#PitchMadness R-10: SATELLITE HEARTS

Genre: YA Science Fiction/Thriller
Word Count: 97,000

Pitch: In Botswana, sixteen-year-old Zahra Mbali is a programmable human with only one hundred and fifty days left until her body explodes. Tampering with her biological technology is risky. One mistake could instantly end her life.

I squeeze myself, carefully, through a crack in the corrugated sheeting that forms the wall of our home. Mama shifts in the lounge and my heart knocks a marimba beat.

I can’t stay. I’m sorry Mama to be another death in the family.

I run four huts down from mine—old, scraggy and made from scrappy sheet iron—along the Old Naledi fence, my hand scraping the diamond wire. The Botswana heat melts into the air, coating my brown skin with a layer of sweat. I strain my eyes to look up as the fence rises, shaking in the breeze, towards the deep crimson sky: the time when the sun begins to bleed.

My fingers vibrate. Text message. I press my wrist to read it; printed on my skin just below my palm is S’beno’s text in white moonlight letters: “How far? I have him.”

“You didn’t hurt him, akere?” I speak into my wrist. Message sent.

S’beno. “Ija, of course not. It was a safe, bloodless kidnap.”

“On the way,” I reply. I brush my braids from my face and hurry off.

Walking to the Stats, our short name for the rank station, is tiresome but I’m not complaining. This is the last time I will see my home. I stare back at the compound of Old Naledi: rusty shacks, unpaved grounds littered with broken glass, fizzy drink cans, plastic bags and trees. My childhood prison.

Not too long, an hour has passed. The night is teeming with unseen enemies, and the encroaching darkness should freak me out, but I’m more nervous about how tonight will end.


Mr. Boddy is on the floor in the kitchen, covered in champagne, a glass broken near his fingers. His tongue is swollen, and the faintest scent of bitter almond is detectable in the air. A handled silver tray rests against his body, a faint ring of condensation at the center.

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