Sunday, June 1, 2014

QK Round 1: WEEL versus Lumanatti

Entry Nickname: WEEL
Title: Who's Eating Eric Lynch?
Word count: 119K
Genre: Adult Horror


Schizophrenic Eric Lynch’s hallucinations are actually precognition. Enter a demon who absorbs supernatural powers, and Eric’s about to become demon chow—unless he can convince a group of rogue angels that his deadbeat ass is worth protecting.

It all starts the night of a failed suicide attempt. After coming face-to-face with the physical manifestation of his nightmares, a half-decomposed manticore with black fur, Eric decides the only way to stop seeing demons is by closing his eyes for good. But unfortunately for him, he can’t do anything right—not even suicide. Fast-forward seven years later, and he’s still not sure what it is about him that demons find so interesting. Being a college drop-out, working for minimum wage at a retail store, trying his best not to end up back in the asylum for a third time…it’s not like he’s next in line for winning the Nobel Prize. So why him?

Well, okay. Maybe it’s because not only can he see the future, but he can control time too. Prophet is what the angels call him. And apparently there hasn’t been a Prophet on earth for over a century. Pretty cool, huh? Wrong.

The precognition, the time manipulation—that’s exactly what makes him so appetizing. The only reason the manticore hasn’t eaten Eric yet is because it’s waiting for Eric’s powers to ripen. Which means, in the meantime, Eric’s only hope for salvation lies with a group of rogue angels. Angels who might use his Prophetic powers to fulfill their own agenda.

Angelic weapon or prime rib? Either way, Eric is pretty screwed.

First 250 words:

They say the human brain can survive for three seconds after decapitation. I’m talking full-blown cognizant thought, where you can move your mouth and blink your eyes. It makes you wonder what kind of expletives might shoot through your head, especially when you see your body lying on the floor beside you. And hopefully it’s not one of those embarrassing situations where your head goes rolling across the carpet, because then your final moments are nothing but dizziness, trying to puke from a stomach no longer attached to your mouth.

A few months ago one of my psychiatrists asked me what I think about when I have nothing else on my mind, most notably when trying to fall asleep or while taking a shower. According to her, low brain activity is a subconscious beehive ready to burst. She believed my inner musings might be to blame for my tipping sanity—at the very least my insomnia—and it was only a matter of time before I was stung by another violent impulse.

“Maybe we’ll finally figure out why you’re a total nut-job, Eric,” she had said at the end of our last meeting, and proceeded to pat me on the knee, laughing.

She was such a bi—…nice lady.

That night they found her bloody corpse sprawled across her living room floor. The reports said her body looked like it was mauled by a giant cat, her head ripped off. A week after the investigation, her husband found her missing head inside their microwave.


  1. WEEL
    I enjoyed this 250. Nicely dark and foreboding yet with an undercurrent of dark humour, which I think is always a great touch for horror.

    The query left me wondering a few things. If seeing demons drives him to suicide, it’s unclear to me what makes him stop (i.e., he tries once and then never again? how come?). Also, to me the third paragraph makes it sound like he already knows he can see the future and control time, which doesn’t quite match with the statement that he doesn’t know why demons are interested in him in the previous paragraph? Also, having the phrase “a group of rogue angels” in there twice felt repetitive. Maybe change one? Basically I think the query could maybe use a few tweaks. But the 250 feels solid.

    Really enjoyed the query on this one. I think it has a nice hook to it. Clearly sets up the characters and the stakes (although a detail on exactly what creatures it is they’re facing might not be out of order).

    In the query, I would suggest moving “seventeen-year old” ahead to the first mention of Abbey’s name. To me it felt out of place where it is now. A couple of nits in the 250: 1) Abbey states “only someone who’d known her since third grade would be able to pick up the telltale signs” yet then asks why is she crying. I would think crying would be obvious to anyone who sees her, so it felt contradictory; 2) The final line of the entry “Abbey didn’t want to leave, not yet.” feels like unnecessary telling. It was clear to me from the preceding interaction that Abbey didn’t want to leave yet. Could probably substitute in a stronger line that either tells us something more about Abbey or moves the story forward.

