Name: Jordan Mierek
Title of manuscript: COGLING
Description: Fifteen-year-old Edna discovers an expensive pocket watch hanging around her brother's neck and is afraid he stole it. As she tears the watch off, her brother crumbles into a pile of cogs. Edna flees into the city streets for help, but encounters Ike, a thief who attempts to steal the watch before he realizes what it is—a device to power Coglings.
According to Ike, hags kidnap children to work in their factories and replace their bodies with Coglings—clockwork changelings. Desperate to rescue her brother, Edna sets off across the kingdom to the hags' swamp, with Ike in tow. There, they learn Coglings are also replacing nobility so the hags can stage a rebellion and rule over humanity. Edna and Ike must stop them, but the populace believes hags are helpful godmothers and healers – no one wants to believe a servant and a thief, especially when Ike has secrets that could label them both as traitors.
500 word ending:
Edna glanced at the castle, smaller than Langston, but still grand. “Because we’re only living here until Langston is rebuilt, silly.”
“Ike could find jobs for them here.”
“Maybe later.” Edna tucked a curl behind her ear. “My father just returned home. They’re not used to court life. For now, I’ll help them find a better home in the city and send them my earnings.”
“Edna?” Ike called. She rose off the bench so fast she stumbled on the grass. Rachel caught her hand, laughing.
“So that’s why you were out here,” she teased.
Edna flushed, pulling her hand free. “See you when I come back.”
“Tell Harrison I wish him well at school,” Rachel called as Edna hurried up the hill to Ike. He caught her around the waist in a hug.
Edna stepped back with her hands on his shoulders. The young man standing in front of her looked little like the thief who’d tried to rob her only a month before. He wore a dark suit with a silk cravat and a black top hat.
“I would’ve come sooner, but I was in a meeting.” He dropped a kiss on her lips. “My father agreed to look into our case against the goblins and my grandfather’s finding a trustworthy hag to help heal my mother’s mind.”
“Excellent.” Her stomach fluttered as he interlaced their fingers, leading her toward the gardens. She stretched her fingers to keep from yanking him closer. He might see it as too forward, but she craved his touch, his love. With his eyes bright and dark stubble around his jaw, he fit the part of the dashing thief.
“Harrison and Hilda are waiting for the coach, but we have a little time.” Ike nudged Edna behind a tree, sheltered from the castle’s view. Breath caught in her throat, her lungs tight, and she slipped her hand behind his head. By the Saints, she’d be as forward as she wanted.
Edna kissed Ike hard upon the mouth.
The king’s coach clattered along the city road. Harrison kept his face pressed against the window.
“There’s the corner drugstore,” he said. “There’s the alchemist’s.”
Edna laughed. He’d pointed out familiar landmarks since they’d first entered their city. “Yes, we’re home.”
Hilda sat across from them, writing in her diary. She nodded without looking up.
“There’s the mechanics,” Harrison said. Edna couldn’t stop the grin from spreading. The haunted looks had slipped away from her brother, and the little boy was Harrison again, the child she loved. Edna kissed the top of his head.
“What’s that for?” He rubbed his hair, scowling. Yes, he was darling Harrison again.
“I’m just glad you’re back.”
“Me, too.” His grin matched hers.
The driver stopped the coach in front of their tenement. Harrison snapped the door open and leapt out. Laughing, Edna followed. Hand in hand, they ran up the front steps into the building to see their parents.