Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Drop the Needle: Death #25

TITLE: Deadly Promises
GENRE: Middle school historical fiction

Southern WV coal fields in 1921. Buddy's cousin and best friend is buried in a roof fall.

“Don't just stand there with your mouth hangin' open, boy! Dig!”

It took Buddy a few seconds to realize they were yelling at him. He grabbed a chunk of rock from the pile and threw it to the side. He grabbed another, then another. Faster and faster they slung chunks of rock, coal, and slate away from the man buried beneath. Little by little the crushed body appeared. One of the miners tilted his head downward until the light on his cap lighted the distorted face.

“This ain't no man,” he said. “This here's a boy.”

Delbert's mangled body lay silent in the dust.

Buddy's knees buckled. His body sank to the earth and he could do nothing to stop it. After what seemed an eternity of falling, his knees touched the ground. His head spun; his world surreal. He couldn't breathe even though the dust had settled.

“You know this boy?” a voice asked. Then someone was hoisting him up by one arm.

Buddy tried to pull his eyes away from Delbert's flattened skull. One empty eye socket stretched down his cheek and blended with his nose. Brain matter and blood seeped into the earth.

“You know this boy?” the miner asked again.

Buddy opened his mouth, but no words formed. He nodded.

“Go git his folks. We'll gather him up and bring him out.”

Buddy nodded again, but his feet did not move.


  1. Good imagery, good emotions. I can feel his trepidation and as a reader, you put me into his eyes.
    I liked this very much.

  2. I like this too--great descriptions! I love MG and this definitely grabs my attention. One thing- you might want to reconsider changing one of the "light" words in the first big paragraph to avoid repetition- "the light on his cap lighted the distorted face"...the "beam" on his cap maybe? or "until the light on his cap focused on the distorted face" Just a suggestion :)

  3. Wow. All I can say is this was gut-wrenching; the numbing horror of the MC was palpable. Great job.

  4. I'm pulled in. "Gut-wrenching" is a god description. The only thing that tripped me up was 'his world surreal". Apart from the missing 'was', 'surreal' just seemed out of place with the very grounded and concrete images, and with the voices of the other speakers.

  5. Excellent. This hooked me from the start.

    The last sentence in the second paragraph, you could change "lighted" to "illuminated" to avoid a repetition of 'light'.

  6. Very well written, and I can't think of anything to say except it was a very powerful scene, and you wrote it wonderfully. I agree with all the above comments. :)

  7. I loved this. Buddy's reactions are incredibly realistic, especially for someone his age. Great job!

  8. Buddy's reactions are spot on, as are the miners, who have seen it all before. Great stuff.

  9. Wonderful descriptions, and good reading of the emotions. I like how you keep the action moving, not letting description bog you down until the moment when Buddy is stunned into silence, and then the description is so vivid that it puts us right into the scene. Lovely work.

  10. I absolutely want to keep reading! Great job!

  11. I really enjoyed reading this and wanted I guess that says it all!!