Thursday, May 29, 2008

New Beginning 505

Thirty feet below the art gallery parking lot, Lacey McCrae pressed her back flat against the cement wall while a half tonne of steel cage rolled past her face. Trapped in a space barely wider than her hips, she looked out through rigid metal mesh at Wayne, the ex-Mountie who paid her to take these risks so he wouldn’t have to.

“Get in at that sensor,” he said. “I want to finish up and be out of here.”

Claustrophobic, she suspected. He didn’t like working in this underground vault, with its single exit and electronically self-locking elevator shaft. He liked narrow spaces even less. That’s why Lacey was the one in the cage.

Her elbows scraped against the walls as she struggled to get her arms up and reached for the motion sensor.

"That's it," Wayne told her. "Snap the cover off and pull the black wire." Lacey did as instructed. "Great. Now pull back the grille."

Sweat beaded on Lacey's forehead as she forced her fingernail into the edge of the ceiling air grille and pried it back. Dust scratched at her eyes and a small piece of card stock drifted to the floor.

"That's it!" Wayne said. "We're done. Hand me that card."

Lacey wriggled around and used her fingertip to hook the card.

"Perfect!" He reached out his hand. "It's sixty bucks to get your car out if you lose the ticket."

Opening: jeb.....Continuation: anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen Continuations:

* * *

Wayne's heart beat fast as he watched Lacey's tentative progress. Fired from the RCMP for his drinking and gambling problems, he knew they had to pull this off if he was going to cover his debts.

He heard the rumble of another transport cage. "Lacey! Look ou--!"

His heart sank. With Lacey gone, he was finished.


* * *

Renowned collector Max von Grykow, rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Urban Landscrape... Brilliant, brilliant." He took a step closer to the ragged concrete installment with a single, dull brown smear across it. "Just superb. When does the bidding start?"


The wheel wouldn't budge at first. He liked hard work even less than narrow spaces. That's why she was the one who got stuck with the job.

Her legs moved in a smooth rhythm, one foot in front of the other. The wheel started to turn, faster and faster, while Wayne watched the sensor.

"There she goes, eh?" he said. "You're putting out 100 kilowatts. Keep at it for the next hour, until the gallery closes."

An hour of running in place, turning the wheel that created the electricity that powered the lights in Wayne's art gallery. He didn't pay her enough.


But when the disco music started and the strobe lights began to flash off a gigantic mirror ball lowering from the ceiling, Lacey twigged to the double cross and began frantically to try and open the electronic latch.

Then the cage shifted, slid through a new opening in the wall to hang, swaying, above a gigantic pit of sharks. Around the edge, polyester clad couples danced the hustle and electric slide, not caring about her predicament.

"Just great. A sacrifice to Imankraptep, god of writers. I should have never trusted one of Evil Editor's minions around the time of his bloggaversary."


She wouldn't have minded the cage, had it not been for the lion.


She managed to squeeze her hand through a hole in the mesh, feeling like an escapologist trying to shuck free the handcuffs. The sensor was just above her head. All she had to do was remove the casing without touching the--

She flinched back as a loud rasping noise reverberated around the enclosed space. Her nostrils filled with the vile, pungent smell of gas. Jesus! She was going to die!

“Wayne!” She heard shoes clip against concrete. “Wayne! When you left the RCMP, did you have to keep the frigging horse?”

“Sorry,” Wayne replied, ruffling Ajax’s mane. “He gets nervous sometimes, eh.”


She crept sideways, climbed the steel mesh and was yanking the plug on the ceiling-mounted motion-sensor camera before she realized the little 'on' light was already glowing.

"Uh, Wayne."

"Not to worry," said Wayne. "I told you I can rewind the tape to erase that bit. Just cut that little Canaletto from its frame, roll it up - carefully, mind - and push it out through the mesh. Then we'll get you out of there."

Lacey followed orders. After all, she needed this job, needed Wayne's good will to ensure more jobs in her future. Wayne took the small roll of canvas and pointed out a couple of other paintings for which she repeated the
procedure, proud of how little her hand shook while it sliced into artworks worth hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece. She passed each one out through the steel cage, watched Wayne stow them carefully in the pouch he
wore under his work shirt.

"Now can I get out of here?"

"Sure," said Wayne, turning away. "As soon as you figure out how."

He stepped away. The last sound that penetrated the airtight, soundproofed, climate-controlled vault was the shushing of the perfectly balanced steel door as it closed behind him, leaving Lacey alone in the dark with a
disabled security camera above her and about 18 hours of breathable air.

