash of pink, flash of red, smiles cracked into screams.


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