Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October Secret Agent #24

TITLE: Hidden in Sadows
GENRE: Magical Realism

Heavy breathing. His—the hunted.

My unsuspecting prey muttered a curse as he lost his footing and slid a few feet down the mountainside.
I smiled. Easy pickings, compliments of cocaine.

Rocks tumbled down as he stumbled again, splinters of shale forcing me to hide behind a tree. I'd waited four days for this—my chance to kill him with no eyewitness. I wasn't about to let him see me and make a break for it.

I peeked around the oak, and the setting sun momentarily blinded me, blood reds and flaming oranges blurring together like the gates of hell. How appropriate.

He stood, hunched over, his hands on his knees. His labored breathing shook his large frame, the back of his neck the same bright red as the sunset. If he continued at this pace, I might not have to kill him. His heart could give out. Perfect… save me the trouble.

But I couldn't rely on the possibility of a heart attack. He had to die by my hand if I wanted to be paid. I removed a throwing knife from its sheath inside my right boot and took aim.

Voices sounded, loud and near. Other hikers. I grimaced. Now wasn't the time to make my move.
The man sat on the edge of the path in a stupor, idly picking up pebbles and letting them fall into a pile. The red Louisiana clay of Driskill Mountain stained his trembling fingers.


  1. This is a great hook. It drew me in right away and I'm curious to know what's going on He had to die by my hand if I wanted to be paid. . Besides, the genre caught my attention (things like this. I like magical realism.

    There were a couple of things that threw me off. For instance Easy pickings, compliments of cocaine. at first I thought it was the victim that was on the cocaine, but later it seems like it's more weight and exertion that will be the victim's undoing, so now I have to wonder who the cocaine statment applies to.

    And I wondered why spend so much time focused on the heart attack killing the man if it was never an option.

    Overall, very intriguing. I want to know more ^_^

  2. Interesting hook, that your hero is an assassin. I have no idea if the mc is a man or woman so you might want to put in a little detail to indicate that. I'd read on to see what happens with the "prey," but I would also want to see some indication of why I should root for this assassin within the next page. Right now, the hunted just seems pathetic, which doesn't endear me to your mc.

    Good job, though. I feel like I have a good visual of the scene.

  3. The scene is very vivid, I can hear the heavy breathing, see the victim slide down the slope, the 'hunter' hiding a few steps behind ...

    But I'd want to know more about the protagonist, about his emotions and motivation. There's nothing in here that makes me root for him/her. You have a lot of the outside action, but little about what's going on on the inside. Otherwise, very well done, a captivating beginning.

  4. Loving some of the imagery in this. I can totally see this scene. Interesting start. And I think you have a fantastic hook. :)

  5. Great stuff. I'd keep reading but I do hope you give us something to like about Mr. Assassin soon or I might stop caring whether he prevails in his evilness.

  6. I like the tension and action you have going here, good stuff! But I agree with the other readers. I'm all for a not-to-nice MC, but I do need to see a glimpse of his/her 'humanity' on the first page.

  7. I recognize this from previous contests and think this is the best version I've seen. I did think we needed to see the Mc's motivation. Maybe add some internal monologue that gives us a clue as to why she's doing this. Is it just her job? Is it personal? And she comes across cold and professional. Is she, or does she have some qualms about killing? Perhaps get us into her head a bit more.

  8. This is a strong opening scene with great action and description. But I'm not getting any sense of 'magic realism' yet. It reads more like a contemporary fantasy or horror.

  9. I've seen this one before, and you've improved it greatly. It's smoother and easier to understand. A couple of things still tripped me up (they've been mentioned before, but I'll repeat).

    First, you say he's easy pickings "compliments of cocaine," but a minute later, he's about to die of a heart attack on account of being out of shape. If the two things are related, I need a little more clarification.

    Second, you say that if he died of a heart attack, that would be perfect and save you the trouble, but then you say he has to die by your hand or you don't get paid. So which is it? (Maybe you mean, you'll have to kill him because you can't leave it to chance, whether or not he'll have a heart attack? I'm not sure.)

    And the last problem I had was more of a personal preference. I have a hard time reading a book when I find the MC distasteful or unsympathetic, and a hired assassin falls into that category. So clearing up those confusing points would help. This story still wouldn't be for me, but it's more likely to find a home if the logic is clear.

    Your writing is strong overall and you clearly have talent. Good luck.

  10. The writing is vivid, but it comes down to action. So a person/thing has been hired to kill some dude. What else? Why should I care? And who should I be caring about? The POV switch at the end seems to indicate that the kill-ee is our protagonist, but at this point, I feel more tied to the killer. I just want to help her/him, because s/he seems new at this killing business. Four days? I probably would’ve shot the guy when he was buying the coke; police chalk it up to a drug deal gone bad, smooth sailing. And s/he certainly needs help if s/he feels s/he can’t run faster than the stumbling cokehead. Not quite buying this person as a professional killer at this point.