• The Hollywood Reporter on LinkedIn
  • Follow THR on Pinterest
APR
13
2 YEARS

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

“Well done, Petter, Stine, Malene, and Henning.”

The four students who’d signed up smiled at her smugly.

“And Mia, what a nice surprise. Congratulations.”

Mia stiffened completely and said, “I didn’t sign up for anything.”

“Well, according to NASA, you did.” Mia leaned over her desk and said loudly, “Well then, they must have made a mistake! I totally didn’t sign up for that stupid-ass lottery.”

“Calm down, Mia. It’s nothing to be self-conscious about.”

“I’m not embarrassed about it. It’s just not true. And even if it were, NASA shouldn’t be releasing that kind of information to anyone.”

The Hair waved her hand dismissively and winked at her, as if they were both in on some secret. “Evidently it was a condition of the sign‑up procedure that you give NASA permission to reveal your name as a participant in the lottery. But we don’t need to dwell on this. It’s up to each individual to decide if he or she wants to consider doing it or not.”

“What’s your point?” Mia railed, rage welling up inside. “I told you I didn’t sign up for that thing. What the hell would I do in space, anyway? Don’t you think I have better things to do? Screw the moon!”

“We don’t use language like that in my classroom, Mia!”

“No, we don’t talk at all in your classroom. You just go off on hour-long monologues about whatever bullshit you feel like!”

The teacher stood and pointed to the door. “You’re excused from the rest of the class, Mia. I don’t want you here. You can wait out in the hall.”

Mia didn’t protest. She brushed her German book off the edge of her desk so it landed in her backpack, got up, and left. The hallway was empty, and from the surrounding classrooms she could hear snippets of Norwegian, math, and English classes going on. Without thinking, she opened the door to her classroom again and stared straight at the Hair.

“Besides, everyone knows you’ve never been to Germany. Maybe that’s something you should be embarrassed about?” For half a second her teacher’s face became long and sad, as if she’d been sentenced to life in prison for a nasty crime she forgot she’d committed.

Mia heard cheers starting to erupt from the other students before she slammed the door shut and headed down the stairs and out onto the school grounds. She strolled over to the track next to the gym, sat down on the railing, and took out her phone to call her mother. An uncomfortable suspicion had started to take shape in her mind.

Behind her, about thirty students were running around the track. Mia didn’t even need to look to know that this was their crazy PE teacher’s doing. She was almost fifty, had a mustache, and had been teaching there since the dawn of time. She didn’t accept the concept of excuses; even if you were paralyzed from the waist down, she demanded that you perform to Olympic standards. Several of the panting students in the back were obviously pale, a couple of their faces were light green, and it was only a matter of time before they keeled over and vomited.

Mia’s mother answered just as the first stomach emptied its contents onto the track.

“Mia, hi. What is it? Are you at school?”

“Mom, did you sign me up for that trip to the moon thing?”

It was quiet on the other end of the line. Very quiet.

“Mom?”

“I . . . we, your dad and I, we . . . thought you’d regret it. Later. So, well, we, um . . .”

Mia interrupted her harshly. “Did you sign me up?”

There was another pause, but shorter this time. “Yes.”

Mia groaned. “What were you guys thinking?”

“Mia, everyone else your age thinks this is an amazing opportunity. Why —”

“But I’m not everyone else, am I? You have absolutely no respect for the fact that my opinions are different from yours. Why don’t you guys go yourselves if you’re so excited about it? Because that’s what it’s about, right? Since you guys aren’t eligible, you’re signing me up as the next best thing. What do you think, that it’ll make us all rich and famous? Is that it?”

“Mia, I think you’re being unreasonable now.”

“Unreasonable? What’s unreasonable is doing it behind my back.”

“Mia . . .”

But Mia had already hung up. Two students collapsed with a dull thud onto the grass behind her. Seconds later the PE teacher was over them, hauling them up as the vomit ran down their gym clothes.

Gym.

Mia didn’t even like the word. And it didn’t have anything to do with the kind of shape she was in. She could have easily outrun most of the kids on the track. She could swim laps in the pool with her clothes on and retrieve those lame dummies from the bottom or whatever they were being asked to do, without getting tired.

But it was all just a waste of time. Actually, compared to gym, a trip to the moon kind of made sense.