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Kate Spradling

Kate Spradling

Boulder, Colorado

She graduated from MSU Denver with a B.A. in English and History. She's always had a passion for stories, cars, technology, and figuring out how things work.

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About the author

Kate is a first-time author with a long history of writing. She used to spend her days tuning out teachers and writing stories in her notebooks instead. After realizing writing could be a career, Kate decided to get a degree in it. After graduating college a semester early “in order to get on with her life,” she dedicated a year to writing her first novel in between working as a budtender and assisting with her family’s business. When not writing, Kate can be found in her garden, in a book, or smothered under her dogs. 

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If Dead World hits 500 pre-orders by Friday 14 June 2019 9 P.M. UTC, then it will be pitched to 5 traditional publishers when the campaign ends. If Dead World hits 250 pre-orders by Friday 14 June 2019 9 P.M. UTC, then it will be pitched to 44 independent publishers when the campaign ends. If Dead World hits 100 pre-orders by Friday 14 June 2019 9 P.M. UTC, then it will be pitched to 39 hybrid publishers when the campaign ends. If Dead World hits 50 pre-orders by Friday 14 June 2019 9 P.M. UTC, then it will be pitched to 29 service publishers when the campaign ends. If Dead World hits 500 pre-orders by Friday 14 June 2019 9 P.M. UTC, then it will be pitched to 117 publishers when the campaign ends.
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Publishizer is a crowdfunding literary agency. If 500 pre-orders is reached, then we pitch this proposal to traditional publishers. If not reached, then it gets pitched to non-traditional publishers.

Dead World

Book one in a series of three.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Race Cars?

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Sci-Fi young adult #1 in Sci-Fi
120,000 words
100% complete
3 publishers interested

Synopsis

In a distant future, the roles between man and machine have reversed. Androids now dominate the ruling class and humans have been demoted to below indentured servants, traded and sold with as much regard as livestock. 

One of those indentured servants is seventeen-year old Mar, who spends her days fixing up cars for Hatsuimoto, her cranky owner with a gambling problem, and repairing small electronics on the side. But after the devastating imprisonment of her best friend and the loss of her mother figure, Mar finds herself as one of the next contestants in the most perilous race of the year. The Dead World Prix is a two-week spectacle of humans driving a circuit full of obstacles and challenges in pursuit of a massive prize, including the distinct benefit of becoming a free citizen, just like the androids. There’s only one catch: no one has won the race in its 25 years of existence. 

That’s where she meets Kit—an android disguising himself as a human—that she just can’t seem to stay away from. As their paths intertwine, the two find themselves falling in love with each other; but with death and danger littering every mile of the circuit, the realities of the race become mortally apparent. Just as Mar is ready to give up and accept the race as a death sentence, she uncovers powers hidden within her and sets out on a path of vengeance, not just to finish the race but to reset the balance between humans and androids.

This book is "Speed Racer" meets "Bladerunner" in a "Hunger Games" format.

Outline

Chapter 1: Introduce Mar, her escape vehicle, her family, and the workshop she lives in.

Chapter 2: Mar test drives race cars.

Chapter 3: Introduce other p.o.v Kit, his house and his place in the world.

Chapter 4: Mar journeys through the city to an illegal market.

Chapter 5: Kit and Mar meet at the market.

Chapter 6: Mar reflects on the dangers of the world and reveals her abilities with technology.

Chapter 7: Mar and Kit meet again at the market and scheme. 

Chapter 8: Mar has a run in with a drone.

Chapter 9: Mar loses her mother figure and gets taken to Dead World.

Chapter 10: First day at Dead World training facility, Mar is assigned a car.

Chapter 11: Kit joins Mar as a contestant.

Chapter 12: First race practice.

Chapter 13: Godwin pays the contestants a visit.

Chapter 14: The race begins. 

Chapter 15: Mar and Kit officially declare a team-up for the race.

Chapter 16: First challenge of the prix, based on a figure-8 track.

Chapter 17: Mar and Kit calculate how much fuel they have and get to know each other.

Chapter 18: Kit and Mar have a tense conversation on their drive.

