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Hexodynamic - Chapter Four: The Crossing of Half Way & There

by BenGrange

Chapter Four

The Crossing of Half Way & There

I finally found what I’d been looking for; the numbers on the pad of paper referred to what I thought at first was an ottendorf cipher—I need only find the book my uncle had been referring to.

He must have been a master of secrecy, my uncle. For even in his note, his subtlety still astounds me. I wish I could have met him. In his letter he wrote this phrase, “Your own common sense is your greatest treasure, and the key to your personal preservation.” What I didn’t realize until a few months later, was that he left a copy of Treasure Island in his personal library on the farm. This book, indeed, held the secrets he kept.


Hundreds of clocks hung in an eclectic array on every wall, permeating the room with a soft, synchronized tock, tock, tock, tock. Every clock in the room was stopped on exactly 7:20.

“What?” Rian whispered in awe.

Oaken shelves lined a section of wall, filled with dusty books, ancient looking scrolls, other small trinkets, and more clocks. A log to his left stood like an old grandfather clock, an ovular face etched near the top.

Moonlight filtered in through a window high on the wall behind Rian, barely highlighting the contents of the room. He stepped forward, rubbing his hand across a triangular wooden clock dangling from the ceiling, its bronze face smooth under his fingers. His heart continued to pound against his rib cage.

Across the room, in the opposite corner, something caught his eye. A tall, wrought iron signpost stood fixed in the floor. Solid and black, the post’s gothic metalwork stood out against the decaying wooden walls. Two signs pointed down the length of the walls, marking them as if it were a street intersection. As he neared the post, Rian read the antique inscriptions on the metal signs. The one on his left read Half Way, the other read There.

A wooden plank hung from one of the signs on a thin chain, black ink scrawled across the front in large, loopy letters. Rian reached for the plank and read the words in a whisper.

“Welcome to the Crossing of Half Way & There. This intersection once guarded a great secret. Now it is your time to help protect it. Use your time well—for once it is spent, there is no taking it back.”

Rian looked up at the signs again. “Halfway to what?” This venture was proving to inspire more questions than answers.

Rian dropped the plank, the chains jangling as the plank hit the pole. Turning, he noticed a thin door in the wall next to the signpost. It stood right behind the sign that read There, about half the width of a regular door. He tried opening it, but the handle didn’t budge.

“Why did you bring me here?” He asked, hoping the voice would hear him.

He waited, listening for the sound of a whisper, but the only thing that reached his ears was the soft tock, tock, tock, tock of the broken clocks.

Rian walked to the nearest bookshelf, pulling off a clock identical to the one in his bedroom. He tossed it between his hands as he studied the contents of the bookshelf. He didn’t recognize any of the books—books like A Happener’s Beginning: Year One, and A Fowndian Bestiary sounded like grown-up books.

An elongated, spiral seashell-like trinket rested on a pedestal in front of several cobweb covered scrolls. Carefully setting the clock down in its original spot, Rian picked up the seashell. Several holes lined the shell like a flute. Rian blew through one end of the shell, but no sound came out. He set it down, moving along the bookshelves.

Omsh avam nott ush nus shut khtasham,

Voamsh’ ush shut klasg on nus tso sasgam.

The voice rushed through the room with a gust of wind, an eerie blue glow lighting up the room. Rian turned to see the blue orb hovering in the center of the room, bobbing up and down.

The orb sunk to the ground, highlighting the colors of the floor. Glancing down, Rian noticed for the first time a drawing of some sort. Painted into the floorboards of the attic was a map.

Rian got down on his knees and looked closer at the map. He didn’t recognize any of the names on it—geography had never been his best subject. Though, names like Mountains of Minuscule, and The Forest of Clock didn’t seem like real places.

The blue orb touched the ground above the map, glowing so brightly Rian had to squint. A soft cracking sound caused Rian to open his eyes, and he watched as scratches in the floor began to appear, outlined by the blue glow. The light began to fade, smoke rising from the cracks. Rian leaned over the map to read the smoking words.

Play the flute to find the gold and open up the door,

Into imagination as you’re falling through the floor.

