Friday, December 01, 2006

New Beginning 168

I had been invisible for nearly forty minutes and I was in pretty bad shape. My hands were shaking. I was starving and parched. My back hurt from trying to sit still but I couldn’t risk shifting position because the receptionist had returned and was sitting about five feet away and she would have heard the chair creaking under my weight. I probably shouldn’t have sat down in the first place but when I finally got to the General’s door and found it locked, I wasn’t sure what else to do but wait and hope he’d be back soon.

Worst of all, I was sweating copiously, my naked body slick with unseen droplets, and I think maybe she could smell me. Every now and then she seemed to wrinkle her nose and glance around the room, at the trash can near the hallway door and the potted plant in the corner, before returning her attention to the document displayed on her computer screen.

I tried to keep my breathing shallow. Other than the tapping of her keyboard and the hum of the PC fan, the room was quiet, and the slightest noise could draw attention to me. After a couple of minutes, the intercom on the receptionist’s desk buzzed, and a sharp click introduced the General’s voice. “Is the Marseille report ready yet?” So . . . he'd been there all along.

“Almost done," the receptionist replied. "I’ll have it to you in five minutes.” She paused for a moment. “By the way, there’s someone waiting to see you.” I looked around the room with a rising feeling of panic.

“Oh,” the General’s reply came back over the speaker. “Is it Private Smallcox?”

The receptionist looked directly at me, her gaze running up and down my body. “Yes,” she replied, “I would say it is.”

I crossed my legs, vowing to have words with the guy who sold me the invisibility spray.

Opening: Joe Mosher.....Continuation: ril


Anonymous said...

LOL on the continuation!

I quite liked the beginning; there's intriguing stuff, right away, with nice tension and hints of an oncoming plot. Good work, author!

me said...

Private Smallcox? Snicker.

Beth said...

I liked this opening, with or without the continuation. It immediately pulled me. Intriguing situation and good use of sensory detail.

Rei said...

"My back hurt from trying to sit still but I couldn’t risk shifting position because the receptionist had returned and was sitting about five feet away and she would have heard the chair creaking under my weight."

The excessive clauses in this sentence scared the commas out of your first paragraph.

As for the content, I wasn't sure whether the "invisible" aspect was real or metaphorical at first. In the first sentence, I thought literal. I then was led to believe metaphorical. By the second paragraph, I moved back to "literal". Perhaps consider moving some of the clues that this is literal invisibility (such as the fact that (s)he's naked) to the fore.

HawkOwl said...

For once I really liked the continuation. The opening itself is above average as far as writing skill, I think. I wasn't interested in the story, but that's just me.

McKoala said...

Pretty much with rei; I wasn't sure if it was real invisibility or not. I also tripped up on that long, comma-less sentence.

Am I right in thinking that fresh sweat doesn't smell?

Another great continuation from ril. Isn't anybody else submitting continuations? Or is it just ril's genius that always wins through?!

Evil Editor said...

Evil Editor is concerned that ril and Kate have been chosen so much, others aren't bothering to submit, which only increases the frequency with which they get chosen. Neither of them has submitted for the one remaining opening--now's your chance, others.

Anonymous said...

I'm on it.

Anonymous said...

a rare instance of a nice beginning, and a not-at-all rare instance of a nice continuation!! Go author...

Bernita said...

An interesting beginning.
Good work.
Perhaps a few more periods rather than commas.
One tiny nit-pick - "starving?"
Invisibility does take effort, hence the dehydration and sweating, but "starving" seems a little over the top.
Probably just a personal thing on my part.
Yet, "hungry" might not do all that well either.

Anonymous said...

Several of my continuations were selected over the summer and fall, but I stopped submitting after a certain style (not mine) seemed always to be chosen. I switched over to "guess the plots" where there's a little more wiggle room when it comes to style (since there are 6 selected per facelift).

Anonymous said...

Would submit if I could, but health issues have sapped my creativity to the point where I can't even start my year-end accounting, much less contribute anything worth reading here.

Anonymous said...

Agree about the long sentences distracting, but despite them, the opening concept was quite fascinating. I'd turn the page to find out the why/how of invisibility and what the general could do about it.

Fresh sweat isn't fresh any more after five hours; even if there's fresh, it's working on top of the not-fresh. Also, we don't know what chemical process turned the guy invisible, so he might be porously excreting something disgusting like a soldier who's been surviving on MRE's for six weeks - odor of a Dow chem factory and sweat so caustic is rots the clothes. Hmm....

Anonymous said...

Duh - sorry, not five hours worth of sweat...

Now you know why I'm not contributing... absolutely no concentration or recall.

GutterBall said...

...odor of a Dow chem factory and sweat so caustic it rots the clothes.

Now that is a story idea! Like a misfit superhero mystery thriller!

Anonymous said...

Please submit, minions - it's what makes it fun. I'm concentrating on my own stuff (and some Guess the Plots) and I want to read *your* continuations!

PS great one, ril!

PS Author - this is intriguing and weird. I like weird.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he's an invisible Big Foot. I hear they smell pretty bad. -JTC

writtenwyrdd said...

Well, I did like this. Interesting, well written. I would like a few more sentences rather than clauses, though, just like everybody else has been saying.

One thing, considering that being naked tends to get chilly, I found myself thinking that the sweatiness must be a side effect of being invisible.

Dave Fragments said...

I'm not thrilled by the past tense but I like the opening.

Anonymous said...

Author here. This was my 2006 NaNoWriMo opening, submitted because even through the work isn't finished, EE needs openings. Cough 'em up, people!

Glad to hear (almost) everyone liked it. Mechanically, I agree with the comments on clunkiness, but much of that is gone now. I've started the second draft by switching to third-person because it will work better for the story.

Some other random notes:

- The title of the book is "Invisible Max"
- He (Max) is literally invisible
- Being invisible takes effort and huge amounts of energy, and can be sustained only a short time. By the end of that time, Max is famished (thanks, Bernita!)
- Great continuation, ril! In an odd coincidence (or maybe I'm predictable), the General was in fact inside his locked office the whole time in my book. No comment on how well or poorly Max is hung, though.
- Maybe fresh sweat doesn't smell. Max's isn't fresh. Hopefully you'll get to read the whole book and find out why not.
- Being naked is chilly, unless it's warm in the building and you've just climbed five flights of stairs.
- Dave: not thrilled by past tense? Would you prefer it in present? Or did you mean you weren't thrilled by first-person (in which case you'll be thrilled with the rewrite, which is in third.)

Thanks for all the comments, and congrats / thanks to ril for the great continuation!

Now, all of you, submit an opening already! Write one if you must. There must be a slew of NaNoWriMo manuscripts among us, ready to be shared. Bring them on!

[ Joe Mosher ]

Talia said...

writtenwyrdd... now that you have mentioned the chill factor I'm thinking the name smallcox may be appropriate to the situation?