The Eighth Chamber

By the time Amy left the public library, the afternoon had turned chill and drizzly. She looked up at the dark sky, thinking what a lucky her mother had insisted to put the raincoat inside her backpack. With her helmet on, she climbed up on her mountain bike’s seat and swung her legs around the frame. The rain began to fall harder as she crossed the road to Amber street. A loud crack of a thunder crashed in her ears, making her lose balance and almost fall into the small bushes at the left side of the street.
When she finally arrived at number eight, she rode her bike straight to the front porch and parked it beside the old rocking chair. Shaking the backpack to wipe the rainwater from it, she opened the front pocket looking for her cat key chain. At the moment she put the key in the front door lock she heard a soft meow behind her.
“Oscar, what are you doing outside?” she said petting the cat’s head.
As she opened the door, he rushed in the dark, straight to his food bowl in the kitchen. Amy left her wet backpack on the floor, turned on the lights and closed the door behind them.
“Mom, I’m home,” she shouted placing the key chain on the entrance console table. But she had no answer.
She took off her soaked denim jacket, her sneakers, and socks. On the way to the kitchen, she heard her phone beep. Probably her mom, sending her a message she would be late, she thought. If she had gone to Parker’s grocery instead of the supermarket she would spend at least extra fifteen minutes listening to Mrs. Parkers fantastic stories.
She opened the upper cabinet, and on the tip of her toes got a pack of chips. On the way back to the living room, her brown hair, drawn back into a ponytail, dripped water all over the carpet. Amy sat with crossed legs on the sofa, but before she turned on the tv she heard another beep from the phone inside her backpack. She walked to the entrance, opened it and pulled her phone out. A message from her father puzzled her.
I’M AT THE POLICE STATION NOW. STAY HOME. I WILL EXPLAIN EVERYTHING WHEN I GET HOME. A chill crossed her spine. What on earth was her father doing at the Police Station on his birthday? Amy tried to call her mother, but the call went straight to the voice mail. With fingers trembling she text her, hoping she would answer. But the app signed she hadn’t even received it.
Elizabeth Spark worked as the Antiques Supervisor for the city’s History Museum. Her job was the reason they had moved to the Island a year ago. She had a lot of work and some days of the week she used to stay at her office even after the Museum was closed. But this Friday she promised to leave work at noon, so she would have plenty of time to get the cake Amy had ordered and be home in time to prepare dinner for the birthday celebration.
Maybe someone stole Dad’s car or his wallet. They’re probably together at the police station, Amy thought trying to convince herself it was nothing serious and they would be home anytime soon. But a horrible feeling tossed in her stomach.
Amy sat back on the sofa, phone in one hand and remote control in the other, zapping randomly between the channels. The German Cuckoo clock on the wall stricken six pm. Along with the cuckoo bird leaning forward moving its wings, she heard a metallic clang from the front door. Amy jumped off the sofa. As Mr. Spark opened the door, she threw her arms around him.
“What happened Dad? Are you ok?
He hugged her tight, then gently removed her arms around him and stepped aside.
I thought Mom was with you?” she said as she noticed he was alone.
“There’s something I have to tell you,” by the tone of his voice, she figured out something bad had happened.
Their eyes met, he took her hands in his.
“Your mother had gone missing, Amy,” he paused. “They called me from the museum this morning to ask me if she was sick as she didn’t show up to the morning meeting. They’ve tried to call her several times, but her phone seems to be off. I’ve looked for her all afternoon around the town, asked everyone. But no one has seen or heard from her. The only thing left was to go to the police station to report it.
A howl of pain surged up from Amy’s heart. Tears rolled down her face.
“Two police officers came with me to look inside the house,” he said looking back at a man and a woman stating by a police vehicle “I’ve told them I needed to talk to you first,” he hugged Amy. “Everything is going to be fine. Liz will be back home soon.” He said the last words trying more to convince himself than Amy.