Chapter 19: Quick pit stop is interrupted by an exiled contestant. 

Chapter 20: A dust storm and rogue motorcyclists complicate Mar and Kit’s journey. 

Chapter 21: Mar and Kit reach the end of challenge two and celebrate with a refuel and a trip to the beach.

Chapter 22: Godwin pays a visit to Kit’s home to see his father Victor.

Chapter 23: A new friend attempts to obliterate Mar and Kit from the competition.

Chapter 24: Catch up with Eleanora at a betting party in the city.

Chapter 25: Mar attempts challenge 3 and encounters a series of nightmares.

Chapter 26: Kit attempts challenge 3.

Chapter 27: After their success, Mar and Kit celebrate by listening to a mixtape in the car.

Chapter 28: Mar crashes Blue Lightning. Kit gets kidnapped.

Chapter 29: Mar goes to rescue Kit, finds her friend Misty and their attacker from before: Duke. Kit reveals to Mar that he is an android.

Chapter 30: Misty helps Kit and Mar escape Duke.

Chapter 31: Mar decides to split from Kit to learn about her powers and attempt the next challenge without him.

Chapter 32: Mar and Misty attempt challenge 4, Kit watches the action from a distance.

Chapter 33: Kit rescues Mar from a wet, frigid death.

Chapter 34: Mar, Kit, and Misty traverse the remaining track together, ultimately getting separated and crashing. 

Chapter 35: Mar finishes the race in Blue Lightning, leaving Kit and Misty behind in order to try to save them. Eleanora takes Mar home.

Chapter 36: Victor and Mar chat about her abilities. 

Chapter 37: Godwin has Kit in his clutches and Mar exercises her powers to save him. They escape the city with their friends.

Audience

The young adult genre has always affected me as a reader, it’s always been the type of book I want to pick up, no matter how I age. Therefore, I was inclined to write in the same genre, to reproduce what I had spent my teen years and early adulthood consuming. I desire not only to reflect the accomplishments of those that came before in the genre, but also to reconnect with the age bracket, to write books that appeal to teenagers and pre-teens; adults are merely a bonus. 

Every author wants to write the next "Hunger Games" or "Harry Potter" but I just wanted to write the book I would've wanted to read as a teenager, and I think I have accomplished that. 

Promotion

I will be utilizing several social media outlets such as: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Email, Wattpad, Reddit, Youtube, and others to promote my writing and this book. Relying heavily on the commercial I have made and still frames from posts will point to pre-order. 

Additionally, I intend to reach out personally to members of my community. 

Competition

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (2005)

Description: Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. In just a few weeks she’ll have the operation that will turn her from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty. And as a pretty, she’ll be catapulted into a high-tech paradise where her only job is to have fun.

But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to become a pretty. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world—and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally a choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. Tally’s choice will change her world forever

Comparison: Dead World is told in a similar dystopian vein as the Uglies series, as well as paying homage to technological advancements. Our novels also share a strong female lead and addresses the importance of adolescent friendships.  They differ in that Dead World isn’t a reflection of vain society, but instead of women in technology and car racing. Additionally, our heroines follow very different paths to their ultimate conclusions. 

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (2008)

Description: In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before - and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Comparison: While both of our novels are about a protagonist going through a grueling competition, Dead World isn’t about surviving and killing, it’s about driving and wits. We share a female protagonist, but I choose not to dabble in love triangles or excessive violence. 

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (2012)

Description: Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth's fate hinges on one girl. 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She's a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world's future.

Comparison: Comparatively, my book is quite a bit less whimsical, focusing more on dark science fiction elements than the fairy tale elements of Cinder. Additionally, while our books both explore the nature of androids and cyborgs, our treatments and executions vary as the androids in my story are more important and my plot lacks cyborgs. Additionally, Dead World is more focused on man’s manipulation of machine rather than the mind-control elements of Cinder. 

