Word Count: 52,000
Pitch: Three foster kids are about to be homeless. Their last chance to avoid the streets: build a killer robot and win ROBOT SMACKDOWN’s $10M prize. FREAK THE MIGHTY meets REAL STEEL.
My ponytail clung to my neck like a wet towel and my muscles burned like fire, but I couldn’t afford to rest. I had to beat this go-kart frame into submission, and quick.
Smashing my hammer into a steel tube stupid enough to defy me, I winced as vibrations tore up my arm. But I pushed aside the pain and threw right hooks, punishing the struts for their disobedience.
Five. Ten. Twenty body blows later, I dropped into a dizzy crouch, panting in the garage’s stifling heat. Sweat cascaded off my bangs, plinking into the cement, and I flicked the matted red hair out of my eyes. I studied the frame under the buzzing fluorescent lights. It wasn’t pretty—rusty metal, scavenged wheels, and two dozen bolts holding everything together—but it would do.
I checked the wall clock, biting my lip. Only 30 more minutes before our buyer was supposed to arrive. Where the heck was Walker? If my brother didn’t get here with an engine, we’d lose tonight’s sale.
And we needed this one.
I rubbed the oil blotch staining the floor, a bittersweet reminder of the days when Dad still had his junker car. Still had his job at the boxing gym. Still could pay the bills without us secretly helping out.
I wiped grease onto the go-kart’s seat, hoping to smear in some good luck.
A rattle sounded outside the garage door. I froze, listening to the approaching creaks.
“Rose,” whispered a high-pitched voice. “Lemme in.”
CLUE: Mr. Boddy is found in the kitchen, slumped over the center island, the back of his head bleeding from being struck. Nothing is out of place save a toppled plate of homemade cinnamon rolls, a puddle on the floor nearby.