Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September Secret Agent #6

TITLE: Hound in Blood and Black
GENRE: dystopian sci fi

Last tank of gas, Kumari thought as the Jeep engine spit out a black cloud before picking up speed. It meant one thing: Last chance to make a catch. And that meant last chance to stay alive.

"Harder!" Kumari screamed over the battered engine's howl. Bastion punched the gas, pebbles spraying the old army Jeep. Dirt clawed her cheeks and scratched the surface of her shades. She adjusted the bandana across the lower half of her face. The air was murky, but she saw her shambling target.

"Left!" she shouted. The Jeep veered hard, tires skidding over the rocky desert. Kumari caught herself with a hard foot to the wheel well, steadying herself as the vehicle sped across the plain. The undead stumbled as they cut in front of it. "Damn it, Bastion. Don't run it over."

The Jeep jerked again, right, spewing more dust into the air. Her throat was dry. Only daybreak, and already hot as hell. Best to finish the hunt and get home before noon.

No pressure. People would only starve to death if she didn't.

She shook her head; enough thinking. "Focus, Kumari."

Handgun, kukri, boot blade and collar - all the things she never left home without. Kumari flexed her hand around the collar, the most important part of her arsenal. A wrangler's prime tool, the seven-foot pole's horseshoe-shaped tip was the best way to pin an undead; at an arm's length away and with minimal damage to the future gladiator.


  1. I'm hooked. Your description is vivid and you've started working in details about your setting and main characters without dumping so much at once that it's overwhelming. I'm not big on undead or dystopian stories, but your hook has me wanting to see how this will be different. I'd read more.

  2. Hooked. Maybe. Or maybe I'm too unsettled by the connection Kumari makes between capturing/killing the undead and having something to eat. Do these people eat zombies? Or do they get paid for bringing more gladiators to the arena?

    That last sentence is intriguing, though. I'd read on to see where this is going, but feeling a little nauseated as I did so. Of course, if you're going for nauseating, then that's perfect:)

  3. Hooked. This reads very well. The setting is clear without bogging the action down. I'm really intrigued by the zombie and gladiator concepts. As Krista, I'm not sure if they eat the undead, or it's a means to get food. I'd definitely read on to find out either way.

    Is the pole the same thing as the collar? The way the sentences are presented, it seems so. If not, some clarification may be needed.

    Great job with this. Good luck!

  4. The writing doesn't completely hook me but the idea of zombie gladiators does. I'd read on to see where it goes from here.

  5. Good writing. It's certainly riveting. Not really my cup of tea, but zombie gladiators has an interesting visual to it.

    Now I need to go and find out what a kukri is.

  6. I would keep reading this, though I am a little confused as to Kumari's motivation here: is it to bring food to people - (what people? whose people?), or to bring home a gladiator. The concept of a zombie gladiator is intriguing, though. Nicely done.

  7. Hooked, for sure. I was completely engaged in the scene, and though zombie/dystopian isn't something I read much of, I'd totally keep reading this!

  8. I love the way this piece gets straight into the action and you have some really vivid description here.

    I was a bit confused about who or what Kamari was. If she was a wrangler not a hunter, I'm thinking she is trying to catch the zombie for payment rather than to eat it, but this wasn't clear.

    I don't normally read this sort of thing, but I'd definitely keep reading.

  9. This is normally not my genre. That said I felt the writing was tight and had an excellent pace. I got a lot of this character in a little time. I'd keep reading on.

  10. I love zombies. I love Dystopians. And I love kick-ass chicks. So you've got me hooked on plot already, which is great.

    But! I think your writing could do with a little more cleaning up. Sometimes you use a comma between clauses when breaking them into two sentences would be better--or connecting them to other sentences.

    For example: "Bastion punched the gas. Pebbles sprayed the old army Jeep, clawing at her cheeks and scratching the surface of her shades."

    I don't think it's grammatically correct to use -ing form when the subjects don't match. But maybe I'm just crazy.

    You could also do: "Bastion punched the gas, and pebbles sprayed the old army Jeep."

    I think you should take out the "She shook her head; enough thinking. 'Focus, Kumari.'" It's not necessary, and it broke the fast-pace of this scene.

    I also thought that the last paragraph--at least until the final sentence post semi-colon, was you telling me about the world. Why would Kumari think these things? Tell this info to me in a way that's like it's coming from her, not from you.

    And finally: WAIT, WHAT? DO THEY EAT ZOMBIES?! Eeew. But gladiators are cool. So I'd keep reading.

  11. PS YAY It's not in first person present tense. That makes me soooooo happy.

  12. The first sentence is a bit awkward. I would recommend splitting it in two: “Last tank of gas, Kumari thought. The Jeep engine spit out a black cloud before picking up speed.” Or getting rid of the "Kumari thought."

    In the second paragraph, it is unclear who is getting sprayed by dirt. I assume it is Kumari, but the way it is structured “she” could easily be Bastion instead.

    Some more description about the undead they are chasing would be helpful. Right now I can’t picture it. What does it look like? Does “undead” mean a zombie? A vampire? Something else entirely?

    There is a disconnect in Kumari’s intent. Right now I know that she needs to catch an undead so the people back home won’t starve. This would lead me to assume they eat undead, which at the moment doesn’t make much sense. On the other hand, the last line about it being a “future gladiator” intrigues me, so I would probably read at least a little further.

  13. Okay, they're hunting to make a catch, to stay alive. Suggests game animal, source of food. Oh, it's a zombie. They eat zombies? Eew. And I'm left with that off-putting thought until the last two words. Only then do I think, "Oh, maybe she gets paid to bring in zombies as fighters." I strongly recommend you make that clear sooner, because once I thought zombie-eating cannibals, I was not keen to keep reading.

    Second paragraph, don't know who's clawed by dirt. If Bastion's gender is male AND we know it, this problem goes away. Otherwise, make it clear it's Kumari (I'm assuming it's her).

    Why is she giving directions to Bastion? Can't Bastion see the zombie too? And how fast do these zombies move? I see the need for a Jeep to catch up to them, but there seems to be a fair amount of driving after they've done that.

    Once I realized they don't eat the zombies (God I hope I'm right about that!), the story became more appealing to me.

  14. The ending was a definite hook. I had no interest at all (only because I am zombied/werewolfed/vampired out) until I read zombie/gladiator. Definitely an interesting twist.

    I did wonder about how hard it was to catch a zombie. Usually, zombies are slow and awkward and you use the word shamble which implies the same thing. Seems they wouldn't be hard to catch.

    And I have to say it never entered my mind that they were eating the zombies. I assumed they caught them, got paid, and bought food for their people.

    In the end, this would make me squeeze in one more zombie novel.

  15. I agree with some of the others.

    I'm intrigued by the premise, but the writing isn't hooking me.

    I feel like I need more concrete description, and less vague details.

    Good luck!