SPRING 2019 YA Scavenger Hunt: Go, GREEN! Go!

EDITED: This hunt has ended! Thanks for playing!

Today kicks off the Spring 2019 YA Scavenger Hunt, and there are tons of great prizes to be won. You decide how much effort to put into it, but the rewards will definitely be commensurate with the time you spend visiting various sites and gathering clues.

BONUS! I’ve got an extra giveaway you can enter to win a copy of Honor Bound! Use the rafflecopter at the bottom of this post to enter.

There are five teams: RED, BLUE, GREEN, GOLD, & PURPLE.

I’m on the GREEN team this time around.

If at any point, you get stuck, check out the How to Hunt page for help.

At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team!

green team book covers

But play fast: this contest will only be online for 5 days!

There are seven contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! Either way, it’s up to you. Pretty exciting stuff, right?

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE

Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the GREEN TEAM and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).

Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Sunday April 7th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

I have the pleasure of hosting the talented Sean Williams. Let’s get to know him better before I show you the good stuff, okay?

 

Sean Williams
About Sean, in his own words:

Sean Williams is an award-winning, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of over fifty books and one hundred stories who lives just up the road from Australia’s finest chocolate factory. IMPOSSIBLE MUSIC is his first mainstream novel.

impossible music

About IMPOSSIBLE MUSIC:

Music is Simon’s life—so he is devastated when a stroke destroys his ability to hear. He resists attempts to help him adjust, refusing to be counseled, refusing to learn sign language, refusing to have anything to do with Deaf culture. Refusing, that is, until he meets G, a tough-as-nails girl dealing with her own experience of hearing loss.

Simon embarks on a quest to create an epic concert, the likes of which no one has ever heard—or ever will: the music will be silent, received the same by the hearing and the Deaf. Simon’s single-minded pursuit of his mission, however, sends him and his burgeoning romance with G careening off course—but if getting his life back on course requires a complete reassessment of his relationship to the hearing world, and to the music he loves so much, is he even willing to try?

BONUS CONTENT!

Now, here’s Sean:

***

Hi there!

I’m super excited to be part of YASH this year. My latest novel is a deeply personal one about the terrible fear of losing the thing you love most – the thing that defines you, even. In Simon’s case it’s music. For me it was writing. Thankfully, we both found a way through the dark and lonely forest. There are paths, even if they’re not always easy to see.

Impossible Music comes out in July. You can win advance copies through YASH or by following this link. Good luck, and rock on!

Sean X

 

“Diva Hammer” – excerpt from Impossible Music

 

Her name isn’t really G. It’s George. Not Georgie or Georgina – she made that very clear in our first class together, three weeks after I lost my hearing – but no one Deaf cares about those extra syllables, or the name her parents gave her, for that matter. They’re just mouth shapes. She, like the rest of us, needed a new name, one given by someone from the community they told us we now belonged to.

Her Deaf name comes from the Auslan sign for the letter G – right fist on top of left fist – with an added circular twist evoking her love of caffeine (it looks a bit like someone strangling a chicken). For a while she signed off her messages as George-who-loves-coffee, while she got used to the idea.

Deaf names are given, but they’re not always wanted.

That was how we first got to know each other, via Messenger. It was too hard to talk in Deaf Class, concentrating as we were on reluctantly learning the bare minimum to get by. Hello. How much? Help! If we were paired together to practice what we learned that day, she made it clear she was as unwilling a participant as me. Her hands hung at her sides until she was forced to speak. When she did, her signs would be cursory and hard to read, or so exaggerated when I failed to understand her that they became almost aggressive, chopping and wrenching at the air. I thought her issue was with me, something I had unknowingly done. After all, it couldn’t have been anything I said. Only later, when a message from George-who-loves-coffee arrived out of the blue, did I realise that she wasn’t angry at me. Just at being unable to hear.

Still, I was cautious. Perhaps too cautious. Over two months into the online conversation, she asked if I’d like to go see a roller derby bout with her. I wasn’t sure if it was a date and was too nervous to ask straight up, but I said yes, from loneliness and at least partly out of interest.

