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3 YEARS

First Look at New YA Sci-Fi Horror Novel '172 Hours on The Moon' (Exclusive)

Mia continued on to the third floor and walked into the classroom. The teacher wasn’t there yet, so she skimmed through her German book to figure out what in the world she was supposed to have read the night before.

The Hair came sailing into the classroom with an inflatable beach ball shaped like a model of the moon in her hands. Mia rolled her eyes. Oh my God, not her, too.

But, yes, the Hair — this tiny lady with the freakishly big hair — had caught moon fever. She disappeared behind her desk and started blabbering on in German about how exciting the whole thing was and how great it would be if one of her students ended up being selected.

Mia rolled her eyes again. It was a known fact that the Hair had been at this school too long. She only taught German and home ec. And then there was her big secret, which everyone knew but which she thought was well kept: The Hair had never been to Germany. She had only ever left Norway once, to go to Sweden. And that was back in the summer of 1986 or thereabouts, and she had come home again after four days.

But maybe the fact that she was now standing in front of them with that inflatable moon under her arm wasn’t as strange as one might think. The whole world had come completely unhinged this winter. The newspapers, the radio, the TV, and the Internet were flooded with moon mania every day, from trivia and data spouted by experts and professors and astronomers to competitions where you could win all sorts of stuff just by answering a few simple questions about space travel. Meanwhile, millions of teenagers were busy logging on or standing in long lines at registration desks in malls or grocery stores in just about every single town in the whole world to make sure that their names had been entered.

For safety reasons, NASA had decided that the three young people who would be chosen to go must be at least fourteen and that they couldn’t be older than eighteen. They would also need to be between five feet four inches and six feet four inches tall, undergo a psychological examination performed by a certified practitioner in their hometown, and pass a general physical examination in order to obtain a medical “green card.” All applicants should have a near and distant visual acuity correctable to 20/20 and a blood pressure, while sitting, of no more than 140 over 90. And then there were all the tests and training they would be put through in the unlikely event that they were among the selected few.

While these requirements restricted the number of candidates somewhat, millions of names had been submitted for the big drawing, and as the days and weeks went by, people were close to bursting with excitement. Gamblers put money on which countries the lucky three would come from and on whether the winners would include more boys or girls. Talk show hosts invited experts to speculate about nonsense like the effect of seeing Earth from space on people so young. And then there were the debates that were as numerous as they were endless about this moon base that no one had ever heard mention of before now.

What was it? Why was it there? What did it do? Could people really trust that it had been built with peaceful intentions?

The Hair reached the end of her speech and switched into broken Norwegian, which often happened whenever she spoke German for too long. “But listen to this. Someone representing NASA — yes, the NASA — called our school to check in with our students about signing up for the lottery. As I’m sure you’ve heard, any school with one hundred percent participation by their eligible students will be entered in a sweepstakes for a grant for technology upgrades. The representative from NASA said that a whopping ninety-one from your grade have already signed up and asked us to encourage the rest of you to do so as well. But only five of you from my German class have taken advantage of this incredible opportunity.”

No one said anything.