Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Drop the Needle: Death #4

TITLE: The Hacker of Guantanamo Bay
GENRE: Cyberpunk

Feather is the hacker handle of a Lakota woman who finds herself in the Window on the World restaurant for a breakfast job interview on September 11, 2001. This scene shows the end of her phone call to a former lover, another hacker who is known as Metro, who is a pre-op transsexual who longs to be a man.

"Hang on a moment." Metro sat up and grabbed the remote from where it basked in
the glow of the alarm clock. Point, click, the reassuring vip of the CRT
powering up. "I'm turning on the T.V. CNN should be covering it. S***! An
airplane hit the tower!"

"Airplane? Cough. Are they trying to put out the fires?"

"Yes. Don't worry. They've got firemen coming up. They'll get you out. Why
the hell are you there?"

"Thanks cough. I was trying cough cough to get Sorcerer a job."

"Is he there too?" Damn that fire looked nasty. Thank goodness she's above the
impact, there's still a chance of getting her down.

"No. Cough. I got here cough early. Bastard never got cough cough cough here."

"Feather, I'm sorry I was such a prick."

"Cough me too Metro. If I get cough out of this lets get cough cough together
for some..."


Silence. He had lost the connection. Try as often as he would, each returned
call went straight to Feather's voice mail. Metro sat up and pulled the CRT lit
blanket up to himself, hugging it like he used to hug Feather. It would soon
become wet with tears as he watched the towers fall.


  1. Hmm. Not feeling this one, sorry. The event is an extremely indelible one that everyone can recall their own reactions to as it happened. So there's that instant connection, but it lost me with the way the piece is worded. It lacks a certain sense of...urgency?

    I don't know what a CRT is. I'm not sure why "Cough" is in dialogue and not the beats. Metro doesn't seem concerned enough for Feather's safety--doesn't seem to ask any urgent questions.

    The last para then takes me out of the immediacy of the moment by summarizing the whole event--the towers and Metro's emotional reaction--in past-past tense.

  2. Eek, too much coughing. It pushed me out of the story. I wonder if some of your punctuation was lost in translation. That sometimes happens.

    It would delete the ‘basked in the glow’ phrase since it does not contribute to the story. Also, I would cut ‘try as often as he would’. Also a bit overdone, IMHO.

    The subject matter is up to you of course, but there was uproar from the public when a recent movie used Nine Eleven for part of their story plot. People can be very sensitive about this recent history.

  3. To elaborate on the above comments, from the lead-in I was assuming Metro was still technically a woman but you refer to Metro as a "he" which threw me off.
    From the lead-in, I think you have interesting characters, but like the above poster mentioned the scene lacks urgency and emotion. And the "cough" throws me off. If they're on the phone maybe try "Feather pulled away from the phone and went into a coughing fit" or something like that. Then what would Metro's reaction be to that? Is he picturing a smoke-filled room? Is he concerned for his friend's safety?

  4. I'm not sure with this one. I like the "normal" conversation that they're having, not knowing the outcome of the plane, etc, although the coughing was distracting for me too.

    I would like to see more emotion in Metro in that last paragraph--he is freaking out--this woman he used to date might be dying in a building that was hit by a plane.
    Maybe make his attempts to call more frantic by making them active--show them.

  5. I like the potential here. I would cut some of the "coughs", and I would rewrite the last paragraph. For instance, you don't need to tell us the connection was lost. Silence tells it all. Definitely some good potential, but you have picked a sensitive topic (9/11). Best wishes.

  6. I felt the coughing was not presented the best way -- I would suggest including the dialogue without the "cough" and describe the coughing separately.

    I agree that 9/11 is still a raw sore on the part of many even though it is almost a decade past, but other novels have been written about it, such as The Falling Man, so that is in itself not an issue with me. It's all in how it's handled. I don't sense the cyberpunk aspect of this in this small excerpt and was disappointed but perhaps this is more evident in the rest of the novel. I am a big fan of cyberpunk.

    I think the last line is a bit of a tense shift and slightly disorienting, taking me out of the scene.