Thursday, 18 July 2013

#14 DUPLICITY (YA cyberthriller)

In private, seventeen-year-old Brandon hacks bank accounts for thousands of dollars just for the hell of it. In public, he looks like any other tattooed bad boy with a fast car and devil-may-care attitude. He should know: he’s worked hard to maintain that fa├žade. With inattentive parents who move cities every couple of years, he’s learned not to get tangled up in things like friends and relationships. So he’ll just keep on living like a machine, all gears and wires.

Then two things come along to shatter his carefully-built image: Emma, the kind, preppy girl who insists on looking beneath the surface – and the small matter of a mirror reflection that starts moving by itself. Not only does Brandon’s reflection have a mind of its own, but it seems to be grooming him for something – washing the dye from his hair, yanking out his piercings, swapping his black shirts for … pastels. Then it tells him: it thinks it can live his life better, and it’s preparing to trade places.

And when it pulls Brandon through the looking-glass, not only will he need all his ill-gotten hacking skills to escape, but he’s going to have to face some hard truths about who he’s become. Otherwise he’s going to be stuck in a digital hell until he’s old and grey, and Emma and his parents won't even know he's gone.

First 500:

Whoever’s pulling this prank on me is going to regret it.

Okay, so maybe what I’m trying to do is slightly illegal. Felony illegal. That’s no reason for my laptop to grow a conscience. After dozens of jobs together, now every time I type “zoomfish,” the codename for my latest homemade hacking bot, the thing types back an insult. It’s supposed to run the bot and fill my thumb drive with five hundred fresh account numbers from, whose fledgling security system is about to get a nasty reality check. Instead there’s GET SOME SUNSHINE, LOSER and ONLY COWARDS STEAL FROM THOSE WHO CAN’T FIGHT BACK all over my screen.

It’s extremely annoying.

I’m not worried Bank Pueblo’s added extra security the last three weeks while I’ve been … distracted … because if they had, the bot would at least attempt to run, then tell me it failed. Someone jacked into my computer. Someone hacked me. And whenever I type the name of the bot, it’s taking me for a loop.

Scowling, I type “zoomfis” and pause with one finger over the H key and my pinkie over the Enter. Then I hit both as fast as I can, but somehow, somehow in that millisecond between H and Enter, “zoomfish” changes to PLAY A SPORT IF YOU WANT EXERCISE and I slam my fist on the desk.

When I find who did this, when I find who’s standing between me and the hundred grand I can get selling these accounts—

My computer starts typing.


I clench the desk and look at the keyboard. Not that there’s anything to see, because if there’s a virus hacking my machine, it doesn’t need the keyboard to type. Which gets me wondering what else it’s doing while it’s distracting me with this stupid insult script. If it got past my government-level antivirus, it could have access to everything. My hacking bots. My password for the hacker forums. The list of sites I’m planning to hit after I clean out Bank Pueblo.

I’m just now realizing how screwed I might be.

I’ll reboot. I’ll clear out the virus and wipe everything if I have to. I hit the shortcut keys to restart, but it types at me again, the letters blinding white against the black screen.


My blood changes direction. I grip the desk so hard my fingers sting, but I can’t let go, can’t stop shaking my head no no no no because it can’t know about that. It can’t. That happened fifteen minutes ago, maybe twenty, and it would take longer than that to hack through the firewalls on my computer. Which means this is more than a virus someone uploaded and forgot about.

Someone has a live feed to my room.

I eye the camera lens on my laptop and jerk open the desk drawer to find something to cover it.



  1. Hi! I'm intrigued and would love to read further! Could you send the complete ms in a word document to lcarson at friedrichagency dot com? I'd also love some more information about you, and maybe a refresher on the description.

  2. I'd love to see the first fifty pages and a synopsis! Thanks!

  3. I'd love to read the full manuscript! Could you please send the ms, and the query letter, to me directly at adriann [at] Thank you!

  4. This opening is compelling! I would love to read the first 50 pages and your query letter; if you can send those to me at mverma at, that would be terrific. Look forward to reading!

  5. Brianne Johnson18 July 2013 at 21:08

    I would love to take a look at the first fifty pages. Please send to bjohnson at writershouse dot com, and thanks very much!

  6. I’d love to see more. Please feel free to send me the query, a short bio, and the first 50 pages at Please write “requested” and “Xmas in July” in the subject line. Thanks!

  7. I would love to see more! Can you send the complete manuscript and query to me at

  8. Creeeeepy! I would love to read this!

  9. i'm always afraid my computer will start talking back to me. very scary.


Please prove you are a robot. I'll be disappointed if you aren't.