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Phillip K. Dick (1968)

Description: By 2021, the World War has killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remain covet any living creature, and for people who can’t afford one, companies build incredibly realistic simulacra: horses, birds, cats, sheep. They’ve even built humans. Immigrants to Mars receive androids so sophisticated they are indistinguishable from true men or women. Fearful of the havoc these artificial humans can wreak, the government bans them from Earth. Driven into hiding, unauthorized androids live among human beings, undetected. Rick Deckard, an officially sanctioned bounty hunter, is commissioned to find rogue androids and “retire” them. But when cornered, androids fight back—with lethal force

Comparison: The only similarities between our books is our concepts and portrayals of androids. While the androids in Dead World can be indistinguishable from humans like in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? they have a much different place in society, reigning supreme on the planet over any other remaining life. 

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)

Description: Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, is a novel written by English author Mary Shelley about the young student of science Victor Frankenstein, who creates a grotesque but sentient creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. 

Comparison: Dead World is also told in an epistolary format and explores the concept of creating life from non-living things. Unlike Frankenstein, my story focuses more on the after effects of creating sentient life in the form of androids. 

3 publishers interested Express interest

The publishers will be visible after the campaign has ended.

Cranthorpe Millner

Too many beautifully written books are rejected on a regular basis because the submitting author doesn’t have a strong enough author platform.

The barriers for authors are getting higher and the publishing industry less discerning and more unscrupulous.

By operating a hybrid publishing model, Cranthorpe Millner can invite authors to publish with us based on the merit of the manuscript alone.

Hybrid publisher

All categories

Canada, United Kingdom, United States

eBooks2go

eBooks2go, Inc., was founded in 2011 to provide the missing link for all your publishing needs. Our end-to-end solutions provide the guidance and support that enable publishers and independent authors to pursue their passions. To date, we have helped more than 750 authors and 100 publishers worldwide.

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Hybrid publisher

All categories

Worldwide

1106 Design, LLC

Dear Author,

Congratulations on writing your book!

Options abound in today's publishing world, and it can be difficult to tell the difference between traditional publishers, hybrid publishers, subsidy publishers, and self-publishing companies.

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We offer publishing-house-quality manuscript editing, cover design, interior design and layout, proofreading, eBook formatting, author websites, and book marketing assistance, to help you produce a beautiful, market-ready book. Then we'll help you obtain printing and distribution in your name, so 100% of the proceeds are paid directly to you.

Work with us, and you'll retain complete control of the creative process, your design files, and your revenue stream, and your book will be available for sale in a matter of months.

Here's a price summary of our most popular services for books 50,000 words and under:

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If you would like a custom quote, please email your completed manuscript to md@1106design.com and let us know which services you need. Don't worry; we won’t share your manuscript with anyone else.

Questions? We'll be happy to talk to you. Please use this link to choose a convenient time:

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At 1106 Design, we love helping authors create great books! We hope to hear from you soon.

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Owner

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Worldwide

Mar


By the time I was seventeen, I’d seen approximately five dead bodies. Nothing ever quite prepared me for the shock of the experience. Sometimes the bodies were floppy and other times unthinkably stiff. And the smell. I always thought I knew the dismally sweet smell and somehow it continued to be surprise me each time we came into contact. Rotten things were different; rotten celery didn't smell the same as a human corpse. Animals had a very distinct smell of decomposing. It was not just degradation of flesh but decay of breath, of vitality and life. That slim thing that set us apart from rocks and metal, which never broke down in the same manner we did. 

I found the dead raccoon in the back of the car, stiff and smelly. Its abdomen was bloated and his limbs were obscurely rigid. Even the whipping winds couldn't carry away the scent fast enough. While I rolled down the ancient windows and prepared to dispose of the body, I reflected on those five bodies. 

Only two of them had names to me. 

The first was when I was very young, still at the orphanage. I didn’t really remember much from the time before Hatsui bought me, but I remembered the child. Its blue and stagnant body crumpled in the trashcan in the alley behind the orphanage. It was my chore to take out the garbage, which was when I discovered the small boy. His limp arms wrapped around himself and he just started to smell sweet with decay. I had nightmares about dead boys in trash cans for weeks. 

