MICHAEL 23 – YA Science Fiction – Outlined – 50% complete. (A young caretaker at a cloning facility falls in love with the 23rd version of her patient and must fight for his survival.)
My entry in ANWA’s 2013 Writers Conference Beginning of Book Contest, “Michael 23,” tied for 3rd place in the Young Adult category with my friend, Heather Romito’s entry!
Here’s the first 500 words of Michael 23:
Chapter 1 –Michael 22
Cyanosis. Fatigue. Dyspnea. Luna recognized the symptoms.
As she watched, the blue tinge of Michael’s pale lips grew more pronounced, and he clenched his teeth together to control the audible chattering. Struggling against the weariness which seduced his eyelids to flutter shut, Michael blinked heavily once and then rubbed his eyes closed with his fingertips. Luna always felt helpless at this moment, all her efforts to comfort him in vain.
“Bring Michael another blanket,” Luna ordered the young nurse who sat waiting across the room. A tiny shake of the head and a narrowing of her eyes were the nurse’s only display of impatience, as she stood and walked toward the blanket warming machine built into the cabinets of the stark hospital examination room. The machine door clicked open and then closed, while Luna pulled off the blanket covering both her and Michael with her one free hand.
“Lay the warm blanket next to his skin and then place the cool one back over it,” Luna instructed, and then helped the nurse to adjust the blankets.
With Luna’s movement, Michael’s eyes fluttered quickly open, the deep midnight of his pupils accentuating the purple circles lying under his dark lower lashes. Even so near death, his face was full of colors—just the wrong colors—not the normal red of his lips, melting chocolate brown of his eyes, or the warm, natural tan of his skin. The colors of his face were gone, washed with the purples and grays of an over-watered watercolor.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Luna answered the panic she recognized in his eyes. With the warm blanket wrapped firmly around them, she readjusted her position more securely against him. Luna leaned her forehead against his as she stroked his too cool cheek with her free hand.
A day’s worth of stubble scratched her hand comfortingly, despite the fact that she had shaved Michael only an hour earlier. It was oddly comforting that Michael’s hair follicles didn’t realize he was dying either. She didn’t think Michael understood. Hopefully, he never would. It was already too much that she knew.
“Luna,” Michael’s voice rasped, although his eyes never opened this time.
“I … like … green.” Each word was labored and a whisper.
“I know, Michael. Don’t talk, dear one. Save your energy.”
A barely perceptible shake of his head and a tightening around his eyes told her he wasn’t finished with his thought.
“What is … more than … like?” Every phrase required its own labored, shallow breath.
“What is more than like?” Luna repeated. “Do you mean what word means ‘more than like?’”
The sparse movement of Michael’s head was a nod, yet his eyes were a sealed tomb. Luna hesitated. She knew the answer, but the question surprised her. In the previous five years, she had answered thousands of questions.
Never that one.
But Michael was dying—why hold back now?
“Love. Love means ‘more than like.’” Her voice cracked nervously.