Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September Secret Agent #47

TITLE: The Trajectory of Dreams
GENRE: Psychological Suspense

Breaking into an astronaut’s house took finesse. A quiet twist of a wrist with a key in a lock, sure footfalls down the always-creaky hallways. It was an art, one I’d been perfecting for years.
Nothing could be perfect enough, although every molecule in my body yearned for the exacting fulfillment of my life’s work. And now, standing in Colonel Janet Markowitz’s bedroom, her sleeping form just feet away, there was nothing left to do but hope – hope she didn’t wake up, hope the sound of my pen scratching over the polysomnography observation report didn’t disturb her sleep or somehow interfere with her natural patterns. Hope I didn’t doom the next space shuttle mission.

She sighed, and I froze, the word “cycle” only half spelled out in my spiky handwriting.

The seconds ticked off, an audible metronome recounting my anxiety, from an old-fashioned clock hanging on her bedroom wall. Her breathing eased back into the usual for her: a deep intake expanding her slight ribcage, followed by a slow leak type of a hiss, all through her slightly-opened lips.
I released my own soft huff and finished writing the dangling word and redotting the “i” in my name – Lela White – penned carefully in the corner of the form. The imperfection of the shape of the mark had been bothering me for an hour. Satisfied, I turned to study the contents of her dresser top.


  1. Ok, interesting, but I was confused. At first I think the MC is a thief. Then, after I looked up polysomnagraphy I realize this is part of a sleep study, but more confused because I'm not sure why she would break into someone's house for a sleep study. And why is she studying the dresser - is it part of the study, related to the break-in comments or what.

    So those questions do want to make me read further, but if I remained confused for long I might stop.

    You do write powerfully. "Nothing could be perfect . . ." great sentence, some power was lost because we don't know her life's work. "The seconds ticked off . . ." that was great!

  2. I like the idea of breaking into an astronaut's house, but when I read "finesse," I was hoping for something clever or unusual. I think everyone has opened a lock with a key and tiptoed down a hallway. I don't see where the art or years of practice apply.

    I'm curious about why MC is writing on the observation report--I'm inferring that she's changing it--but I don't see why MC is so concerned about making a noise when there's an old clock ticking. Can handwriting be more noisy than a ticking clock?

    Basically there's a nice sense of mystery, but MC is difficult to relate to. Years of practice unlocking a door and worrying that the scratch of a pen is louder than a ticking clock turn MC into a weirdly obsessive individual. If that's the intent, it's interesting but needs to be clarified.

  3. I really like this one. I agree with the comment above that the comment about finesse doesn't completely make sense--why would it require anymore finesse than breaking into anyone else's house, anyway.

    But then I loved the overall concept and was very hooked to see what was going on and what would happen next.

  4. The way your character lets himself in with a key to work on a sleeping individual makes me think of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

    'Hope I didn't doom the next space shuttle mission' threw me. So, if she wakes up she can't go? And would it really be doomed if she had to be replaced?

    I'd probably keep reading.

  5. I'm intrigued and would like to keep reading. Your writing is generally very strong and you have a great sense of how to use words.

    I was a bit confused. Some of those questions (what is she doing there? what would happen if the astronaut woke up) I could stand to learn later. Some I'm just confused about--like in the last paragraph, you talk about re-dotting the "i" and how the imperfection in the shape had been bothering her for an hour. Has she been standing there for an hour? Why did't she fix it as soon as it started bugging her? Why resist re-dotting for a whole hour?

    It seems as though you're trying to sneak her name in, and this isn't a bad way to do it, but I'd cut the reason for re-dotting, or at least have her notice the imperfection right before she re-dots. Staring at the bad dot for an hour with pen in hand just doesn't make sense to me.

    Still, nice tension. Good work.

  6. Overall I liked this, and I would read on. I think you can drop the 'astronaut' in the first sentence. If you had said she was breaking into the house of a security expert, or a mob boss, that sentence would make more sense, but as the SA said, I don't see why breaking into an astronaut's house would be any more difficult than anyone else's. I think you can introduce that she is an astronaut a bit later. I did like the fact that we think the MC is a burglar, then she turns out to be a scientist or doctor. I do agree though that shape of the mark bothering Ella for so long didn't quite sit right. If she's concentrating so much on not waking Janet up, would she really spend so much time and effort worrying about the mark?

    Just little nits, as I said, I enjoyed this.

  7. Very intrigued! Love the title and the overall concept. I'm curious to see how it'll progress so I'd definitely read more! Good luck!