Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February Secret Agent #21

TITLE: Extraction
GENRE: YA Sci-fi

I stand in the dirt watching the moon slip away, clutching the fence that separates my shack from the street. At intervals, my grip tightens on the wood, and my knuckles whiten.

Today is the day I must prove I deserve to stay alive.

The sun rises. Children emerge from doorways and head down the road. I wonder if they stayed awake all night, like I did. I wonder where Logan is and what's taking him so long to meet me here.

In a puddle in the dirt, I glimpse a pale, anxious face. I bite my lip and stare at each minuscule shard of wood in the fence.

Speed up, I urge time. Then, slow down.

My fingers squeeze the fence so hard they burn.

“Hey, Clem!”

I snap my head up.

Logan hobbles toward me, holding something in his hand.

I start running to meet him, maybe to yell at him for taking so long, but I see what it is, what he's holding. And I stop moving.

In his fingers, he twirls a flower that could kill me.

I like to think I'm one of the braver kids. Sure, some days the whippings and beatings make me wanna curl up in a ball. When I dream of Logan getting carted off to quarantine, I wake drenched in sweat and trembling, but I master it pretty quick. I get over it. I have to be good at ignoring my fear, 'cause how else will I prove I deserve to escape it?


  1. This sentence is great. "Today is the day I must prove I deserve to stay alive." It creates automatic tension and keeps me reading to find out what the danger is. When you show it's a flower, I'm even more curious.

    The only thing throwing me off is the "'cause" at the end. I picture a character who isn't intelligent or educated and up until that point, your character seems to be the opposite. It's a tiny edit and might only be my opinion. Other than that, I'm hooked!

  2. I still love this, and can't wait until it's published:)

  3. There is simply so much to hook you here. I would definitely, without a doubt, read on.

  4. Intriguing opening. I often have trouble reading things in present tense, but I was so involved in reading that it wasn't until the second read through that I realised it was. Which is a great thing, because it means it works!

    I've got so many questions - why could the flower kill? why do they need to prove they deserve to stay alive? What quarantine?
    I'd read more - I want answers!

  5. I would suggest making this the first line: Today is the day I must prove I deserve to stay alive.

    It's powerful and makes me want to read more.

  6. I agree with the other suggestions. That sentence "Today is the day etc." is jam-packed with energy! For me, your original first sentence makes it sound like the moon is clutching the fence. :) I had to stop and read it a few times. I'd definitely go with that next line!!
    I'm like the others, I have so many questions, I want to know what's going on! Good luck!

  7. What great voice this has! I feel like the "he twirls a flower that could kill" me line is quite abrupt though.

  8. I'd like to second Stephsco's first line suggestion - that would make a strong start even stronger! Love it! Good luck!! :)

  9. Put your second sentence first. That's your most powerful sentence, THEN give us the description.

    I like it a lot. Bunches of questions that make me want to read more.

  10. I agree with some of the others; "Today is the day I must prove I deserve to stay alive" would make an awesome first line.

    Love the rest, too; it creates tension and questions and intrigue. Great job!

  11. Never get tired of reading your beginning! It's fantastic and so is the rest of your story :) Good luck Stephanie!

  12. Interesting set up, reaching an age where you have to prove that you deserve to stay alive. Does everyone in this society have to go through it?

    I think the writing could be tightened. There are phrases that stopped the flow for me, like “At intervals” or “in a puddle in the dirt” (where else would the puddle be?) And how does he see the shards of wood in the reflection of the puddle? I imagine he shifts his gaze but the reader is still focused on the puddle.

    This is a great idea, there are so many hooks.