As we’ve seen in the previous lessons, the first chapter of Gone started things slow and small, and has built our knowledge of the event and the characters up from there. Now enough information has been discovered for the potential enormity of the situation to dawn on Sam, Astrid and Quinn.

“No way,” Quinn said, shaking his head. “Every adult and older kid in the whole school just disappears? That makes no sense.”

“It’s not just the school,” Astrid said.

“What?” Quinn snapped at her.

“The phones and the TV?” Astrid said.

“No, no, no, no, no,” Quinn said. He was shaking his head, half smiling, like he’d been told a bad joke.

“My mom,” Sam said.

“Man, stop this,” Quinn said. “All right? It’s not funny.”

For the first time Sam felt the edge of panic, like a tingling at the base of his spine. His heart was thumping in his chest, laboring as if he’d been running.

Sam swallowed hard. He sucked at the air, unable to take more than shallow breaths. He looked at his friend’s face. He’d never seen Quinn so scared. Quinn’s eyes were behind shades, but his mouth quivered, and a pink stain was creeping up his neck. Astrid was still calm, though, frowning, concentrating, trying to make sense of it all.

“We have to check it out,” Sam said.

Quinn let loose a sort of sobbing breath. He was already moving, turning away. Sam grabbed his shoulder.

“Get off me, brah,” Quinn snapped. “I have to go home. I have to see.”

“We all have to go see,” Sam said. “But let’s go together.”


A photograph with people disappearing.

While the setting is still small (three characters in the staffroom of a school), the thinking becomes bigger. So does the sense of dread.

How do you think this passage makes the situation worse than before?

Let’s build step-by-step to writing our own version of this snippet.