Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August Secret Agent Contest #16

TITLE: The Capital Zoo
GENRE: Mystery

The first penguin disappeared on a Tuesday.

"I just came in and Kissinger was gone," Jenny told her boss, pacing in front of him, a bucket full of herring wobbling in her hand. Sy Dunlop looked across the ice-colored, glassed-in habitat at a flock of black and white penguins going about their business, like wealthy tuxedoed party guests conducting some last-minute business before the band started up.

"Kissinger is my favorite penguin! I always look for him," she explained.

Dunlop shifted around uncomfortably, trying to pretend he wasn't freezing. Outside, DC's August sun was roasting the zoo; inside, it was Antarctica.

Jenny was still talking: "But then he still didn't come out, even when I called for him, and I know calling a penguin doesn't really do any good, I know they're not dogs or whatever, but you know how it is, you sort of feel like you know them, right?"

Dunlop had no idea what she was talking about. He didn't feel like he knew any penguins, and he didn't want to, either.

As a middle manager -- well, upper-middle, he corrected himself -- his job never concerned animals, only personnel, and the zoo staff was more than enough to handle. He eyed the penguins skeptically. They seemed to be taking an interest in that food bucket Jenny was swinging around and had begun to waddle toward it.


  1. well now, this is a completely different subject for a mystery, which is great, b/c mysteries are so overdone. i am hooked b/c i want to know what's going on w/the penguins.

  2. Definitely hooked and anxious to see what the zoo world is going to be like. Although I can already tell I don't like that manager!

  3. I love penguins. I hope as your story develops that you keep them around. I'm interested enough that I want to read more.

  4. You caught my interest because it was different, and I'm wondering who would kidnap penguins, why, and how would they hide them. And I loved, Inside, it was Antarctica.

    But I wasn't sure who's POV it was. I started out thinking it was Jenny's, but it shifts to Dunlop, and there's a lot that could be either. Maybe it's omniscient? I think if you changed - Jenny told her boss, (which is clearly Jenny's pov) to Jenny told Dunlop, then it could all be taken as Dunlop's pov.

  5. I love this. It sounds as though it's going to be original and fun. I'm assuming that it's going to be told from more than one POV?

  6. I love the rhythm of the sentences (the dialogue, especially), and the tone - it made me smile!

  7. Loving the quirky nature of this. Dunlop's is an odd head to be in, which is a nice change of pace; it's a head I look forward to exploring. He's uncomfortable in his skin. Always a plus. And I do hope this chirpy annoyance, Jenny, stays in the picture. The stoic penguins, too. All of them great foils for the stiff Dunlop. One request: it needs to be clearer that Dunlop is the "boss" that Jenny refers to at the start. I don't want to be confused so early in a story.