Chills curled around his spine, inspiring his heart to pump faster. Fear gnawed at his insides. He scrambled backward, heading to the trap door. With trembling hands, he fumbled while trying to lift the latch, his heart continuing to pound against his chest.

Rian no longer wanted to be alone in the attic. He rushed down the ladder and ran back to the house as fast as he could. There was no way he would investigate anymore unless Val went with him. This is so much worse than zombies, he thought with a rush. He wasn’t sure whether to be scared or excited.

Slowing down before he reached the front door, he leaned over and coughed, trying to catch his breath. His breathing began to slow, and he quietly opened the door, heading upstairs.

“Psst, Val,” Rian whispered as he entered her room. “Val, wake up!”

She mumbled tiredly, “Mhh . . . The spinach had tree frog for waffles.”

Rian snickered. He missed sharing a room with Val—he hadn’t heard her sleep talk in a while. He approached the bed and nudged his sister. “Come on, wake up!”

Val scrunched her eyes together and breathed in sharply through her nose. “Rian? What are you doing?” She asked, annoyed.

“Val, you’ve got to see this,” Rian whispered anxiously.

She sighed, sitting up. “What time is it?” she asked, her eyes still mostly closed.

Rian glanced down at his watch. “3:27.”

“A.M.? Uhg!” Val groaned, falling back into her sheets. “What did you wake me up for?”

Rian pulled the blankets off her bed, revealing her green polka dot pajamas. “You have to come see this, Val, that’s what I’ve been telling you!”

“Why couldn’t you have waited until morning?” Val complained, curling up in a ball.

“I don’t want Uncle Blake knowing we’ve been up in his attic.”

Val cocked her head up. “You found the key? Why didn’t you tell me?”

Rian drooped his shoulders and sighed in agitation. “Val, just come on—you’re not going to believe it.”

Val clambered out of bed and pulled on her fuzzy green slippers and matching robe. “When did you find it? Don’t tell me you’ve been up all night looking for it.”

“No, I wasn’t. I’ll tell you in a minute,” Rian said as they slowly walked out the bedroom door and down the steps. “Careful, the floorboard at the bottom creaks.”

They both stepped lightly across the front room, worried that the slightest noise would wake Blake or Kathlene. Rian pulled the front door open, and they left the quiet confines of the house.

“Okay, here’s what happened,” Rian said, still in his low whisper, as he proceeded to tell Val about the blue orb and the voice.

“Oh, enough with the voice already!” Val stopped abruptly halfway to the shed. “Are you just trying to freak me out?”

“Val, I’m serious. Come on.”

“Not until you quit with the ghost thing. I’m serious, too.”

“Okay, I didn’t hear anything—I just found the key randomly twenty minutes ago after being woken up by nothing. Happy?”

Val folded her arms and raised an eyebrow. “No.”

“Are you coming, then?”

Val stood in silence for a moment, her green robe swaying in the wind. “All right. But not another word about this voice, okay?”

“Okay, okay,” Rian said, agitated. “Now let’s go.”

Rian led the way through the shed and up into the attic. Val paused at the bottom of the ladder, looking suspiciously up at Rian. “You promise you’re not just trying to freak me out?”

“Promise.” He held out his hand and helped pull Val up. Dusting off her robe she peered around the attic, awe streaking across her face.

“Oh my . . .” she said, surprised. “I think I might believe you now.”

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740 Reviews

Points: 28275
Reviews: 740

Sun Mar 03, 2013 1:35 am
ShadowVyper wrote a review...

Hey Ben!

Shady here with your review.

Oaken shelves lined a section of wall,
~ Nothing wrong here-- spell check permits it ;) -- But I don't like 'Oaken'. Maybe just 'Oak' would work instead.

Turning, he noticed a thin door in the wall next to the signpost.
~ You use a different adjective in the next sentence, but I'd still recommend changing this to "narrow".



Very nice continuation. I'm liking Rian-- and I like his name too. I'm not sure if I mentioned that before. Rian is very nice. I've actually got a charcter in my novel named Lian-- so...I approve. ;)

One question: How do you pronounce it? Long i, like 'Rye-an' or short i, like "Ree-an".

Keep writing!