It was impossible not to be curious. Her fringe was pink back then, bright and in-your-face, not at all like she smells. She wore straightforward black tights and untucked white shirts, occasionally black jeans and suspenders, if she was meeting friends afterwards. (That stopped pretty quickly. Maintaining hearing friendships is hard work for both sides.) On the inside of her right forearm is a tattoo of a skull. Later, beneath it, she would add the word Deaf in bold Gothic script, daring people to think it a typo. Her square face and broad jaw with a surprisingly small mouth makes her look at times like a young Helena Bonham Carter – not my type at all, I would once have said. I always went for skinny girls in tight jeans, the kind who thought being with a too-tall, long-haired guitarist was a good look. G is nothing like them. Her ears have never once been pierced, an idiosyncrasy she maintains as though it’s some kind of revolutionary distinction. Me, I have enough metal in my ears for both of us.

When you’re talking in sign, you’re supposed to focus on someone’s face rather than what the rest of them is doing, but that’s hard for beginners. On those few occasions our Auslan teacher did manage to coax us into hesitant conversation (Is there a bus stop near here? I really want to know. Why is this so difficult?), I found myself staring at her hands rather than what she was saying. (No. So? Because!) Her fingers were short and tapering, her nails tidy and unpolished, her palms surprisingly narrow with wrists to match. The scars on her wrists were what I couldn’t take my eyes off, once I noticed them. Waxy and lumpy, like a wrestler’s ear, they weren’t the work of a cutter – too public, too thick – and they didn’t look like a suicide attempt, either. They were so thick she would’ve bled out in seconds. I was curious to know their origins but never got around to finding the right way to ask, and she didn’t volunteer anything, at first.

Instead, over Messenger, we chatted about usual stuff. Our families (struggling to deal with our new way of being), the shitty lag of closed-captioning on TV (no one likes being last in the room to get the joke), what we were thinking about taking at university next year. She had applied to study social work, while I had intended to pursue a degree in music performance at Adelaide Uni. I was still playing guitar solos at night while everyone slept, and playing well, inasmuch as I could tell, but the question of whether I would be allowed to study music at all was still horribly open. Nowhere in the fine print did the uni say that hearing was a prerequisite, but it had to be, surely?

Small talk, in other words, albeit revealing. I was pleased I hadn’t done anything specific to piss G off but understood that it remained a possibility. She was prickly, ending conversations without warning or making sharp remarks that I wasn’t entirely sure were entirely jokes.

I didn’t learn the source of her enigmatic scars until the roller derby maybe-date, the first time we used our phones to talk to each other face-to-face. (Sign language gave me a headache when I stuck at it too long, plus we were aware of whole vocabularies we hadn’t learned yet. The only thing we’d become truly proficient at was swearing.) I wore a T-shirt of a band called the Ubiquitous Pig, and Stanley, their starred-and-striped mascot, looked right at home next to G’s animated rockabilly look. She had dyed her hair purple and wore sky-blue lipstick.

Here’s our first proper conversation, transcribed by my phone’s voice recognition system and saved for posterity. I’ve added punctuation and fixed typos because the raw file is all this is cheating why we have the technology that doesn’t mean its right, and no one wants to read that.

She asked, You ever seen a bout before?

No. You?

Heaps. My team’s on tonight. We were junior champs three years in a row.

You skated?

Hell yes. I was the jammer.

The what?

Simon, Simon, Simon. Tell me, why did I bring you again?

So you can show off, I’m guessing. Which team was yours?

The Doom Kitteh Brawlers.

Wow, my phone did not like that.

Wait until it hears my derby name: Arya Ghostclown.

Seriously?

AKA the Diva Hammer.

L.

What?

That’s LOL without the OL.

See my face? That’s LOL without the OL or the L.

I bet you were a mean skater.

The meanest and the best.

Can you still do it since you-know-what?

Sure, but I fell last year and broke my wrists. Had to have reconstructive surgery. You noticed the scars, right? Everyone does.

Yes. And ouch.

The pain was the easy part. Imagine trying to wipe your bum with both hands in plaster.

TMI!

Wait till I start flirting.

Yay?

Anyway, my hands are okay now, and I’ve still got my strength. Could skate if I wanted to. Totally. Be like getting on a bike – but if I ever fall on my hands again, how do I talk? What happens when our voices change? I don’t think Siri has a language setting for deaf as fuck.

Doesn’t matter what your voice sounds like to me. It’s the best voice I never heard.

Now who’s flirting?

I was a bit, but mainly I was trying to change the subject. I knew all about the ‘Deaf Voice’. My sister, Maeve, loved to tell me when I was talking too quietly or too loudly, and that wasn’t the worst of it. People who can’t hear themselves talk steadily lose all the subtlety of intonation that hearing people are used to. One day, I knew, my voice would be flat and monotonous, perhaps even unpleasantly robotic to listen to, and that worried me more than I liked to admit. I could only avoid it by using my guitar tuner to check my pitch – and Maeve would get a real kick out of that.

