Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September Secret Agent #22

TITLE: Jumper
GENRE: Commercial Fiction

The ambulance screamed over the hill and plunged down the two-lane road into the valley below.

“Tell me when I’m close,” the driver ordered.

His partner pointed. “There.” Just ahead, a chapel bell tower stabbed through the veil of early morning fog.

“Hope you didn’t have a big breakfast,” the driver shouted. He braked hard and yanked the wheel to the right.

“I’m good,” his partner yelled back.

“I’m talking about the jumper, not the ride, rookie.” They hurtled past the entrance sign and toward the front gate. “Just so you know? Sometimes it’s hard to tell the front from the back. Hope it’s not a kid.”

The duty officer sprang out from the gatehouse and waved them through. The driver hit the gas. His partner yelled, “Watch it!” just as they smacked into a speed bump.

The driver cursed as the undercarriage scraped over the hump. “Could someone have warned us, maybe?”

They lurched up the main campus boulevard to the chapel and pulled onto the esplanade. A burly Filipino jogged over to the vehicle. “Hurry up, will you?” he shouted. “It looks bad.”

The paramedics raced to the back and pulled out the gurney. With a jerk of the handrails, its insect legs unfolded.

A groundskeeper leaned on his rake, watching. “Take your time,” he called out. “He’s not going nowhere.”

At this, the driver nodded to his partner, who clambered back into the rig, grabbed a folded rubber bag and tossed it on the gurney.


  1. Fast paced and you've dragged me along even though I don't want to go see the jumper. Good characterization of driver and rookie. Perhaps a bit too long to arrive at the scene but that's just a quibble. Good job.

  2. The pace is fast, but the main characters are never named. This bothered me.

  3. i do like the pace of this, though the "insect legs" took me aback--i was thinking they were real and i was suddenly in paranormal fiction.

  4. I really like the writing. I don't mind that you never gave us a name. It gives me the feel that the story isn't about the drivers at all but more about what awaits them. If the MC is the driver then you might rethink introducing him by name.
    The dialogue is great.
    I would keep reading.

  5. I would omit “Could someone have warned us, maybe?” didn't fit for me as something someone in a rush would worry thinking about, there's someone about to die.

    Mostly, when the gardener said "he ain't going nowhere" I expected the reaction to be to go even faster to try to help this guy. A medical team is not going to take the verbal account of a gardener as truth. They would rush to their patient and make their own assessment (I would hope). Plenty of time to get a plastic bag later. Plus, the Fillipino says to hurry up.
    Other than that I loved your description of the beltowwer stabbing up through the fog, and in general liked your description and the urgency you got across

  6. I thought this was very well done. I could feel the urgency, liked the descriptions and pacing, and thought the situation seemed real and accurate.

    But it did seem more like a scene, rather than story, probably because the paramedics were never named. And like Jenn, I felt like these two guys weren't going to matter at all, that the real story hadn't actually started yet, which leaves me with no clue as to where the story's going, so there isn't anything that pulls me on. I'm not invested in anyone yet.

  7. I'm a little nervous that this is a prologue containing two characters who aren't at all relevant to the story and will never appear again. If this is the case, I would suggest starting over.

    If that isn't the case, I think the scene with them in the car lasts too long--it should really only be a very few lines of dialogue and description and then get them to the main event, the body.

    Having said all this, the writing line by line is very solid, I love the title and I think I would probably like the premise very much if I'm guessing right about where it's going.

    So I definitely would have kept reading.

  8. I also loved the stabbing bell tower, especially given the bloody mess that's going to be beneath it.

  9. I liked this and would keep reading. But it was bothering me also that the paramedics weren't named, although if Jenn and the SA are right, they won't be all that important in the story. Apart from that, the only thing that stopped me reading was the verb 'stabbed'. It didn't seem appropriate. 'Loomed' might be better? Up to you as others obviously like it!