~Shady 8)

BenGrange says...

It's a long I sound, like Rye-an. It's short for Orian, which you'll find out soon. Thanks for the review, I'll look into those word choices. Thanks!

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303 Reviews

Points: 11152
Reviews: 303

Sat Mar 02, 2013 2:47 pm
StoneHeart wrote a review...

Wow, this must be my biggest review ever!

Enjoy. I promise it's like shall not be surpassed in all of my reviewing days!

Okay, here’s a review. You’ve been really helpful and encouraging to me, so I’m going to give you my best.
First off. Grammar.
I made a little comment for every one of your paragraphs, for example. My 50th comment, goes to your 50th paragraph.
1. Okay, I think it would be appropriate to capitalize the O and C on ‘ottendorf cipher’. By using ‘need’ you’re changing your tense. That should be ‘needed’ I think.
2. This paragraph is a bit difficult to understand; you have a lot of periods that I, personally, would get rid of and replace with commas. Also, these past two paragraphs could use to be in italics.
3. Good.
4. I think an exclamation mark would be appropriate here; he is in awe after all.
5. Maybe you should use a ‘one’ instead of ‘a’ in the beginning of this paragraph. ‘Nearest corner’ is a bit hard to understand. Nearest to what? Maybe you could use ’the corner nearest to where Rian stood’. Remember, nearest is relative, if I don’t know what the clock is nearest too I can’t really tell where it is.
6. I’m not sure ‘highlighting’ is the right word here. ‘Continued’? There isn’t much interior emotion leading up to this, you could use it.
7. Okay, he’s nearing the lamp post, you might want to mention that he has now crawled all the way into the attic and is crossing the room before you hit this. You used ‘sign’ once already in this paragraph, there’s really no need to use it again. Maybe you could put in something describing the metal, such as ‘rusted’, or ‘tarnished’, and completely get rid of the second ‘signs’.
8. Okay, I think you have a couple things mixed up in here. Isn’t it large, loopy letters scrawled across the front of it in black ink? I’m not sure if front is the proper word here, pieces of dangling wood don’t really tend to have fronts and backs.
9. First I shall comment on how riveting a sentence this was! Next I’ll comment on how hard it is to understand what you mean by ‘it’s your time to help protect it’. ‘Once’ makes me think that it doesn’t protect it anymore . . . seeing the way this story is going I want to say that this ‘once’ shouldn’t be there.
10. Okay, quick punctuation problem. You don’t need that first period there at all. If you want to keep it then pull it back to the other side of the apostrophe.
11. You might want to comment on him going over to the door before he tries opening it. Wow, there’s a lot to this attic!
12. A voice can hear?
13. Riveting again, I want to read more!
14. Unnecessary period after ‘One’!
15. You have an awful lot of periods here! Unnecessary comma after elongated.
16. Interesting language!
17. Okay, you used ‘room’ once too many times in this paragraph. And I’m not sure if you want ‘like’ or ‘with’ when talking about the gust of wind. I really think a bit of emotion might be good somewhere in these previous paragraphs. I mean, Rian is in a mysterious room, all kinds of interesting things all around him! He’s got to be feeling something; it would give great effect to show it!
18. Are maps painted onto floors or into them? I’m not sure if you want to use ‘sunk’ here, it kinda throws off the feel of the way you’re writing.
19. So, all of a sudden he isn’t paying any attention to the orb, he doesn’t say anything to it, and he completely forgets it? I think you should use a ‘-‘ in this sentence in place of the period, I think it would flow better.
20. I think it’s the ‘floor above the map’? Maybe ‘hadn’t been there a few seconds ago’ would sound better here, eh? Okay, you really need some little comment on what he’s thinking, just putting in little pronouns helps.
21. Okay, I can’t critique your poetry here because it’s so hard to understand right now. I can never do these little prophecy/thingys. Also, I advise italicizing this.
22. Okay, his heart can be inspired to pump harder? I think inspired isn’t the ideal word to use here.
23. Ah, I’m not sure that any shell no matter how carved and shaped could look like a flute . . .
24. I don’t think you need the comma after ‘Again’.
25. Okay, it really helps to put interior monologue in italics; it helps to separate it from the rest of the paragraph. I’d advise you to do this. Maybe a little ‘he decided’ would be appropriate after ‘myself’. Maybe an enter too.
26. Okay, good.
27. Ha, sentences like this really help to break a formal tone!
28. Good.
29. There’s no need for the period you have before ‘Rian’. You can just totally get rid of that, it would be more grammatically correct.
30. Maybe an exclamation point here?
31. I don’t think you want to use ‘mostly’ here. It doesn’t sound right.
32. Okay, good.
33. Okay, good.
34. ‘That’s’? I’m pretty dead certain that this isn’t the right word to use.
35. Okay, good.
36. Maybe you should put in something here. Like, ‘Rian said excitedly’.
37. Okay, good.
38. You can ‘droop’ your shoulders? I’d advise switching this sentence around a bit and making it,’ Rians shoulders drooped, and he sighed in agitation’.
39. I think an exclamation point would be appropriate in here? Maybe you could mention her hair was a mess? Or she kept rubbing her eyes? Or she sounded sleepy? Or interested? Or not interested? Something would be appropriate in here, somewhere.
40. Okay, let me just mention here, you use ‘said’ a bit too much. You should use ‘grunted’, ‘sighed’, ‘whined’, ‘exclaimed’, and the like more, they add great effect. Using said all the time gets a bit boring.
41. ‘Walked’ instead of ‘stepped’ might be good here. I thought it was Katherine? Huh. Maybe a ‘carefully’ before ‘pulled’ would help too. I think you should mess around with this sentence a bit, the second part seems a bit wrong.
42. Now, I personally, would use ‘and he’ instead of ‘as he’. It would sound a lot better, tense-wise.
43. Okay, this sentence makes me feel that Rian just said something, but I don’t know what it is. I think you might want to put ‘Val snapped, and stopped walking’ instead of just ‘Val stopped walking halfway to the shed’. If you don’t want to use my suggestion, you need a comma after ‘walking’. Otherwise Val would be walking to some point half way between the house and shed.
44. An exclamation point would be appropriate after ‘on’.
45. Okay, another exclamation point after ‘thing’.
46. Okay, I need to know who said this.
47. Good.
48. Alright, good.
49. Good.
50. Good.
51. Maybe ‘looking up at Rian suspiciously’ would help?
52. Okay, who’s dusting her robe?
53. Good.

