Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January Secret Agent #30

TITLE: Everland
GENRE: Young Adult

The prick of six feet crawl on my skin. I jump from the floor, stifling a scream. I swat the cockroach, sending it flying to the concrete floor. The bug drops, unfazed by the meter and a half plummet, and scurries beneath the metal shelves in our dark, abandoned studio. This is hardly the first time I have had pests crawl on me; still, I shiver at the phantom course it has left behind, like the trail of a garden snail. The sour smell of our mildewed mattresses tickles at my nose. Eager for fresh air, I lean against the paneless window, allowing the nighttime air to wash over me, but careful not to look down at the street three stories below.

Plumes of gray smoke rise into the polluted midnight sky and mingle with dark, ominous storm clouds, as if they were the ghosts of those who once walked the streets of London before they came; the Marauders. Pirates.

In the distance, the faint orange glow of gas lanterns, which illuminate the remains of the city flickers, daring me to venture out beyond the safety of our dusty apartment above the old furniture warehouse; our current hideout for now until it is time to move on. Taking in a deep breath to still my trembling hands, I swing my leg through the broken window and onto the fire escape, answering the city’s call.

“Where do you think you are going?” her accusing whisper comes from behind me.


  1. I really like the idea you have going on here, but there is something about the first line that bothers me. Did you maybe mean the prickle of six feet instead of prick? Other than that, I would love to read more.

  2. The first line threw me off, for some reason when you said the prick of six feet, I though distance instead of feet. I may change the description--when a bug crawls on you, you generally don't feel the individual feet walking.

    That aside you create a great picture with the details of the mildewed mattress, the picture of a London at night.

    If it's midnight and really dark, would the main character be able to see the cockroach scuttle along the floor a meter and a half away?

    I want to know why the main character's hands are trembling--and the more about the conflict.

    You did a good job bringing the setting to life.

    Good luck!

  3. There's some nice imagery here, but some of your descriptions in the first paragraph seem a tiny bit off.

    The "prick" of cockroach feet has already been mentioned. "Prickle" is more appropriate.

    The feeling the roach leaves behind should probably bring something else to mind other than a slimy snail track. An itch?

    I'm not sure the smell of moldy mattresses would "tickle" a nose. Maybe "burn" it?

    The second and third paragraphs are very well done.

  4. The first few lines read a little like a list - "This happened. I did that. I did that." From the fourth sentence on the writing really flows well, and the rest of the paragraph is very well written and really draws you into the world with the imagery and voice.

    I was a little bothered by "leaned against the paneless window" - if it's paneless, what is s/he leaning against? The frame? The wall? The sill?

    I'm really interested in the concept, and the dystopian London idea. Are you sure you mean "apartment" and not "flat" or "studio flat"? It may just be me, but that threw me a little as I'm more used to hearing "flat" in a London context than "apartment"!

    I want to find out more, and read on - it's definitely an intriguing premise!

  5. I liked this one, very good scene setting. A few small problem areas to address.

    o I too had a problem with prick of feet. Do cockroaches have sharp points on their feet? For me their scuttling touch makes the hairs on my arm stand on end.

    o Since I am metric challenged, I also don't know how long a meter and a half is. I assume it's a clue to the narrator's height, so it's important and a problem for me.

    o Mildewed mattress might make my nose contract or itch or tingle. Tickle seems out of place when you are setting up this dark scene.

    o Also a problem with the garden snail reference. Again, it seems too lighthearted for this dark scene. You might want to consider something more ethereal to tie into the wonderful image,'phantom course'. For example; like a cold draft in an closed room. Not wonderful, but you get the idea.

    o Consider adding a defining detail to the 'gray smoke'. From factories, or chimneys, or burning buildings, or??

    o I think there should be a comma after 'remains of the city,'.

    o Is the apartment only dusty? Again, rather a weak word for the space you have so far described; cockroaches, broken windows open to plumes of gray smoke and gas fumes from the streetlights. I would have guessed dilapidated, abandoned, filthy?

    Having picked those nits, this is a story I would like to read. It gives a good sense of time and place, and gives us some idea of what the narrator thinks about his situation. It also gives a hint of the conflict he has both with himself and with 'her'.

  6. The idea behind what you've written is interesting enough to make me want to read more.

    A few technical issues--

    As written, the prick is walking across her skin, not the feet. perhaps Six feet prickle across my skin.

    If there are no panes of glass in her windows, wouldn't the apartment already be filled with fresh air?

    ANd she only swings one leg through the window, so she's half inside and half outside. Is that what you're going for, or is she supposed tobe out on the fire escape.

  7. The phrase the “prick of six feet,” stuck out to me too, but that's easy enough to address. Overall, the opening does a really nice job of setting the scene. I'm intrigued by this version of London and would read on.