Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March Secret Agent #31

TITLE: Black Friday
GENRE: Horror

Walter Carol murdered Sarah Could-not-bear-to-ask-her-last-name fifty-one minutes ago. Though a person’s heart only lasted so long after it stopped beating, he allowed himself another eighty seconds to loosen the tube cinched tightly around her neck.

He considered closing the large, aluminum door at the other end of the garage. Maybe he’d shut the windows, too, if it’d help soften the once pliable knot that lay at the base of her throat. Perhaps he’d just keep trying, and do nothing different. As selfish as it may have been, the idea of being locked inside Sarah’s temporary tomb set his teeth on edge.

It wasn’t her scent that bothered him. She smelled of the white chocolate latte he’d purchased on her behalf, and the cucumber lotion she’d insisted she reapply before going on a joyride.

Exposure to the rest of the world didn’t worry him, either. In the last half hour, the wind alone had passed by, picking up in sound and speed. Twin rows of evergreens planted the length of his driveway swayed under this duress. Storm-damaged vinyl siding clattered against the walls.

No, there was something about the look in Sarah’s eyes right before he snuffed the light from them that vexed him so much. She’d been crying; they always cried. But Sarah’s tears had carried the glint of mischief in them, as if she were keeping a secret.

Despite his abrupt shortness of breath, he continued to work.


  1. I have a problem with this. With the exception of the first paragraph, I thought the writing was quite strong (I think the awkwardness of the 'can't bear to ask her last name' phrasing was what weakened the opening). You've managed to (in what follows) walk the line between the lyrically phrased but horrific situation in a very skillful way. I think my problem stems from the genre. I think the most effective horror is when things happen "off-screen" so to speak and the reader feels the build up of fear and tension. But, by beginning it with a completed act, much of that is lost. However, what comes next may rescue all that because you have certainly established that a human monster is on the loose. I would want to read on - at least a little ways.

  2. So I am a little confused. Yes, the first sentence is a wee awkward, but it's the narrative that gets me. This guy just killed a girl, but he seems sort of off put. Looking around and not wanting to be there sort of thing. Then why did he kill her? If he is a murderer would he be miffed by little things? Perhaps this comes to light further into the story, but it comes off as wishy-washy killer at first take. My interest piqued with the look in Sara's eyes, though, so I would keep reading to see what secrets she took with her.

  3. Agree with the above comments. Good sensory detail, but the narrative doesn't flow quite right for me. The phrase "As selfish as it may have been..." is troublesome. Does he feel bad about killing her? Because otherwise, it doesn't seem like he feels bad. Also, I find it hard to believe that he'd allow the door and window to be open for fifty-one minutes after he'd killed her. Seems terribly careless. Maybe that's consistent with his character, but readers don't know that yet. You have to win their trust before they'll suspend their disbelief.

    The desire to know Sarah's secret might hook me if I thought that was where the novel was headed. But I don't. The fact that Sarah is dead when we meet her suggests to me that she's a throw-away character. If she's not, then that needs to be clear.

  4. i don't like horror as a genre but your first sentence was pretty great to me

  5. I am not a fan of horror, but the writing and mood are excellent. I would lose the hyphen in fifty one as it blurs into the preceding hyphenenated description and adds a bit of confusion. I initially read it as: Could-not-bear-to-ask-her-last-name -fifty-one, mentally adding that extra hyphen since there had been such a long string of them.

  6. I enjoyed reading this. I agree that the first sentence is clunky. I'd find a way to lose some of the hyphens. Also, it read like closing the windows and garage door would help loosen the knot around her throat - that didn't make sense to me.

    Good luck!

  7. Love it! yeah, there's a couple nits as mentioned above, but would sooo want to keep reading and in fact, was disappointed when page-down didn't give me more!

  8. I hated the first sentence. After that, it got much better. What hooked me was the end because it shows me that Sarah is the horror element in this novel, not Walter.

  9. I'm lost. I can't tell what kind of connection, if any, Walter has to Sarah, and since this is the first time I'm meeting both the killer and the victim, I think it's important that I'm set up to know what their relationship is. I don't necessarily care that she's dead because I don't know her.

    Despite these problems, I think I'd keep reading, but if I didn't start to see at least a little backstory in the next page or two, this would be a form rejection.