The skate derby provided a welcome distraction on a highly visceral level. I could feel the crowd like a herd of wild creatures stampeding all around me. I kept my hands flat on the chair beside my thighs, relishing the vibrations of the skaters as they went by, the crunch of collisions between flesh and bone and the thud of impacts on the track. Maybe I was fooling myself, but it seemed as though I could actually differentiate each class of sound. It was like being at a gig, searching for the lead and vocals through the mud of bass and drums. Searching and failing, usually.

The Doom Kitteh Brawlers won decisively and bloodily, with the majority of injuries accrued by the opposing team. G stood and clapped like a hearing person, and her mouth opened and closed in what I assumed were shouts of delight and encouragement. No one could tell that she was different. I could see why she liked that.

On the way back to my car, she asked me, So what do you do for kicks when you’re not watching girls in skates beat each other up?

Play guitar, I told her.

But you can’t hear it.

So? I still like to play. Not being able to hear didn’t stop Beethoven playing the piano.

You think you’re as good as Beethoven?

Maybe just as pig-headed. If he didn’t give up, why should I?

G laughed with her eyes and her lips like I’d never seen her laugh before. She was beautiful in an entirely new way, and I was glad when she put her phone in her pocket in order to take my hand. I smiled at her as we walked through a tunnel of silence, feeling genuinely happy for the first time in a long while. We’d spent the night cheating on Auslan by using dictation apps, but this was real. This was real communication.

 

***

KEEP PLAYING

Don’t stop playing! To continue hunting for clues and reading more exciting, exclusive content, click over to A.M. Rose’s site. I know she has some delicious goodies waiting. Somewhere on the hunt, you can find *my* exclusive content.

Finally, this post has been sponsored by the number 88. (Psst. This is an important clue. Remember it!)

WIN a copy of Honor Bound

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

FALL 2018 YA Scavenger Hunt: Go, PINK! Go!

YA Scavenger hunt logo

Edited: This hunt has ended! Thank you for playing.

Today kicks off the Fall 2018 YA Scavenger Hunt, and there are tons of great prizes to be won. You decide how much effort to put into it, but the rewards will definitely be commensurate with the time you spend visiting various sites and gathering clues.

BONUS! I’ve got an extra giveaway you can enter to win a copy of Like Never and Always! Use the rafflecopter at the bottom of this post to enter.

There are seven teams: RED, BLUE, ORANGE, GREEN, GOLD, PINK, & PURPLE.

I’m on the PINK team this time around.

If at any point, you get stuck, check out the How to Hunt page for help.

At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team!

pink team books

But play fast: this contest will only be online for 5 days!

There are seven contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! Either way, it’s up to you. Pretty exciting stuff, right?

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE

Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the PINK TEAM and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).

Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Sunday October 7th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

I have the pleasure of hosting the talented Pintip Dunn. Let’s get to know her better before I show you the good stuff, okay?


About Pintip, in her own words:

pintip dunn headshotPintip Dunn is a New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B., and received her J.D. at Yale Law School.
Pintip’s novel FORGET TOMORROW won the 2016 RWA RITA® for Best First Book, and SEIZE TODAY won the 2018 RITA for Best Young Adult Romance. Her books have been translated into four languages, and they have been nominated for the following awards: the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire; the Japanese Sakura Medal; the MASL Truman Award; the Tome Society It list; and the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her other titles include REMEMBER YESTERDAY, THE DARKEST LIE, GIRL ON THE VERGE, STAR-CROSSED, and the upcoming MALICE.

About STAR-CROSSED:

cover image star crossedPrincess Vela’s people are starving.

Stranded on a planet that lacks food, Vela makes the ultimate sacrifice and becomes an Aegis for her people. Accepting a genetic modification that takes sixty years off her life, she can feed her colony via nutrition pills. But her best friend is still getting worse. And she’s not the only one.

Now the king is dying, too.

When the boy she’s had a crush on since childhood volunteers to give his life for her father’s, Vela realizes her people need more than pills to survive. As tensions rise between Aegis and colonists, secrets and sabotage begin to threaten the future of the colony itself.

Unless Vela is brave enough to save them all…

Find out more about STAR-CROSSED here!

BONUS CONTENT!

Now, here’s Pintip:

***

I’d like to share with you my inspiration board for my newest novel, STAR-CROSSED, which released on October 2! I’ve also included quotes from my book that correspond with each image. I hope you enjoy this visual representation of Vela and Carr’s story!

