28/11/2016
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Under the Microscope Extra: Not Human

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See the January 2017 issue of Writing Magazine for James McCreet's full critique of this extract, from Not Human by Amanda Steel.

ORIGINAL
Grace lay on the basement floor, trying to slow her breathing, before Luke finished locking up for the night, so that he would think she was asleep. It seemed like overkill, since they might just be in the most secure place in Wolverhampton, possibly even in whole of the UK, barring any secure government facilities. Luke had become the king of overkill though, ever since the two of them had locked themselves away in the house, which had previously belonged to someone Grace knew. She had killed him, but it hadn't been him. He had turned and wasn't human anymore. That's how Grace had to think, to deal with everything she had to do to survive. That was three months ago. Grace was starting to get claustrophobic, even during the day when she and Luke spent time upstairs in the rest of the house.
'Grace,' Luke whispered warily.
Grace's eyes remained shut, but Luke whispered her name again, knowing she was awake.
'What?' Grace snapped.
'I just miss you,' he responded sadly, before taking his sleeping bag to the other side of the basement.
'I miss you too,' Grace whispered low enough for him not to make out what she said.
Ever since Mark bled to death in a stolen car, Grace was torn between blaming herself for not taking him straight to a hospital, or laying the blame on Luke. Surely as a doctor, he must have known how serious Mark's injuries were. Even so, he didn't speak up until it was too late.
'Did you say something?' Luke asked.
Grace shook her head, but Luke couldn't see her in the dark, from where he stood.
'Luke,' Grace said.
'Yes,' he replied cautiously, hoping that this wouldn't turn into another argument. He wasn't even sure what all the arguments were about.

 

McCREDITED VERSION
Grace lay on the basement floor as Luke finished locking up for the night. She tried to slow her breathing so he’d think she was asleep.
It seemed like overkill, especially since they might just be in the most secure place in Wolverhampton. Possibly in the entire UK. Luke had become the king of overkill since the two of them had locked themselves in the house. It had previously belonged to someone Grace knew – someone she’d killed. Although she hadn’t really – he’d turned and wasn't human anymore. That's how she had to think, to deal with everything. To survive. That was three months ago.
She was starting to get claustrophobic, even during the day when she and Luke spent time upstairs.
‘Grace . . .?’ said Luke.
She kept her eyes closed, her breathing slow.
‘Grace?’
‘What!’
‘I . . . I just miss you.’ He took his sleeping bag to the other side of the basement.
‘I miss you, too,’ she said, almost inaudibly.
Ever since Mark had bled to death in a stolen car, she’d been torn between blaming herself for not taking him straight to a hospital, or blaming Luke for doing too little. He’d known how serious Mark's injuries were. He had to – he was a doctor! Even so, Luke hadn’t spoken up until it was too late.
‘Did you say something?’ said Luke. ‘Grace? I thought I heard—’
She lay in the dark. ‘Luke . . .?’
‘Yes . . .?’

Read the full critique in the January 2017 issue of Writing Magazine.

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