As part of The Writer’s Voice competition, posted below is the plot summary portion of my query letter for Touching Darkness, a YA Mystery, and the first 250 words of the manuscript.
Ally Rodriguez doesn’t daydream about prom, first kisses, or midnight strolls on the beach. When skin contact has the power to immerse you in visions that will eventually strip your sanity and leave you in a world where you can’t tell flashbacks from reality, you don’t dream of being touched at all.
But the burden of Ally’s clairvoyance is eclipsed when detectives make a frightening discovery, the body of a classmate dumped in the orange groves. With no suspects or leads, fear tingles like static in the air, setting students on edge. When Ally is jumped after school, fellow student, Eric Nichols, intervenes and catches a glimpse of one of her visions. Eric is determined to find the truth about what he saw, a mission that brings them closer than Ally imagined possible, and forces her to question everything she thought she knew about her ability, like how and why Eric can see the visions, and why they can sometimes touch without her seeing a vision at all. But when a video of Ally having a flashback lands on the cell phone of Eric’s dad, the lead detective in the murder case, he pieces together the truth and reveals a family secret in order to enlist her help in finding the killer. All she has to do is touch the body.
She risks the touch to save a life and sees the face of the killer. But without an identity, the detective is left with more questions than answers. When a second body is dumped and another girl goes missing, Ally is determined to use her skills to find the murderer, even if it brings her closer to the insanity that will one day steal her mind. The farther she reaches into the lives around her, the closer she gets to the truth, but when one slip brings her face-to-face with the killer, the next life she must save is her own.
She was only seventeen. I stared at the empty seat two rows over trying to picture what she’d been wearing the last time I’d seen her. Mr. Stanley droned on about plant matter, but I doubted anyone was listening. In fact the class was unusually quiet, as though the weight of that empty chair pressed in on each of us, stopping our ears, sealing our lips, wrapping us in a cocoon of solidarity, if only for the next forty minutes.
The news had hit school just after second period. We’d spent half of third watching the local broadcast. The reporter’s voice played in a constant loop in my mind.
Early this morning, workers at Victoria Citrus discovered the body of a teenage girl who is believed to be Crystal Massey. The seventeen-year-old student from Mission High School was reported missing two weeks ago. Riverview Police are waiting on confirmation from the Coroner’s Office before they release any further details. For now, all we know is that a young girl’s life has come to a violent and tragic end.
Grief counselors were stationed in the gymnasium; any student who asked was given a pass to leave class and meet with them. Only a handful had gone from Mr. Stanley’s despite having shared a class with Crystal all year, and based on the ones who were missing it was probably more about ditching than grieving.