Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October Secret Agent #50

TITLE: Girl Under Glass
GENRE: Sci-fi Romance

Behind me, the dogs rumbled. I glanced to where both sat beside the fireplace with their heads lifted and ears pricked. “Jack, Audie, hush. It’s probably just a deer.” Turning back to the stove, I plucked the scalpel from the boiling water with tongs, placed it in the sterile box then blinked steam from my eyes as I chased the needle around the pot. “Dang. C’mon.”

Then the dogs lunged at the door, and I abandoned the task.

Pearl sat straight and stiff at the table, her doll’s clothes forgotten. Wide-eyed and watching me, my daughter knew better than to make a sound as Jack and Audie growled and paced between her and the door.

I wiped my hands on a towel then took the shotgun from the wall mount in the kitchen. I crossed to the door, pulled up the peephole rag, and scanned the yard. The grey downpour didn’t help, but movement just inside our gate directed my attention.

A man stood in our yard, a dark man.

“Christ. There’s a Stranger inside the gate. Stay here. Stay quiet.”

Pearl nodded then scrambled into the kitchen and retrieved the scalpel.

I chambered a round and said, “Heel, dogs,” as I opened the door. They flanked me, all hackles and teeth and threats, as I crossed the porch and strode through the rain and mud, the shotgun up and wedged against my shoulder.

He wore the grey-and-green fatigues of an Ohnenrai field tech.

“Don’t you move.”

20 comments:

Anna said...

I'm interested. Such a contrast between the shotgun and the scalpel (I'm curious). I wished the pacing had the same urgency I expected to feel knowing that someone was outside and your mc knew to grab her gun first.

Yttar said...

I didn't really think the "Dang. c'mon." was needed. Other than that, I really liked this. I definitely got a sense of what this character was feeling. I'd read on to see what was happening, because you know something's gonna, and to see what's up with the Stranger.

Jessica May Lin said...

I'm totally hooked! I'm curious as to what the scalpel and needle are for, but at the same time I'm totally drawn into the suspense of the mysterious stranger.

I would read on without question.

GSMarlene said...

I liked this and would read more. definitely want to understand the scalpel.

Only nits - I wouldn't capitalize Stranger and the image of Pearl scrambling to the kitchen where there is a pot of boiling water, scapels and needles sounds like an accident waiting to happen.

Good luck!

Karen Akins said...

I'm hooked. I like the contrast between the prairie cabin feel and then the "Ohnerai field tech."

My one quibble is that for someone who lives in a place where she has to keep a shotgun at the ready and whose dogs are lunging at the door, she's awfully calm about it. Maybe a little more interiority regarding how she feels about a Stranger in the gate.

Great job, though!

Tere Kirkland said...

I'm intrigued by the situation, but the writing doesn't feel tense enough to me. It's a little too direct, so much that it strips the narrative of emotion.

"Turning back to the stove..." is a really long sentence, too, which distracts from the tension you build with the dogs.

There are some vivid passages (all hackles and teeth and threats), but the rest is more than just plain. It doesn't flow smoothly from one sentence to the next. It sounds like you've got quite a story here, you just need to work on how you're telling it.

I'd read on.

resume service said...

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Ruth said...

I love it. I'd read on.

TKAstle said...

Hooked!

I agree with previous comments about capitalizing Stranger and Pearl scrambling to the kitchen. Her scrambling made me nervous, but maybe it was supposed to. :)

I have so many questions - all the right kinds.

jdspero said...

Nice! I would read on. I really like the title too.

Maybe be more specific about the position of the man in the yard - like is he staring at her, the house, or trying to find food...?

Carolyn said...

I wasn't thrilled with this, although it has potential. Not enough emotion and some rough sentences, e.g., rumbled? I think of cars as rumbling, dogs, maybe barking or woofing. I glanced to where both sat...wouldn't the dogs jump to their feet if they're barking or rumbling? sitting, I don't think so. Also, The dogs jumped to their feet...or something like that to show action.

And I'd continue like that, tightening the story.

