Name: Kiernan Charles
Twitter handle: @writerkmc
35-word pitch: A curse sends 17yo Annika to a futuristic Manhattan, where her life is privileged and her brother’s endangered. When she learns there’s no return, she must change her new reality or lose him for good.
Why are my socks green?
That was the first thought that popped into my head. Not where am I or how did I get here, although both were valid questions.
I didn’t own a pair of forest green socks, yet I was wearing them. They matched the plaid of a school uniform skirt that didn’t look anything like the one I’d put on that morning. I was sitting on a polished marble floor, my head pounding and my throat painfully dry.
“Miss? Are you all right?” I blinked as the face looming over me swam into focus. It belonged a man I didn’t know, middle-aged and dressed in all black.
“Could I have some water?” I rasped. “And can you tell me where I am?”
“The Museum of Natural History,” he said, and I felt a quick rush of relief. Of course. I was on a field trip with the rest of Trinity’s senior class. I’d been with my friends in an exhibit about the Salem witch trials when I’d felt dizzy and … well, I couldn’t remember what came next, but I must have fainted at some point.
Except that didn’t explain my uniform. Or how I’d ended up in this room, which contained weird architectural sculptures and very few people.
I needed my phone. “Did you notice a backpack anywhere?” I asked the man as he handed me a cup of water.
“Right here,” he said, picking up a slim blue bag I’d never seen before.
“That’s not mine,” I told him. “Mine’s bigger, and gray. It’s from L.L. Bean.”
His forehead creased in confusion. “You were wearing this when you fell.”
“I couldn’t have—” I began, stopping short as I caught sight of my hand on the water glass. The chipped nail polish left over from last weekend’s mother-daughter manicure was gone, replaced by a clear gloss.
Was I dreaming? I pinched my arm, digging my fingernails deep enough to draw blood. That certainly felt real. I must have hit my head, I decided. Hard enough to give myself a concussion.
“Can I borrow your phone?” I asked the man.
He looked at me blankly. “My what?”
I had to get out of there. He wasn’t helping me; I’d figure this out on my own. I glanced doubtfully at the blue bag and picked it up as I got to my feet. Maybe this was my backpack and I just didn’t recognize it because my brain was scrambled. “Thanks for the water,” I murmured, backing out of the room.
But I didn’t know where to go next. I sat heavily on a bench and unzipped the bag’s front compartment. No phone; just a slim, wallet-sized silver card. I held it up and gasped as my picture appeared on the front, hologram-style, with words etched below:
Name: Annika Altschul
Address: 208 West 88th Street, Apt. 20
Hair: Dark Brown
DOB: December 28, 2098
Status: NG Confirmed