Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October Secret Agent #40

TITLE: Smoke and Wait
GENRE: Urban Fantasy

Dmitry sat on the ground between the two bodies. The bloated stinking corpse to his left would never move again. The young girl on his right would stir soon. He could have been on his way hours ago. Instead, he sat and waited.

Their numbers were increasing and far outstripping Dmitry’s abilities to contain them. He hadn’t the first idea where to turn. The others would do nothing unless paid. Dmitry wished, not for the first time, that he didn’t care.

The girl was no more than nineteen. A broken heart dangled from a chain around her neck, the small golden charm engraved with a name: Annie. Was this Annie? Or was Annie wearing this girl’s heart against her chest. Whoever she was, the girl had suffered a lonely death on the forest floor. The part of him that wasn’t exhausted, that very small part, mourned for her.

Dmitry didn’t believe in ghosts or angels. He believed in what he could see and touch. And what he could remember. He remembered the smell of Elena’s perfume, the sound of her voice. She’d loved him until she’d died a normal, human death. Elena never let him forget he cared, even when he wanted to.
And that was why, when the dead girl’s eyes opened, Dmitry apologized before he cut off her head.


  1. I like this. My only comment is in your transitions. I had to read a few times to be sure I was following your drift. 'Their numbers' etc. is confusing for a few seconds bc I'm not sure if you're talking about the bloated corpse or the girl, since I didn't know if the girl was dead or asleep at that point.
    Ditto with the angels/demons statement. Perhaps move that graph around a little, and make the connection stronger between Elena and Dmitry's belief in good/evil.
    Otherwise, your writing is smooth.

  2. He doesn't believe in ghosts or angels but he believes in killing dead people? I agree with Melodie-- I had to read it more than once to really understand what was going on. Great descriptions, though.

  3. Definitely interesting, but a lot of sentences start with Dmitry, and that sounded choppy to me. Really mysterious vibe, fun.

  4. Interesting, though I also don't know what "their numbers were increasing" refers to.

  5. Ditto on the clarification of "Their numbers". There's a time to be coy about plot elements, but this isn't one of them. The reader will want to know immediately whether Dmitry means zombies or not. And who are "the others"? That would help with world-building.

    Aside from what has been mentioned above, the only other quibble I have is the association between the name "Annie", and a heart locket. Know where I'm going on this one? ;) Did Daddy Warbucks give it to her? Maybe a name change would be good, since no one wants to associate a zombie novel with a musical about orphans?

    I'd read on.

  6. I agree with all of the above. The transitions between the dead girl, Annie, and Elena is where I had to read a few times to make sure it was at least 2 girls, possibly 3.

    Did that make any sense? Sorry, I need a nap. Otherwise, I'm intrigued.

  7. I like this a lot. I personally like to unfold a story so some ambiguity is okay with me, even early on (but I do expect it to be resolved within a few pages). Nice job. Good luck!

  8. I didn't find this confusing personally. I'd read on - I thought you did a good job of helping me connect with Dmitry.

  9. No ambiguity, if one reads for context. I like how Dmitry is holding on to civilized behavior, even in horrible situations.

  10. I liked this, too, and wasn't confused. Love the little bit of morbid humor at the end; it shows Dmitry's humanity. And, like David said above, that little bit of ambiguity pulls me into the story.

    I'd read on!

  11. This is a silly nit-pick. But Dmitry (and all its spelling variations) is a name that comes up a lot in your genre. So is Elena. Doesn't mean it's a bad thing, but there are a lot of good names out there.

    I like this beginning. Creepy, a little funny, a little shocking. Kinda gross. I'd definitely read on.

  12. Oooh, good stuff! I like this a lot. One sentence didn't make sense to me: 'Or was Annie wearing this girl's heart against her chest.' Is that in the literal sense? Could just be me, but I wasn't sure.

    Otherwise, really loved it. Great opening sentence, several intriguing things - are these vamps, who are the other people like him, who was Elena... nice job!

  13. I like the title.
    Not sure if I like 'bloated stinking corpse' in 2nd sent - too gruesome for me. Also a bit confusing when girl would stir and in 3rd para referred to as dead? Then did stir? huh?

  14. I liked this and just had a few suggestions. I'm assuming 'they' are zombies. If so, perhaps just say that since it's what most people will infer anyway, I think. And those that don't will just be confused. If they're not zombies, I think you have to tell us what they are. (although, on another level, stating what they are may do in that great ending line.)

    And again, regarding that ending line - it comes off a bit humorous, and humor doesn't seem to be what you're going for. Perhaps, instead of telling that last sentence (which makes it come off as a punchline to a joke, I think,) you show it. Show the girl stirring, coming awake, let Dmitry apologize using dialogue, and then instead of saying he cut off her head, show him actually do it. That, I think, will create the shock I think you're going for, rather than the humor.

  15. For me, there is a little too much confusion going on here. A vague reference to “they” and “the others,” who probably aren’t the “they” but it’s too unclear to be sure. The girl died on the forest floor, but I’m not entirely sure that’s where Dmitry is; no real sense of setting. And for me, waiting for the undead to wake again before re-killing them isn’t a kindness; I don’t see why he couldn’t have chopped her head off before she waked. There are interesting things here, for sure, but I’m not clear enough of them to be drawn in.