1.15.2007

HH Com Rd 2 #54 (38)

hook here

Doctor Egglometus, Evil Overlord

There is something about a clockwork cat that makes me squirm, and it's not just that awful clicking noise the neck makes when it turns to look at you. You expect creepiness from a robot cat -- all of those lines of computer code hiding worms, bugs and viruses -- but clockwork cats get tics that shouldn't happen in instruments made with Swiss precision.

I heard the click-click-click of Rasputin's neck and felt more than just the heat of his stare on my back; it was his laser eyeballs. I jumped out of my chair and shouted downstairs.

(start here)
"Mom, the cat is trying to x-ray me again!"

"Did you wind him today?" Mom called back up at me. I heard the muffled boom of a small explosion in the kitchen and Dad said something about night-vision goggles that I didn't catch completely over the whooshing sound of a fire extinguisher.

Rasputin's tail dipped between his legs and he shuddered. Then he shuddered again. And one more time. It was like watching the second hand on your watch struggle to jump forward as the battery is running down.

I held Rasputin's tail and wound it around in a circle. On the fourth time around he jumped forward and purred -- a sound like a car engine trying to start on a cold morning. I gave his rear end a shove with my foot to get him out of my way and even though he's full of gears and levers, I swear he squinted his eyes at me and frowned on his way out of the room.

Dad was already at the breakfast table studying a large diagram spread out over his plate and most of the rest of the table. The smoky air had cleared, but the faint sweet smell of the Halon fire extinguisher hung over the table.

I reached for a piece of blackened toast and the miniature radiation monitor on my jacket crackled like popcorn. Mom was cooking with leftover radioactive isotopes again.

"Nuclear toast?" I asked, picking up the bread with my sleeve and sniffing it.

Mom's lips pressed together tightly and she smeared margarine on her bread hard enough to let me know that she was annoyed.

"It's within EPA Protective Action Guidelines for radiation exposure… and if you don't like the breakfast that I made for the family you can just get your own food." She took a bite of her own bread and considered for a moment. "But leave the eggs. They're for… something else."

I dropped my slice of toast back onto the pile. School had breakfast; healthy breakfast prepared with ordinary non-radioactive toasters by women who didn't hold the butter knife like a ninja star while talking to you.

All three of us heard a high-pitched squeak from behind the refrigerator. Dad leaped out of his chair and made it across the kitchen in two long steps. Mom had barely moved, but now the butter knife was poised toward the fridge.

Dad stood perfectly still and signaled with his hand. One of something. On the move in a westerly direction. Hold for his signal.

Mom slipped off her shoes and, standing on her chair, silently grabbed hold of the light fixture over the table. She swung on it carefully, with just the tiniest tinkle of her rings against the glass, and alit on top of the kitchen counter nearest the fridge, crouching in a ready position.

I shoved last night's homework into my backpack with a crunch and my parents' heads whipped around with stern looks. I mouthed, "Sorry," and zipped the backpack closed slowly and quietly.

Dad raised his hands and signaled again. Three. Two. One. Go!

He jumped in front of the crack between the fridge and the counter and shouted, "Aha!" paused for effect, then continued.

"Now I have you. You were naïve to think you could get away from me. You have underestimated my cunning plans. Once you step onto the platform and take the cheese, you will have fallen into my trap. I will have you in my clutches and you will be out of my way forever!"

My father tipped his head back for a big belly laugh, but my mother shrieked, "He's getting away!"

Something light and furry ran over my foot and I jumped involuntarily. I might have screamed a little. I'm not scared of mice… I was just startled. Really.

I loved the hook.
I love this.
I'd read it.

Why this work: it's funny. The parents are the bad guys. The good guy is bad for being good. And dear dog, who can resist a robot cat. (or a ghost cat named Smell for that matter!).

20 comments:

Termagant 2 said...

Oh, wow, the parents are the bad guys. Now THERE'S an innovation.

