Name: Shallee McArthur
Email: shallee.mcarthur [at] gmail [dot] com
Title and Genre: Devolutionaries -- YA dystopian
Pitch: Ash must sacrifice his ability to talk in order to hone his telepathy and save his grandad from a Government experiment on thought control.
250 words: Grandad lied to me a lot. I’d known that for a long time. But standing at the counter at the Distribution Center, I decided everybody lied.
“You only gave me four potatoes,” I said.
“Well, you only gave me four Produce coupons.” The clerk tossed her braid behind her shoulder. She smiled, making her pox scars wrinkle across her face. Was she flirting with me while she cheated me?
I ignored the smile. My eyes went to the shelves that stretched behind the counter, piled high with tin cans and semi-fresh produce. Including two more potatoes that should be mine.
“I gave you six coupons.” I glared at her through the damp brown hair hanging in my eyes. The ceiling fans circled above me, totally useless.
Her smile faded. “Maybe you dropped some. I only counted four.”
“Look, my boss doesn’t give me enough—“ I clamped my mouth shut.
Working in Kessler’s bike repair shop should have given me more coupons than it did, but Scavengers had an unspoken rule. We didn’t rat each other out to the Government. I didn’t want Kessler’s death on my head.
I glanced toward one of the military policemen in his blue uniform. He scanned the silent line of people that trailed out the door and bounced the butt of his automatic rifle in his pox-scarred hands like he was bored. Nobody made a sound under his watch. We knew the rules: silence and order. We knew the punishment, too. That gun was loaded.