Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Page 69: Rarity From the Hollow

The Page 69 Test is not mine. It has been around since 2007, asking authors to compare page 69 against the meat of the actual story it is a part of. I loved the whole idea of it and so I'm stealing it specifically to showcase small press titles - novels, novellas, short story collections, the works! So until the founder of The Page 69 Test calls a cease and desist, let's do this thing....

In this installment of Page 69, 
we put Robert Eggleton's Rarity From the Hollow to the test.

OK, Robert, set up page 69 for us.

Lacy Dawn is a true daughter of Appalachia, and then some. She lives up a hollow with her worn-out mom, her Gulf War disabled dad, and her mutt Brownie, a dog who's very skilled at laying fiber-optic cable. Lacy Dawn's android boyfriend, for when she’s old enough to have one, is DotCom. He has been sent to the Hollow from planet Shptiludrp, a giant shopping mall and the capital of universal governance.  His mission is to recruit Lacy Dawn.

The Lacy Dawn Project is one of several strategies approved by the Manager of the Mall, the most powerful being in the Universe, to resolve an imminent threat to existing economic structures. The other projects have folded and the threat is growing. The Manager has become increasingly concerned. DotCom’s performance is being closely monitored by management staff.    

DotCom’s equipment includes infomercial videos of Earth's earliest proto-humans from millennia ago. Lacy Dawn has watched the videos. She has seen herself evolve by genetic manipulation from prehistory to present. For over a year, she has spent every moment that she could in DotCom’s spaceship, hidden in a cave up the path behind her house in the hollow. She has been electronically tutored via a port that DotCom put in her upper spine – languages, sciences, arts, sociologies, mathematics, politics, and other subjects that she had no classification for, yet.

DotCom and Lacy Dawn have grown close – so close that she begins to question her own values and he begins to modify his programming to more fully understand her emotional content. Management staff notices. DotCom is ordered to return to Shptiludrp. The scene on Page 69 is DotCom telling Lacy Dawn that he has to leave the hollow for a job, but hopes to return. 

What is Rarity From the Hollows about?

Rarity from the Hollow is the story of victimization and despair to empowerment and self-affirmation through accomplished performance. Using the science fiction / fantasy genres as a backdrop, it shows readers that happiness is achievable if pursued. With satire and comic relief, it speaks to and encourages: war damaged and disabled military veterans, the impoverished, adult and older adolescent survivors of child maltreatment, those living in areas that have few economic opportunities and who have to relocate from their families and communities to find jobs, persons who have been diagnosed with mental illnesses, persons who are so consumed with making lots of money that they have lost definition of true happiness, and those with still-torn-apart familial relations due to ancient conflicts. It is about how love rules all – how the artificial classifications of peoples, no matter what planet they are from, cannot stop the open-hearted from loving. It is about how our feelings, thinking, and behaviors are so inter-rated that if one function is changed, it has exponential impact on the other two. Without reference to Constitutional Law, the story illustrates that happiness is not a right, but a determination. And, that assertive action is the remedy to dependency and low self-esteem. 

Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of what Rarity From the Hollows is about? Does it align itself the book’s overall theme?

Page 69 of Rarity From the Hollow is a glimpse of what the story is about that does align itself with the overall theme.

It accomplishes a significant status report on the success of the android’s programming toward humanization:

  • Before this scene, DotCom’s dialogue with Lacy Dawn was monotone, dismissive, and void of emotional content. In this scene, for the first time, he stutters, expresses emotion, including the shedding of a tear, and lies to reduce Lacy Dawn’s worry about whether he will ever come back to the hollow from his “out-of-state” job.  

Page 69 also:

  • Introduces the phenomenon of leaving one’s family and community in order to find a job, as Lacy Dawn is must do later in the story if she wants to save the universe.
  • Expands a dilemma that Lacy Dawn struggles with as the story unfolds – the values conflict between the role of mainstream American females who weigh career and romance when timing their marriages, against the alternative value held by residents of some rural communities that girls should marry and have children when young because they are healthy, access to medical care is limited, life is short, and hard-working husbands don’t live that long anyway.
  • First presents the possibility of romance in the relationship between Lacy Dawn and DotCom. Before this scene, she loved him as a friend and teacher. For the first time in the story, the idea that DotCom might make a good husband for when she’s older sneaks in sideways. She expresses irrational worry that he might get hurt on the job, a common statement made between loving spouses in many cultures.  


“…No, err, yes, I do not know. That is not what I am talking about.” (DotCom said)

“Well, make up your mind.” (Lacy Dawn responded)

Lacy Dawn pointed her nose up, gave a little twist of her not-yet-fully-developed-butt, and the hearts on her panties flashed.

“I want you to help me move,” DotCom said.

“Move where? That’s what Faith did. She moved. Then she flunked and now she’s dead,” she hyperventilated. “Why do you want to move any­way?”

Tears dripped onto her keyboard. Her monitor went black—a pro­grammed response to excessive moisture.

“I have a job to do,” he said.

“Job, job, job, job, job…,” she cried. “So many people have taken the Hillbilly Highway out of this hollow that there’s almost nobody left. They all went to Charlotte, wherever that is. Or, to Cleveland, wherever that is. Everybody’s moved to other places to take jobs and now you too.”

"I'll be back soon."

“Sure, that's what you say now. Grandma and Grandpa took that highway once. Grandpa went to TV school in Cleveland. That's where Mommy was born. I don’t think you ought to go because Grandma said it's full of big potholes. What if you fall into one? You might get hurt and not be able to make it back home. Grandma said they were lucky to make it back home alive.”

"I'll be careful."

“And what about your job right here? You told me that you'd help me fix my family. Just because Daddy don’t switch me as much, that don’t mean the job’s finished. He’s destroyed almost everything in the house that ain’t his.”

“My, ahh, my supervisor gave me a timeline for a project and, ahh, by Earth time tomorrow is the deadline. And, ahh, I, ahh, just a mo­ment please…. I want you to consider the option of you going with me, Lacy Dawn.”
DotCom turned his back to her and wiped his first tear ever with the back of his wrist. He licked at his second with his tongue, but it escaped and hit the ship's floor. She noticed and wilted into her recliner.

“What? No way. I promised my mommy that I'd never move in with a man unless we're married. Besides, I’m too young. I’m just going in the seventh unless they double promote me. My cousin got married in the sixth, but she’d flunked a grade so she was old enough anyway. Besides, she….”


Robert Eggleton was born in 1951 – the son of an alcoholic father with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (WWII), and a mother who was strong despite the domestic violence that she taught her children to endure. He grew up in West Virginia. He recently retired as a children’s psychotherapist. His fictional characters are based on his experiences working with traumatized children. 

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