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Name: Sarah Pierce

Title: Lucid

Genre: YA SciFi 

ComparablesInception meets Maze Runner meets Stranger Things

Hook: Trapped inside a dream, a group of international students must discover the truth about their world before a fugitive nightmare gains control of their minds.

Pitch

A high security dream has broken loose. Known only as the Siren, it causes 20 people to commit mass suicide in Berlin, and before anyone can react, panic erupts across the globe. Thousands of sleepers will no longer wake, and for those left aware, every night could be their last. The most dangerous nightmare of the 21st century is out of its cage, and it’s going to take unimaginable strength and cunning to put it back. 

17-year-old Shasta al-Khouri (one of few teenagers in the world trained to actively control his dreams) has no idea his world isn’t real. Assuming his frequent panic attacks and the strange shifts in his surroundings are symptoms of an anxiety disorder, he focuses his attention on reaching higher and higher levels in a VR competition which forms the basis of grades at his boarding school. That is, until a new student sabotages his plans, sending his grades plummeting, revoking his scholarship, and permanently disqualifying his team. 

Mariel Uribe can barely remember her own name, much less the real world. And not only does she have a knack for getting Shasta into trouble, but she also sees what he’s chosen to ignore: there’s something seriously wrong with the city. After all, what kind of place ignores a sentient labyrinth with the disturbing habit of swallowing people? Or legally mandates attendance at an expensive VR academy? 

When a trip to the market results in an assassination attempt and a desperate race for their lives—straight into the labyrinth—even Shasta has to admit Mariel might be right. To start, the labyrinth has swallowed hundreds, but they appear to be the only ones trapped. Worse, someone—or something—is playing with reality, rearranging architecture and impersonating their dead relatives. Unable to trust their senses, Shasta and Mariel must rely on their skills as lucid dreamers to find the way out. If they can’t, they might just find themselves next on the menu….

 

Sample:

Chapter One

If Shasta al-Khouri had lived in the dorm wing of the Academy d’Excellence, a late-night knock would have been call for curiosity and nothing more. Here in the Crevice, however, surrounded by Bricks who wouldn’t think twice if he disappeared, a knock in the middle of the night could only mean one thing. 

Trouble. Big trouble.

Wiping sweaty palms on his sheets, he lobbed a pillow at his roommate. Kesh was drooling, his too-long limbs dangling over the loft’s edge, but he caught the pillow and fired it back without cracking an eyelid. 

“Are you expecting a delivery?” Shasta hissed.

Kesh immediately stopped pretending to sleep. “Course not. They never come to school.” 

Another knock, this one more frantic. 

“You heard it first,” Kesh said.  

Shasta shot him a glared but climbed slowly from the top bunk, wincing at every squeak. Kesh mirrored his movements, dropping lightly to the ground and pulling a black leather glove over his scarred right hand. He settled into a fighting stance as Shasta silently lifted the crossbar, then, gripping the bat they kept propped in the corner, cracked the door.

The Braydt twins stood outside, fully dressed despite the early hour. Oliver, medium height with coal-dark skin, was bouncing so fast he was practically vibrating. “It’s starting!” he blurted.

Shasta blinked, all danger forgotten. “What? Now?”

Rhys held up a manilla envelope, grinning.  

Shasta left the door open for them, dressing as quickly as he could. Behind him, Kesh had already pulled on a pair of pants and was rooting through his drawer for a shirt. “Has anyone told the girls?”

“I’ll go!” Oliver sped away, yelling, “Don’t open it until I get back!” 

Shasta hissed a warning, but the boy was already gone. “If he loses us our head start….”

“The Lands are already gone and Entoven saw it when we did,” Rhys said.   

Kesh’s head snapped up. “And the Barons?”

“We figured it was better to come straight here.”

Kesh gave an approving nod and snapped the last suspender over his shoulder. “Well, go on: open it!” 

Rhys dumped the contents of the manila envelope on the bed: five transparent sheets with random black lines, a small slip with a series of numbers and letters, and an Ace of Spades with a star drawn on the reverse.

Shasta had no idea what they were supposed to mean, which was both exciting and anxiety-inducing. He loved a good puzzle, but the pressure on this Hunt was at an all-time high. Ever since Vincent Parnell had reached the top of the leaderboard three weeks ago, the Bricks (and especially their highest ranked team, the Barons, of which Vincent was captain) had become insufferable. The bullying had grown so bad that even the oldest students were afraid to walk the halls alone. 

 

Thank you for your consideration! 

Sarah Pierce

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