From left to right, top to bottom

1. Honey Toast: The scent of fried dough and powdered sugar tickles my nose. The Kong’s favorite snack — thickly sliced honey toast topped with whipped cream. I pick up a fork and begin to eat. Normally, the cubes of bread, at once chewy and crisp, combined with the sweet taste of honey, set off an explosion in my mouth. Today, I barely taste the flavor.

2. Raindrop: It’s raining outside, in the real planet, and colored ribbons of water sluice down the side of the energy shields. I watch the red rain fall from the sky. When the drops hit the bubble, they burst into other colors — the smaller, lighter dribbles into blues and greens, and the larger, heavier plops into yellows and oranges.

3. Caviar: Astana’s brother leans against the entry to the living unit, his head a few inches from the doorjamb. Straight hair falls over his forehead, and his caviar-black eyes sink into me.
My cheeks warm. How long has he been standing there?

4. Colored streams: I tap the black cube embedded in the wall, and immediately we’re surrounded by holographic water. Not the plain, clear water you find inside the bubble, but rings of iridescent color as brilliant as jewels — sapphire, emerald, topaz, garnet. The kind of water you only find in the real planet.

5. C-trunk: The trunks of these genetically engineered trees curve in a C-shape, perfect for the human body to sit. We plant them all over the colony in lieu of actual chairs, to maximize oxygen.

6. Serpent: The serpent scares me. It always has. When I was a kid, I used to have recurring dreams about its coiling, twisting body. About a shiny red apple on the ground, with a bite taken out of it.

7. Bee: I round a path and come face-to-face with a bee. Sweat breaks out all over my body. My throat feels sticky, like it might be gummed up with honey from the combs. After trying to save everyone else, my life is going to end like my mother’s — by the sting of a bee.

8. Apple: Piles of apples line four sides of the room, stacked floor to ceiling, stretching wall to wall. The sheer amount of fruit is deceiving. It tricks my mind into believing all I see is apple. Red, shiny apple. Crunch-in-your mouth sweet. Exploding-on-your-tongue tart.

9. Waterfall: “We’re going to swim straight through the waterfall, okay?”
Not okay. The way the falls sputter and spew, I’m not sure I’ll make it to the other side. But with Carr holding my hand, I feel like I can do anything.

***

KEEP PLAYING

Don’t stop playing! To continue hunting for clues and reading more exciting, exclusive content, click over to Taylor Fenner’s site. I know she has some delicious goodies waiting. Somewhere on the hunt, you can find *my* exclusive content.

Finally, this post has been sponsored by the number 88. (Psst. This is an important clue. Remember it!)

WIN a copy of Like Never and Always

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

YA Scavenger Hunt: Go, PURPLE! Go!

YA Scavenger hunt logo

Edited 10/9/17 – This hunt is over. Thanks to everyone who played!

Today kicks off the Fall 2017 YA Scavenger Hunt, and there are tons of great prizes to be won. You decide how much effort to put into it, but the rewards will definitely be commensurate with the time you spend visiting various sites and gathering clues.

BONUS! I’ve got an extra giveaway you can enter to win an Advance Copy of Honor Among Thieves! Use the rafflecopter at the bottom of this post to enter.

There are seven teams: REDBLUE, ORANGE, GREEN, GOLD, PINK, & PURPLE.

YA Scavenger Hunt Fall Purple Team logo

I’m on the PURPLE team this time around.
If at any point, you get stuck, check out the How to Hunt page for help.

At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! 

purple team book covers

But play fast: this contest will only be online for 5 days!

There are seven contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! Either way, it’s up to you. Pretty exciting stuff, right?

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE

Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the PURPLE and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).

Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Sunday October 8th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

I have the pleasure of hosting the talented Katie French.  Let’s get to know her better before I show you the good stuff, okay?


About Katie, in her own words:

author katie frenchKatie French is an Amazon best-selling author in Young Adult dystopian romance. Her book, The Breeders, has had nearly 100,000 downloads and counting and was a semi-finalist in the 2014 Kindle Book Awards. She works as a high school English teacher, a job that she loves even when it exhausts her. In her free time, she writes manically, reads great books, and takes care of her three beautiful and crazy children. She aspires to spend as much time in yoga pants as possible. You can join her mailing list at www.katiefrenchbooks.com and receive two free full-length novels. Contact her at [email protected].

