Aug 18, 2009 by

Read UTAH 1 here

ROUND 2: Write the opening paragraph of your novella. It should be no more than 300 words, not including your opening sentence, and should be about interactions that take place over the web.

At three a.m., August 4th, the first of many cornfield nightmares jarred Delia out of her sleep. She jerked up from her bed, coated in a thin film of sweat. In the nightmare, she was standing alone on the edge of her cornfield, which now lay in a scorched waste, as if a horde of Vikings had marauded through and torched everything in sight. There was nothing more to the dream, but it left her with an overwhelming feeling of impotence and devastating loss. Unable to drift back to sleep, she decided her only chance at salvaging another hour or two of sleep was to first stretch her legs and reboot her disturbed psyche with a brief trip to the kitchen. In the hallway, a slit of light was emanating out from under the door to the computer room. She assumed she’d forgotten to shut it down so she pushed the door open. Her 13-year-old daughter, Corey, was sitting there, expressionless, almost robotic in the white preternatural glow of the screen.  It was as if she were trapped within the abduction beam of an alien vessel. She was wearing headphones and typing in short fast bursts between pauses. Delia slowly walked towards Corey until she was standing directly behind her. On the screen was a man in a hooded sweatshirt, probably in his late thirties or early forties. Despite the pixilation, Delia could see the shock on his face as he registered her presence through the video chat. Then, the MSN box vanished from the screen.

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  1. Any one who has ever been held in the otherwordly thrall of the internet late at night – knows that the screen is almost like a tractor (?) beam. A really vivid and well imagery.

    I’m intrigued by the dream of the scorched earth and the possible metaphors it could stand for in this woman’s life The cornfield also evokes images of horror for those of us scarred by six Children of the Corn films.

    A good solid continuation Utah.

    • Thanks Jodi! I considered the tractor beam image but thought it a bit too conventional and unimaginative, at least coming from me (instead, I went with the other cliche-the alien beam!).

      Children of the Corn. Brrr. I’ve been told to see it but never could bring myself to. Just not a good idea for a farmer… especially one with a vivid imagination!

  2. Well it seems you got the image across so we all were (well I was able to!) to put my own cultural imprint and understanding on it.

    You probably did yourself a favour by never watching Children of the Corn. It was a Stephen King short story (around 6 pages long from memory) and only the first one was any good. ALl the rest after that just relied on the latest updates in visual effects to scare the pants off you.

  3. Great set-up and some nice turns of phrase here. I think the first sentence of this passage serves better as your first sentence for the whole piece. Just let the reader into the world and discover the theme for themselves. Definitely want to read more.

  4. Thanks, Dan. I’m with you that the first sentence of this passage works better than the previous one. Too bad I can’t toss my opening sentence!

  5. The first sentence isn’t totally redundant Utah- it did get you into the second round :)

  6. Late to the game here, but I LOVE it.

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