Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April Indy 500 #5

TITLE: The Hourglass Bridge
GENRE: YA Fantasy

Di couldn’t decide whether to run away or wet herself.  Thankfully, being paralyzed with fear made it difficult to do either.

There’s someone in my house! The realisation struck her again. Locked in a silence pierced only by the ring of her nervous system in her ears, she stared at the miniature, wooden hourglass on the bookshelf. It didn’t look particularly scary, standing on a lace doily next to a bowl of potpourri, but those things had been there five seconds ago.

The hourglass hadn’t.

Coby? She grasped at a desperate hope as the last, silvery grains of sand trickled through the rough, glass shell. No. Her brother was upstairs, oblivious, while she was alone with a potential robber, axe murderer or raving lunatic for company. Or maybe even all three.

She pressed herself against the wall to cover her back, throwing panicked glances up the hall in both directions. The skin on her right arm prickled, where, only an inch away, the wall ended for the world’s creakiest stairs. If she went up to check on her brother, she’d cut off any means of escape. But if she tried searching for the intruder, she couldn’t move anywhere without leaving the rest of the house open for them to sneak around.

Di locked her eyes on the hallway phone. And something crashed to the floor above her.

Coby! She dived around the corner, without considering who she’d meet or how she might defend herself, and found Coby standing at the top of the stairs. He raised his hands in surrender.

“Before you go mental,” he said as a cricket ball rolled out behind him, “that vase was ugly anyway.”

“Uh-huh.” Di couldn’t even process his words. “Where did this come from?” She jerked a thumb over her shoulder.

“What?” Coby craned his neck to see beyond her. She turned to follow his gaze. The hourglass was gone.

“That’s impossible.” Di groped across the doily and checked behind the bookshelf; on the floor; and even in the gap between the shelves and the grandfather clock. “There was an hourglass right here – a little antique thing. I swear.”

“Ooookay…” Coby raised his eyebrows. “Forget the vase, you’re mental already,” he added, kicking the ball into his room and disappearing after it.

“But— I—”

Ignore him, said a voice in her head. Sure he’d caught her creeping through the house with a butcher’s knife two weeks ago, looking for what turned out to be nothing more than a mouse in the pantry, but that didn’t make her crazy and neither did this.  No, she was just seeing things after last nights’ study chewed into her scheduled seven and a quarter hours’ sleep. Di yawned and checked her watch – and the sight woke her faster than being drenched in a bucket of ice water. How could it be that late already? Ironing Coby’s shirt had stuffed up her routine a bit, but by this much? The bus would be there any minute.


  1. I recall reading a past version of this story. I liked the premise before, and it has really improved since.:)

    A couple of things....

    1) I didn't follow this sentence. "No, she was just seeing things after last nights’ study chewed into her scheduled seven and a quarter hours’ sleep." Now that I type it out, is she referring to the mouse? Might need to be a bit clearer, as I got held up at this part.

    2) Any way you can make the time of day more obvious? I read the entire excerpt assuming it was night. It just added to the scare for me. But then all the sudden it was morning and the school bus was there and I had to rethink the entire scene. You could always add streaks of sunshine coming through the window. Maybe the morning light glaring off the hourglass.
    My second thought was that time was literally flying by, thanks to the mysterious hour glass. In that case, you really need to play up the time of day with some showing.

    3) Any way you can give a small hint as to Coby's age? I assume younger brother, as she's taking care of him.

    Other than that, you do a lot of showing, which really pulled me into the scene. I could feel the character's fear, as I think we've all been scared of something that may or may not be there.

  2. I also had trouble with what time of day this occurred in, and the exact location of Di at first, and the hourglass. I too at first thought night, and maybe she was in her room especially as she dives around the corner to see the staircase.

    Though she has had to go around a corner her brother is able to see this bookshelf from the top of the stairs? It really pulled me away from your story while I frowned and re-read over a few times trying to understand.

    Also I don't know if anyone really thinks about wetting themselves, usually if anything, would be an involuntary fear caused response.

    I do agree you used a nice amount of showing in this piece. Good luck with it. :)

  3. I was confused about the time of day as well. Like others, I thought it was night and then it turned out to be morning, presumably just before school. I had difficulty placing exactly where the character was in space as well, although I'm sure that if I had read the parts leading up to this scene I would have a better feel for it.

    There is some good underlying tension here, but to me the problems with the setting drained whatever had managed to build. Smooth out the prose and make the setting/timing more clear, and you'll have yourself a nice, tense scene that could fit in a horror story (although this is fantasy, of course).

    Also, for me it's more of a personal preference but I wouldn't open with a reference to urination (assuming this is the opening of a story). For one thing, it doesn't make a lot of sense that a person wouldn't be able to urinate since fear makes most loose control of their bladders. That was literally my first thought upon reading that section of the story. You don't want your reader distracted from the get go by a physiological statement that, to me at least, did not make sense.

    This is a good start, with plenty of showing and vivid descriptions :)

  4. I agree with the others, as far as the story timing. Also watch that first sentence. Although it is really strong first sentence, the wetting pants thing reads a bit distastful. I think you could change change a few words and make it shine like the rest of your story which reads very susenceful. You have a wonderful way with descriptions, and your showing drew me to the end. I really enjoyed reading your story and would read more.

  5. I really enjoyed this story and look forward to seeing where it leads. Since this is a story for YA I had my 13 year old daughter read this as well. She said she loves the story line and wants to know if you will be able to have it out in time for Chrismas, so she can get it for some of her friends. The only thing she had problems with was what time of day it was at the begining of the scene other than that keep up the great work!