Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New Beginning 955

Unable to look away from the thick, sharp needle ready to spew cyanide into my veins, I wonder if it really matters how I die—because it’s going to happen either way.

He wrenches my head to the side, drives his knee into my chest, and exposes my jugular.

I hold my breath, tears clouding my vision, waiting for the pain. But, in that intense moment of anticipation, I realize I’m wrong.

Totally wrong.

How I die doesn’t matter for me because dead is dead. But how I die will matter for this beautiful boy whose thumb is poised on the syringe’s plunger. After all he’s lost, all he’s been through, he won’t be able to handle the guilt.

But If I can escape with him and then I don’t make it, well, that’s my fault. Not his.

The cold point of the needle touches my skin.

"Okay, okay!" I cry. "You win. I'll go to the Zombie Ball with you. But only if I can wear a costume; not as real zombie."

Opening: Anita.....Continuation: Anon.


Evil Editor said...

I'd read on at least to find out what makes the narrator, who seems at first to be resigned to dying, think that he can escape and that if he does, the boy who's about to kill him will escape with him. It must be a gladiator battle, but instead of sword vs. trident it's syringe vs. persuasive talking.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

This is well-written, and though I can't tell what's going on (I assumed the protag was terminally ill and that this was an assisted suicide) I certainly felt drawn onward to find out.

I'd lose "thick, sharp". It's distracting. Most needles are sharp, very few are thick, and fewer words give more immediacy. Adjectives slow action. And you're in actionland here, not descriptionland.

arhooley said...

Author, The problem I have is the images, which are confusing the sensory impression that you seem to intend. It's true that a needle with a large bore could be both thick and sharp, but I have to think about it too much to get the idea of an object that is simultaneously thick and sharp; it definitely wouldn't work for a saw or a razor. Also, the needle hasn't touched the narrator's skin yet. Could it be long and gleaming? Also, "spew" isn't right.

I get that you want to prolong this description, but the killer seems to be moving in slo-mo if the narrator can feel the cold point of the needle on his skin; if the killer really means to get this done, then the first sensation the narrator should feel is penetration.

Also, now the needle is "cold." Does that ring true? I've never had an injection where I felt the coldness of the needle.

One final thing I'm curious about: why doesn't the killer go for the carotid artery instead of the jugular? Shazzam! Cyanide everywhere.

Dave Fragments said...

When I first read this, I thought it was too long but I often read EE's openings at the wrong times (like too late at night and when dinner is cooking and I've got cooking utensils in my hands) SO anything that moves in slow motion like this suffers.

Reading it now, There are word choices I would change but those are stylistic.

My one caution is that you end the first sentence with "either way" and that sets up a dynamic that better be answered in the next few hundred words.

I am not with EE on this opening. I don't see this as Spartacus standing over the defeated on the sand asking for thumbs up or thumbs down. I see this as a situation where death is the only way out and this is the climactic moment of a suicide pact or a protest killing to end a situation.

PLaF said...

P1: … because it’s going to happen either way.
What’s the other way? You’ve only described one way. It’s like saying you’re between a rock.
P2: I like it. Wrench, drives, exposes. Lots of action.
P3: I don’t like it, especially compared to P2. This is tell, tell, and tell. And it’s anticlimactic to P2 instead of building on the tension.
I suck in what could be my last breath and wait for the pinch that will signal my demise.
P5: “How I die doesn’t matter to me because dead is dead” doesn’t make sense to me. Dead may be dead, but it doesn’t explain why the narrator believes the method of her death is irrelevant. It might make more sense if death was “the end” or his life is insignificant anyway or he never thought he’d make it this far in the first place.
P6: I don’t understand “if I can escape with him and then I don’t make it”. It reads like something is missing.
I might read on if I can experience the adventure with the narrator, but not much further if you’re only going to tell me about it.

vkw said...

I would lose "thick" but sharp I would keep. Sure all needles are sharp, but the narrator would be focused on how sharp that needle is.

I stumbled over "either way" as well. I wish it said, "....it's going to happen either way. I'm either going to die here and now by poison or when the Hulk shows up to pound my head into the wall."

that would hook me. I also didn't like "beautiful boy". I would drop "beautiful", just because, it felt icky.

drop the last sentence or change it to "the needle touches my skin".

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Vkw, the problem I have with "sharp" is it's an extra word and when you're trying to build tension extra words are not your friends.

Chicory said...

Maybe I'm not very saintly, but unless the narrator already knows his would-be-murderer I'm surpised at his concern for the kid's well-being. And if he does know the kid, why isn't he using his name? Personlly, I think `about to be punctured by a poisoned needle' is high on my list of worst possible deaths and I would totally choose `Other' even if dead is dead -but that might just be me. (I have a thing about needles.) The situation is definitely gripping, I'm just wondering how well I'd relate to a character who is so resigned to death. How invested should I be in his goals if he's already given up on survival?

arhooley said...

"Beautiful boy" gave me the icks too, but I thought it was intentional.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Yeah, I took "beautiful boy" and the fact that the protagonist was resigned to death, and yet concerned about someone else's well-being, all as information about the character. I wanted to read on to find out who this unusual person was.

I've spent time around people who are facing the likelihood of a prolonged, painful death in the not-too-distant future. They wouldn't find the character's choice as alienating as Chicory does. I don't either.

heellisgoa.com said...

I would read on to discover why the narrator would be concerned for the person who is taking his/her life.

I'm intrigued.

Rachel6 said...

Nice job, author. You definitely do a great job of sucking me in, and of making me wonder "Who IS this guy?!" I'm deeply curious about what leads up to this fight (given the verbs in p2, I'm thinking fight).

Along with PLaF, I'm not very fond of p3. My specific nit is the second sentence, "that intense moment of anticipation". But I would totally read this book.

Anonymous said...

Losing interest with the contradictions.

First sentence and second last, odd juxtaposition.

Veins vs vein? A few things threw me off track.