Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April Secret Agent #26

TITLE: Tomorrow's Shadow
GENRE: YA/Light-weight SF

Cold dread coiled in the pit of my stomach as I answered the summons to exam room three. What Dr. Rivers often referred to as last minute lessons, I categorized in the vicinity of torture. Clinical exhaustion, however, didn't stop the rest of my classmates from rushing down the hall, hurrying to be first, or to get it all over with--so eager in their ignorance. The gasps of exclamation made my skin prickle prematurely.

I measured my pace, dragging out the inevitable one small step at a time. Because I didn't want to see behind the curtain. Not again.

A hand at my back propelled me the last few feet, through the door and into the room. And there she was, laid out like death's forgotten plaything, bruised and battered and left for us--a bunch of wannabe doctors--to poke and prod and try to make sense of what, ultimately, had become the greatest mystery of the century.

In the back of my mind I knew of the festering odor, heard the shuffling feet, the gagging; someone ran for the trash can. I felt sick, deep in my heart. But I kept looking, staring. We would take her blood, put it under glass, run a thousand tests, but it wouldn't matter. I couldn't save her.

If I could, I would forget the scene, just wipe it from my mind and pretend it never happened. But her face was already carved into my dreams: the first living case of Shadow sickness I'd ever seen.


  1. This one sounds intriguing. I'd change the first line to start with Dread, instead of Cold.

    Really thought you used the senses really well. And I loved the line: But her face was already carved into my dreams: the first living case of Shadow sickness I'd ever seen.

    That alone makes me want to turn the page and figure out what shadow sickness is.

  2. I'd read on because of a couple of stand-out lines:

    And there she was, laid out like death's forgotten plaything, bruised and battered and left for us.

    But her face was already carved into my dreams: the first living case of Shadow sickness I'd ever seen.


  3. The writing feels a little choppy. I'm not sure it that was intended by the author to set up the way the MC is experiencing his/her (?) environment, but it didn't work for me.

  4. I do like this, I'm intrigued. You handle the body withouth overmephasizing the gore. I felt like these were kids, not med students, because of the opening lines. If this was your intention, then it works, but for some reason it seemed like an elementary or jr. high school. Also, you use some qualifiers "in the vicinity of" and the adverb "prematurely." I think both sentences would be stronger without them.

  5. Hooked! I like this. I had to read it all before I understood the line 'The gasps of exclamation made my skin prickle prematurely.' which threw me off a bit, and 'I knew of the festering odor' sounded a little odd to me, but that's personal taste.

    There is some lovely description here and several great lines. I would continue reading for the last line alone.

  6. I agree with Casper- I LOVE those lines. I would definitely read on :) The one thing that made me unsure, however, was the fact that only your MC seemed to know what was about to happen. If they're classmates, how come she's the only one? (Of course, if that's cleared up later on, there's no problem.)

  7. At first, I was a little confused and thought they were experimenting on your MC. The hand on the back made me think she was a teen. It is cleared up though.

    These lines didn't work for me.

    The gasps of exclamation made my skin prickle prematurely.

    I would read further!

  8. You hooked me at the end, great finish.

    But before that I'm not such a fan. The first para doesn't sound like YA to me, it feels like you're using a long word every time a short one would be better... 'categorized in the vicinity of torture' etc. A lot of unwieldy words jammed together. Also I presume they're medical students, so I'd like to just be told that from the beginning.

  9. A lot of this felt choppy, but the two lines Caspar quoted are lovely. I would keep reading.

  10. A great ending line! That's when you caught me.

    What comes before it , didn't. In the opening, I imagined we were in junior high or high school, and it came off much lighter than the situation at the end. The tone and mood of the beginning doesn't match the tone and mood at the end.

    Third parg from the end we learn they're med students and the whole mood changes. It stops being light. Perhaps rewrite the beginning graphs so they convey the heavier mood of the ending graphs. Maybe let us know from the start that these are med students? Keep the mystery of the shadow sickness for the end, but don't make everything else a mystery. Set us firmly in time and place.

  11. I loved this! I would keep reading!

    The only thing that stuck out to me was the first sentence and the last sentence in the first paragraph. I would suggest dropping "Cold" in the first sentence and leaving it as just "Dread". And in the last sentence "...made my skin prickle prematurely" I would suggest dropping "prematurely". It flows better that way. Other than that, I found this very intriguing.

  12. Overwritten and I was ready to bail until the last two paragraphs - start here and ditch the rest. NOW I want to read.

  13. Ohhhhh! Tricky, tricky. I have to say the I was not on board until you get to "and there she was." Beyond that, it keeps getting better and better and that last line is terrific. It's the perfect amount of information revealed in a clear, concise voice that spares us excess and/or over-writing. Well done, there.

    That being said, the first paragraphs was laid on a bit too thick. The "cold dread coiling" is alright, but phrases like "I categorized in the vicinity of torture" and "so eager in their ignorance" are off-putting.

    Dr. Rivers calls them "last minute sessions" the MC calls them torture - There's no need for much more than that.

    And Who is this MC that he/she is calling the other med students ignorant? Aren't they in the same class? learning the same things? I didn't like the MC at all, in that moment.

    I've also got a feeling this can't be YA. Med Students are usually in their 20s, right? Unless this is a future where that age requirement has shifted, this is just SF.

    Despite my concerns, those last paragraphs were spot-on and I'd read more.

  14. Sorry for those typos! I meant to say "I have to say THAT I was not on board" and "the first paragraph" (not plural). Apologies! My typing fingers are wearing out ;)

  15. I had to check again that it was listed as YA. Usually the MC is a teenager, high school, but this sounds like a college class. I didn't take the description of body of the first case as living as intriguing, to be honest I thought it was an oversight.