The second body was an old grouchy man I barely knew. His existence in my life was limited to weeks before he became dead body number two. He lay in his bunk motionless and pale, his body just as eerily still. Magda would later explain to me that he died in his sleep, that it was a natural thing. I told her I already knew that. 

His death led to Karl’s acquisition. How easily we were replaced.

The third body was a racer. At Dead World's opening ceremonies, the beginning was usually a tame affair, merely an all cement path concerned with speed and getting away from the other racers. The third body struggled to get off the line, citing mechanical failure just before he crashed into the wall. We held our breath as we watched him crawl out of the burning frame. Flames swallowed his back and head. He screamed as he burned and I watched helplessly, just as helpless as the other mechanics. The sound cut into my memory. The image of his blackened body on the cement, choking on flames as his life left him was unforgettable. What was it about death that made such a lasting etch in human memory? 

Wind roared against the thin metal of the car, singing through the gears and twists of wires. Even with the darkness of nightfall, the wind was poisoned with the unfortunate lingering heat from the day. The car was a sweltering oven. I remained patient in my perch, my body spread against the smelly interior carpet of the faded red SUV. Bony fingers tinkered away with wires under the dash. An unfortunate amount of sweat collected under my eyes and on my lip. I kept wiping it away with the ratty scarf used to keep my face hidden, smearing a bit of motor oil and dust on my skin each time. The sweat made things difficult. I missed the bitterness of a desert winter where things were frigid but dry. 

My eyes flicked over to the tiny dashboard clock and saw it illuminated five minutes past midnight. I sighed.

The push to keep working smoldered in my bones, but the lights were starting to buzz and my eyes became sticky with exhaustion. The looming presence of an early wake up call also pressed against me. Just one more hour and then I’ll go to bed, I promised myself. The time to work on a vehicle I had pored years into fixing up was precious, so I pushed through the exhaustion.

A few minutes after my resolve to keep working, I heard a noise over the whipping wind. I ceased movement, closed my eyes and focused on the sounds around me. Over the wind I heard the rhythmic flapping sound of small blades. A security drone. My stomach filled with stones. 

I had two options: 

1. Stay perfectly still and pray that the drone didn’t have a heat signature feature. 

2. Make a run for it and hope to beat the machine. 

Hastily, I threw my tools into my small pack and tucked it under my clothes, pressing it against the skin of my stomach. I pulled the hood of my windbreaker tight against my throat and wound the scarf around my whole head, save for my eyes. 

I checked the skies for the drone, finding the culprit on the other side of the junkyard nosing around a pile of scrap metal. There was a family of raccoons that lived just next to the pile, meaning the drone must be equipped with heat-seeking technology if it was trying to pursue them. 

Great. 

I slipped out the busted window and onto the sandy dirt. My bare feet made only soft thuds as I weaved through the cars in the junkyard. It was a practiced dance, where to put my foot, how to press my toes into the dirt just right to propel myself over hoods and under twisted metal. I looked over my shoulder to see the surveillance drone lazily analyzing the junkyard, its singular eye shooting out a menacing beam of light over everything that moved. What a jumpy piece of junk, I thought. 

I came to the fence that separated Hatsui’s junkyard from his dilapidated race track. I removed the pack from my waist and threw it over the fence. I flattened my body against the ground and moved in fragmented shimmies under the metal, careful not to scrape my back against the sharp spindles of jagged wire. As soon as I was clear, I placed the pack back under my clothes and took off in a full sprint across the cracked asphalt. 

Every few strides, I’d look back to track the drone. But once I made it to the yellowed grass in the middle of the track, the drone was gone. I stopped sprinting immediately and crumbled to the ground defensively. I paused, listening. The identifying flap of its propeller blades sounded on the east side of the track, just to my right. It moved quicker now, the bright beam from its eye flashing in rapid movements across the asphalt. It made a path right toward me. 

