A palm-sized glowglobe squatted in the middle of the table. The room's only illumination, its position and perspective somehow turned perfectly ordinary objects into half-real grotesques; the hastily placed wires trailing up the walls morphing into creeping multicolor fangworms, complete with subliminal moist slithers. The huge-shouldered ursinoid did not seem to be disconcerted. I was. "So, Mr.—it is Mister, isn't it?" A muscle was jumping below my right eye. Let the eggheads babble of Racial Prejudice, I was not nervous because the creature at the other end of the conference table was seven foot tall and looked like a starved Kodiak.
...so, any takers?
Edited to remove the "shadow discrepancy" (sounds like a bad thriller title, doesn't it?)
[This message has been edited by Ben Trovato (edited December 31, 2009).]
You've piqued my curiosity so far and I'd read on.
I get the sense the light is flickering or at least not constant since it is creating the illusion of movement for the wires on the wall (i.e. creeping and slither) but the light isn't described that way.
The last sentence seems to be contradicting everything before it. The character is nervous despite stating that he isn't. Is there another sentence following this that got clipped by the 13 line count?
I'd have to second the previous comment that it reads like the shadow is not disconcerted when it should be the ursinoid who acts that way.
A simple method for validating for thirteen lines;
Set up a word processor format in Standard Manuscript format. One-inch margins all around. Set typeface font to a monospaced 12 point type, ie., Courier New. Copy and paste from a story's first thirteen counted lines into the post new topic text box.
Set up in SMF, a line of 12 point monospaced type occupies 65 columns of a matrix, including glyphs and word spaces. Thirteen rows equals thirteen lines. In a propotional typeface, like Times New Roman, the number of columns varies widely.
I keep my wordprocessor set to SMF because it's also mostly in Standard Transcript Format, which is for the bread-and-butter editing work I do. The only change I make regulary is to legal size paper for transcripts, and letter size paper for manuscripts.
Something is bothering me about "A palm-sized glowglobe squatted..." - I associate squatting with living, or sometimes animate things. Is the glowglobe mobile? Is it alive? Hey, it's speculative; it could happen!
I would like the ursine creature's name to actually make it into the "So, Mr." line. I believe the MC knows the name.
Aside from that, I like the setting and the start-up.
I'll second that squatted seems like the wrong word there -- I get the imagery, but it definitely made me do a mental double-take, and for the fourth word in the story, that's a little uncomfortable.
There are a few little nitpicky things I'd mention -- the comma after Prejudice should be a semicolon, I think, for example (unless you added but after the comma). As far as the writing goes, though, I love how you set this up. The way you build the room around the glowglobe is brilliant. I'm hooked.