Wednesday, January 13, 2010

24 Secret Agent


Airlines should outlaw perfumed passengers, at least the woman bathed in the oppressive scent before she plopped down beside me. Her name was something ridiculous like Candy, or that was the color of her nail polish. She even had the audacity to get the window seat. Then again, sitting on the aisle provided advantages. The largest advantage allowed a fast break to the exit before the plane took off.

“I’m sorry, miss, but you’re going to have to return to your seat.”

I jumped when the flight attendant touched my arm. I spun around and clamored. “I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to be on this flight.”

“When the light is on,” she pointed to red and white lighted letters, “all passengers must remain in their seats.”

My eyes darted from the sign above the curtained doorway. “Just tell the pilot to cancel.”

Her smile was pinched. “I can’t do that.”

“Or hold the plane until I get off.” I avoided looking at my vacant seat. “I don’t even care about my luggage.”

The flight attendant put her hands on her hips and frowned.

I pivoted and fiddled with the door handle. My hands shook. The handle wouldn’t budge. A short puff of air blew at the back of my neck before she grabbed at me again. Within seconds I faced her. Her eyes narrowed on me. She lacked any concern over how I felt in the matter.


  1. I'm wanting to know if this character has some severe anxiety issue, so that I can sympathize with her plight. Instead, I'm sort of on the side of the flight attendant. What the heck is she doing trying to open the door of the plane -- because she doesn't like the woman seated next to her?

    In some places, the writing also threw me off. In the first sentence, should it be "the woman bathed in the oppressive scent beside me"? It reads awkwardly.

    I don't understand the line about whether her name is Candy or it's the color of her nail polish.

    I don't think the word "clamored" works as it's used.

    Overall, I'm not hooked, but I think it could be interesting if we had a stronger sense (or a stronger reason) why she wants off of the plane.

    Good luck!

  2. I had a hard time falling into this piece; felt like it was trying a bit too hard. Also, I assumed early on from the airplane talk that the plane was already in the air; all the talk of trying to get off was jarring. Also, as we are in her POV we should know why she wants to get off and what her motivation is.

  3. I liked the first sentence, but the rest was kind of confusing. I'm guessing the perfume isn't the only reason she wants off so desperately?

  4. I totally agree with the first sentence.

    Then I got a bit lost. I thought she was already sitting down, but then the FA is telling her to sit down.

    This is a tough one given all the regulations since 9/11. I don't think she'd be fiddling with the door handle and I doubt they'd have an issue with kicking her off the plane.

    I would like to know what's going on and I'm not getting that clearly here except she's in a panic and wanting out.

    Good dialog. Pacing is good, too.

  5. I think I would have gotten more into this if the pov had been closer in. Perhaps take your time and show her fidgeting and her thoughts while the woman is talking her to her. What smell is it exactly. Why is the smell oppressive to her?

  6. Why does she want to get off? That's the hook. Right now, it seems she doesn't want to sit next to the perfumed woman (who appears surperfluous at this point)and that seems like a silly reason.

    Is she having premonitions? Is she just afraid to fly? Tell us why and it will be easier to empathize with her. Make me empathize with her and you've won me over.

  7. I was pulled in by the first line, although I thought it should end right after "perfumed passengers." That way the reader can linger over it. The problem I'm having is that I'm not sure what the perfumed passenger has to do with the rest of the story. Is she the reason why the main character wants to get off the plane? It seems the story starts at the end of the first paragraph, but the motivation of the character is unclear.

  8. I was hooked in with the first clause, but then thrown out after the comma. The sentence was too awkward to follow.

    Clamored? Definitely not the right word. It felt like you picked a word out of the thresaurus without checking the meaning in the dictionary.

    I liked how you described the FA. Her smile was pinched. [She] put her hands on her hips and frowned. Good job.

    Now my question, like everyone before me, is why the heck is she so desparate to get off the plane? Was the perfume that bad? ;)

    Ooh, I just noticed the genre. Now I'm really intrigued. I would keep reading further. Obviously her panic attack has something to do with the paranormal element. Cool!

    Good luck with this one!

  9. I was seemed very sudden that the MC wanted to get off the plane. I also don't see an immediate reason for jumping out of his/her seat and begging to be let off the plane. I assume we learn more after page one?

  10. I liked the first paragraph even though there were some awkward word choices.

    I liked the rest of it, too, but when we put them both together, I don't get it. As everyone else has said: why the heck does she want off the plane?

  11. Could be hooked - but not quite yet. I stumbled over the first sentence; although I liked the sentiment, it was too long to really snap. And I agree with Stina about your use of the word clamored.

    Also, I hope something pretty drastic happens in the next few pages, because I'm not sure they'd let a (seemingly) crazy woman on a plane slide these days.