I ran. I pushed my body off the ground and bolted left toward the west side of the track, making an arc back to the windows of the workshop. I hoisted my body up the cement wall, my fingers digging into the ledge of the window and pulled my body through as the drone continued whizzed by the window aggressively. I yanked my feet through hastily and snapped the window shut behind me. I stood on my workbench, my heart hammering in my chest, lungs hungrily pulling air in. Though I was safe, adrenaline coursed through me, making my stomach tight with worry, my skin hot and itchy. A close call, but neither the first nor last. 

I slumped down to my knees and crawled off the table. 

The sleeping bodies on the bunks were undisturbed by my quick entrance. Alfred was hard of hearing. It would take a herd of elephants mixed with a marching band to wake him. Similarly, as Magda crept deeper into her 70’s, she had a harder time hearing things as well. As for Karl who was a measly three years younger than me, he was just a deep sleeper. A couple years ago, I had fallen through the window and flipped my workbench, screwdrivers and wrenches went flying, yet Karl slept through it all. I broke three fingers in the incident and woke Magda, who stared with startled eyes from her bunk. 

“I thought we were being robbed,” she joked when she saw me on the ground. When I didn’t respond with a joke of my own, she rose from her bed and helped my tape up my fingers. 

This time, I carefully climbed off my workbench and tiptoed across the workshop to hang up my windbreaker on a hook fashioned from gears. I placed the scarf on top of the jacket and headed to bed. The bunks were constructed from old shelving units, put together by craftiness and sheer desperation in an attempt for some semblance of sleeping comfort. My bunk was under Karl’s and next to Magda, who slept peacefully curled into herself under heaps of quilts despite the heat. Above her, Alfred snored lightly, his shoulders vibrating the thin blanket with every noisy inhale. The room was heavy with sleep and heat. 

I settled into bed, pulling a thin cotton sheet over myself. My mattress was lumpy beneath me and it was difficult to find a comfortable position. Finally, I settled and listened to Karl’s even breathing. His limbs were strewn across the bed and his hand hung over the edge, dangling near me. I envied his ease of sleeping. 

Per usual, no one had awoken to greet my middle-of-the-night-reentry to ask where I’d been. They were all aware of my project in the junkyard, of the progress I had made on it, but neither Alfred nor Magda made any effort to encourage or discourage me. The vehicle was more than a hobby, it was a life preserver in the sinking ship of this city.

As I tried to fall asleep, I lingered on a story. During one of our schooling lessons, Magda recounted the history I always wanted to know more of: the history of before. She started the story with war. 

“Most human stories begin with war and this one is no exception,” she said, clucking her tongue and shaking her head. We were both on our backs under a car, her hands grease-covered as she tinkered with the muffler. I held it in place for so long my arms were past the point of numb, they were dead and only my locked elbows provided any support. 

 “It’s a constant of humanity—violence that is. It seems to be in our DNA, a remnant of our monkey brains most likely. It’s what led us to where we are, to the war that destroyed nearly half the population,” Magda said in her knowing voice. I absorbed her words like gospel. “I think that’s when we started to change, when we realized what we had done not just to ourselves but our planet, to entire droves of extinct species. And when the war ended, no one really sure what it was ever about. Oil maybe? Perhaps a rigged election? It didn’t really matter, in the end. What mattered was the missing population and with it came an opportunity.”

At this point in the story she paused to roll her eyes. 

“The androids were meant to fill spaces. They originally got their start in the army as human shields since they were programmed with a single unbreakable rule. All androids were explicitly restricted from bringing any direct harm to human beings. But, they found ways around those rules,” Magda said. I always wanted to ask her about those exceptions, but it wasn’t really the point of the story. Details seldom are. 

“After the war, instead of decommissioning these machines, they reinvented them to account for the missing population. Suddenly, husbands and wives were returning from the dead in the form of these synthetic beings. They took positions in the workforce and picked up the slack left from an obliterated group.”

Magda was just a kid when the androids had started to assimilate into human populations and she was an adult when they took over entirely. Their rise was her personal history. 

