Wednesday, May 16, 2018

May Secret Agent Contest #29

GENRE: Adult Science Fiction

In two hundred thirteen years, Essence had never killed a human. Only six weeks ago, the thought of ending such a delicate life brought on a crippling nausea. The back of her jaw clenched, acid dripped down her throat. But now, shivering against the metal plank, weaponized vapors burning her lungs, she knew one thing: death came for all.

A heavy door scratched at its hinges and rattled open. Essence startled. Down the concrete corridor outside her cell, soldiers dragged a woman along. The scrappy push and pull of resistance clanged in a lopsided rhythm. Someone limped. Maybe it was the captive, maybe it was one of the soldiers.
The unit stopped at an empty cell two down from hers. Aluminum batons shoved the woman in. She sobbed. Essence searched the vocals, isolating the rich timbre of the young voice. No. The new captive wasn't the one she searched for, the one that led her to this place, the one that got her caught. But the woman didn’t have to worry. In a few minutes, Essence would set her free. She’d set them all free.

Rubber soles turned on the linoleum floor. The soldiers headed out the same way they came in. But one of them didn’t follow his comrades. Blasius Sebastea III paused in front of Essence’s two-way mirror. She almost smiled. They thought they were safe on that side of the mirror, hidden under the darkness of the barren hall. They didn’t know she could see them all.


  1. Ooo a jail break. I love jail breaks, especially when they start a story instead of coming in the middle of ones, and build drama from the start. I would love to know what Essence is. I know she's not human but there's no description of her. I would try to stitch it in somewhere, maybe with the mirror, so we can get an image of who we're supposed to be rooting for. I wonder if the new girl is going to become a side kick or is just going to be shown for the jail break.

    Also, Blasius Sebastea III sets my teeth on edge just from his name alone. I know that's a bad guy on name alone and I think it works perfectly. However, I would like some description, mostly because that would be icing on the cake.

  2. Exciting start! I agree it would be helpful to know what Essence looks like. Does she look human? What would Blasius think if he saw her? Also, the sentence "The back of her jaw clenched, acid dripped down her throat." reads as if it's in the present, but then it's followed by "But now." Maybe change the tense so it's something more like "would clench" or "would have clenched" so we know it's how she would have reacted 6 weeks ago.

  3. The phrase "weaponized vapors" is interesting, but I was looking to see how she was affected by them in these first few paragraphs. Perhaps that can be moved to later on.

    The perspective puzzles me. If the woman is being shoved into a cell two down from Essence's, how can she see what is happening? Is it two doors down across a hallway?

  4. Interesting beginning and much promise. But I'm a little confused. How much does Essence see? How much of her information comes from sound rather than sight?

  5. I really love this. I’m not a Sci-fy fan but this pulled me right in. You’ve done a great job of setting up the tension and telling us a lot about Essence in these first 250 words. Right off the bat I know she’s good -hearted because she has an aversion to killing humans (I’m assuming from the tone she has no problem killing other life forms). I also know she’s searching for someone, has a keen ear, and can discern people from the sounds of their voices and their gates. Oh, and she has the ability to free a cellblock of captive prisoners. You've even put in a villain - all on the first page. I’m intrigued. I’d definitely read more. Good job.

  6. I felt a little disoriented with this opening. Essence doesn't want to kill a human, but in that moment, it felt like hers was the life at risk. And so that opening sentiment didn't flow logically into the scene.

    I wasn't sure how Essence could see that the soldiers were dragging a woman and that they stopped precisely 2 doors down from her cell.

    By the end of this sample, I'm wondering if Essence is a prisoner and if so, why does she have a 2-way mirror that the guards didn't know about in her cell?

    I do like the imagery, but I wasn't able to build a picture of what was happening in this scene and how the MC fit in.

    Thank you for sharing!