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.

Continue reading

Novel Excerpt: Watch Me Disappear

Diane Vanaskie Mulligan ’01 began writing her first novel, Watch Me Disappear (available at, during an after-school writing club she moderates for high school students. She generously shares the first two chapters of the novel with us here. When Diane isn’t teaching or writing, she’s the managing editor at The Worcester Review and the director of The Betty Curtis Worcester County Young Writers’ Conference. You can also find her occasionally strumming her guitar and singing at various bars in central Massachusetts, where she lives with her husband.


I swear, every time we move to another town and I have to start over at another school, my mother looks at me and thinks, “Maybe this time she’ll make some friends.” She’s a realist. She never advises me to go out there and be myself. Instead she tells me to use this fresh start to reinvent myself, which means to fix whatever is wrong with me. All I want is to be invisible. My plan for senior year at my new school: Get straight A’s and get into a top-tier college. But this move is different from all the others. This time, my dad keeps reminding me, we’re moving home, to the town where he grew up. This isn’t Texas (which is like another planet) or California (which is like another universe). My entire life, this has been the one place we’ve always returned to, but up until now, only for short visits. There’s the park where I learned to ride a bike, the ice cream shop that makes the world’s best mint chocolate chip, the hill behind my grandmother’s house where my brother and I used to go sledding on snowy Christmases. Maybe this time I can let my guard down a little and not just be the quiet new girl. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

Continue reading