Word Count: 72,000
Genre: YA thriller with sci-fi elements
Something went seriously wrong with seventeen-year-old Nessa's memory removal procedure. Ever since that trip to the neuroscience lab, she's been having awful, itchy compulsions to steal everything in sight. And she's pretty sure she hallucinated a creepy old woman wearing a bunny mask in her bedroom.
When Nessa's parents haul her back to the lab to figure out what went wrong, an assistant named Amir pulls her aside and tells her he accidentally implanted another client's memory in her brain. That client just turned up dead. Amir says the freaked-out lab director is planning to scrape Nessa's brain clean to hide their mistake, and she needs to get away. Now.
Nessa's ready to punch Amir in the face, but his story explains her crazy behavior. And running away with him sounds a lot better than risking becoming a vegetable, so she does. Using hypnosis, Nessa and Amir try to dig out the secret memory so they can expose the lab. But the details are buried deep, and every time Nessa gets close, pieces of the memory she thought she had erased -- screeching tires and a boy's head smashing her windshield -- start coming back. She can't face it.
But she needs to face it, because that old lady in Nessa's bedroom wasn't a hallucination. She knows exactly what's in Nessa's brain and she's willing to kill again to get it.
First 250 words:
I climb into the driver's seat and tug off the wig that's been torturing my scalp for the last three hours. If hair could breathe, mine would be gasping in relief right now.
"Better put these on, Nessa." My cousin Beth picks up my jeans from her seat.
She has a point: I probably shouldn't be driving Grammy’s car wearing a corset and thigh-high stockings. I pull the banana out of the front of my spangly black underwear and throw it in Beth's lap. With a horrified squeak, she tosses it onto the floor.
"What time is it?" I say.
"Almost three," she says. "I don't know what the law is in Florida, but you're probably not supposed to be driving this late. Should we call a cab?"
My knees thump the steering wheel as I kick my heels off and squirm into the jeans. "We're incognito in this old lady car. It'll be fine."
With a nervous sigh, Beth hands me my t-shirt. She played it safe dressing up as Janet for the Rocky Horror Picture Show tonight, in a plain white dress and cardigan. She didn't even need to hide her outfit when we left the house. I, however, required a full costume change in the movie theater parking lot before we went in. And for a few precious hours, I wasn't Nessa Shea, boring Junior class treasurer and crew team captain. I was Dr. Frank N Furter, the deranged cross-dressing alien and red-lipstick aficionado from Transsexual, Transylvania.