Manuscript Status: Finished
Mentor Name: Linsey Miller
Mentee Name: Maria Mora
Category: Young Adult
Genre: LGBTQIA + Science Fiction
Word Count: 73,000
When the drug keeping him alive runs out, sixteen-year-old, genetically engineered Nate must choose between dying gruesomely but free with the boy he loves by his side or convincing his gang to collect the life-changing bounty on his head by turning him over to the ruthless scientists who created him.
Nate’s stomach rumbled at the smell of street sausage from a food stall. He could use a couple of credits to snag one, but most street meat in the Withers was sludge-rat guts and gravel. He’d eat later, once he’d sold the gang’s haul.
He climbed a rusted staircase to the nearest abandoned rail station. The railway led straight to the port, following the hooked curve of the island.
Gathos City trains didn’t stop at the derelict stations in the Withers. They sped by with a steady rhythm, coughing exhaust and raining dust onto the street thirty feet below. Dozens of laundry lines stretched between towers listing like old men, and thin, sick Withersons picked their way through the decaying wreck of a city to the snap of fabric in the wind. Nate slowed, struck by the view.
The men and women on the trains kept the shades down to avoid looking.
The rails shuddered. Nate sprinted to the next support beam and swung down onto its rusty rungs. A girl climbed down alongside him and they exchanged tight smiles as the train passed overhead, blasting grit and smoke. Nate ducked and coughed.
“Lunger?” The girl covered her mouth with the back of her grubby hand and drew away like she smelled something bad.
“No.” Nate pulled up his shirt to show her his belly. He didn’t have the splotchy rash from the faded lung-rot quarantine posters all over the Withers.
No one did anymore.