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Awakening Chapter 23: Outcome

by Otterpop


Protect her. Protect the town. His vision had gone completely black but those two thoughts echoed and pounded in his mind. He thought he'd dropped unconscious. But suddenly he felt the pain in his body once again and he could feel his vision returning, allowing him to finally process his surroundings.

He stood directly over June? Blake's legs trembled violently but he would not allow them to collapse beneath him. Slowly, he turned his head around and looked behind him.

Puter was there, standing in front of him. Barely, however. Blake's eye widened with shock as he realized his attacker was missing an entire arm, and a massive gash stretched from a shoulder to his opposite side. Puter himself glared at Blake with a look of dismay. Oddly, there was no indication in his face, body language, or voice that he was in any pain. Not only that, but it seemed he did not bleed either.

The man straightened a little and calmly reached for the stub where his arm was, and stared. Blake could not believe his eyes. This awful injury garnered no reaction at all other than a simple glare?

Furthermore...had Blake done that to him? How? Something was very wrong here. Just what the hell was Puter?

"You filthy insect."

The moment Puter's eyes met Blake's, the latter froze without a second thought. He couldnt move a single muscle, nor would his body dare relax enough to collapse. His heart pounded harder than ever as a true terror and dread settled over his head. He thought he might stop breathing after seconds of unbroken eye contact.

Puter finally lowered his chin and stumbled back a bit. Blake gasped with horror and disbelief as air finally rushed into his lungs again.

"This will require time to regenerate. Unthinkable." Puter again hatred at Blake, though not as intensely as before. "I am left with no choice but to retreat. Pathetic for the both of us it seems."

For him, too? Hadn't Blake won though?

"No matter. Your beloved home will still perish in due time. Those residing in the very sanctuary below is will not survive long. Relish your victory today; you have still lost."

Puter turned around, though not completely, and slowly walked towards the nearest ledge. He climbed atop, and simply dropped off with no hesitation, before Blake could even call out. After staring wide-eyed into the bland and empty scenery for sometime, Blake eventually snapped and looked around in utter shock. The sky was painted this horrid yellow color, and rain may or may not have been on the way. The wind whistled an eerie tune, and all was silent.

In a moment of panic Blake looked downwards. June's chest still rose and fell; it wasn't very slow, but it didn't appear normal either. Although...did she have a little more color and a little less tension in her face than before?

All the imminent threats seemed to he gone now, he realized. Soon as he did Blake's legs crumpled beneath him, and he could not cushion himself as he fell right next to June. One side of his face plastered into the ground, causing him to unleash a rather loud and unpleasant groan. He saw June facing upward, and her eyes still had not opened.

Blake's body went completely numb as the shock and adrenaline very slowly began wearing off. The panic also subsided, but was replaced by waves of pain coursing through every inch of his body, even his head. Most notably, the aches felt strongest in his side, shoulders, and one of his hands. He wheezed so hard he thought his lungs might fail right then and there.

But...June was safe. She breathed slowly, but it was stronger than when he first saw her on the rooftop. Her face was no longer contorted in pain, and if not for her thin appearance she could have been mistaken as just a heavy sleeper.

"It...worked. Some...somehow...I'm...glad..."

Suddenly he touched something, and realized that his hand had grabbed one of hers. Her fingers did not respond, but he did not care. He could just barely feel a heartbeat there, and though he wasn't a doctor he was sure of one thing.

Thank God. She'll survive.

His mind whirled about but he'd lost focus, and while continuing to clutch June's hand he soon drifted into unconsciousness.

Something caught in his throat, sudden enough to wake him up. Blake coughed a few times, spitting up some more blood. A jolt came over his chest but it was somewhat bearable. He twisted his head, and June still lay on the ground next to him, her breath slow but still present.

How much time had passed? Blake's gaze shifted as he looked up at the sky. It seemed like daytime still? The overcast clouds made it hard to pinpoint the exact time. At the very least, some hours must have passed. He closed his eyes again, wanting to rest his weary body just a little longer. The pangs and aches didn't feel as strong as before but he was sure he would feel them soon as he moved.

But, June needs attention. And I guess I probably do too.

With a half-hearted and exhausted groan, Blake slowly pushed his upper body off the ground using his hands. Both arms trembled and he thought they might give due to the weakness, but he persevered and continued the push. At last he was in a position to pull up a knee, then the other, and very carefully he could sit up.

A fierce burning ran down his back, and Blake panicked within seconds. He soon realized a fiery sensation came over only when he moved, and so he breathed a sigh of relief.

As carefully as he could manage, Blake reached for June and twisted around a few times so he could somewhat carry her on his back. She wasn't all that heavy, but the muscles in his legs were nearly shot.

"Come on, just bring her down one floor," he ordered to himself. With his best friend now in tow, a weighty and limp form resting on his back and arms draped over his shoulders, Blake began making his way to the rooftop door that stood some yards away.