Monday morning opening time was 27 hours away.


Meanwhile, the guards thirty feet above were watching their progress.

"They've been at this for two weeks," said Rick, turning to Ben. "Do you think we should call the police yet?"

"Not yet," said Ben. "I just want to see that chick drill a hole in the wall."

Rick nodded. "Okay." He paused as though he were about to say something more.

"What?" said Ben.

"What do you think our chances are of getting picked up by the networks with this stuff?"


She wasn't crazy about them either, but he paid well and she needed the money.

His security firm was one of the most successful ones in Canada. If they couldn't get in, nobody could. Unfortunately, this test run wasn't going to be quite as simple as they thought.

Someone had been there before them and left behind a gift. Lacey's ex-husband had never looked so peaceful...or so dead.

--Julie Weathers

Evil Editor said...

Claustrophobic, she suspected.

This implies that she doesn't actually know what his problem is, but the rest of the paragraph suggests that she's familiar with his problem from previous jobs. Removing the sentence would keep this from bothering me.

Stacy said...

I liked this and would read on, but I agree with EE's comment "Claustrophobic." Or at least say she knows he's claustrophobic, rather than she just suspects it. Minor nit, though. Otherwise it's intriguing.

writtenwyrdd said...

I was confused by the setting. It reads as if Wayne's in the elevator cage and she's not but yet has to break her way into it.

Agreement re the "Claustrophobic, she suspected" line.

This was interesting and I'd have read on.

Dave Fragments said...

I don't understand this location. She's got her back to a cement wall (presumably a foundation wall) and looks through mesh into the cage.
Then you say" That’s why Lacey was the one in the cage.
Those two statements don't work for me.

I'm mildly claustrophobic. Every so often it erupts. It's not that I can't be in tight spaces, I can. But, it takes all my concentration. I avoid situations where I'll go batshit crazy. I suspect you want him to be the same. So why is he down there with her? I think that you need to consider the situation and think about what action you want to occur here. Why is this particular scene so compelling to the story?

(by the way, don't panic says the HHGG and throw this out, just think about it. Does it work? Why? and how do I fix it?)

Phoenix Sullivan said...

I had the same issue with location as Dave. First the cage is rolling past her, then she's looking out from it. I got confused.

Then there's the claustrophic suspecting thing. However, EE's suggestion to simply remove that sentence (*hugs* EE!) might well create a POV issue depending on what POV the story is in. Right now the rest of that paragraph seems to be connected to Lacey's POV because of the "she suspected" lead in. Remove that sentence, and it becomes either close 3rd in Wayne's POV or omniscient 3rd. It needs an edit for clarity, but you know what POV the rest of the story is in and I don't, so I can't offer a solid suggestion.

And then Lacey is in the cage why really? This opening offers two versions: 1) because Wayne is paying Lacey to take the risk, and 2) because Wayne doesn't like narrow spaces. Now if these versions were told from different POVs, I might forgive the discrepancy. But they appear to both be from Lacey's POV.

I do like the mystery the opening has to it.

Dave Fragments said...

I agree with EE, the Claustrophobia statement is conditional - "suspected" and that is EE's reason for his comment. Lacey knows that he is claustrophobic.

I'll go back to my own mild claustrophobia. You could meet me and never know unless you were sharp enough to see that I never let anyone touch me, I don't let people lean on me to talk, I shy back from "hugs and kisses" and I tend to shy away from crowds, I don't let people stand behind me even in lines (I have a twisty way with lines). No one gets so close enough to me as to trigger the phobia. It's too subtle to notice unless you've been told or are very, very observant.

That's the relationship with Lacey and Wayne. She is his safety net. Instead of looking at him and asking "fear got you again?", she takes action to make sure his phobia doesn't get out of hand.

That's why Lacey was in the one in the cage. She did the tight things so he didn't have to.

Trapped in a space barely wider than her hips, she looked out through rigid metal mesh at Wayne, the ex-Mountie who paid her to take these risks so he wouldn’t have to.

See how these two sentences say the same thing?

Anonymous said...

Man, I love how murderous everybody is around here!

I might use the one about Lacey's ex-husband, too!

Whirlochre said...

Can you fill in the detail about Wayne being an ex-mountie later? I know you need to get your characters established as early as possible but this detail, here, is intrusive — and I think that would be the case if he was still a mountie.

Otherwise -— intriguing.

Sarah Laurenson said...

I liked this and would read on. The tone is wonderful.

Had the same location issue as Dave. I was fairly confused on the first read through.

The claustrophic comment didn't bother me, but I tend to gloss over some words as I read.