Okay, first off. Never change your style! It is perfect for this story.
Probably a lot of my advice here is just my style trying to kick in, it probably isn’t necessary half the time. But, if you fix all of the things I suggested you to fix, then this story will be perfect in my opinion.
Now, for some more real reviewing!

Story world.
Your story world is great. Very mysterious turn with the attic, I loved that.
I would personally put more detail on surroundings in, but that’s probably just my style kicking in again.
I’m assuming that earth isn’t the real story world here, so there isn’t much to say.
Okay, your characters are great. Very real, imaginable people that fit well with the age you give them. I really get a feel for Rian. I however advise you to put more interior emotion in, it helps you get more personal.
I’m also pretty sure that ‘Rian’ isn’t a name at all, but that it is supposed to be said like the name ‘Ryan’. Correct?
Well, it’s a bit early to be looking into this, but I look forward to the chapters where I can, I get a feel this story will have a good one.
Your style is unique, and perfect for this type of story. I can imagine reading it out to a little kid, the amount of detail is just enough to visualize things, but not so much as to get boring.
Your action is pretty good, though there really isn’t that much yet.
Your dialogue is perfect too. I wish I could write dialogue like this.
Interior monologue.
You really need to capitalize the little interior monologue that you have. A bit more never hurts, I mean, how much more personal to a character can you get than with their thoughts.
Interior emotion.
I think you really need a bit more of this in your story.
You have perfect amounts of description to appeal to the type of readers that I can see reading this. Not too much, but not too little.
You don’t really have any of this. Remember, flashback is a powerful tool, and is really far more preferable to narrative summary.
Narrative summary.
You don’t really have any of this either, but I think you could use some, something about Rian and Val. I personally would use Flashback though instead, but you only use Flashback if you have space.

