Wednesday, February 11, 2009

32 Secret Agent


I remember the first time I met Kumari. I recall, most vividly, that she smelled of gunmetal, blood and death.

I hated her.



Kumari screamed the words over the howl of the battered engine. It revved as Bastion punched the gas pedal, pebbles spraying the side of the jeep in peppered graffiti. Driven by the wind, coarse bits of the world clawed her face and scratched the surface of her smoke-glass shades. She tugged the bandana across her nose and lips.

"I said harder, Bastion." Her voice barely broke the wind. The driver twisted his neck only an inch to the left, an affirmation that he indeed heard her over the grinding engine. The jeep jumped in speed again, spewing more of the broken earth into the sky.

She stepped down from behind the seats, striding easily through the back of the bed. Bending low, she scooped the collar from her feet, turning the seven foot pole around in her grip. She checked the prongs at the tip of the weapon, satisfied that the horseshoe was intact and strong. Only a fool, or an inexperienced wrangler, would jump the bed with a broken collar.


The jeep veered hard to the side, tires skidding and jumping over the roadless plain. She caught herself with a hard foot to the wheel well, the collar keeping her upright as it rammed against the crossover bars above her head. Despite the murky air, Kumari saw her quarry, clear against the horizon.


  1. Hmm, a bunch of typos and uneven writing. I was distracted by the over description of her every action. I wouldn't continue. But this is just my personal taste.

  2. I liked the italicized opening, but the rest sort of confused me. I didn't understand what the collar was doing at her feet, what the horseshoe was doing on the weapon, or what "jump the bed with a broken collar" refers to. So, consider me your ignorant reader who you have to write down to, and explain these things.

    It sounds like a tense scene, I just need a better picture of it if I'm going to read on.

  3. I liked the opening line but found the rest too confusing to hook me.

  4. Oooh, I liked it. Some kind of hunt? Is it on Earth or on another planet? I was intrigued and wanted to find out more -- I would probably read on. I do love sf, so I'm an easy sell on anything like this, which seems to promise interesting world-building.

    A few nits. Who is the PoV. Is it first-person, someone other than Kumari? The opening quote seems to indicate that, but without it, I would think Kumari herself was the PoV, third person.

    If I read the book jacket, would it tell me if this is off-world, or what? That would have been nice to know, but sometimes it just doesn't come up in the first 250 words.

  5. I love your two italicized opening sentences, but I'm thoroughly confused by the rest (and I'm a sci-fi/spec fan).

    There's plenty of fast-paced action, but from the point Kumari stepped into the back of the vehicle to the end, I was completely lost. This appears to be a hunt of some kind, but the weapon, the collar, the horseshoe seem to be world-specific, and without explanation so early on, they just sort of dissolved into a maelstrom of confusion for me. I could picture Kumari on the second reading, but I have no clue what she's handling. (If "collar" and "horseshoe" have the same meanings in your world as they do in ours, I'm REALLY lost.)

    I get the sense you can make this work, though, and it may well be that things are explained very soon after these few grafs. :-)

  6. I'm a little confused too. I'm not quite sure whats going on at all.

    I can seee that it will be great with a bit more clarity.

  7. Love the title, love the italicized lines. I'm assuming that Kumari is the POV after the italics - and she sounds gunmetal-y! But you lost me as you described her getting ready to wrangle something. With more clarity I would read this - it was close. (And I don't read Spec/SF).

    Good luck.

  8. I also liked the beginning lines, but felt the Jeep part went on a big too long and my attention drifted. Also, the POV could be stronger throughout, IMHO.

  9. I'm also confused, especially the part about the collar. I wouldn't read further, but that's only because it's not the kind of thing that interests me.

  10. I'm sorry, but count me as one who is also totally confused here.

    The opening lines foreshadow something, but then I'm completely lost as to what/who/where the following paragraphs have to do with it. Is it Bastion who is saying the first few lines? A third character?

    Also, I agree with the other comments on the collar, horseshoe and 'jump the bed'.

    But the biggest problem I have is, I have no idea where Kumari is. Is she in the jeep? In the bed of a trailer being pulled behind? She steps down from behind the seats, into the back of the bed, but is it the bed of the jeep? And if so, how can she stride easily when the jeep sounds, at least to me, like it's careening pell-mell over rugged, broken terrain that is so uneven, the driver is having a hard time keeping it together.

    Too many things didn't jive here. I understand the genre is spec/SciFi, however, some things remain constant so, unless your Kumari had special powers that allowed her to float (in which case, she wouldn't stride) over the truck bed, I still expect some laws of physics to apply.

    Too much to get through to hook me. Sorry.

  11. Hooked. The main thing I would ask for is a description of her query -- since this is specfic, I presume she's not going for a rhino. :)

    Also, I wouldn't mind getting a slight hint as to where the narrator is as he/she sits and watches all this. In the bed? Up in front? In another jeep nearby?

  12. I think it's close to unanimous. Great beginning and then we're pretty confused. What is the collar? I'm not seeing what she's holding on to, which is pretty important.

  13. great opening, then I was confused. If it were cleared up a little, I think I'd like it.
    would love to see it edited.

  14. With this one, I had a hard time visualizing the scene. I certainly get that it is desert-like with lots of wind but not the size of the jeep. Also, the collar. What is it? It's a seven foot pole? So this is a long jeep? What is it they are hunting?

    This also opens with a first person narrative and then I'm waiting to figure out who that is in the scene and I don't get it.

    I might read a few pages more because I'm always on the look out for SF and it's hard to find good stuff.

  15. I'm going to say "ditto" - I at first thought that wrangling meant something that I'm not familiar with, but other readers seem confused too. It seems like a good set-up but I'd need clarification.