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Forty Days

The Ant Challenge— an online suicide game encouraging Bulgarian teens to complete a month of random tasks before jumping from a building— is just an urban legend picked up by the tabloids and exploited by far-right nationalists. At least that’s what sixteen-year-old Mira thinks until her best friend, Desi, plunges from the top of an old soviet block apartment. Desi left the game’s hashtags on her social media account before she jumped, and now everyone in their small town assumes Mira knew Desi was playing or is also playing. No one wants to talk to Mira except Desi’s secret ex-boyfriend and a quirky ninth-grade girl who’s obsessed with the Ant Challenge. The Orthodox Church won’t even perform Desi’s funeral rites, since she committed suicide. According to their beliefs, if the priests do not petition for Desi’s soul before the forty days of mourning are over, Desi’s soul will be locked out of heaven forever. But Mira isn’t so sure Desi’s death was actually a suicide. If Desi was brainwashed into killing herself, does it still count as suicide? Looking for answers, Mira stumbles on a phone Desi left behind. The phone connects Mira directly to the Admin who walked Desi through the Ant Challenge. Desi’s last request was for Mira to play the game and join her in death. While Mira starts playing to understand how her best friend could get involved with something so sinister and prove Desi was murdered, the game quickly gets out of hand. The thrill of completing each task lessens the sting of Mira’s loss, and knowing that Desi went through the challenge makes Mira feel connected to her wandering spirit. But if Mira doesn’t find a way to extract herself from the Ant Challenge, she may find herself falling from the same building as Desi.
The police don’t handle suicides. They handle murders. But isn’t that what the Ant Challenge really is? Some faceless person gets into your mind and forces you to do the dirty work for them. Their hand never touches you, but it’s still murder.

Current Status: Restructuring and Rewriting