Eleven minutes might as well be eternity under water. It only takes three minutes without air for loss of consciousness. Permanent brain damage begins at four minutes. And then, when the oxygen runs out, full cardiac arrest occurs. Death is possible at five minutes. Probable at seven. Definite at ten. Decker pulled me out at eleven.
In Fracture, by Megan Miranda–which you can begin for a limited time on Figment–Delaney Maxwell is declared legally dead after being underwater for 11 minutes. When she’s revived, she finds herself drawn to certain people . . . who die soon after they meet her. Is Delaney drawn to dying people, or do they die because of her?
As a scientist-turned-writer, Megan Miranda is in the unique position of having all the tools she needs to really research the nitty-gritty medical details of her paranormal piece. You’re probably thinking, “Psht! I research the medical details of MY paranormal pieces!” No. Watching House, M.D doesn’t count. Megan wants to test your ability to incorporate fact into your fiction. Below are four medical phenomena. Pick the one that inspires you, and write a story involving that scenario.
One: A low electrical current will give you a shock. A little higher, and you’ll probably get a painful jolt, but you’ll be okay. Increase that current even more, and your muscles will contract—you may lose the ability to let go of the device that’s shocking you. Increase that current even higher (generally to 100-200 mA), and your heart will be sent into ventricular fibrillation. Without immediate medical attention—an attempt to shock your heart back to normal rhythm—you will die. Or, you should . . .
Two: Normal body temperature is around 98 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures rise to help the immune system fight infection. But body temperatures can increase from other factors, such as heat stroke, as well. How high has your fever gotten? A temperature of 106 degrees is considered a medical emergency. 108 degrees can send someone into a coma. 109 degrees and death is possible. At 111 degrees, it’s just about certain . . .
Three: Carbon monoxide is known as a silent killer: with no color and no odor, it’s hard to detect. Unfortunately, it’s also highly toxic. The early symptoms of exposure—fatigue, headache, nausea—may be ignored. Worse, they can go undetected if the person is asleep. We’ve heard the stories: someone accidentally leaves the car running in a closed garage, or a back-up generator is brought into the house during a power outage. Both can emit a deadly amount of carbon monoxide. Depending on the concentration of carbon monoxide, death can occur within hours or minutes.
Four: Rabies is a fatal disease, typically resulting in death within seven days after the first symptoms. The rabies vaccine is only effective if given before symptoms appear. After the onset of the first symptoms, though, there is little anyone can do . . .
How To Enter:
1. Read the full rules here.
2. Create an account on Figment.com.
3. Start a new writing. Your entry must be 2,000 words or fewer.
4. Tag that writing with fracturecontest on the Details tab.
5. Press “Publish Now.”
6. You should receive a pop-up confirmation of your entry, and in about two hours or so, your piece should appear among the submissions.
The 10 most-hearted entries will become finalists and will be judged by Megan Miranda herself. First place will win a copy of Fracture and an Amazon gift card worth $25. Second place wins a copy of Fracture and a Figment tote bag, and third place gets a copy of Fracture. Fracture for everyone!
You have until January 10 to enter. Voting will run until January 18.