About THE BREEDERS:

The Breeders cover imageDo you miss The Hunger Games?

Nearly 100,000 sold. Hundreds of five-star reviews. Winner of Kindle Book Awards 2014 Semifinalist.  Amazon best-seller.  You’ve found your next obsession.

When you’re one of the world’s last free girls, survival is tough, but dating is impossible.

When Riley was born, her mother escaped the Breeders, a group of doctors using cruel experiments to save the dwindling human race. Her parents do everything possible to keep her from their clutches, but, the Breeders control everything. And they’re hunting Riley.

When the local Sheriff abducts the adult members of her family, Riley and her brother Ethan are left to starve. Then Clay arrives, the handsome gunslinger who seems determined to help to make up for past sins. But Clay can’t know she’s a girl, or he might sell her to the very people she’s trying to avoid. As Riley’s affection for Clay grows she wonders can she trust him with her secret? She’s worth a lifetime’s wages. How could anyone, even someone she’s growing to love, give up an opportunity like that?

For fans of The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Gender Game, The Breeders is a book that will have you turning pages long past your bedtime.

Find out more about THE BREEDERS here!

BONUS CONTENT!

Now, let’s get to Katie’s bonus content. You lucky readers get to check out this exclusive excerpt from Katie’s new book, THE BUTCHERS :

AND NOW, AN EXCLUSIVE SNEAK PEEK AT THE FIRST CHAPTER OF THE BUTCHERS, BREEDERS BOOK 6

CHAPTER ONE – Riley

I’m not a mother. I never will be.

But today, I sit in the dirt and teach Mo letters with a stick carved through the hard packed sand. She’s useless at it and frankly so am I. The only reading I know I learned from Clay and the quiet nights while we lie together in our hovel while Mo whimpers quietly in her sleep. I know the letters okay, and their sounds. Enough to teach a half human, half animal baby to scratch shapes in the dirt.

She grabs the stick in her dirty fist and digs it into the hard pack, spooling up mounds on either side of her scraggly line that could be an I or an L or really any other damn letter.

“Good,” I say, swatting a fly away from her. “Can I have the stick? I want to show you another one.” I hold out my hand.

With large eyes she looks at my hand and the brittle piece of wood. Her first move is to pull it protectively to her bare chest and grunt at me, her beautiful and dirty face challenging.

“No,” I say calmly. “Give it to Mommy.”

“Mo mo,” she vocalizes, still clutching the stick.

I jut my chin and hold my hand out. She’s so damn cute it’s hard. Big brown eyes and a tiny pink mouth, she has this way of pursing her lips that I know means, What are you thinking, woman? Her hair is tangled in brown dreadlocks down her back and she spends most of her time naked, running around our compound chasing bugs and getting into trouble.

“Mo, give me the stick,” I say, reaching for it.

Finally, she agrees, thrusting her arm out fist palm down. She releases the stick with a sigh.

“That’s good,” I say, smoothing back her tangled hair. “This one is called a G.”

“Mo mo,” she mutters, watching me, but I can tell she isn’t interested in letters and I’m a fool to think she’ll learn to read. She has one word and she uses it for everything.

I realize I’ve stopped drawing when Mo begins creeping toward me, climbing into my lap to pick at my hair. It’s an old habit, likely something she did with her real mother before she died, and I don’t have nits, but her little fingers are deft. I hug her small body. She probably only weighs thirty pounds when we’ve had a great run of meat from Clay and tough veggies from Auntie’s garden.

Still, she’s my baby. The only one I’ll ever have thanks to that idiot’s knife.

She stops picking and looks up at me. Her smile, all brown teeth and gums, turns something inside me, a key in a rusty lock, creaking and shifting, unlocking a cobwebbed door I thought would be bolted forever.

This warmth blooming in my chest, this feeling must be what motherhood feels like.

And if it isn’t, I’ll never know.

“Nap time,” I say, gazing up at the blazing sun just outside the shade of our crumbling building wall. She seems to be slowing down, the heat of the day getting to her, to all of us. Sure, we have shade, but it’s New Mexico.

I lift her sagging body and walk to our hovel. She’s limp in my arms. Tired from the heat and her crazy scampering. I get to our hole and set her on the ground as I maneuver toward the ladder angling down. It’s hard getting her limp form down the six feet, but I manage. She doesn’t stir. And after carrying her dead weight down, so I am.

I lay her on the straw-filled mattress, smoothing out her tangled hair and adjusting her hands. She’s making small moaning sounds behind her lips. I press a kiss to them.