  2. WEEL: Loved the first 250 - dark, funny, and a very strong sense of character. I did find some things confusing in the query. In particular, the reason for the seven year gap between the initial confrontation with the manticore/suicide attempt and the start of the story (and what exactly gets things moving again?). Also, why must Erik rely on rogue angels? The non-rogue angels aren't interested in defeating demons? Finally, and this is me being a super nitpicky neuroscientist, Erik doesn't actually have schizophrenia so perhaps this should start as "Misdiagnosed with schizophrenia, Erik Lynch's hallucinations are actually ...

    LUMANATTI: I think this is an extremely strong query. My only suggestion would be to drop the line "What was once an innocent sanctuary of fun is now home to something dark and sinister." It doesn't add anything beyond the previous line which was much more specific and creepy. A little hint at the type of creature may be beneficial too - especially if its unique and different. For the first 250 I found myself wondering about that opening image from above. Who are the eyes watching from above? Other guests, the hungry creatures? Either way it seems like an opening image from the MC's point of view might be better. That said, it is a creepy image and sets the tone nicely. I agree with the previous comment on crying as well - maybe just cut tah it and leave it at "What's wrong?" Would love to see more of this.

  3. WEEL

    I like the language of the query, it shows voice, but I feel there is a disconnect. The first two paragraphs don't really seem connected to the rest of the query. There's a lot going on in the query overall. I think there are some unnecessary details (the manticore, for example, I think leaving it at "demon" would simplify things). Also, I wasn't sure where the time manipulation detail came from, seemed a little thrown in to me. Great use of voice in the query, and you captured my attention from the start. I assume the musing about decapitation are what the MC's mind wanders to, as the next paragraph suggests, but I'd like to see this clarified.


    For me, the first line of the query feels a little bland (I often see tweets from agents saying to avoid general statements like "lots of adverntures"). I think the second line is much stronger/more intriguing. The query seems a little lacking in detail, until the last sentence. I'd like to see what is really going on at the club flushed out a bit.Loved the opening to the 250, great visuals! Good integration of character building in the rest. It ends on kind of a blah note, but I suspect if you could include another couple paragraphs the tension would pick right back up.

  4. WEEL

    Ok, first of all, I love the voice here. From the title to the query to the first 250, it is superb. Love, love, love.

    I feel like the query is a tad long. Honestly, I don't think the bit about the suicide attempt to necessary to understand what's going on. If you cut from everything from the second paragraph down to "being a college dropout..." I don't feel like we really loose anything. In fact, when I tried reading from "convincing a group of angels to protect his deadbeat ass" straight to "being a college dropout", it flowed nicely.

    Also, I'd to see a little more hinted at the overall stakes. I realize Eric is fighting to save his life, but I have the feeling he's in for more than that. Give us a clue. Just a morsel. The line about "angels using him for their own agenda" doesn’t give me enough to go on. People always use other people for their own means, so what makes this situation unique? I'd like to know the specific way the angels want to use him and what he'll be fighting for (or against).

    BTW - The last line "angelic weapon or prime rib..." got a literal LOL out of me. Nice.

    As for the 250, the opening line is stellar. It sets the tone, voice, and MC's mindset, and ties together when you get to the part about the psychiatrist's head in the microwave. However, as someone who studied psychology, the psychiatrist's dialogue stuck out at me as odd and not something a professional would usually say. I'd go for the more subtle jab. "Maybe now we’ll get to the bottom of your... *issues*." Still professional, but the reader draws the same conclusion. Besides that, I thoroughly enjoyed this.


    I remember seeing this somewhere else before and I adore it. I don't really like horror or YA (a sin, I know) but I still want to read this and that says something.

    As for your 250, it's another amazing first line. It creates a stunning visual and sets the tone with only a handful of words. Well done. I had a few nitpicks but they've already been mentioned in the reviews above. Overall, great opening.

    The query gives me the gist of the story, but I think it could give even more. The first paragraph has some nice details ("broken down rollercoasters and rusty bumper cars" - awesome). However, I'd prefer to only meet Abby in the first line. I also agree with the previous comment to move her age to the beginning. "Seventeen-year-old Abbey had countless adventures..." Then I'd introduce Callie further down. "Abbey drags BFF Callie out for the night of their lives..."

    The rest of the query tells me what's happening, but I'm missing the details you included in the opening paragraph. I'm looking for the "rusty bumper cars" equivalent of the creatures she's facing: rotting flesh, putrid smell. I want to feel how gross or dangerous these monsters are. "Something dark and sinister" doesn't paint the visual I was hoping for, which seems to be one of your strengths. You've got the word count allowance to flesh out some selective details. The grislier, the better. Let's make the agents horrified before they even reach the first 250!


