Techno-Thriller: Death on a Thin Horse

Candice M Hughes ’86 shares an excerpt of her debut techno-thriller Death on a Thin Horse (2012, Harcan Court Publishing).  The author of a wide variety of creative and nonfiction works, she is also an accomplished poet and essayist. Candice is published in The Allegheny Review, The Lyon Review, and Pegasus (as the Mount Holyoke literary journal was previously titled) among others. She is a recipient of the Ida F. Snell Poetry Prize and a Pen Works Honorable Mention for Creative Nonfiction. Candice is also biotech consultant and professional medical writer. She holds a PhD in Anatomy and Neurobiology and an MBA in general business management with a focus on strategy and innovation, and in this capacity is the author of the Small Business Rocket Fuel series. Her current passion is technology commercialization..


Raleigh, North Carolina, 2040

Meara Flannagan reached out to touch what was now hers. Under her fingertips, the thin golden strands of the Gates Heli, encircling each other like embracing arms, were ice-cold. Light-headed, the murmur of the crowd passed through the stage curtain and washed over her. Other scientists would do anything to own this statuette. Some would even kill. To get it, she had killed only herself. With every midnight DNA sequencing run and every 3:00 AM cell feeding, she’d clawed her way to becoming the bio-innovator “It” girl. She deserved her place on this stage. No one was going to take this away from her.

Every scientist on the planet dreamed of winning this award. She ran her fingertip over the letters of her name as the announcer in front of the curtain read them off, “Meara Flannagan, LifeCorp, 2040”. Meara caressed the length of the golden strands. She poured out her blood and soul to buy bits of knowledge that would cure people she couldn’t name. Her team had been there supporting her. But, she was the one who’d paid the price. She wouldn’t ask anyone else to make the sacrifices she had. Not to give up everything and everyone. To stand here alone.

he thud of a door closing in the small room backstage disrupted her reverie. Meara’s hand clamped tighter around the statuette. In the dim light, the pale face of her colleague, Vadim Ivanovitch glowed. He moved forward soundlessly, like a panther stalking. Meara stood her ground arms loose at her sides.

He was so close she could smell his sweat mixed with a sharp chemical odor.

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