TWV B-5: TROUBLED

teambrendaGenre: YA Contemporary
Title: TROUBLED
Word Count: 57,000

Query:

Sixteen-year-old Kyle Grimstone will do anything to escape the barbaric regime at St. Bonaparte Military Academy. He can’t endure two more years under Headmaster Sterm. The deranged dictator’s questionable disciplinary methods drive cadets to the brink of suicide.

The school board’s annual review is Kyle’s best chance to get out early. If he proves he’s changed his reckless behavior, he’s free to leave. But like all decisions at St. Bonaparte, Sterm has the final say.

When a defiant new cadet arrives, the school’s rigid policies turn upside down. Blazing fires, explosive wake-up calls and beautiful girls remind the cadets what true rebellion tastes like. Kyle knows the revolution could destroy his early ticket out of St. Bonaparte. If he fails his upcoming review for release, he must be ready to execute a less civilized escape plan and force Sterm to set him free.

Fans of Piper Kerman’s ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK and Ned Vizzini’s IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY might enjoy this story.

First 250 words:

We run. Single file, silent, through the slush and mud. The splatter stains our sweat pants like blood from a gunshot wound.

I fix my eyes on the feet in front of me, counting each step. The steady rhythm distracts me from the icy burning in my throat and lungs.

“Pick it up, piss ants!” Bates and Oden recline in a golf cart, their golden chariot, rolling next to the line of steaming shaved heads.

We run. Lap eight is no different than the previous seven. The damp cold doesn’t relent. Sunlight won’t arrive until 0700 hours.

“Grimstone, do your legs work? Run, you gimpy bastard!”

Bates and Oden address us all the same way: loud. Nobody receives criticism in private. Fear of humiliation is their most powerful weapon. Soon, everyone will hear about last night…

I’ve never been so deep in shit. It must have been a week’s worth of shit—the officers hadn’t flushed. How they put up with the stench, I’ll never know, but their diligence paid off in the end. Bates and Oden got drunk and shot me with pellet guns as I unclogged their private toilet. The warm moisture in the air made me wretch. Plastic pellets pierced my skin, a welcome distraction from the nauseating mess around my wrists.

My arms and hands still burn this morning. There isn’t enough soap in the world to clean my soiled skin. No steal wool can ever scrape away the filth under my fingernails. Getting clean is impossible here. All I can do is wait to escape.

“Grimstone!” They pull alongside me. The cart’s electric hum softens. “We’ve got more clean-up duty for you tonight. You might want rubber gloves this time.”

 

 

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