Sarah Talton – YA Sci-Fi – CHRYSALIS
The night seventeen-year-old Liv loses the most important game of her e-sports career begins just like any other. She positions the puke-bucket inside her gamepod. She dons a biosuit. She connects to LegionCorp’s cloud via the computer implant in her skull.
Forty-nine wins. One more win and she’s free.
But in the game, something goes terribly, inexplicably wrong. Not only does she lose the match, Liv is stripped of everything she loves: her team, her boyfriend, and her tenuous hope for freedom.
Alone, she flees into the wilds of the unplugged world to master an unexpected weapon: the most powerful brain implant ever built. Liv must either learn to master it or it will be the master of her death. Meanwhile, the corporation is hunting her down and it doesn’t play fair. The price she pays for another loss may be the lives of her friends, both old and new, plugged and unplugged.
CHRYSALIS is a young adult science fiction novel that is READY PLAYER ONE meets SURROGATES. Complete at 75,000 words, it stands alone but has series potential.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I have included the first five hundred words and look forward to hearing from you if you wish to read more.
I never thought I’d live to see seventeen. In my line of work most people tap out at fifteen — sixteen tops. But I don’t have that luxury. My team depends on me.
My bones ache with a brittle fatigue — it happens to those of us who have died too many times. Death is my master. It rules me in so many ways, and yet it never brings the sweet oblivion it promises. After all these years, all these games, I’m as ancient as a pillar of salt.
I stretch, forcing blood into cold flesh. My joints pop and creak. Today I feel every little twinge. At least it’s almost over, one way or the other. Either we win the game or I take a black pill. There is no third option for me.
I slam two vials of proluxe in an attempt to feel normal. The third vial winks at me, golden liquid swirling seductively, but I resist. I can’t afford to get wasted.
The drug eases the muscle aches and frees my mind, allowing my imagination to wander outside the four walls of my cell. Though I’ve never actually seen it with my eyes, I know what my teammates are doing right now. Ashley is drinking a third, and maybe even a fourth, vial of proluxe while pacing grooves in her cell. Akari is playing death metal through her implants at top volume. And James… James is praying. He’s too good for this life. Too good for me, definitely.
I walk through the pre-game ritual of checking my biosuit for malfunctions. The familiar routine soothes my frayed nerves. I try not to think about what winning this game will mean to my team. Or what losing will mean. Despite all the misery I don’t want to black-pill myself. I want to take a long, hot shower. I want to grow the brown stubble that covers my head. I want to kiss James in the sunlight.
I tuck the puke-bucket in the bottom compartment of my gamepod, for later. Its blue scalloped edges make my stomach roll over. Barfing is the second worst aspect of playing, behind pain. And today’s game will have both in abundance.
Soon a pair of yellow-eyed workers will transfer my pod to the playing stadium. When they enter the player’s wing our lights will turn off, a signal that we must cease all activity, zip into our suit, and enter the pod. The darkness in my room is complete and unrelenting. Some players smuggle night lights into their cells to chase away the shadows of these moments, but I don’t bother.
My nightmares aren’t afraid of the light.