“It was to be expected, I think, that it ended like this,” she said, her posture firm, her tone decided. These days, many of the other humans I encountered at the market and else in the city were either angry or terrified. But Magda was neither, she was almost understanding. “How ignorant we were, the way we expected them to provide for us without any reward, without basic decencies. We made them fill humiliating roles: sexual companions, customer service, even children. We put them into vulnerable positions and expected them to follow orders blindly. They anticipated resistance, humans are very familiar with rebellion. But nobody expected sentience.”

“We doomed ourselves,” she said with finality, ending the story. I had no questions because the story wasn’t one that could be changed or remedied. Eventually the muffler was fixed and the story of before was over as Magda found herself bristled with unnecessary anxiety and desired to change the topic to something more cheery: reciting poetry.

I fell asleep with Magda’s final words on my lips, trying them out. They fit, but they didn’t still feel like a real end. 


Kit

Our house was never quiet. It spoke to me even when the voices of its inhabitants were silent. It communicated audibly in groans and creaks, but its walls told a story, each room boasted an epic. I had explored every inch of our house, down to the minute details of the moldings along the ceilings. I knew the deepest corners of the closets, the highest points of the attic. I had counted everything that could be defined enough to deserve counting. There were five bedrooms, three bathrooms, two sitting areas, a kitchen, an office. But that wasn't specific enough: there were 17,000 roses on the dining room wallpaper and precisely 62 million paint dimples throughout my room alone, punctuated by several graphite drawings of mine on the wall. Each of those details told the story of this house, of her inhabitants, and secrets of course. Plenty of those.

Eleanora knocked on my door. She opened it without me saying anything and didn't pause entering the room to head straight to my desk chair. She sunk into it immediately and started fishing through the drawers.

"Can I help you find something?" I asked, but made no move to stop her rummaging. Instead, I laid perfectly still on my bed, sprawled out and counting the imperfections on the ceiling.

"I'm looking for a key" she said and rose from my desk, unsatisfied.

"What kind of key?" I didn't recall too many keys lying around. We had ones for the house of course, old brass keys that sat on a ring in the kitchen. They opened random old cabinets and safes. Some were keys to doors.

"The one for the car."

That intrigued me. I sat up fluidly and stared at her. She stood in front of my open closet doors, one hand on her hip and the other nervously covering her mouth, like she was pretending to think or be innocent. "Where are we going?"

We didn't leave the house much. And it was even more rare that we would take the car. Usually, the car sat in the ivy-covered garage behind the house. Every so often I would go out, charge her batteries and start her up, just so that she stayed functioning. But she really hasn't been driven on the road in a full year. Not since Victor had his fall.

Eleanora looked at me squarely with a sarcastic look, as if I didn't know.

"The market," I answered, nodding. I continued,"I don't think that's a good idea."

"I knew you wouldn't," she said, rolling her eyes. The motion grated on me but I ignored it.

"Then why did you come in here for the key?"

"Victor said you knew where it was. I was trying to find it without alerting you, but you ask too many questions."

"You answer them too freely," I retorted.

"There's no sense in lying to you. You could hear that car start from a mile away," she said, not because the car was noisy but because we both had impeccable hearing.

"And because you want me to drive you," I groaned. I had tried to teach her to drive multiple times in the past, but it never stuck. She said she didn't have the right software for driving, it just wasn't in her code. I reminded her that it wasn't in mine either but I eventually learned. I think it boiled down to that she didn't like driving, especially because of its relationship to Dead World, which she despised passionately.

"Yes."

"And what do you plan to do at the market? You know Victor isn't able to-"

"Yes, of course I know that," she snapped, cutting me off. "I'm going to give out some extra supplies I found when cleaning out the basement."

Suspicious.

"Get Jake to drive you," I suggested and laid back down on my bed.

She scoffed, offended. Jake, although human, was not her favorite in the house. They didn't get along. Ever. He stayed because he was helpful around the house and Victor loved company. Not to mention that our world was hard for humans to live in and our home was as close to a sanctuary as he could get. But I didn't mind Jake, I found him quite funny and entertaining to be around. Eleanora on the other hand, did not find him humorous nor did she appreciate that Jake loved to argue with her. Yet, Eleanora had been the one to bring Jake here in the first place.

"Please, Kit."