Your sentence, Miss S, though I hate like crazy to impose it, is to watch the Dizzney Channel for the next 24. If you find a single show where the parents are not either psychopaths or idiots, please post.

T2, mother of a 12 year old who should grow better tastes any month now

Anonymous said...

I'd vote to read 750 more words on this one. Smooth read.

nitwitness said...

I liked the hook and pages...but images of Cartoon Network's "Dexter's Laboratory" kept popping up in my mind.

Still seems to me kids would go for it.

angie said...

I loved this. Sure, there's Dexter's Laboratory, and yes, parents are often the bad guys in fairy tales & Disney shows, but this reads clear and smooth & is different enough to stand out from the pack. The voice takes it to the next level and I would absolutely plop down cash for this book. Actually, I've been waiting to read these 750 words since the I read the hook. It was worth the wait. Good luck, author. I think you've got a winner here.

Anonymous said...

I misread this line while scanning, and I have to say, my "correction" is a lot better. What do you think? "Mom's lips pressed together tightly and she smeared margarine on her BREAST hard enough to let me know that she was annoyed."

Me Be Free Someday... said...

I actually like this one, although I agree with T2 about the Disney channel. All the parents on those shows are pretty doggone stupid.

But from the hook and the pages, it sounds like this would develop into more. Like the kid running all over the place putting out fires (literally) and saving the world.

I'd read it.

Heidi the Hick said...

It's hilarious!

Could the first two nicely descriptive paragraphs be worked back into the story later? They're pretty good but they shouldn't start the story, because the robot cat isn't the focus of the story.

desert snarkling said...

This was really funny. I'd read on for sure.

Anonymous said...

This took the "bad" parents to another level me. The parents aren't idiots. They're evil villians. I would buy this.

And I wouldn't lose the first paragraph. I loved it. "There's something about a clockwork cat," is a classic. This is my favorite submission.

Inkwolf said...

Most entertaining! I even loved the part Miss Snark told you to chop off the beginning.

Anonymous said...

This is fabulous, and this is NOT like the "Dizzney" Channel parents at all. I think this takes the whole supervillain lore and turns it nicely on its head. It may not be revolutionary, but it is fresh, funny and snappy -- and the world feels lived-in rather than purely quippy.

Yeah, I like the clockwork cat paragraph too. It could maybe come after the bits of dialogue Miss Snark suggests as the first of the chapter, but I'd get it in there somehow.

Of all the hooks and chapters Miss Snark has looked at, this is the one that I think is an absolute gimmie to see print.

Anonymous said...

I have actually been waiting for this one. I LOVED IT. I want to read the entire thing.

McKoala said...

I liked this. A really perky voice and not too much explanation. I'd be reading on.

ello said...

This one lived up to the hook. Kudos! If this were a book, I would have bought it by now.

Virginia Miss said...

I loved the first line, the one Miss Snark told you to take out.

Very amusing.

Author, please let Miss Snark know if you snag a publisher. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was very fresh and original. I also thought some lines were clunky, such as the, "Mom spread the margarine on her bread (BREAD, anonymous, BREAD) hard enough to let me know she was annoyed." How the hell can you spread margarine "hard"? I get what the author means, I just think this is worded badly.

Some things, though, like the mechanical cat I absolutely LOVED. I think this shows a lot of promise-- it just needs some more editing.

~Nancy said...

This was great - read it all the way through.

And I liked the first two paragraphs. Maybe you could work them in somewhere down the line?

Good luck with it, Author!

~JerseyGirl

Grapeshot said...

Margarine? With all those yucky trans-fats? Ick!

Better alliteration with butter on bread (breast?) anyhow.

writtenwyrdd said...

This is so good! I would read this and read it again, I think.

Mig said...

Very strong voice and it reads smoothly, i.e., I was focused on what was being said not on how it was said, but one wourd choice is off: when the mother "alit on top of the kitchen counter nearest the fridge, crouching in a ready position." Alit conotes coming DOWN from a place as in dismounting from a horse, not sure it fits well for jumping UP onto something.