Title: BENEATH OUR SKIN
Category/Genre: YA Science Fiction
Word Count: 79,000
My Main Character would prefer to live in:
Echo Coon prefers the sun, but more for the light than the heat. After monsters took over the world, technology gradually disappeared, plateauing at the level of the 1850s. Lacking transportation, Echo has to make a 285-mile trip—on foot and as fast as possible—to save her friend. Since the monsters are nocturnal, Echo has far more walking hours per day during the summer months. And if her heart can soak up the sun-kissed glitter of the Ohio River along the way, that’s just a bonus.
Dear Amazing Agents,
The walls surrounding the town of Jenn’s Ferry keep out the genetically engineered, flesh-eating monsters known as Fecs. Those same walls lock in seventeen-year-old Echo, so she’s thrilled to go on a rare field trip outside the town. But when Echo’s old crush Gavin scratches himself on the splintered rib of a Fec corpse, a virus within the Fec blood sparks a mutation in his body. According to the old stories, constant skin contact slows the transformation from human to Fec. Before Gavin can turn completely and sink his teeth into her, she grabs hold of his wrist. Echo’s plan: bring him to town and the sheriff will send them by coach to the last doctor with a cure.
Only it turns out the townspeople don’t believe the old stories anymore. Assuming Gavin is a threat, they refuse to transport him to the physician and won’t allow him within the protection of the city walls. The sheriff figures Echo’s skin contact with Gavin must mean she’s infected, so the town gate remains closed to her, too. In a last ditch effort to save them both, Echo leads Gavin on a two-week trek to Raven Rock, the one town that has the medicine he needs.
Every day is filled with one-handed scrounging for food and evading traps set by the Fecs. Echo hopes if she doesn’t let go, Gavin will make it. Except it only takes a few days before scales start growing up his arm, and his hunger for fresh prey mounts. Then he tells Echo she’s beginning to smell good.
In BENEATH OUR SKIN, the journey through the wilderness of Veronica Rossi’s Under the Never Sky meets the medical research of Dan Wells’ Partials, but with monsters instead of modern technology. It’s the story of a girl’s struggle between ridding her world of dangerous creatures and accepting them as a thinking, feeling species.
First 250 words:
My rope arced through the moonlit night and slid down the wooden fence to land at my feet. Again. Damn.
Panting echoed from the empty yard beyond the eight-foot fence—the blacksmith’s dog must’ve heard me. I coiled the rope and tossed it a third time. It caught the top of the post. Yes! I yanked it, testing the strength, then braced my feet against the slats and scrambled up.
At the top, the points of the boards dug into my torso as I twisted the rope around so it would fall into the yard and provide an escape route. The big black mutt gazed up at me, sniffing for the treat I’d brought him. Or smelling me. By now, we were old friends. He hadn’t barked at me in weeks.
When I dropped down, he whined softly, and I pulled my ration of meat for this week out of my pocket. My mouth watered, but I tossed it to the dog. A small price for a glimpse of freedom. The two chicken pieces disappeared in seconds.
Despite the fence, the shop was always locked at night, but there was a workstation set up outside. Sometimes, nails fell down, and the blacksmith was too lazy to go after them right away. I fell to my knees, inching past the sawhorses toward the lean-to, sifting through the sand with my fingers as I crawled. Under the water-filled trough, I grasped cool metal and snatched it up.
One. Only five more nails to go.