    Things I liked about the query:
    1. The voice. Some great turns of phrase that caught my attention like "demon chow" "angelic weapon or prime rib."
    2. Easy to follow. Condensing an entire manuscript into a query is HARD, and sometimes things get muddled and difficult to understand. I think this is especially true when your story deals with otherworldly creatures, etc. But I read this and had no problems following the premise or the story line.

    Things I think could be improved about the query:
    1. The first paragraph and the end of the fourth paragraph more or less give me the same information - he needs this group of angels to help him. You have so few words in a query, I wouldn't use them up by rehashing the same information. And I didn't count each word, but the query does seem to be on the long side.
    2. I'm not a fan of the rhetorical questions.

    Things I liked about the first 250:
    1. Again, some great voice injected in here. I loved the line about the psychiatrist being such a "nice lady." :)
    2. The first line definitely grabs my attention. (Although I have some concerns about this paragraph, which I'll explain below.)
    3. Clear, easy to follow what's happening. I know this seems like not a big deal, but trust me, it is.

    Things I think could be improved about the first 250:
    1. I'm torn on the first paragraph. As I mentioned above, it is pretty attention grabbing. On the other hand, there's nothing actually happening. You haven't introduced your main character or even really raised a story question. I honestly think you could cut the whole paragraph if you wanted. The first line of the next paragraph also grabs my attention and does introduce a character and a story question.



    Things I liked about the query:
    1. It's easy to follow. Like I said above, taking an entire MS and getting it down to a coherent, interesting page is tough. You've done a good job. I was never confused about what was happening.
    2. The premise. Obviously this is subjective, but I love the idea of an abandoned amusement park becoming something sinister.

    Things I think could be improved in the query:
    1. It needs a pop of voice. And it's kind of general. In my mind these things go together, because many times fixing one will fix the other. You start off strong with a few specific details that set the tone (rusty bumper cars, broken down coasters), but they disappear toward the end of the query. You could find a more specific way to phrase things like "something dark and sinister" or "they are the key to stopping" and I think that would show us what makes your story unique and also give us an opportunity for more voicey moments.

    Things I liked about the first 250:
    1. Great opening line.
    2. I love the way you weave in the details about the characters without info dumping. Just from this little bit, I know so much about the characters but I never felt like the story stopped to tell me those things. Great job.

    Things I think could be improved in the 250:
    1. I would add some sensory details to the first two paragraphs. You've done a good job of giving us the visual setting but I want to know what it feels like when these sweaty people dance up against her, what does it smell like, can she taste her own sweat, what does the music sound like, can she feel the bass in her chest, etc? (To be clear, I don't think you have to give us all of this. Instead consider replacing a couple of the visual details with the other senses. That way you avoid overloading us on visual but we still get a chance to sink into the story and get grounded in an interesting way.)

    This was a tough one - which has to be the reason no one has voted yet - but...[drumroll please]


  6. WEEL
    First off. loved your title. The opening hook is strong and I think the voice comes through nicely. Horror isn't usually my thing, but you made me want to read.

    The biggest issue with the query is it's looonngggg. Too long. You have to slash. Paragraph two is a good place to start. You don't need the first line. It's repetitive to what follows. Also, the third paragraph can be joined to this and slashed. We don't need the whole list of his current pathetic life. You could easily tighten those four sentences into one shiny, pithy thing. I really like your query ending.

    The opening has as much voice as the query, which is great. It drew me in. I do think you need a single sentence that connects what he thinks about to the decapitation to the shrink. Otherwise, nice job.

    Final point - 119K is way long. You need to get it under 100 if you can. Based on the ramble in your query, I'm sure you have room to cut. Get a (or another) critique partner and take another whack at editing.

    Your opening felt awkward to me. The 17 in the second sentence after Abbey had already been introduced, made me trip. The hook sentence being in the second paragraph was strange and the line felt forced, more like something out of Scary Movie than I Know What You Did Last Summer.

    The next paragraphs go into vagueness, like you tell us it's "dark and sinister" instead of showing us and getting our goosies up. If it's supposed to be a scary book, we need to feel some of that in suspense in the query. Instead I felt like it was very detached, void of any emotion.

