Now that Iâ€™ve got a half-assed query, next I need to look over the beginning of the story.Â Some agents actually want you to send that with the Email.Â Others probably donâ€™t give a shit.Â As long as you donâ€™t make it an attachment, I canâ€™t see any harm in it.
Anyway, to cut down on words and to speed things up a tad, I hacked off the first two scenes of Chapter 1 so that now we start with our hero arriving at her new dream jobâ€“which soon becomes a nightmare.Â What do you think?Â More importantly, do you see any dumbass errors that I might have missed?
(BTW there is a brief prologue, but Iâ€™m not sure if Iâ€™ll keep it or not.Â Itâ€™s nothing essential, just gives some idea of what happens to the Egyptian exhibit referenced in the scene.)
As she mounted the steps to her dream job, Dr. Emma Earlâ€™s main concern was not tripping over her own feet.Â She kept her eyes down on her size-15 flats, making sure she didnâ€™t get them tangled and wind up falling on her face.Â The last thing she wanted was for her new coworkers to think she was that stupid and clumsy.
She made it to the top unscathed and recognized the man waiting for her as the same Dr. Ian MacGregor who had conducted her second interview.Â If she hadnâ€™t recognized his face, then his Scottish accent would certainly have jarred her memory.Â â€œAh, good morning, Dr. Earl.Â Here early on your first day even.â€
Emma needed a moment to remember that she was Dr. Earl now, the title sounding so strange from someone elseâ€™s mouth.Â â€œYes,â€ she managed to get out.Â As she felt her face turning red-hot, she summoned the courage to add, â€œAm I too early?â€
â€œNot at all, lass.Â I like employees who are punctual.â€
â€œOh.Â Thatâ€™s good.â€
â€œNow, why donâ€™t we go inside and Iâ€™ll show you around?â€
â€œShouldnâ€™t Dr. Brightonâ€”â€
â€œHe wonâ€™t mind.Â Trust me.â€Â Since Dr. MacGregor was the head of the geology department, Emma had no choice but to take his word for it.
She hadnâ€™t visited the museum in four years, but it looked relatively unchanged.Â They walked around the ticket line, into the Great Hall.Â At one end of this hall was the longest-running exhibit of the Plaine Museum, the skeleton of a mastodon named Alex for Dr. Alexander Plaine, the museumâ€™s founder who had discovered the mastodon in Ohio and brought it back to his native Rampart City.Â At his own expense he built the museum around this so that the city might have an institution dedicated to knowledge and learning to rival Paris, London, or any other major European city at the time.
Emma knew this story by heartâ€”she had read Dr. Plaineâ€™s biography when she was threeâ€”but didnâ€™t mind hearing it again from Dr. MacGregor.Â They paused in front of Alex while Dr. MacGregor told the story in his charming Scottish brogue.Â He finished by saying, â€œNo one expects you to be a tour guide, but itâ€™s always good if you can point visitors to the right place.â€
â€œYes, sir.Â Iâ€™ve been coming here since I was a toddler.â€
â€œAh, so youâ€™ve probably memorized every inch of the place then, have you?â€
â€œNot quite, sir.â€
â€œNo need for that â€˜sirâ€™ stuff like weâ€™re in the military.â€
â€œSorry, Dr. MacGregor.â€
â€œYou can just call me Ian, lass.Â You mind if I call you Emma?â€
â€œYesâ€”I donâ€™t mind.â€
â€œExcellent.â€Â He indicated the sets of double doors behind her that for the moment were closed.Â â€œThose are our temporary exhibits.Â Right now weâ€™re winding down the â€˜Wonderful World of Antsâ€™ one.Â The kiddies really seem to like that.Â Weâ€™ve also got the â€˜American Piratesâ€™ one going on.Â Thatâ€™s a pretty popular one, might keep it for a while longer if we can.â€
â€œWhat about that one over there,â€ she said, pointing to the left.
â€œOh, that.Â Bloody mess is what that is.Â Supposed to be something called â€˜Egyptâ€™s First Kingâ€™ about this Karlak II bloke.Â Except over on the trip here, the freighter carrying most of the artifacts sank.â€
â€œThe captain scuttled the ship, didnâ€™t he?â€ Emma said.Â â€œI remember reading about that in the newspaper.â€
â€œQuite right, lass.Â They say he went nuts and destroyed the boilers.Â No one is quite sure why.Â Weâ€™ve been trying to sort things out with the Egyptian government.Â As you might imagine, theyâ€™re a bit annoyed that some of their relics are sitting at the bottom of the ocean.â€
â€œThatâ€™s awful,â€ Emma said.
