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PW #213: YA Speculative Thriller: THE OUTS

Monday, 2 November 2015  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

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Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Jessica Souders w/a J.A. Souders
Mentee Name: Sean Easley w/a E.S. Wesley
Category: Young Adult
Genre: Speculative Thriller

Word Count: 98,000


When global, memory-stealing blackouts turn seventeen-year-old Caleb into a kidnapper with a sadistic voice in his head, it’s up to his aphasic friend Kitzi to save him before the reality-bending freak-child he stole unravels the future.


A buzz filled Caleb’s head like a swarm of cicadas rushing past, almost knocking him over. The shroud lifted from his eyes.

What terrible things had the Outs made him do this time?

Count to five, brother, the voice whispered. This isn’t new. Figure out where you are.


A bedroom. But not his bedroom. Moonlight streamed through the window. Colors from a nightlight danced on the ceiling. Pastel purples and yellows assaulted his senses like an Easter candy display. Stuffed toys. Indecipherable crayon drawings. Dolls with glassy, unblinking eyes.

A little girl’s room. He blinked. No. Please, no.


The not quite unfamiliar feel of rubber and metal scraped under his fingers. A black, carbon-steel pocketknife that wasn’t his. Blood dripped from the blade—and his fingers—staining his pajama pants.



Also not his.

He dropped the knife as if it’d burned him. “No, no, no, no.” He couldn’t have—


His memories drained out like the last bits of sand from an hourglass. Tink, tink, tink—they landed on the floor beside the knife.

Next to a blood-soaked man.


He was on his knees, facing Caleb. Orange hoodie pulled over his head.

Sickness settled in Caleb’s gut. He didn’t need to see the symbol burned into the guy’s hand to know what he was. That brand was burned into his memory—and into his own shoulder. A circle with three dots inside. A scar he wished he could remove.

The mark of the Deadheaders.

The man slumped to the floor.

A little girl’s scream shook the room.



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