    Abbey is supposed to be your MC, but by the end of the query we know nothing about her. She has no voice and no personality. She's not unlikable, so I'm not left hoping she gets eaten, but I don't have a reason to root for her either.

    The opening scene is well written. We get a better sense of your MC and her friend. Still, I think you could take this further. I agree with the other judge who advised for you to add more senses into the description. I want to know more about how the setting is affecting your MC than the setting itself.

    For me, voice trumps here.

    Victory to: WEEL

  7. Book Boyfriend ConnoisseurJune 2, 2014 at 10:20 PM


    I'm not a horror person, let me first say. But if they all have voices with humor mixed in like yours did, then I might have to step outside my comfortable box. Second paragraph of the query: Either add the first and second line together, or get rid of "It all starts the night." Simplify that. Can't stress it enough. Otherwise, I really have nothing negative to say. (Which I usually do) Oh, and I loved that last line! Your first 250 is good. Although it does ramble on a bit, I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing either, though. More so that's just your main character's personality.


    Query is simple, yet very a good way of course. You give hints as to what is in the club, but it might not be quite specific enough. I know you want to leave a little mystery as to what it is, but I need a clearer picture. Right away in the first 250 I'm a little confused as to what's going on. Who is in fact looking down at what? And in that second paragraph it jumps right into Abby dancing, which is good, but the first paragraph doesn't necessarily flow into the second very well. Everything after that is pretty darn good.

    Another tough one for me. But I have to go with my gut this time. And my gut says go with the voice.

    Victory to: WEEL

  8. WEEL: I'm not really a horror person, but I loved your opening page, particularly the first paragraph. Such a macabre way to start, and I think it sets a great tone for the rest of the book. A couple of things stuck out to me, though:

    1. Would a psychiatrist actually use the word "nutjob" to a patient? It seems pretty unprofessional.
    2. Wouldn't a police investigation have found her head in the microwave? Granted, I'm no police investigator, but that seems a little sloppy of them

    As for your query, I think it lays out the plot well, and that last line is totally kickass. I'd love a bit more sense of, well, horror in the second paragraph when he meets the manticore. That felt a bit matter-of-fact, and I was left wondering what it meant and why it affected him so badly. Toward the end I realized the manticore was hunting him, but that wasn't clear at the beginning. Regardless, a very solid query.

    Lumanatti, I think you have one of the best queries on here. It's simple, it's not too long, and it lays the plot out in a seemingly effortless way. The opening is also very, very well done. My one qualm is that the last line of your first paragraph seems to be in the POV of the creatures watching from above, then we jump into Abbey. But I like the sense of foreboding that it gives. Something to think about, anyway.

    Best of luck to both of you!

  9. WEEL
    I am not typically a horror reader, but I want to read this book. Your comic voice is fabulous and is just what I need to get me through the gore. Query is LOOOONG, but it's well-done. Just whittle it down to what we need to know. What's the character's status quo? What shakes it up? And what are the stakes. Period. End of query.

    First 250 have great voice too. Firs thing that stands out is the head in the microwave for a week. Really? Hubs does't smell it for that long? And a widower doesn't use the microwave for a week? May want to rethink this timing. I like the first paragraph about the decapitated head. What I think can be trimmed is the paragraph that comes after. It's a lot of telling. Can we see it through dialogue instead?

    You have some straight up horror here, but I think I can handle it. Love the idea of the girls being needed to kick some human-eating creature ass. But I really need more voice in both the query and the first 250. I don't have a sense of who Callie is. There is a lot of setting but not enough connection to the MC. You've got some room to move in the query since it's not super long. Can we get a little more personal? In the first 250, I'd suggest less setting and more character interaction. This is a great concept overall, and although I'm squeamish, I'd totally read.

    Voice is what it comes down to for me here, and I'm totally hooked by WEEL's voice. VICTORY to WEEL.

  10. Wow. Both of these entries are very strong. This will be a tough one.
    WEEL: Of course the fact that this is an angel demon novel gives me pause since they are such a tough sell right now BUT the query & the first 250 are so strong that I think if you find the right agent or publisher, you'll get requests. The only thing I'd look at in the query are the last two lines (sinker). If you can ditch the question and phrase it in a way that ties it all together and gives us reason to need to read, you'll be great. As it stands, it's almost as if you're saying he's screwed either way so no matter what happens in the book, he's screwed and that's how it ends. It's not giving me reason enough to want/need to read it.
    Loved the ending of your was intense and suspenseful.

