Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Secret Agent #16

TITLE: Courting Greta
GENRE: Commercial Fiction

Samuel regained consciousness just as they one-two-three _jerked_ him from the stretcher to the table. He was in the hospital again, damn it.

"Sir, can you hear me? Do you know where you are?"

"ER." Even if he never set foot in here again (which, admittedly, seemed a tad optimistic) he'd never forget the telltale stench of ammonia, latex, and blood. Hopefully not his.

"What's your name?"

They were sticking needles in his arms. Light blinded him, first one eye and then the other. "Sam--Samuel Cooke."

"Do you know what happened?" The woman's firm interrogative was accompanied by a flurry of other voices, rattling off stats and commands. Beeping filled in the syncopated silences.

"Not a clue. Gimme a minute." It would come back. It always did. How else was he supposed to relive every humiliating detail? Whatever it was, he prayed it hadn't happened in the office. Odds of him collapsing in front of total strangers were pretty low, but a guy could hope.

"Sir, you've been in a collision."

"What, a car accident?" That sounded awfully daring. And totally out of character. He blinked, trying to bring the nurse or doctor or whatever into focus. "You sure?" He was the most cautious driver he knew. Always looked both ways, never went more than five miles over the limit. Perpetually in the slow lane.

"Yes, sir."

Then he reached the end of his adrenaline and he hurt everywhere and
oh God he wanted to vomit.


  1. Not hooked. I'm not feeling anything about Sam just yet and I think it's because you need to dig deeper into his POV.

    For instance: "They were sticking needles in his arms." is so passive. How do those needles feel to Sam? Is he panicked? Does the familiar smell of the hospital bring back bad memories?

    Give me Sam's voice. Let me know why I should care that he's in a hospital and has been in a car accident.

  2. I like this idea. I'm wanting to know what happened, considering he's so cautious, what caused him to have other humiliating issues. Cynthia's suggestion about the needles is a good one. The last sentence threw me a bit though.

  3. I disagree with the above (respectfully, of course!) I didn't mind the disconnect - sounds like what might happen when you just wake up and are confused and hurt. I really enjoyed this. I want to know why he's always in hospitals (seizures or something?) I like the wry tone. Hooked!

  4. Well, I liked this a lot. To me he's clearly a disconnected kinda guy, probably runs a wry commentary on his moment-by-moment life...
    Good stuff. I'd read more definitely.

  5. I liked it. I like the MC's voice a lot. Am hooked.

  6. I liked this, but I did agree with some of the other comments.

    Sam seems a tad distant to me, but that might be a good thing.
    I felt like you could have cut "which, admittedly, seemed a tad optimistic" and "telltale stench" without losing anything.

    I think if you added a little more back story, you'd pull people in more easily. For example, if he feel like he's always in hospitals, why is this time different? Is this a turning point for him?

    Of course, it's all about personal preference. Good luck.

  7. I wasn't totally hooked, but I'd give it a bit more. I liked Sam's voice and attitude. I liked the fact that ending up in the hospital is common for him. It hints at an interesting past.

    But then I did wonder, if this guy is so careful, how does he always end up in the hospital? And the guy being careful and cautious doesn't mesh with they guy I've already imagined. So I'm kinda on the fence here. As I said, I'd give it a bit more to see what develops.

  8. Some of this is very realistic. I have problems listening to other people's illnesses...can't watch any ER shows, etc. It gets to me. And your description here had me a little woozy and weak at the knees. So, good job on that.

    Look at your punctation in the last sentence, and I'd take out the "one-two-three" description of jerk. Perhaps "hefted him at the count of three"?

  9. I was intrigued from the very beginning. Obviously, Sam is no stranger to the ER. Why has he been there before? What was embarrassing about previous admissions? Why is he so surprised he was in an auto accident? I loved all the possibilities this presented.

    Your description of the chaos of the ER room provided urgency and pacing to the piece.

    I'd definitely keep reading.

  10. Please don't cut "(which, admittedly, seemed a tad optimistic)." It's not unnecessary - it tells us that Sam is 1) witty and 2) that he's been in the ER many, many times.

  11. I'm hooked by an opening of someone waking up in a ER. Right away it makes me want to know what happened. And Sam's voice is likeable and curious from the start.

  12. I'm hooked, and loved the "admittedly optimistic" line. :) I really like the disconnect, too - this is someone trying to figure out what the H is going on while the ER flurry occurs around him. Been there, experienced that, and this rings so true. You *don't* feel the needles etc, if you're not 'right there' in the pain etc. He's still high on adrenalin, still confused, etc. When you're like that, they can be cutting off an arm and you don't notice.

    Rings very true to me! Good work. I want to know more NOW!

  13. Samuel seems as adequate character, but nothing about this scene jumps off the page. He’s a cautious man, prone to embarrassment, and this is not his first time in the hospital. The dialog is so routine as to be unnecessary. I’m thinking there is probably a more interesting place to begin this story. There’s nothing in particular that you’re doing wrong here, but I wasn’t drawn in.