Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August Secret Agent #12

TITLE: The Pit

Carbonado Currier: October 24, 1889

Explosion Reaps Death and Mystery
The bodies of four miners were recovered from the gloomy depths of Carbon Hill Mine after Monday's deadly explosion, the most disastrous in the mine's forty year history. They were raised to the surface through a ventilation shaft near the accident site.

Mine spokesman, James Lear said, “The calamitous event was likely caused by a pocket of methane gas ignited by the open flame of a miner’s headlamp. Efforts to recover four more members of the unfortunate crew are continuing. The deceased will be buried at company expense.”

A member of the rescue team, who wishes to remain anonymous, reports the blast not only brought down much of the tunnel, but also opened an entrance to a cluster of natural caverns heretofore unknown. He claims there is no sign of the bodies of the missing. “I don't understand,” he said. “We found helmets, headlamps, and picks but no bodies. Not a trace.”

Carbon Hill Coal has refused further comment.

* * *

March, 1983

From the white-pillared entrance of Carbonado School, the flight of red-painted stairs stuck out like a tongue, and I pictured it slurping up students in the morning and spitting them out in the afternoon. Despite being the end of spring break, it was my first day in this building, and with each upward step, the knot in my stomach pulled tighter.

I hesitated at the door and gulped down some air. No turning back.


  1. I'm torn about starting with the article. It was a slog to read, and I started skimming... then we got to the part about the natural caverns and the bodies missing, and I was hooked again.... So I don't know. I think I might rather her find that article on her own, later, as part of the story.

    As for the beginning of the narrative, the writing is nice and I liked the analogy of the school eating people. Why is she nervous about going to this school? And should Carbonado School be Carbonado High School? It seemed odd without some indication of whether it was high school or elementary or whatever.

    I'm really hoping for something supernatural involving those caves... but the plain YA genre, makes me wonder if they're coming back in any big way.

    I'm unfamiliar with the word Currier with regard to (what I'm assuming is) a newspaper (but I might just be uninformed). Do you mean Courier?

  2. I've seen this entry before and liked it then, too. I only wish the prologue/article was left off so we could see more of the first page.

    I think the first line after 1983 might best be broken into two sentences; it's a great visual, then the character can be shown reacting. That could be a style choice, but it's a good visual either way.

    I wish there was more to comment on with the story! I'm wondering what type of YA this is--contemporary, thriller etc?

  3. It's a shame we only get two paragraphs in 1983. I like each and every sentence - the tongue, the knot pulling tighter, gulping air.

    The article is problematic. What I like about it: it's well written and it introduces a great mystery. What I don't like about it: it's an article.

    At first glance, I wasn't a huge fan of your title either, but it's growing on me. Blunt and a bit ominous.

    I didn't think I'd like this entry because of the article, but I do, because your writing is good and you have enough hints of an intriguing story to make me want to keep reading.

  4. I really enjoyed this submit -- I like that it starts off in 1889 with the article and your left to wonder where these missing miners disappeared to. Then you're brought to what I'm assuming is the present, in 1983 -- which is where it really takes off. The whole visual around the red stairs was very well done!

    Like one of the other commenters mentioned, I'd like to know what the sub-genre is -- but otherwise, I thought this was well written and I'd read on for sure.

  5. I like this. I'd keep reading to find out what happened with the miners. I'm hoping there's a supernatural twist.

  6. I liked the article. It serves the story, I think, in the same way as a prologue. I also remember reading this before, and I have to say, I am so curious to find out what's going on in the caves. I wish you had included a genre.

    We only get one parg of the actual story, so it's hard to comment. The MC is starting his or her first day of school at a new school late in the year.

    I'd read more, and it's the article, more than the present-day story, that holds my interest.

  7. This has all sorts of possibilities. The newspaper article tells of strange events and caverns way back in 1889, and I think the stories will intersect somewhere. This piques my interests and pulls me in.

    The image at the beginning is a compelling visual. The fear of the protagonist is palpable.

    I would definitely want to read more.

  8. I think starting a novel with a newspaper article is probably not the best idea. As a reader I'd rather be shown that there has been a mining accident through the characters dialogue and the setting of a mining town. It does have potential to be an interesting set up for a story. Best of luck!