MENTOR: Nazarea Andrews
MENTEE: Emmy Neal
CATEGORY/GENRE: NA Sci-fi
WORD COUNT: 90,000
The virtual reality game Blake’s testing is the most amazing thing he’s ever done. But when he realizes that it’s not a game—he’s slipping between two unstable universes—he knows he has to end it. As the death toll rises, Blake struggles to stop the crossovers, even though it means leaving the girl he loves behind.
Orson helped the young man pull on the virtual simulation cap, arranging the wires to fall over the edge of the recliner and not Blake’s face. Hope bloomed like a weed inside his chest, whispering, This time. This time it will work. He didn’t have the strength to mow it down.
“Now I just want you to relax and remember, this isn’t a fully-functioning game yet.” His greatest fear was something going wrong, stranding the boy’s mind outside his body—forever. “The programmers are still writing the code. You’re only there to observe. Not interact. We want to make sure it looks as real as possible before we invest any more money into it. Okay?”
“Yeah. Sure. Christ, I can’t believe I’m doing this.”
Orson laughed. It came from deep in his belly, touching on the desperate wish that he could be going instead.
“You have no idea. It might not work, remember,” he went on, as much for Blake as for himself.
“Yeah. Right. But still, so cool.” The kid—young man, damn he felt old—all but vibrated in his seat. Orson envied that fresh enthusiasm. Should he really risk someone so young?
What choice did he have? He postured past the nerves with another smile.
Finished checking the sim cap, he asked, “Ready?”
Blake’s excitement only made Orson more apprehensive as the young man nodded, smiling wider.
“Alright then. Let’s log you in.”
And please, Orson thought, activating the program and shielding his heart for another failure, please don’t die.