Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sneak Peek 2/The Mouse's Fate

Thanks to everyone who read my last post, the first half of the first chapter of my wip, Killing Kessler. I appreciate everyone's suggestions and encouragment! I didn't realize readers would be so concerned about the mouse. But since many of you asked what happened to him, I decided to post the second half of the chapter. If you haven't read the first half yet, please click here.

"Violent process, isn't it?" Murphy stood up and dusted glass splinters off his jeans. "Kind of makes you wonder what happened to the mouse."

"When you invent a time machine that rides like a Cadillac, you be sure to let us know," Adam snapped. Adam had no sense of humor under the best of circumstances, and having the fate of the entire human race resting on his ability to make the machine work wasn't helping his mood. Deep laugh lines creased Murphy's face as he suppressed a chuckle.

Leila sniffed. "Is it supposed to smell like burnt rubber?"

Murphy's laugh lines deepened as Adam glared at her.

"When will it come back?" Tabitha asked.

Adam glanced at the remote control. "I programmed it to come back at 4:15 this afternoon. That's just over a minute from now."

Tabitha nodded. "And how will we know if it actually went into the past?"

"We won't," Adam said. "All we'll know is if the mouse survived the trip. If he does, I'll test it out myself."

"Not a chance," Murphy said, his tone suddenly serious. "I'll test it out. If you end up getting stuck in the middle of the Ice Age or World War II or whenever and can't get back, then the whole world is screwed."

Surely Murphy knew right away what he'd said, but if not, Leila's gasp made it clear. Murphy looked uncomfortable as he ran calloused fingers through his short brown hair. "We'll get your dad back," he told Leila. "We'll stop the Virus first, and then we'll get him back."

"We can't stop the Virus," Leila said. "But we can get Dad back."

"Leila," Tabitha said, her voice a low warning.

"What?" Leila croaked. "Yes, the machine may work, but that doesn't mean we can reweave the entire fabric of the universe to fit our own agenda. We should be concentrating on getting Dad back. That is something that was not meant to happen, and would not have happened if he hadn't been messing around with this dumb machine in the first place."

Leila's stubborness infuriated Tabitha, but it also frightened her. Though only fourteen years old, Leila had inherited a double dose of intelligence from their scientific genius parents. If she thought their attempts to alter the past were futile, then maybe they were.

"We should concentrate on getting Dad back," Leila repeated, a quaver in her voice this time. Tabitha felt a pang of sympathy. Leila had been only four years old when the Virus struck and their mother disappeared. Their father was the only parent she'd ever really known, and she'd been most affected by his disappearance two years ago.

The floor began to shake again.

"Here it comes," Adam said.

The hatch slid open, unleashing the same earsplitting racket and whirlwind of cold air as before. Again, Tabitha fell to her knees. Sharp pain pierced her hand as a glass shard cut into her palm, but she barely noticed. Finally the machine thrust through the hole in the floor, hovered in the air just long enough for the hatch to slide closed, and then landed with a loud clunk. The room went still.

"I can't believe it came back," Tabitha whispered.

"Your confidence in me is overwhelming," Adam muttered.

The lights blipped: yellow, blue, red, yellow, blue, red. Then they went dark.

"Well?" Murphy said after a few seconds. "Are we going to be cleaning mouse puree out of there or not?"

A vein pulsed in Adam's forehead as he stared at the machine. "What if he's dead?"

"We'll never know unless we open the door," Murphy said.

Adam took a deep breath and held it as he pushed the black button at the top of the remote. The machine opened. The mouse ran out, scurried to its cage, and found the hunk of cheese Adam had left out.

Murphy hooted a triumphant laugh. "Well, how about that? Looks like it worked."

Like I said before, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Please be honest!

Also, I'm going to be unplugged next week. I'll miss you guys, but it's time for a break. Happy spring, all!


Christine Danek said...

I am glad the mouse survived:) Really interesting story. Like I said yesterday, a very different idea. I like it. Your writing is good too. It flowed quite nicely.
Great job!
Thanks for mentioning me on Kristi's blog :)

Talli Roland said...

Thank goodness there was no mouse puree! I have to admit, the burning rubber smell made me worried.

Great concept and I was eager to keep reading.

Jen said...

I'm glad the mouse made it!!! I love the story it's so interesting!! I loved that it flowed so nicely, it made for a wonderful read!

Old Kitty said...


yay!! The well travelled mouse is ok!


I like that the different personalities between the children shine through here - as well as a glimpse of their background. That Murphy is a heartbreaker, isn't he? Methinks him and Adam may have a little tension and confict there - one a wildcard, the other sensible and weighed down with responsibilities.

I hope they find their dad... and kill off the virus! Good grief.

Great stuff, thank you!

Take care

Susan Fields said...

Christine, Talli, Jen, and Old Kitty - thank you for the wonderful comments! I'm glad the mouse made it, too. I don't think I could ever hurt an animal, even in my stories. I'm kind of a softie that way.

Christine - thank you for posting the contests on your blog, I love checking out the contests others have posted that I might have missed.

Old Kitty - I like to think of Murphy as a heartbreaker. He's been a really fun character to write.

Tara said...

I'll say it again: Love the premise! This has so many possibilities of directions it could take. And there are many little stories tied into the big one - missing parents (hey, I have that, too ;) ), the virus, conflicts of interest/personalities, maybe even a little side of romance. Great set-up :)

This snip moved along nicely, good tension and you worked in some details. There was one place I felt could be more show-not-tell - the sentence beginning "Though only 14"..., but the surrounding ones were strong.

