Sixteen-year-old Silver Melody lives in a world where 80% of the population has modified their DNA. Known as the altereds, those people now possess enhancements like wings, tails, and increased strength or intelligence. Although Silver’s parents created the nanite pill used to deliver these genetic modifications, Silver is proud of her unadjusted state.
However, when the president declares all unadjusteds must take a nanite, Silver has no choice but to flee the city with her father and some friends to prevent the extinction of the unadjusteds.
With Silver’s mother in prison for treason, Silver’s father is the unadjusteds’ only hope at finding a cure. But time is running out as Silver’s father is captured by the president’s almost immortal army. Vicious hellhounds are on Silver’s trail, and her only chance to recover her father involves teaming up with a new group of unlikely friends before all humanity is lost.
EXCERPT – THE UNADJUSTEDS, CHAPTER 1
“Get it down! Get it down!”
The crowd shrieks around me, jostling each other to reach the front.
A girl with swan wings tunnels past me, her feathers brushing my cheek as she takes off toward the school. A boy with scales stumbles and falls onto me. I regain my balance and continue fighting my way to the front of the growing crowd.
“Get it down! Get it down!” The chant grows louder.
A fairy type with wings from a morpho butterfly flutters above the crowd, smiling and clapping in rhythm with the chant. I spot a few unadjusteds among the gathering who hang back at the edges, their fearful expressions far different from the glee of the adjusteds, or as I like to call them, the altereds. They think they’re a class above, some perfect version of a human being. But really, they’re just a bunch of mutated DNA.
I push against the stab of sharp wingtips and pointed elbows, trying to find a gap, trying to catch a breath. Anxiety trembles through my limbs and I hesitate, the crowd pinging me in all directions. An agonized wail from the thickest part of the melee gives me the spur I need. With my head down, I barrel my way to the small clearing. I brace myself, already knowing what I’ll find.
“He’s foaming!” someone yells.
The fairy’s hands fly to her mouth and she screams. She kicks at the air, her ponytail bobbing about her shoulders. Two towering bulks in football jerseys laugh at her and slap each other’s backs.
More screams ripple through the gathering. Finally, I break free from the crushing crowd.
My heart drops.
A boy falls to his knees as thick, white foam pours from his mouth. His eyes bulge and his face turns beet red. His hands clutch at his neck as though he can wrestle away the pill’s effects. Just like Diana.
“Someone call an ambulance!” I bark at the immobile group. “Now!” I toss my cell phone to a girl with pixie ears and kneel so my eyes are level with the boy’s. Gripping his shoulders, I force him to look at me.
“You’re not alone,” I say, placing my hands either side of his face. “Please fight. Try. Hold on. The ambulance is coming.” Don’t be another Diana.
I shudder against the memories. The foam and the bulging veins.
It’s happening all over again.
Blood trickles from the boy’s nose, dripping onto his fresh, white T-shirt. He drops sideways, falling from my grip. His head smacks against the cement.
The pixie girl shouts into my cell phone about the blood and the foam and the gurgling and the choking. Just like I did for Diana over two years ago. But I already know it’s too late.
“What did he take?” I ask the now silent kids at the front of the group. “Which nanite pill did he take?”
“Bulk,” the fairy says quietly. She folds her wings into her back as her feet touch the ground, one foot tucked neatly behind the other.
I look toward the dying boy as his body convulses. He took the bulk nanite pill. He wanted to be a football player, big and strong and immortal with rock-hard skin. It’s a level ten nanite. The paperwork involved takes months, not to mention the expense. All for nothing. His body rejected the change. It happens sometimes.
He reaches a hand toward me, and I hold it as he chokes out one final syllable, but I can’t tell what it is through the gurgling blood.
His hand falls limp. His bloody eyes see nothing; not the lone black bird flapping in the bright blue sky nor the crowd of worried students slowly shuffling backwards toward the school.
Marisa Noelle is the writer of middle grade & young adult novels in the genres of science-fiction, fantasy & mental health. The Unadjusteds was released November 2019 and The Mermaid Chronicles – Secrets of the Deep is due out Spring 2020. She is a mentor for the Write Mentor program that helps aspiring MG & YA authors. When she’s not writing or reading or watching movies, she enjoys swimming. In the pool she likes to imagine she could be a mermaid and become part of some of her make-believe words. Despite being an avid bookworm from the time she could hold a book, being an author came as a bit of a surprise to her as she was a bit of a science geek at school. She lives in Woking, UK with her husband and three children.