â€œYes.â€Â Ian shook his head and then smiled.Â â€œBut thatâ€™s for the lawyers and Anthropology to figure out.Â None of our concern.â€
He led her over to the staff elevator behind Alex.Â She resisted the urge to wave goodbye to the mastodon as she had done when she was a little girl; back then Alex had been her closest friend other than Becky Beech, his constant presence so reassuring, especially in those dark times after her parents had died, when the rest of the world had seemed to be in flux.Â That the mastodon was still here after everything that had changed in her life made her smile as she had back then.
The staff elevator wasnâ€™t much different than the regular patron elevator, except that it had more buttons.Â These went from the fourth floor executive offices all the way down to something labeled as the â€œSub-Subbasement.â€Â Ian hit the button for the third floor for the department offices.
The corridor was a dingy white, some of the lights flickering overhead.Â The tiles were scuffed and in some places chipped from repeated use and abuse.Â She wondered when the department offices had last undergone a renovation; probably long before she was born.Â Still, this didnâ€™t dampen her enthusiasm as she followed Ian down the corridor, past frosted glass doors with labels like, â€œMetallurgy Divisionâ€ and â€œGemstone Division.â€
They finally stopped at the door marked â€œMeteor Division,â€ Ian opening the door for her.Â The state of the office prompted Emma to gasp, though she managed to stifle most of it.Â Piles of books and journals took up the worktables and the desk in the room was nearly invisible from the amount of folders and loose papers burying it.
â€œIâ€™m afraid your predecessor wasnâ€™t the neatest sort,â€ Ian said, which Emma took as quite an understatement.
A door to the left opened and out of it stumbled an old man with wild white hair, at least a three-day growth of stubble, and the bulbous red nose of an alcoholic.Â If these signs werenâ€™t enough to indicate the man had a drinking problem, the smell of his breath was almost enough to make Emma gag.
â€œWhatâ€™s going on here?â€ the man said.Â â€œWho the hell is this?â€
â€œHello, Walter,â€ Ian said.Â â€œThis is Dr. Emma Earl.Â Sheâ€™s your new researcher.Â We discussed this on Friday.â€
The manâ€™s watery gray eyes narrowed at Emma, who took an involuntary step back.Â â€œThis girl is the one youâ€™ve hired?Â Has she even finished high school yet?â€
â€œDr. Earl has a PhD in Geology from Berkeley.Â Sheâ€™s more than qualified for the position,â€ Ian said.Â The iciness of his voice prompted Emma to take another step back into the doorway.Â â€œThe director and I think she will be a welcome addition to our team.â€
â€œIs that what weâ€™ve come down to now?Â Hiring pubescent girls and calling them doctors?â€Â The man shook his head.Â â€œGood thing Iâ€™m almost to retirement.â€
With that, the man turned and slammed the door to his office.Â Emma stood in the doorway, barely holding back tears.Â Ever since sheâ€™d enrolled at Northwestern at age fourteen, sheâ€™d been the butt of jokes for being a kid.Â She had hoped things might be different here, but clearly that wasnâ€™t the case.
Ian put a hand on her shoulder.Â â€œIâ€™m sorry about Dr. Brighton.Â He used to be quite the scholar back in the day.â€
â€œYes.Â Iâ€™ve read some of his papers,â€ she said, her voice quivering slightly.Â â€œThey were very good.â€
â€œHe hasnâ€™t been the same since his wife died.Â Wonâ€™t be much longer now until we have to put him out to pasture.â€ Â Ian smiled gamely at her.Â â€œHe shouldnâ€™t give you too much of a problem, though, so long as you donâ€™t bother him.Â If it gets to be too much, you just come and see me.Â My office is right at the end of the hall.â€
â€œThank you, sâ€”Ian.â€
â€œYouâ€™re welcome, lass.Â And good luck.â€
He left her standing among the ruins of the office.Â With a sigh, she began cleaning up the place, wondering if her dream job was becoming a nightmare.
Thanks for your support.