I'm really liking Murphy, as well ;)

Myrna Foster said...

I liked this snippet even more than the first. The dialogue felt real, and I would keep reading to find out what happened to their dad and who would end up going in the time machine.

Where'd the glass come from?

Crystal Clear Proofing said...

Your words flow really well, Susan! I love the premise and concept – SO many possibilities!

I thought is was not only great that the mouse made it, but he had a treat waiting for him upon his return! It adds human element and emotion to the story - just that small part of a sentence. Excellent!

Susan Fields said...

Tara and Myrna - thank you! I'm just loving hearing what you all think about this (especially because you're all being so nice to me :))

Tara - Yes, I agree there's too much showing in here. It seems like there's so much information that has to get across to the reader right off the bat so the rest makes sense, but I'll need to find a way to show this without flat out saying it. Thanks for the suggestion!

Myrna - in the previous section, the framed picture of their family fell off the wall and the glass shattered. Hopefully if this were all together instead of in two sections that would be more clear. I'm so glad you like it!

Susan Fields said...

Crystal - thank you for pointing that out about the mouse and the cheese. Honestly, I hadn't given it much thought before, but I do think it that detail helps show what kind of kids these are. Very perceptive!

Theresa Milstein said...

It's pretty tight as is. I don't have much to say except, well done.
Perhaps instead of, "Murphy looked uncomfortable as he ran calloused fingers through his short brown hair," you could say, "Murphy ran his calloused fingers nervously through his short brown hair."
Thanks for sharing!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

You really seem to have a winner with this story, Susan. I think I could keep reading all day. There are so many things I want to know more about. Excellent! :-)

Piedmont Writer said...

Fantastic! I was just as breathless as they were waiting for the mouse. My only one little thing -- "Sharp pain pierced her hand as a shard of glass cut her palm, but she barely noticed." Barely noticed the pain, the glass, or the blood. Other than that, it was great!

Anonymous said...

Yay mouse! :o) I enjoyed it. Knowing the mouse made it, now I'm keen to find out how the kids get on. Well done.

Jackee said...

I meant to tell you how much I liked yesterday's excerpt, but my life got crazy.

Thanks for sharing the rest of the scene. Funny how invested us readers get so quickly, eh? The Mouse! I ask you...

Have a great week off! (I'll be on spring break and outta here as well.)

Susan Fields said...

Theresa, Anne, Shannon, Niki, and Jackee - thank you all so much! Thanks for the encouragement, the suggestions, and the support! I'll definitely be looking this chapter over for improvements based on the suggestions everyone's made, and I'm so pleased to hear that people want to read on!

Jackee - have a great spring break, too! I'm going to miss my internet, but hopefully I'll made some good progress on Killing Kessler.

Kimberly Franklin said...

YAY! That was fun. I really loved it. Can't wait to read more. And thanks for stopping by my blog today!! Have a great week unplugged!

Susan Fields said...

Thanks, Kimberly! And I loved your post today - I had to watch that a few times. :)

Sharon Mayhew said...

Whew! I was holding my breath. I'm so glad the mouse turned out okay. I hope the kids have the same fate...(If I had theme music here it would go, "da da duhhh," in a really deep voice.) Great job on holding your audience.

Susan Fields said...

Thanks Sharon! Theme music would be good. I'm glad Macy's feeling better!

Lola Sharp said...

Yay! The mouse made it!!!

The suggestions already made are great, and the same I would have offered. I think you have an awesome story here. I enjoyed it.

Thank you for sharing.

Have a wonderful unplugged week!

Tess said...

I love, love the concept for this novel and you are crafting it beautifully. Good work, friend!

and, happy vacation/spring break.

Abby Annis said...

Great snippet! Sounds like an awesome premise for a story. Good job!

I have something for you on my blog. :)

Susan Fields said...

Lola, Tess, and Abby - thanks! I'm so glad you guys liked it. Now if I could just finish revising it and get it out the door...

Abby - thank you for the award! Awards make me happy. :)

Susan R. Mills said...

Despite the fact that I abhor mice, I can say that even I am glad the mouse made it. Have a great unplug week. I look forward to getting to know you better when you return.

Susan Fields said...

Thanks, Susan - I look forward to getting to know you better, too. And this mouse is small, white, fluffy, and really cute. Okay, so he never comes into the story again, but that's how I picture him anyway.

Yaya' s Changing World said...

Wow! When do I get to read the rest of the story? Hurry and finish it on accounta' I really wanna' know what happens. Hurry!

Yaya's Changing World

Susan Fields said...

Yaya - sorry, I can't give it all away! But I'm working hard to get it finished and begin the laborious query process. Yikes!

Old Kitty said...

Hi Susan Fields

Happy Spring to you too!

Thank you for your comforting words about my loss. They really help.

Take care

Lola Sharp said...

I finally fixed my bloggy following glitch. I'm a little square in your posse now.

Abby Annis said...

TAG! You're it!

Yaya' s Changing World said...

Oy, vay! The query process. I don't envy you THAT. I could write forever, but boy that querying can be a real downer, can't it?

Come join us for a drawing. Three books to be given away. Sometimes, being a follower is the most fun.

~ Yaya
Yaya's Changing World

T.J. Carson said...

So excited to hear more of this novel! The characters are very interesting and intriguing I would love to learn more about them. And also, I don't know if you mention it in some other area in your book but what happens when the time machine transports something? Does the entire machine disappear or just the object inside of it???