Monday, September 24, 2012

Agent Pitch Finalist #24 - Cadaver Dog

Cadaver Dog
YA Speculative Fiction


In a time when water is rare, fifteen-year-old Jacob's enhanced genes are the only reason his village survives--he can find water. As a Cadaver Dog, he's part of a modified breed of humans who have the senses of a bloodhound. When a gang of desert-dwellers slaughter everyone in his village, only Jacob and two orphaned sisters make it out alive. Desperate and alone, they search for the fabled Water City, where secret tombs are rumored to store precious water beneath the city's streets.

Jacob leads the girls through the desert, but the path he chooses brings them straight into the desert-dwellers' waiting arms. Only this time, it's not murder they're after, but Jacob's Cadaver Dog nose. They don't hesitate torturing the girls in an effort to force Jacob to join their deadly ranks. All three manage to escape, but it's only to return to the heat and death of the desert.

They're running out of options, time, and water. The desert-dwellers are hunting them down, and not even Jacob's ability will be enough to keep them alive. If they don't reach the Water City soon, it's either death by dehydration or cold-blooded murder, and Jacob isn't willing to choose either.

First 150 Words:

The sun paints ribbons of heat across the desert. The day will be hot and already smells of burning salt. Sweat breaks out along my arms. On days like this, I wish we built our home in the empty river bed to the north. Water one poured from the canyon into the ocean. Now all it's good for is shade.

Squinting into the sun, I scan the horizon until I see Mother's dark shadow stretching along the ground. A basket hangs from her waist, heavy and full of food that can live off the ocean's salt. Another person's shadow darkens the earth beside her.

My heart thuds beneath my ribs. It's him. Mother's outline grows taller as she steps closer. The shadow beside her splits in two as it pulls over the land. And both people are too short.

Neither is my father.

Strangers. In my village. Surely, the Devil has turned his evil eye toward us.


Linda Glaz said...

great concept

Hannah Bowman said...

I agree that this is a fascinating concept, and the opening pages are strong. But I'll be honest--I think it's hard to pitch a story in this market that's in a post-apocalyptic future. For me, personally, to request more of this, I'd need to see more of Jacob's voice come through in the query to be convinced that this could stand out in a very crowded market. What are his struggles with his life as a Cadaver Dog? Internal conflict is key to this kind of story, I think.