Title: THE SPIES OF DOG STREET
Category/Genre: MG Historical/Time Travel
Word count: 58,000
My main character is most uncomfortable with:
Brian here. I’m twelve, exhausted, cold and – if you can believe this, because I don’t – stuck with my older sister in colonial Virginia. We can’t find the tunnel that brought us here, so we’re spending the night outside. Under hay, in a wagon on market square. It had better not snow. That’s one blanket I don’t need. Tomorrow I’ll use every tracking skill I have to find that tunnel, but even I can’t see what snow has hidden.
A routine spring break goes awry for twelve-year-old Brian and his sister Jessie when they have to flee from a knife-wielding neighbor through a tunnel they didn’t know existed. They surface in a town that looks much like their own, but definitely isn’t. It’s April 20, 1775, the day a tense tug-of-war between Williamsburg’s patriots and the British governor of Virginia crackles into open conflict – and the tunnel home is nowhere to be found.
Brian and Jessie have two priorities – finding a way back to the present, and not changing the past while they’re in it. Unfortunately for them, survival means helping the patriots rebel against British rule, not laying low. As the colony slides toward revolution, Brian joins a boys’ fighting company and his sister finds work with a smuggling shopkeeper.
Brian has tasted trouble before for spying on his schoolmates, but his games take a perilous turn when he and Jessie begin tailing the governor’s own informant. It only gets worse when Brian befriends a runaway slave in the woods, and his attempt to help gets them blackmailed. Now he faces an impossible choice. Do nothing and risk the slave’s capture, or ask the runaway’s family to deliver a message to the governor that could change history – and jeopardize their chances of getting home.
First 250 Words:
The woods. That was where Brian knew he should be, tracking animals that didn’t care what he was doing. Especially after today. He stomped downstairs and out the back door.
“Brian, wait.” His grandmother was on the porch, brushing house renovation dust off her clothes. “Stay out of the woods, will you? Kids were spraying graffiti around Williamsburg not long ago. I don’t want anyone calling the cops because they see you skulking around.”
“It’s not skulking,” Brian mumbled. “It’s spying.” There was no way he was sticking around the house for his entire spring break.
“I said fine, okay.”
Brian waited until Granny Jules went inside before crossing the backyard. Making sure she wasn’t looking – and that his tattletale older sister wasn’t either – he followed a barely noticeable path between the trees. Not far in, a twig snapped. He froze and turned his head. It was the strange sand-colored dog he’d seen sniffing around his grandparents’ house earlier, just after his parents dropped him and Jessie off.
The dog padded further into the woods. Brian followed it, staying back, staying quiet. After a few minutes, a row of single-family houses came into sight. Behind one with faded yellow siding, the dog sat down and gave itself a good scratch. Brian smiled and relaxed. Tracking it had been easy.
Then, with a bang, the back door opened. Brian dropped down on all fours and scrambled away. He’d be dead if he was caught trespassing.