    Lumanatti: Great images and setting of the scene in your 250, I wanted to read more. The one thing I'd recommend is that you add a little more info in your query about these creatures so it's clear what kind of horror we'll be dealing with. Most of the query sounds pretty contemporary so I was thrown off a bit at the end when the creatures came up. I suggest that you take the dark and sinister line and the final lines and add a few specifics in there so it doesn't sound like it could be anybody's horror ms about creatures. And definitely bump up her age to the first line.

    xoxoSally Draper

    Great title - I'm creeped out already. I mentioned on another entry that I've heard that anything with angels and demons is a tough sell, but I love the horror angle of this, and the query is clear and has great voice.

    Another very cool horror premise. The query's a bit on the short side, so I'd use your extra words to play around with the wording and inject more voice, showing us more about what kind of person the MCs are.

    Victory to WEEL

  12. WEEL: I don’t think your ‘hook’ line works. It’s too long to really be a separate hook. I’d suggest skipping it and just doing your query in the regular way. Then the rest of it feels a bit backwards – I get you’re trying to be funny with the stuff about him being a loser – and it *is* amusing. But I think the stuff about his powers – which are a big deal! – should come nearer the beginning. And I think you repeat yourself a bit. This absolutely sounds like an entertaining story, but I’d have a bash at rewriting this query and paring it down.

    Your opening page is well-written and interesting, but disjointed. The second para is a total non-sequitur to the first – why are you telling us about decapitated heads if you’re not then going to segue into something related? If it’s supposed to be related to her getting her head ripped off, that comes too far away. Then she asks him what he thinks about in quiet moments – and you never answer that question. So I think you have a little tidying up and smoothing out to do here, structurally. The overall voice and content gripped me, so keep at it.

    Lumanatti: Ooh, this sounds awesome! Hooked. I would just tweak your first line a bit to clarify – when you’re talking about them visiting the amusement park, do you mean as kids, or recently? If it’s as kids, I’d say ‘As kids, Abbey and her best friend, Callie, had countless adventures at Majestic Isle, until an accident closed the island amusement park.’ If it’s more recent, I’d change to ‘Abbey and her best friend, Callie, have had countless adventures at Majestic Isle, until an accident closed the island amusement park.’ Although am already hooked, this query is *very* short. I might consider fleshing it out a bit, especially with a horror story, to give it more atmosphere – perhaps describing the goings on there/the bad guys in a bit more detail. And perhaps get a bit more of Abbey’s personality/voice in there too, at the moment we barely know her.

    Your opening page is well-written enough, but unfortunately it doesn’t hook me like your query did. The scene is just a bit too ordinary. I’m a fan of having build-up before things kick off, but starting with a description of a dancefloor before we even get to your MC is distancing. I find out that Abbey likes dancing, but that’s all I find out. I’d suggest skipping the first para and getting straight to Abbey and how she feels, then move onto a little about the club – keep it brief – and then we can move onto her friend. Or, alternatively, I wonder whether there might be a better place to start, that’ll let us get to know Abbey a bit more, and also have some intrigue in it.

    Victory to WEEL.


    The in-your-face tone of the query certainly matches nicely with the voice of the narrator/MC. There were a few points that (to me – and I am likely not the target audience, so take this with a lot of salt) felt like both the query and the 250 words were trying a bit too hard. For example, “a week after the investigation, her husband found the missing head inside their microwave” has, at first blush, a shock value to it, but I immediately found myself thinking “what kind of cops do they have in this novel’s world, who fail to notice a human head inside the microwave at a murder scene?” My reaction to both the query and the sample was pretty much a series of those moments.

    I also have to wonder who the 1st person narrator is talking to. He interrupts himself so as not to call his psychiatrist a profanity – that kind of corrective suggests that he is talking to someone. It is, of course, impossible to tell from just the sample, if that is true, but it might be something to think about.


    The query for this piqued my interest, if for no other reason than that I was intrigued by the challenge of trying to hold such a tight story (one night’s worth of horror/action) over 90K words. If pulled off, it promises to be a gripping read. I did find myself wondering about the “creatures” promised. Are these vampires? Ghouls? Some new thing?

