Wednesday, July 28, 2010

First 750 #3

TITLE: The Collected
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

Through the glass of Emma's bottle, the tiny basement room appeared curved and distorted. The door crashed open and the Collector limped over the threshold. He dragged his left leg behind him, smearing blood across the floor with his foot. Emma's heart sank. He needed her talent again.

The Collector staggered toward her. Glass bottles of various shapes and sizes occupied the shelves of the curio cabinet where she waited. Spotlights illuminated the carefully placed bottles, casting colorful shadows. Emma prayed he'd pass her by, but it was a wasted prayer. She knew what he needed, and none of the others could give it. His eyes scanned over them all, but stopped on her.

His fingers trembled as he grasped Emma's bottle and loosened the lid. He left the cap on until he brought it to his lips, and in one fluid motion he removed the lid and inhaled, drawing Emma into his body.

A wave of his pain smacked into her and she gasped. She could feel the heat from his left leg as it throbbed with each beat of his heart. He squeezed his eyes closed blocking Emma's vision of the small room. When he opened them again the room tilted and he plopped down on the only chair.

Fix it Emma heard his thoughts as if he were speaking out loud. And no funny business. If I have to force you this time, I'll make you remember George for me. Do you want that?

He placed one image in her mind, but it was enough: George. Beautiful George frozen with his hand pulled back and balled in a fist. A snarl of fury mixed with fear distorted his features.

Emma's stomach flipped and the Collector chuckled. George's haunting image faded from her thoughts as the Collector struggled to control his nausea.

No, she didn't want to remember George for him. It was bad enough when he made her watch his memories of that day, but far worse when he forced her to relive her own. She would do what he needed, without a fight.

She scanned his body. A silver-dollar sized bruise marred his right palm and a clean gash extended from below his left knee, down and across to inches above his ankle. Blood oozed from the wound and saturated his left pant leg, sock and shoe.

Emma focused on the crescent bruise on his hand. It was easy to fix. It itched as the few broken capillaries healed and the small amount of blood was absorbed. Task completed, she moved onto the more difficult leg. She braced herself for the pain she would feel when she repaired this more serious wound.

A pulsating ache radiated from his bone as she mended it and tears welled in his eyes. The pain was as sharp and hot as a flame sterilized knife. The skin surrounding the wound prickled as it melded together and smoothed.

She examined the finished product through his eyes and smiled to herself. She still had it. The calf looked perfect. Not even scar tissue remained. It was as if there had never been a wide slash across his calf at all.

The Collector stood. The room spun around and he collapsed back into the chair, nauseated. He had lost too much blood.

Do you want me to fix this, or not? Emma said.

"Fix it," he growled.

Then sit still and let me.

Every bone in his body throbbed as she stimulated the marrow to make more red blood cells. This was the worst part. The Collector gasped and hissed in pain. Emma smirked.

Her chore complete, his shoulders slouched with her exhaustion. She longed for him to release his hold on her, exhale and return her to her glass cell.

He had other things in mind. He always did.

Just let me go. I've done what you've asked.

"Don't you want to see how I got her?" he said.


"You're no fun."

Her vision hazed around the edges, as if she were gazing through the bottom of a glass. The kaleidoscope of blurred color blinked away and was replaced by the image of a city street at sunset. Her head turned and she realized she was sitting on a bench looking out of the Collector's eyes. A newspaper sat on the bench beside her and she noted the date with sadness.


  1. Urban fantasy is my genre and I love a good tale. That said this definitely hooked me.

    Places to fix are small.

    “…He needed her talent again…” You can lose this line. Make the reader work a little bit. They’ll figure it out. Try not to explain too much.

    “…The kaleidoscope of blurred color blinked away and was replaced by the image of a city street at sunset…”

    Re-write to avoid the passive phrase, ‘was replaced’. “…blurred color blinked away, replaced by the image of a city…”

    Loved the voice. You got into the action immediately. Good confrontation. The insertion of back-story was great. It left me wanting more.

    Good job!

  2. I liked this. It's not something I've ever seen done before, and it left me with all kinds of questions. How did she get trapped in the bottle. Why can't she escape? Who is the Collector? I have lots of reasons to read on.

    I did think you went through it too fast. I would have liked more details. I didn't know she was in the bottle until parg 3. I thought she was holding the bottle up to her face and looking through the glass.

    Perhaps make that clear in the first sentence? You could say - From inside her bottle, the tiny . . . You might also give us a line or two that lets us know there are other people/souls - whatever - in the other bottles. In other words, set the scene a bit more before Collector bursts through the door.

    When the Collector comes in, you might describe him a bit, as well as his wounds, to help us 'see' him.

    You could also build on the healing process a bit more. Maybe get more into what she's actually doing (show it) or show the wounds healing. It doesn't feel complete as is. And perhaps use something other than a silver dollar to describe the size of the hole. Whatever you use for a comparison should be something that exists in Emma's world.

    Intriguing! I wished I could have read more. Good luck!

  3. Oh, I am definitely hooked. For me, the title and the first line immediately clued me in to the idea that she's actually inside of a bottle. So creepy! I want to know who the Collector is, why Emma is trapped like this, and what exactly the nature of her powers is.

    The writing is strong. I like the descriptions of the healing process, very vivid. Nothing stands out as particularly problematic, though there is perhaps some unneeded repetition, such as "He needed her talent" being so closely followed by "She knew what he needed." Little things like that, just a bit of polishing.

    Good luck!

  4. I don't have much to say. I love this. Love.

  5. Like the others, I love this too! Such a different prospective! At first I though she was a child looking through the bottles so when he "drank/inhaled" her, it really surprised me in the best possible way. I'm filled with so many questions!

    I agree with Barbara, please show more of the healing process/more in general. I realize that you want to get on with the story, but don't be afraid to take some time to world build, especially a world as creepy and fascinating as this!

  6. I was hooked with the dragging of the bloody foot! So vivid and just the right amount of showing.

    My main thought is that we see him taking the bottle and drinking her in mostly through him--I wanted to feel her shake with his trembling hands and being inhaled the same way she felt his pain as she healed him. It almost seemed to shift pov, to me.

    That said, this is awesome! Well done!

  7. Oooh, lots of fun to read! I'll agree with the other comments in that there were a few small polishing bits that you might want to consider. Also, maybe place her thoughts into italics? I was thrown a bit when I read them at first.

  8. Meradeth- In the manuscript Emma's thoughts are in italics. I guess it didn't transfer over in the email.

    Thanks for the kind words and great feedback, everyone. What an awesome opportunity for detailed feedback! Thanks Authoress. And what talented writers we have here. I wish I had more time to crit everyone. I'll try to work on a few more tonight.