“Sleep tight, love.”

But as I move away, her body begins to twitch. At first I think she’s waking, fighting the nap she clearly needs, but the twitching turns into seizing, her whole body shaking against the mattress.

My heart rips open.

“Oh God.”

I stare for an awful heartbeat as she jerks and vibrates. Her eyes are open, her mouth, too. The whites of her eyes roll up until the warm brown pupils are gone.

She looks like a demon, a monster.

“Clay!” I shriek, grabbing her taut body. I smell the stink and feel the wetness of her bowls releasing. “Clay!”

Above, Clay’s face appears, a shadow ringed by sunshine. “What is it?” he asks, coming down the ladder at his fastest clip.

I hold the twitching child in my arms, my tears already wetting her face. “Mo. She’s… She…”

One look is all it takes and he’s back up the ladder hollering. “Doc! Hurry!”

As I wait for help, I cry and rock her. White irises peer up at me. Her sweet, dirty face twitching, a low moan starting in the back of her throat. How old is she? A few months? A year? When we met she was brand new but already the size of a large toddler. Mo was bred to age at an accelerated rate by scientists trying to solve the dwindling female population. Their thought was that other animals matured at much faster rates than humans. If they could speed up human maturation that meant more females. Only, they didn’t count on brains not maturing as fast as bodies. Physically, Mo looks like a six year old. Mentally, she’s a baby.

My baby.

Hot tears splash on her face and meander through the dirt. I can’t keep her clean. I can’t even keep her alive. We had insulin that we stole from Corra. But it’s running out. I’ve been rationing it. And now the seizures. I’m killing her.

A shadow passes over and then Doc is climbing down. One hand holds his doctor’s bag.

“Doc, help!” I moan, offering her.

He helps me set her twitching body on the earth and then presses his stethoscope to her chest.

“She was taking a nap. I hear her moving. When I looked… This.” My words are clipped. I’m crying too hard. I bite my fingers and watch him examine her.

“We have to just let it pass,” he says, sinking back on his heels.

“But, Doc—”

“I know you want to fix this, but there’s nothing we can do but let it run its course. I’m sure it’ll be over soon.” He frowns and looks down at her little body. “I’m sorry.”

I don’t want his sorry. Biting back my protests, I watch her breathe. Each intake of air is a labor. She could die. She could die right here in the dirt.

Another shadow crosses the doorway above. “Puddin’ is everything okay?” It’s Auntie.

Doc answers for me. “We’re waiting it out. Should be over any minute.”

Thundering feet announce another as Ethan tumbles down, almost landing on Doc. The hovel is small and four bodies is pushing it. Doc shoves at Ethan. “No room. Go up. We’ll call you if we need you.”

My little brother peers down at Mo, worry on his young face. “She okay?”

Doc pushes Ethan toward the ladder. “Yes. Go. Wait up top with Auntie.”

His eyes flit around until they land on me. He gives me a look. We used to be inseparable, but now I’m so busy with Mo.

“Go, Ethan,” I repeat. “We’ll call you if anything happens.”

Grumbling, he climbs the ladder slowly so we know he isn’t happy about it.

I can’t worry about him now. How long has this seizure gone on? It seems like hours.

But when I look down, her little body has stopped twitching. She lays breathing shallowly, her closed eyes making her look like she’s peacefully sleeping.

“It’s over,” I say, pulling Doc’s arm.

He listens to her chest again and takes her pulse. I watch as he opens up both eyes and looks inside. “Whew, okay. When she wakes up, we’ll be able to tell what toll that had on her body. For now, let her rest. I’ll help you clean up.” He nods to my soiled clothes from where I held her.

“I need to stay with her in case she wakes up.”

Doc takes my arm gently and squeezes. “You need to take care of yourself too, Riley.”

I pull my arm away. “I’m fine. She’s the one who needs taking care of.”

From up above a face appears again. “He’s right, Ri,” Clay says. “Auntie will sit with Mo. Let’s you and me walk down to the stream.”

I start to protest, but Auntie cuts me off. “Get your ass up here and quit being so damn stubborn.”

They’re all against me. I burn Doc with a hard stare. “A half an hour and then I’m back down here with her. Got it?”

Doc holds up his hands. “Talk to your boyfriend and your aunt. I’m just the doctor. What do I know?” he mutters the last into his doctor’s bag.

Shakily, I stand, still eying Mo for signs of long term effects. I climb the ladder and pull myself out into the open.

***

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