7 thoughts on “The Eighth Chamber

  1. Marlene Wilson Bierworth says:

    My opinion only:
    ‘thinking what a lucky her mother…’ doesn’t make sense.
    ‘but she had no answer.’
    ‘she shouted (while) placing the key…
    ‘her arms (from) around him…
    The text often drags and sounds unnatural. Punchier lines would build more tension.
    ‘Your mother had (has) gone missing’
    ‘stating(did you mean, standng) by a police vehicle…’
    Lots of these mistakes throughout. Is this a first draft?
    The entire scene leading up to the disappearance could hold more suspense for a reader if her every move wasn’t described but only the ones that parallel with the upcoming bad news. Cliches and unnecessary adjectives should be re-written or omitted, keeping in mind you are building momentum for dad’s news. The dialogue is stiff and he says Liz will be home soon when talking to his daughter. Should it not be, mom?
    A good start for a mystery book. Let your imagination go wild and have fun.

  2. thequillwitch says:

    That is some very good writing. Aside from some parts where you over describe, it flows nicely. Im not sure how old your protagonist is. Because it’s MG i want to say 12 but she comes across as much older to me. And though the premise sounds interesting, the way it’s told feels like something we’ve already ready seen. Maybe there’s a better way to start your story? I like the way you ser up the tensión, giving us un the información little by little. Good luck!

    • flavialabre says:

      Thanks ! I’m glad that you liked my writing. I agree with you that I should make Amy’s age more clear. She’s 14. It’s the first draft, so it still needs a lot of improvement. I will keep in mind all your suggestions for the second draft.

  3. Ray says:

    So far I’m enjoying this. There’s enough going on to peek my interest and I like the premise. As with all crits, here’s the disclaimer…if any of my observations help, great…if you disagree, feel free to ignore me. 🙂 Some of this may sound nit picky, but that’s just how my brain works…lol. So, here we go.

    “thinking what a lucky her mother” should be “thinking how lucky she was”

    Edit “With her helmet on, she climbed up on her mountain bike’s seat and swung her legs around the frame.” down to “She climbed up on her mountain bike.”

    Should be “straight onto the porch” and shaking water from a backpack and wiping water from a backpack are two different things. 🙂

    A text in all caps means her father is yelling at her. My guess is that you wanted to emphasize the seriousness of the message. Also, as a dad, if I was delivering that message via text, I would open with something like, “Hey sweetie, I know this is upsetting but there is something I need to tell you…”

    “Elizabeth Spark worked…” this pulled me right out of the story. If, in a moment of crisis, she did think about where her mom worked, she would never think of her mom as Elizabeth Spark.

    the clock “struck” not “stricken”

    “As Mr. Spark opened the door,” same as above…as her dad opened…

    “He hugged her tight, then gently removed her arms around him and stepped aside.” Nuke everything after “tight.”

    A couple of concluding thoughts/questions. Do we really need to know they live at 8 Amber Street…is it significant or recurring like 221B Baker Street or 4 Privit Drive? The other major question is the whole missing person report. You may get some blow back from the urban legend that you have to wait 24 hours to file one…in most jurisdictions there is no waiting period, so you are good there. Perhaps some mention in the story will get readers over this erroneous misconception.

    Don’t take the above notes as remotely negative, I really did enjoy this…I think you’ve got the start of a crackling good yarn. 🙂

    • flavialabre says:

      Ray, thank you so much for your ideas and thoughts. I agree with you with the majority of the changes you suggested. I’ve really appreciated your honest and detailed feedback.

  4. Joyce says:

    This could be the beginning of a good story even though It reads as a draft.

    It needs some clean up work such as: Eliminate excessive descriptions, some mentions are repetitive, Elizabeth Spark suddenly appeared, it was not clear at first that this is the mother, the mention of the German cuckoo clock does not add anything to the story, also every move is mentioned…it makes the story cluttered…to much for the reader to process.

    Continue to hone your skills, you are off to a great start.

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