"Wow. You said 'please.'" She smacked my shoulder. I turned to her with mocking shock on my face.

"Just drive me to the market. You can even go in with me and ogle at the old trinkets."

"I don't ogle," I murmured and turned my head away from her to count things on my wall, my eyes focusing on one of the drawings I had done of her. She was in the kitchen watching Jake cook something sketchy when I had been struck by the desire to draw her face. I captured her expression in graphite and paper, but it wasn't the same as what was written on her face now. Contempt in the drawing was mirrored by her arrogance now, content that I was giving in to her.

"We're leaving in ten," she said and stalked out of my room. I rolled over until I was off the bed and padded down the hall to Victor's office. His door was closed so I knocked and waited.

"Come in."

Victor sat at his large oak desk, endless papers spread in front of him. His desk lamp illuminated the weathered folds of his face, the softness of his eyes. He didn't smile when he saw me, instead he nodded in acknowledgement and moved his eyes back to his work.

"I'm assuming Eleanora found what she was looking for."

"Yes," I responded and moved my eyes from him to the bookcases that surrounded his office. Three thousand five hundred and ninety-six books in total. Seven double copies of books. One bible.

I stood in front of the empty fireplace. There was no need for it in the middle of this miserable spring. I'd caught Jake sticking his head in the freezer on several occasions, swiping ice from the bin to put against his flushed throat. Eleanora and I couldn't feel the heat nor did it bother us, but we didn't like the extreme thunderstorms it caused. Between the lightning strikes that threatened our circuits and the sheer amount of water, it had become an unnerving threat. There was supposed to be another incredible thunderstorm tonight, hence the market trip. I could sense the rise of moisture in the air and the electricity that began to buzz around the atmosphere.

"You'll go with her, right?" Victor asked, pausing to look up at me. I looked to him and fought the desire to sigh.

"Of course," I said. "But I must ask, why now? It's been almost a decade since we've been to the market. I thought we said we were going to stop muddling in their business."

Victor chuckled. "Things change, son."

I twitched at the word.

"To be truthful, Eleanora did find more supplies, but she's also on a separate mission."

"A mission?" I asked, a touch of humor in my voice.

"She's been terribly bored locked up in the house all day. We've been talking about ways she could feel more fulfilled, more purposeful."

"So she's taking over for you?" I asked. It wasn't accusatory like I thought it might've been like. Victor had asked me long ago if I wanted to take over for him, but I always told him no. I always told him it wasn't the path I wanted to pursue. It wasn't that I couldn't have done what he did or learned to perform medicine. I just didn't want to. There was also the element of admitting that Victor was slowing down and required someone to take over for him. He was well into his 80's at this point, his hair had been ice-white for two decades now. While he was still spry and healthy for his age, he had recently become confined to his wheelchair. It aged him even more. Since then, I'd become essentially housebound, leaving only on quick jaunts with Eleanora. Mostly, I just spent my time drawing and worrying.

"Not entirely. She'll do better than I could've," Victor said. "Besides, she can actually leave the house."

"No more house calls then," I mused. After things changed and the balance tipped toward the android's control of the world, Victor was overwhelmed by guilt. He had worked for the company that produced the android population, that constructed me and Eleanora. Working in their Biological Manifestation department, he was responsible for analyzing and implementing certain biological influences into our programming and hardware. Victor was the reason we could cry through projected tears on our cheeks and had a sense of self-preservation. To ease the guilt he carried for helping us exist, he would take in humans secretly and treat them for a cacophony of maladies. He set broken bones, soothed burns, cured chicken pox. With his deep knowledge of human biology and anatomy, he tried to make up for things by practicing medicine. We ran an underground health clinic for years from the comfort of our victorian home. But it never felt like enough for him, that much I knew.

My father was a prisoner to our house. Godwin promised to keep him safe so long as he stayed within the confines of our home and black metal gates that divided it from the rest of the neighborhood. Godwin said he provided this gesture out of respect, but really, I think he was thrilled by trapping my father directly in the middle of a world he inadvertently created, a world that festered into one that hated him and anything else like him. We were in a cage disguised as a childhood home.

