Wednesday, October 9, 2013

October Secret Agent #11

GENRE: NA Science Fiction

Orson helped the young man pull on the virtual simulation cap, arranging the wires to fall over the edge of the recliner and not his face. Hope bloomed like a weed inside his chest, whispering, This time. This time it will work. He didn’t have the strength to mow it down.

“Now I just want you to relax and remember, this isn’t a fully-functioning game yet.” His greatest fear was something going wrong, stranding the boy’s mind outside his body—forever. “The programmers are still writing the code. You’re only there to observe. Not interact. We want to make sure it looks as real as possible before we invest any more money into it. Alright?”

“Yeah. Sure. Christ, I can’t believe I’m doing this.”

Orson laughed. It came from deep in his belly, touching on the desperate wish that he could be the one going in.

“You have no idea. It might not work, remember,” he went on, as much for Blake as for himself.

“Yeah. Right. But still, so cool.” The kid—young man, damn he felt old—all but vibrated in his seat. Orson envied that fresh enthusiasm. Should he really risk someone so young?

What choice did he have? He postured past the nerves with another smile.

Finished checking the sim cap, he asked, “Ready?”

Blake’s excitement didn’t let any nervousness through as he nodded, smiling wider.

“Alright then. Let’s log you in.”

And please, Orson thought, activating the program and shielding his heart for another failure, please don’t die.


  1. This is pretty interested. I definitely want to know more. :)

    I'm confused about the kid. Is it a kid or a young man? It might be better just to come out and say how old the kid is. Cause I'm thinking he's anywhere from 8 to 20 and that's entirely too broad. He also feels like he's floating a little bit. Orson is fine, but maybe you could throw another movement or two in for the kid so we know what he's doing. I get that he's excited from what he says, but I can't quite see it, you know.

    I like Orson. :) He has a mad scientist kind of feel.

  2. Definitely hooked me. I was thinking the kid is a young adult, but I love the idea of the Orson plugging the kid into a game. Very deadly, and makes want to read more to see if the kid will survive or not. Another thing though, I'd want to know is why the kid is so excited to enter such a deadly game, he seems almost desperate for that.

  3. I like this. I would read more. I think the overall structure of what you have said is good. There are just a few things -

    - Like the other's said, let the reader know more about the boy's age. His age can change how we feel about the man's actions e.g. is the boy only a child, or old enough to consent to what is being done to him.

    - When you say 'As much as Blake as for himself', I think this should be the other way around 'as much for himself as for Blake'.

    And also, what is at stake so much that the man would risk another person being hurt? Is it money? And if so why does this seemingly kind man need the money so much?

    Good luck! :)

  4. I found this an interesting set-up. I wanted to know how the game could kill its players and why Orson himself couldn't take part in it.

    My main concern is that I don't know how much Blake knows. Orson tells him the game isn't fully functioning and that it might not work. He doesn't say that Blake could end up dead. And if Blake doesn't know this, it immediately puts me off Orson as a character, for using someone who doesn't know what he's getting himself into. Maybe that's your intent, but it doesn't seem to gel with Orson's very real fear for Blake. Either way, I'd like to know right from the start - just through some subtle wording somewhere - whether or not Blake is fully informed. That way, I'd know how to feel about Orson ;-)

    Oh, and minor nitpick: the first time you use Blake's name, it isn't necessarily obvious he is the young man about to play the game - you've already referred to him as 'the young man' or 'the boy' a couple of times, which when I read it led me to believe he wasn't going to get a name, and so when Blake was first mentioned I wondered if there was someone else in the room.

    Overall, though, I think it's good :-)

  5. I thought this worked pretty well and I'd read more. My only thought was to perhaps give us some indication as to why he's so desperate, and why he would risk someone's life over this. He seems a decent man otherwise, and it could add another level of suspense and tension.

    You might cut the last sentence of parg one. Orson sounds more desperate without that qualifying line.

  6. This is well-written. I especially liked the comparison of hope to weeds that he doesn't have the strength to mow down. I agree that it would be good to know how much Blake has been told about the danger he's facing. Is he so eager because he's been kept in ignorance or is he a thrill-seeker who feels invincible?

    I wonder if it's a mistake to state Orson's fear so clearly in the second paragraph. (His greatest fear was something going wrong, stranding the boy’s mind outside his body—forever.) The last line of the excerpt -- And please, Orson thought, activating the program and shielding his heart for another failure, please don’t die -- would be even more striking if we'd only gotten hints of Orson's worry without the earlier specifics. Does that make sense?

  7. I like that we’re in the middle of some action right away and the stakes are high. Mentioning that people have died before, and that Blake might die as well, creates immediate danger and curiosity. This is New Adult, but the narrator seems to be the older man, not the younger one. A little clarification of how old Orson is would help us know he isn’t really an old man, just feels like one in comparison to Blake. Also, New Adult usually has a 20-something narrator and is currently being bought mainly by Adult Romance houses, so keep that in mind.

  8. Hey, this is awesome. I really like theme of the weed and then the phrase mow in the next line. I love stuff like that, very cool.

    I echo the other comments about confirming the ages a little more clearly since young man could really go a wide range. Solid, engaging writing here. Nice job!