Good luck with revisions!

Carolyn
Behind me, the dogs rumbled. I glanced to where both sat beside the fireplace with their heads lifted and ears pricked. “Jack, Audie, hush. It’s probably just a deer.” Turning back to the stove, I plucked the scalpel from the boiling water with tongs, placed it in the sterile box then blinked steam from my eyes as I chased the needle around the pot. “Dang. C’mon.”

Then the dogs lunged at the door, and I abandoned the task.

Pearl sat straight and stiff at the table, her doll’s clothes forgotten. Wide-eyed and watching me, my daughter knew better than to make a sound as Jack and Audie growled and paced between her and the door.

I wiped my hands on a towel then took the shotgun from the wall mount in the kitchen. I crossed to the door, pulled up the peephole rag, and scanned the yard. The grey downpour didn’t help, but movement just inside our gate directed my attention.

A man stood in our yard, a dark man.

“Christ. There’s a Stranger inside the gate. Stay here. Stay quiet.”

Pearl nodded then scrambled into the kitchen and retrieved the scalpel.

I chambered a round and said, “Heel, dogs,” as I opened the door. They flanked me, all hackles and teeth and threats, as I crossed the porch and strode through the rain and mud, the shotgun up and wedged against my shoulder.

He wore the grey-and-green fatigues of an Ohnenrai field tech.

“Don’t you move.”

Anonymous said...

I actually liked the narrator's terse calmness, as if she and the kid have seen action before and know they can handle it. In tense situations, how many people really have long, involved internal monologues?

It's a refreshing change from hand-wringing doormat characters, or the standard UF female protag who uses bluster and inappropriate force to hide her issues.

I'd certainly read more.

lulean said...

Like this a lot and I don't generally like this genre! So that's a big plus.

For me, the "stay quiet" and then a "scramble" don't go together. If she's agreed to stay quiet, maybe use some other word to describe her movement - to me, scramble seems ... noisy. But that's a very small nit pick. :)

T.L Tyson said...

RUmbled threw me. I thought growled. Better. I glanced to where both sat...awkward, I glanced over to where they sat...I glanced to where they both sat...

I'd set the speech outside the first paragraph.

Monica Enderle Pierce said...

Many thanks to everyone who commented. I very much appreciate the time you guys took to read and give thoughtful feedback!

Miss Aspirant said...

This was really a great read -- I would definitely read on based on the first 250 so congrats! My only quibble was the dogs "rumbling" which makes me think of fighting rather than growling. I also stumbled a bit on the line introducing Pearl for I thought at first she was a doll. But great job hooking me!

Mary Trimble said...

Great opening, really enjoyed it. Two things threw me off: 1) the capitalization of Stranger (why)...also I guess because it came after "Christ" so I wondered if it had symbolic intent; and 2) Pearl (the reference to doll's clothes...do you need them?)...I like that the girl is there and her mother is so absorbed that she's practically ignoring her...I like the mystery. Hooked!

Barbara said...

I liked the mystery you set up with the stranger and the scalpel. (Who is he and what's the scalpel for?) I also liked the juxtaposition of the scalpel and the gun. (Healing and killing.)

What was missing for me was emotion. The MC comes across as almost robotic. The dogs lunge at the door, her daughter sits up wide eyed, and the MC 'abandons her task.' Is she scared? Startled? Worried? Confident she'll blow away whoever is out there? Perhaps let her have some emotional reaction to what is happening, to make her more human.

It's an interesting situation and I'd give it a few more pages, but I would be looking for that emotion. That's what would hook me.

Jonathan 3d said...

I liked this a lot. The word choice of "rumbled" threw me a little. Also, I'd like to know what the place smells like, but otherwise, I'd keep reading, for sure.

Secret Agent said...

I don’t think in any book ever the phrase “it’s probably just” has followed with that being the case. But aside from that, I actually quite like this opening. Enough intriguing details (the scalpel and the shotgun) without bogging things down. I feel like I have a good sense of the world and the main character, and I want to read more about them. Plus killer title.