He shook his head dismissively. "No, we all know I'm not much help. Besides, it's much safer anyway for you and Eleanora."

Originally, it was my responsibility to go to the market and bring back those in the worst condition for Victor to treat. We were forced to slow our help into almost complete inactivity for several reasons. Most of them boiled down to Victor's health, but other reasons belonged to security risks and worries. Eleanora and I were eternally safe in most of our exploits outside the house, but if we were caught helping Victor it would mean reprogramming. Not even Godwin could grant either of us immunity. And if Victor or Jake were caught outside our home, they could be imprisoned just like the rest of the humans. Taken and sold into the same indentured working system every other human in the city was a part of. 

Or worse: get picked up by a Dead World van.

"What will we do now?" I asked.

"Ideally, we'll do what we did before."

"And what about the drones? The new security checkpoints?" The city had changed even more recently. A pervasive darkness creeping in. Godwin's paranoia was showing.

"I know you can handle those," Victor said, dismissing me. There was more to this.

"There's something you're not telling me," I accused, my eyes narrowing on the way his hands shuffled through papers. I moved closer to Victor, resting my fingertips against the edge of his desk. He stopped shuffling and looked up to me.

"There is change on the horizon, son," he whispered. That word again. "Can you feel it?"

I closed my eyes and tasted the room around me. I didn't know what he was asking me to feel, besides the heat of the room and the taste of the dusty books.

"Hank contacted me."

I sighed. Hank was another guilty party, more so than my father. Hank's grandfather was responsible for the creation of the androids, but Hank was the orchestrator of sentience. It was his idea to implement it. It was his actions that made the world the way it was. He wasn't graced with the arrangements like ours, however. No, he was banished somewhere only Godwin knew, cut off from the world but well-aware of the horrors. He had difficulty maintaining contact with us, but we'd get a random message every so many years. Last I heard he was working on a remote control. I rolled my eyes at the absurdity that our sentience or even basic functioning could be controlled with something as basic as a remote.

"Hank?"

Victor nodded in response to my question, but said no further based on my tone. He knew I didn't approve of Hank's involvement. Hadn't he done enough? I wanted to shout.

"And what, in all of his wisdom, does he have to say now?"

"Nothing new, really. Just the same image," Victor explained quietly and I groaned without thinking.

"The shark again?"

"Yes, Kit, it's the shark again on the same day and the same time as every year."

"From Hank," I supplied, distrust in my tone.

"Yes, from Hank."

"We've been over this, it's a glitch, it doesn't mean anything. Besides, Hank has been dark for years, it can't be him."

"But it is, Kit! It is!" Victor insisted. "When we worked together we had a series of codes for various security protocols and means of communicating."

"And was shark one of them?"

"No," Victor said, "But animals were always involved. We used to call lawyers 'flounder.'"

"So what?"

"It means something, Kit. I've been doing some reading about sharks. Did you know they went extinct the year I was born?"

"No," I said earnestly, it wasn't a fact I had accumulated. It didn't surprise me though, most animals on this planet fell victim to a similar outcome.

"And they're seen as a predator, a monster. But their violence is a sacrifice, their bodies built to only consume and destroy. A keystone species of vital importance."

"What are you thinking?"

"What if Hank made a shark?"

"A predator for who?"

"For the androids."

"How would that even be possible?" I questioned.

"I don't know."

"Where would even begin to look?"

"I don't know," Victor repeated.

I shook my head against the thought but regained my composure. I pushed down my anger until it evaporated below my feet.

"I think it will be a human. So, I want you to keep your eye out for someone out of the ordinary. They're important, whoever they are. We must protect them with everything we have." Victor said and moved from his desk. He started to wheel closer to me where I leaned against his desk. He reached his hand up to place it on my hunched shoulder. I moved a few inches to help him place his fingertips on the top of my shoulder.

"How could a singular person have the ability to take down Godwin?"

"Hank is a brilliant scientist."

"And you really trust him?" I whispered.

"I trust you," Victor said.



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