Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May Secret Agent #16


Fear of the impure battled the thrill of walking among them until a man brushed my arm. Fear won. I sucked in a breath and jerked away from the deep blue glow of his suit as if impurity were contagious. Maybe it was.

My palms stuck to the silky material hugging my hips as I ran my hands down my sides. The familiar motion usually calmed my nerves, but with my soul suit disconnected, my heart raced and I couldn’t manage a deep breath.

“We should go,” I said. My gaze wandered over charred buildings, cracked electronic billboards, and angry furrows where light rail tracks had been dug out and used to support the crude shacks lining the square’s perimeter. The impure had destroyed the old city.

At home, soul suits were mandatory, but here I wasn’t the only one without my soul image on display. Most people wore loose, scratchy-looking shirts and pants that revealed nothing about who they were, or what they were capable of. They could be anything: pure or impure, harmless or deadly. I ran my upper lip through my teeth and tasted salt. The unknown twisted my imagination and filled my mind with sick possibilities.

Ryan caught my elbow and I forced my attention onto his worried face. “You go ahead,” he said. “I’ll meet you back at the bikes.”

My attention slid toward the flicker of a soul suit in the crowded square where a man offered dried meat in exchange for purified water.


  1. The soul suits idea is really interesting. That sounds like something we'll definitely be hearing more about. I'm curious as to why she chose to disconnect her soul suit, but assume that question gets answered in the following paragraphs.
    The one line that made me stop and re-read was, "I ran my upper lip through my teeth and tasted salt." It just reads sort of awkward.
    The soul suits are a unique concept. Fun to read something completely different.

  2. I agree with the above about the "I ran my upper lip" line. I had to reread it to understand.

    Otherwise I was crazy intrigued by the impure, the pure, and the soul suits. Really wondering what's up in your Sci-Fi world.
    Keep it up!

  3. I agree with the above comments. That line sounds awkward. Besides that I found this to be interesting, especially about the soul suits. I would want to read on.

  4. I love the idea of the different societal system which I'm assuming the pure and impure are a part of. I'd love to know more about the main character and her back story as well as what makes someone pure or impure.

    Maybe instead of teeth the narrator could run their tongue across their upper lip. I get what you are saying but it might read less awkwardly that way.

    Awesome job! I would definitely read on!

  5. There are a lot of lovely phrases and descriptions in this. The first paragraph is a grabber! I also liked "The unknown twisted my imagination and filled my mind with sick possibilities."

    This whole set-up is intriguing, but not quite long enough for me to figure out who was what. The first line made it seem like humans were the impure ones and the MC was something other than human, but I couldn't tell what.

    The soul-suit idea is very interesting, but again, there wasn't enough time to elaborate enough to explain how they work.

    "Home" seems to imply that the MC is in a different city/country/planet, but which is not made clear.

    I couldn't picture "I ran my upper lip through my teeth."

    You might consider changing the second "attention" (last paragraph) to "eyes" or "gaze".

  6. There is certainly a lot of interesting stuff here, and because of that, I'd read on a bit longer. But I do feel like I've been dropped in the middle of something, like a drop the needle contest. This doesn't feel like I'm starting the story from the beginning, and there is a lot that is confusing.

    Maybe add a sentence of two to the first parg, that gives us a bit of description/sense of place.

    "We should go." Go where? Maybe give us a sense of where they're headed, who 'they' are, and what their mission is.

    Parg 4 is basically telling us what a soul suit is and what it's for, but it could be stronger if we saw that instead.

    Overall, I wanted more of a beginning and thought you could start it a bit earlier than you did - perhaps just as they arrive.

  7. I really enjoyed this. The concept of soul suits is cool, and I loved the tension you created. I thought you did a great job of introducing the setting without 'telling' the reader. The hints you give are enough to ground the reader without overwhelming.

    I had to re-read the first sentence a couple times. I would suggest changing 'impure' to 'Impure'. The capital 'I' reveals that its a class of people. I would also suggest changing it to: "Fear of the Impure battled the thrill of walking among them. Then fear won when a man brushed my arm." By moving the 'when a man brushed my arm' it focuses the first sentence, and makes it more gripping.

    I think you should modify one of the 'attention''s to a different word, since you repeat it so close together.

    Great job! I would definitely keep reading.

  8. A very interesting set-up. I agree with some of the above comments about the first line, which is a bit confusing. I'd also agree that capitalizing “impure” would let us know the word refers to a specific group with a specific condition.

    Perhaps move the physical description of the charred buildings up, so we have a sense of where we stand. To start with, we don't know if our narrator is indoors, outdoors, in daylight, etc. Better to ground the reader as quickly as possible.

    Otherwise, a really fascinating opening. The world-building feels elegant and complex. I'd be interested to read on.

  9. Not to repeat what others have said, but I agree the first sentence was a bit confusing. Same as the "upper lip" line.

    I did feel like placing some of the specific details, which are intriguing in and of themselves, so close together made me feel a little discombobulated, but that could just be me. Overall, I enjoyed the interesting, almost eerie, setting you have here, and would keep reading if I picked this one up in a bookstore.