Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Drop the Needle: Death #1

TITLE: Sacrifice
GENRE: Paranormal Romance

The tragedy below leads a college president to lock himself away from his magic community with his wife's ghost soul, but when his community faces genocide their love will be forever broken. Her soul ripped apart by the only ones that can--the lovers themselves.

From darkness, voices cried out in agony and denial. Bodies were laid out on central campus in rough rows, while the explosion's fires still burned behind them. Temporary floodlights came on in sudden bright flashes, the carnage clearly revealed in their harsh glare. Shrouded with sheets, towels, coats--anything to cover their faces, their forms, anything that offered a modicum of respect and privacy.

A body covered by a firefighter's coat was carried by and the workers placed it on the ground. A hand fell out lifeless from beneath the coat. I crossed to the body, knelt beside it. The hand stained with bright fluorescent pink, the hand of my most brilliant student, the hand I had denied magically to wash clean this afternoon. The hand I left as a physical reminder for caution against over reaching his young abilities, having foolishly put my lab and his peers in danger.

I forced my lungs to move in and out, as I sat back on my heels. A generation of excellence was gone. My jaws clinched tight in anger. I leaned down, stroked the hand with tender care, and then muttered a Latin phrase, and the pink changed to white. It was all I could do for him now.

Our world had changed forever and soon the parents would arrive. I could not imagine what I would say to them.


  1. The most impactful part was where the carnage became very personal--when the piece zoomed in on the one student and what he had meant to the teacher.

    The rest felt a little distant/passive at times ("a body...was carried"), but overall I think it resonates.

  2. You've got a powerful scene in the making. Maybe just switch out some of the weak verbs and passive sentence structure to add impact.

    Instead of: Temporary floodlights came on

    Try something like: Floodlights flared,

    Instead of: Bodies were laid out on

    Try something like: Bodies lined the campus lawn

  3. Very sad scene, especially when the teacher finds the student. Good details really made the scene come alive: "temporary floodlights came on in sudden bright flashes", "body covered by a firefighter's coat."

    Using active voice could enhance it, I think--e.g.: "floodlights...revealing the carnage in their harsh glare", "workers carried a body...and placed it", "bright fluorescent pink stained the hand, the hand of my most..."

    The last sentence of the second paragraph feels a little awkward to me, but I don't personally care for the "..., having..." construction.

    Powerful ending paragraph! I'd love to hear what he/she said to the parents!

  4. A very intense scene... goosebumps!
    I think it's great - so very close. I would shorten up the sentences to amp up the impact. You're definitely onto to something here.

  5. I like the lead-in. Interesting. And the imagery of 'A hand fell out lifeless from beneath the coat.' Good action. But (and tell me if you did this on purpose) you use 'the hand' 'a hand' several times. It was a little much. To make it a little more tense you could shorten the length of the sentences, or maybe this is the 'let down' from the accident? In which case, ignore me =)

  6. Gripping. I really enjoyed the paranormal aspect. The only suggestion I have is to tighten it a bit by removing excess adjectives. Just great.

  7. By the end I wanted to read more. Shortening the sentences would increase the tension. Take care in the repetition of words as this slows the reader.

  8. You can feel his sense of helplessness and failure to protect his students.

  9. Excellent suggestions on the switch to active verbs. Have corrected.

    Kathryn, I did use 'hand' on purpose--as if it was all he could handle at the moment, rather than the face and body beneath the firefighter's coat. So many times? Perhaps that should be modified. Or perhaps I could include MC inability to think and see past the hand to his deceased student.

    Noticed my "lung moved in and out"line. arghh. obviously the lungs didn't go in and out, but instead forced air in and out. I fear when I cropped it down, I missed it. Same with 'put' which should have been placed.

    As always, authoress has incredible readers who really take their comments seriously, providing excellent guidance, avoiding the fro fro norms out in the world. Thank you, thank you, thank you!