For my regular readers, these are some special posts this week as part of a pitch contest I'm providing feedback for. My normal musings will return next week.
For participants, welcome to my blog! I'm happy to host you and excited to see what kinds of stories you've written. Please remember that only the author of this piece and the participating judges are supposed to comment. All other comments will be deleted.
We're Team Fluttershy! Because here on Balancing Act, we're both quite sweet unless you provoke us, in which case, we are terrifying.
You can check out other teams on the other hosting blogs: Rena Rocford (Rainbow Dash), Kathleen Ann Palm (Rarity), Elizabeth Roderick (Discord), Katie Hamstead Teller (Princess Luna)
______________________________________Title: FEAR FACTORY
Category and Genre: Adult Science Fiction Thriller
Word Count: 110,000
Sarah is an accomplished medical student whose confidence is shaken after spending months at Doctors Without Borders coping with the harsh realities of the world. Eager to restore her self-esteem before beginning her residency, Sarah agrees to participate in a new television show that pits contestants against their fears in a virtual arena. Since her greatest fear is failure, she feels that the prize money is hers to win.
Sarah is bullied by Christine, a vindictive contestant who will stop at nothing to gain competitive advantage. Sarah is disqualified when her prescription interferes with the fear-response monitoring used by the virtual reality simulator. Relegated to the role of spectator, the brutality of the arena is displayed as the line between fantasy and reality is erased. When a competitor is critically injured inside the arena, Sarah’s medical instincts propel her into action.
After a failed attempt to save the fallen competitor, Sarah learns that the show is merely a ruse to lure unsuspecting participants into a fear-response project sponsored by the government. The contestant who perseveres will be used to unlock the potential of the artificial intelligence for its intended purpose. With Christine at the helm, the arena is converted into a powerful interrogation chamber for the Department of Defense. When the stresses of the arena place Christine in peril, Sarah must push aside the bad blood between them and overcome her fear of failure to save her life.
First 250 Words:
The phone slipped from my hand and bounced on the threadbare carpet. Dr. Anders’ muted voice beckoned from the floor. “Are you still there, Sarah?”
I slid off the bed and fumbled to align the receiver with my ear. “Oh my God. Sorry, I’m still here.” Everything was moving so fast. It was like spontaneity had sucked down a Red Bull. Most people run from their fears. I was willing to fly across the country to face mine.
“I appreciate your enthusiasm. To be honest, I wasn’t certain how you would react.”
For an instant, doubt tried to gain a foothold in my mind. I was just invited to be on a new television show. An all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas awaited. Who wouldn’t want to go? “Is there any reason I shouldn’t be excited?”
“From what you told me, you’ve been through a lot recently.”
I nodded before realizing that he could not see me. “Yes. That’s true. But I am ready to move on.”
“Are you, Sarah? This is no joke. Fear Factory will require your full mental capacity.”
Part of me was offended that he so openly questioned my mental toughness. Medical School had prepared me for everything. Almost everything. Ghana was a different story. “I think I know where you’re going with this. Like I already said, you weren’t there.”
“Yes, of course. I don’t suppose anything could prepare you for the horrors of the outside world. And I do sympathize with your plight. It must have been hard to lose so many children. You are a very brave woman.”