Great work! I really wish I could write like this.
Keep writing.

BenGrange says...

Awesome review. Thanks again. :) I revised it a bit, so if you want to look at it again, you can. :) Again, thanks for the awesome review! It helped!

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Sat Mar 02, 2013 7:19 am
dogs wrote a review...

"Oaken bookshelves lined a section of wall, filled with dusty books"

Double "book" in the same sentence, try cutting one out or replacing it. I think that you should maybe replace the "dusty books" with maybe "dusty volumes" or "dusty novels." Whatever works, I also really enjoy the dual stories you have going on simultaneously. Both equally intriguing and this story greatly inciting.

Crossing of Halfway and there. Niicceee, I love ambiguous statements like that, well done there. Although I think you need to describe the sign a little more, give us some solid imagery and what not about the sign. Is it rusting/ fraying splinters? Does it squeak in protest when Rian touches it? Just a few more imagery detail about the sign, especially because it seems like such an important bit to your writing.

"Dropping the plank..."

Again a little bit more imagery, what does the blank make on when it clatters to the ground? Does it echo within the wooden walls making a symphony along with the tick tocks of the clocks?

"Rian had to close his eyes... Rian opened his eyes"

This two lines are incredibly close to each other and sound rather similar. Try mixing it up a little, maybe say: "opening his eyes, Rian..." or something along those lines.

"and read words he knew weren't there a few seconds ago"

Of course, as the reader we have to take the narrators word for what's happening. Although this seems unlikely because it would be difficult to take in all his surroundings in a second, unless he looked specifically at one spot and when he looked back the writing was there. I would really rather prefer that you take us through a little bit more dramatic situation. I want to see the floor creaking and screeching as the letters are eerily scratched into the floor boards. I'm honestly a little uncomfortable/ scared while reading this story... and I think that the scratching of letters in the floor board would be a great touch.

"Play the flute to find the gold and open up the door,"

This is the only time that your creepy prophecy lines sound a tad bit off. This line just doesn't flow as well as all the others, because they're short sweet and just perfect rhythm. Maybe on this one try saying something like: "Play the flute and find the gold to open up the door," it just sounds like a more fluent event rather than the "and than..." bit. Edit however you feel necessary though.

"He rushed out the trap door and ran back to the house..."

Don't just tell us, describe that this happened. Say that Rian scrambled down the latter as his ran back to the house, his cold bare feet gliding across the grass... yada yada yada words words words. (ha ha Hamlet reference!)

"The spinach had tree frogs for waffles"

I had a good laugh out of this line... especially because I've heard that I saw some pretty quality quotes in my sleep so I can relate. Lol, nice job here with the well placed humor.

Also, my sister is 13 and I would never rip the covers off of her because firstly she would slap me (irrelevant), but secondly and more importantly she wouldn't be wearing much. Describe Val in some pajamas or something. Notice how Rick Riordan always puts his teenaged sleeping girls in P.J's. I really see a lot of influence from his books in your writing.

Nice way to end the chapter with some suspense and a good little cliff hanger. Although depressing because I WANNA READ MORRREEE!!!! :( Excellent writing across the board. I really enjoyed reading this. You have some great notes and true gift in especially your dialogue of writing. I only have required one other person to do this for me with their novels... but you are REQUIRED to give me a PM or post on my wall about when you post new chapter. REQUIRED! This is not a request, and I will slap you if you dare to post such excellent writing without alerting me! Loved reading this piece and I hope my comments were helpful. Now I'm going to bed because I'm starting to see things move that shouldn't move and it's freaking me out... (It's really late right now.. or I should say early). Thank you for letting me review your writing, have a lovely day! Keep up the good work!

TuckEr EllsworTh :smt032

BenGrange says...

Awesome, I've read through and agree with most (if not all) of these comments. This chapter has had the least amount of attention in the past weeks, so I'm glad you took a crack at it - it'll definitely help out the tension of the story. Thanks again!

BenGrange says...

Okay, I've revised the sections you commented on. If you'd like to take a look you can. :) thanks!

I'm worried about the tigers just kinda roaming around like that, Jack.
— David Letterman