This month, the Launch Pad judges had the privilege of choosing the winner of the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror (aka Speculative) category.
We received a good number of entries, giving us plenty to consider. But the winner stood out above the rest.
One judge said the tight writing of this intriguing and well-paced story, along with a strong grasp of showing not telling, made it the clear choice. The other agreed, saying the story was skillfully developed and the writing showed few of the usual “newbie” errors.
I won’t keep you in suspense any longer: the winner is The Breakout by Rachelle Harp of Providence Village, Texas.
Rachelle rounds out the number of this year’s finalists for the Grand Prize award. She’ll submit a proposal and her complete manuscript to the final round judges, and the big winner will be announced on December 10.
In the meantime, enjoy the first chapter of Rachelle’s entry:
Zinnia’s wrist, but she tries to wriggle free. I hold firm, and she relaxes for
about two seconds. There. I manage to prick her thumb with the lancet and steal
a drop of blood.
eyes widen. Small hands crush the hem of her white dress. Bright red seeps from
the thumb prick, staining the fabric.
blood onto the gold chip and shove it into my scanner’s data port. When I press
the button, the laser comes to life and pulses across the sample.
call me Trina if you like.”
sun-kissed head as though her prayer will somehow change the results. I almost
ask her why she’s so scared. What would make her feel better. But then I
remember my own Counting and shudder.
points at the scrolled, metallic tattoo, dark against the pale skin of my right
one, too.” Everyone is marked. Chosen and Defect alike. I suppose the tracking
tattoos are the Union’s way of making sure we don’t run away, though I don’t
know why anyone ever would. “Can you guess what your results will be?”
wants to be Chosen. It’s a privilege.”
high-pitched notes. I expect to see another common reading in Zinnia’s test
results, that she’ll be a Tradesman or a Laborer – just another Defect. But I’m
surprised when the number pops on the screen.
I say. Zinnia gives me a blank stare, so I smile. “That’s good news. You’re
Chosen to be an Engineer one day.”