    The 250 words, tho, lost me in the first sentence and had a hard time getting me back. The nested metaphor of an ocean of bodies which is itself like seaweed took me straight to “Huh?” By the end of the paragraph, I was not sure about POV either – there are “eyes” watching from above, then in the next paragraph we’re back on the floor watching Abbey and Callie. I was not at all sure who was watching whom.

  14. Weel:

    I like that this is a bout a deadbeat guy with a dead end job. I'm not a big reader of this kind of horror but am intrigued by a character who has been labeled as schizophrenic. What I wish were in the query is more about Eric as a person. Just a bit more to make me feel more sympathetic. We don't really know that much about him other than his weird abilities. Does he have any other goals? Any friends? Family life? The first 250 read well, but I find it hard to believe any psychiatrist would joke like that about his condition. It didn't ring true to me. I also don't know why he hates her. It seems a bit random. I can't say I'm drawn to the character, but maybe he becomes more sympathetic later. His voice is strong. Good luck!


    I love the idea of a creepy old amusement park. I have seen this in other contests and it is better! I can see the dancers and love her periwinkle hair! The query felt a bit vague to me though. What are the stakes for the girls? I'd like to know something about them and their personal needs/goals aside from not being eaten at the club. I think we need a bit of the emotional stakes as well as the plot stakes, if that makes sense. Also, what kind of monsters are we talking about here? Zombies or something else? I'd like a hint of that in the query. And also why they are there. The first 250 read pretty well to me. You do mention Callie needing to feel like she fits in. That is key and I'd want to see more of that soon. Great setting and premise. Good luck!

  15. WEEL

    I can really hear the voice of the main character in the query, and I love the premise. It reminds me of a Supernatural episode where the Winchester Brothers met a prophet. The sensory imagery of the first 250 is great. It sets up what will happen later very nicely.


    I love the Nickname, first off. The first part of the query feels more like a summary. Maybe start with the underground club part instead and work from there. The first 250 paints a good picture of a club. The ocean and seaweed might be a little much in the same sentence, but I like how you juxtapose drowning here, especially because it's not the safe place it appears to be.

    Good luck to you both!


    Query: Lots of good stuff going on here. You lay everything out nicely and I am left with no confusion as to what your story is about. You might consider shortening the length and tightening the structure up a bit for more punch. I appreciate the voice that comes through, but the questioning becomes repetitive and is a common agent pet peeve (so I've read).

    250: First off, holy crap. The head rolling thing made my own brain spin. Yikes. Great imagery. You pulled me in. The voice is wonderful here too and I'm definitely wanting to read more. I'm not incredibly in the know where adult horror is concerned, but I'm wondering about your word count. It's pretty lengthy. Just something to keep in mind.


    Query: Intriguing premise. I assume it's zombies which is always good fun. And if it isn't zombies, then I definitely want to find out more! Adding more voice in the query would only benefit your sell and give it some punch, make it stand out. As it is, I'm not feeling anything that makes me super excited about your story. The setting sounds creepy and cool, but the other details feel run of the mill. A more clutching opening sentence would be helpful. That being said, this: "The club isn’t the haven for misfits Abbey hoped for – it’s a buffet and the club goers are the main course," is a great hook.

    250: Nice writing/imagery, but your first paragraph confused me. When I read, "...gasped for a last breath," based on the query, I thought I was already in some pre-buffet massacre scene. Then you go on to explain Abbey dancing and I'm at some dance "club" with a bunch of teenagers which isn't overly grabby. Perhaps, consider opening with a different scene? One that showcases your main character more? Tall order, I know.

    Both great stories, but VICTORY goes to WEEL.

  17. One of my favourite match-ups as both appeal to my darker side :)

    There's not nearly enough manticores in fiction, so I applaud their inclusion here. However, the market may be bulging under the weight of angels and demons in all their various guises, so perhaps that counts against it (as does the word count probably). Not that any of this bothers me in the slightest - I can't get enough of stuff like this! The first 250 grabbed me too. Loved the voice and the insight into an MC that I know I want to spend more time with. Excellent stuff!

    The query for this didn't seem to contain quite enough information to me. I like what's there, but if I were an agent I think I'd probably want to know a bit more about the situation and what's in store. The 250 works well and I like the way it's written, although perhaps it doesn't grab me by the neck and pull me in like some of the others I've seen. But I do like the suggestion of malignance from the "eyes watching from above" - perhaps make more of that?

    Good luck to both entries!