Thursday, January 12, 2012

Drop the Needle #15

TITLE: Extraction
GENRE: YA Dystopian

Sixteen-year-old Clementine isn't supposed to get sick in the underground society of the Core, so there must be something wrong with her. Now she's received her first monthly injection, which will make her healthy and happy.

It doesn't seem to be working...

The world tilts and blurs before my eyes. I lower myself onto the cot, pull my legs to my chest, and curl up in a ball. My head isn’t hurting yet, but I bet it will. Just like before.

What's wrong with me?

I breathe in and out, begging the waves of nausea to wash away. But they don’t. They get worse. I grit my teeth while my eyes water.

This happens every time they give me something. It’s supposed to be the same as what they give everyone else, but if I’m the only one who gets this sick, maybe it’s not the same. Maybe it’s not me.
My eyes fall on a black camera in one of the room’s high corners, so tiny I wouldn’t notice it if I hadn't seen one before, in the dark on that staircase with Beechy. Its red light flashes every couple seconds, and my heartbeat picks up.

They’re watching me. Someone in a dark room is monitoring the effect of my monthly injection.

Whoever’s watching has no right to see me weak like this. Especially if they did this to me. Especially if they want to make me weak.

It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, to push myself up with my elbows and throw my legs over the side. My feet are unsteady. I grab the bedpost, then the wall.

I have to pause a couple seconds to catch my breath. Dammit, come on.

Sweat makes my palm fumble on the door handle. I get it open and stumble into the corridor before anyone can stop me.


  1. Great excerpt! I really don't have much to criticize, but I'll give it a shot anyway :).

    "This happens every time they give me something," is a little wordy/unspecific. I don't know enough about the story to know how to be more specific, but maybe something like "give me a treatment," or "treat me."

    Also, again I don't know much about the story, but she jumps to the conclusion that they have given her something different than everyone else pretty quickly. This is a pretty big revelation, and I think you could draw it out a little longer for dramatic effect and also let us follow her reasoning. For example, does she think it's on purpose? Or an accident? I think that would make a difference in how she reacts. Consider (if it fits) having her consider the possibility that they gave her something else, maybe by mistake, then have her notice the camera and that makes her think something sinister is going on. It would lead the reader step-by-step through her thought process so we're with her the whole way. Just a thought!

    Consider losing the red light on the camera. Presumably they wouldn't want people to know they're being monitored so would be smart enough not to have a red light on it. The flashing light makes it hard to believe someone could miss it. If you need a reason for it to catch her eye, maybe have it move just a twitch (like it was keeping her in view).

    She notices the camera, and I'm assuming that's when she starts to realize something sinister is going on with her injections. Her next line "they have no right to see me weak," seems like an odd motivation (again I don't know your character). I would think her first thoughts would be "why, for what purpose," then her thinking about how she thinks it would be safer to appear normal--i.e. some sort of plotting to make herself safe instead of a jump to anger, when she doesn't really understand what's going on.

    And lastly, as she pushes herself up and leaves, it might be helpful to the reader (so we can stay in firmly in her head), if you give us some clues as to her motivation (that she feels like she needs to escape/get out of there). That could also increase the tension because she'll have a goal that can be thwarted. You could also increase the tension by having her think that she had to get out of there before the blinding headache shows up and stops her.

    Again, despite all my criticisms (if you can even call them that--more like suggestions), I really liked your entry and thought you did a great job. Since I don't know much about your story, please take my comments with a mountain of salt, and hopefully something in there might be a tiny bit helpful.

    Great work!

  2. Wow, I really liked this. It's an interesting premise, and the situation is very suspenseful.

    I agree with the previous commenter that she jumps to the conclusion that they are giving her a different medicine a little too quickly. And about the red light being too noticeable. Really, SwiftScribbler covered everything that needed to be addressed here.

    Good job!

  3. Great premise! I can only reiterate what SwiftScribble said on all acounts. Good job :)

  4. I like your writing, and the premise here seems like an interesting one, even though I can't tell too much about it with just this small snippet.

    The one thing that really threw me off was your lead-in. If this is her first injection, then some of her thought processes don't seem to coincide.

    That's the only negative comment I can come up with. Everything else was great.