Wednesday, October 14, 2009

3 Secret Agent

GENRE: Adult Contemporary Fiction

It was a whisperthing, that’s all. An echovirus contaminating the metal and fiberglass tube that I was trapped inside. I glanced around. No one else seemed to hear, so I prayed for the sound to stop. I even stopped breathing. But the thumping of my heartbeat became the betrayer. The whisperthing continued, like a fistful of flesh-eating worms. “Apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, now does it, girl?”

“Not far enough,” I replied, white-knuckling the armrest confining me.

“Two peas in a pod, I swear. You’re just like me and you know it.”

“I’m not doing this with you,” I hissed, tiny bits of spittle tickling the insipid air. “Not here. Not now.”

“Shush. Need I remind you about my first runaway fiasco? It was Pearl Harbor’s eve, doll. I was only twelve. Ah, but you? Sneaking up on thirty-six, slinky bug. Tall number, I’ll say.”

“Get lost,” I snapped, thwacking a plastic tumbler from the asylum of my tray table. But my anger did nothing to quell her. She maundered on, with a brutal epitaph-a-laugh deluxe.

“If I hadn’t had you, I might have done something with my life.”

“Go away,” I cried, glaring at the invisible onslaught. “Freakin’ leave me alone.” Then something touched me. I jerked.

“There, there, madam,” an Asian flight attendant calmly reassured, rearranging reality along with my pillow. “You’re dreaming. You’re talking in your sleep.” Damn it all to hell, I wasn’t sleep-talking. I was wide awake, and she darn well knew it.


  1. Okay, I was confused and had to re-read the passage after I got to the end. I understand that she is on a plane and talking to her mother, but didn't get it at first. I like the dialogue and there's obviously a contentious relationship between them. I'd keep reading to find out what in the world is going on. Good luck!

  2. I found this confusing. It took me a bit to figure out that she's hearing her mother's voice even when she isn't dreaming.

    It is my understanding that starting a story with a dream is trite.

    You do an excellent job outlining the relationship between the MC and her mother!

  3. I happen to like that we don't know for sure what or who is antagonizing the MC in the beginning. It makes it a fun surprise when we discover it's her mother.

    The dialogue is effective in showing their animosity.

    The flight attendant said she was dreaming, but the MC says she was wide awake. So I don't get the impression we are starting in a dream sequence. I am thinking parallel universe or something similar, or even more bizzare. So, I'm cool with that part.

    I would definitely keep reading. Intrigued by the mother-daughter relationship.

  4. Hooked, slightly, by a thread. A little confused. I had to read this a few times to understand what was happening.

    However, I like the tension between mother and daughter and would keep reading a few more pages.

  5. Confused- I really had no idea where she was until the last paragraph. I had images of a strange sci-fi world or nut house running around in my head. Sorry. Not hooked here.

  6. A little confused, thought she was schitzo and in an asylum, but then she's on a plane? Still, she's obviously hearing a voice in her head that might be a medical condition or something paranormal.
    Whatever else, I'm definitely confused enough to read more so that I can understand what's going on - I'm sure everything will shortly be explained.

  7. I was confused, too. I imagined her in an MRI tube until she said there were others around, then I was thinking sci-fi/paranormal, except those genres weren't allowed.

    When the voice came, I thought multiple personalities and then finally learned it was Mom. I also didn't know she was on a plane until you told me.

    The logic itself confused me, too. She brushes off the whisperthing with a 'that's all,' like it's no big deal, but then she gets freaked out by it. You introduce it as a sound, but it's not a sound. It's clearly a voice. And she knows who the voice belongs to, yet you don't mention it. If your MC knows, we should know.

    I didn't get how her heartbeat betrayed her, and 'whispering continued (what) like a fistful of flesh eating worms.' The analogy doesn't work. Maybe try to be more precise with your word choices.

    I liked how you worked in that she's running away, without actually saying it, and I'm wondering where she's running off to, and why. The closing paragraph brought it all together nicely.

  8. Unless the term "whisperthing" becomes an important character in the story, I'd start the first paragraph with the "apple doesn't fall" line and go on from there.

    The rest is good. Hooked.

  9. The voice is fresh, the writing is smooth, yet I was just too confused. I probably would read on, as I enjoyed the writing and trust in the author's skills, but I felt that the author was almost trying to be too mysterious in this opening.

    I'm also not sure how the others figured out the voice belonged to the narrator's mother. I read and re-read and didn't catch that.

  10. For Jessica:

    When she says - If I hadn't had you, I could have done something with my life.

    That's what said Mom to me.

  11. My initial assumption was that this was science fiction, and I'm not sure if that's correct or not. It's quite confusing. I like that, however. There's a strong sense of menace and things going wrong. I definitely want to read more.

  12. I'm sorry to say that I found the opening confusing and thus my interest waned quickly.

  13. I was confused by this passage, but not entirely in a good way. It feels like you're trying too hard to use creative words and to be mysterious about things that don't need mystery. There's a lot of mystery here... the relationship with the mom, why she's running away... that's excellent. So you don't need to be intentionally evasive about the fact that she's on a plane. Calling it a metal and fiberglass tube puts all kinds of crazy images in my head and doesn't allow me to focus on the important parts of what you're saying, because my mind keeps trying to imagine a girl trapped in a tube. Like a test tube or something!

    The dialogue is good, and says a lot about your characters right away. It's also believable and snappy. I like it. Mom's voice especially is so very strong. I can hear her, I feel like I know her already from the way she phrases things. Great job there.

    Some word usages are awkward (besides the fiberglass tube). Words that aren't working for me are:
    "fistful of flesh-eating worms."
    "insipid air."
    "asylum of my tray table."

    They all feel like you're trying too hard. Generally, if the words call attention to themselves and boot the reader out of the story, that's not a good thing. That's what these words did for me.

    I would probably read a bit longer to see what's happening here, but if the over-writing continued, I'd stop fairly soon.

  14. Was at first hooked by the delivery of your descriptions and the dialogue. But I quickly found the descriptions to be a little too distracting and confusing.

    Simplify the opening scene a little bit and I'd be very interested in reading what comes next!

  15. Found this a bit confusing at first, and indeed I’d skipped the line which made it clear its her mother speaking.

    I didn’t understand the whisperthing bit. I was torn between wondering if its a device or a person.

    I loved the “rearranging reality along with my pillow.”

    Overall, though, I’m not hooked, sorry.