Something glinted on the ground nearby, leading Blake to make eye contact with the scythe. But he shook his head immediately and continued towards the door. Forget it, he thought. That's not important right now.

It took every ounce of his energy for Blake just to push open the door once he reached it. He unleashed a loud grunt as he did so, until he could get himself and June safely through. But once his eyes gazed upon the descending steps circling along the walls, he froze. Could he even get down a single step by himself, let alone the both of them?

He had to, for both their sakes. After a few big, deep breaths of air, Blake stepped down onto the first step. Aching overcame both his legs, but so far so good, so he went for the next step. One of June's feet suddenly slipped forward, causing her whole weight to shift. Blake had to jump down a few more steps just to catch her unharmed.

In the process, a fire seared through his legs that prevented him from fully straight; it was all he could do to keep from collapsing right then and there. His breath quickened and his vision grew fuzzier with every passing second. He thought he might lose his balance.

Don't think about the pain, he pushed inwardly. Focus. Don't black out. Think about June. You can do this, you have to do this.

Whether through sheer willpower or just luck, the pain in his legs lessened. Barely however, but it allowed him to bring them both down to the next floor below. But reaching the door, he found it locked. Despite the trembling in his body he mustered all his strength to bring them down to the next below that without much issue.

Blake reached the second door and pushed. Not locked.

He barely noticed the high-pitched squeaking of the door when Blake entered the hospital hallway with June on his back. Flurries of yells and frantic chatter echoed all around him. Many hospital staff and patients he could observe were running about in rooms far ahead of him. Most of the lights flickered on and off, distorting his already fuzzy vision even more.

Thinking quickly, and realizing his body would give out soon, Blake stumbled forward. He found a corner near a reception desk, and very gently set the unconscious June on the floor, making sure she was propped up against the wall in a way where she couldn't fall. He was close enough and still enough to get a better look at her now.

Her skin had regained some of its usual color, to his astonishment. Matter of fact, she appeared quite peaceful as though she only slept any trouble away. Something about the calm stillness of her face sent a massive wave of relief coursing through Blake, and for a brief moment all his pain numbed and his body felt lighter than air.

A distant but loud crackling of a light fixture pulled him back to reality. Blake stood up, barely, and stumbled away. He walked around one corner, then another. He could not see June but was close enough to hear anything or anyone that might approach her. He waited there not moving a muscle. And he did not have to wait very long.

"Hang on, that's my patient! What's she doing here on this floor?"

Blake peeked around the corner and noticed a couple of nurses standing around where he'd left June.

"Wait a moment." One of them bent down, a quizzical furrow in his brow. "She didn't have this much color on her face before." The nurse lifted his hand out, and glanced at his watch for a while. "Pulse almost seventy. That's impossible!"

"Is she in some kind of recovery?" the other nurse asked.

"I don't know, but we need to get her in a room. Do we have any supplies available for blood draws and tests?"

"I'll...I'll look for some undamaged ones."

"Be careful of the debris."

Blake sighed with the utmost relief. He wasn't crazy. She would be okay. He just couldn't believe his crazy idea had actually worked. There was no reason to think it would, but it did. Now he could relax, now he could-

Sink.

Blake had no idea when his legs gave way beneath him, but he was on the floor now, and leaned up against the wall at least. He did not wish to move, nor stand. Needle-like sensations wreathed his entire body, and simultaneously he felt completely numb. His mind too. His vision was now so fuzzy he could barely see the flickering of the hospital lights.

Every part of him was drained, and he welcomed the darkness of unconsciousness as he closed every one of his senses to the surrounding world.


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Wed Jun 22, 2022 9:05 pm
MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi Otterpop,

Mailice here again with another review! :D

We are reaching an important point in the story. I am pleased that we have come to the end of the (first) battle and how Puter has retreated. The man is still shrouded in mystery and yet I like the way you present him. I'm surprised how you managed to present the ending the way you did, especially as you continue to keep that great tone and survey the situation. Especially towards the end when Blake takes June downstairs back to the hospital, I liked how the tone there turned to relief and you were able to rest a bit along with Blake.

Protect her. Protect the town.


That's what I was talking about in my previous review, that Blake still needs to do some searching and decide what he wants to do. Here it's really summed up brilliantly, and shows again that Blake has the idea and the will, but doesn't quite have what it takes to execute it in a way that could work.

Furthermore...had Blake done that to him? How? Something was very wrong here. Just what the hell was Puter?
"You filthy insect."


I liked how everything built up to this moment, and Puter looks at his lost arm with such disinterest. You notice a change in mood and yet I wonder how much of what he says is real and where a lie is hidden. In any case, you have portrayed Puter magnificently and for his late first appearance in the story he already seems very deep and detailed for the few moments when you have dealt with him intensively.

"It...worked. Some...somehow...I'm...glad..."


I'm also glad it worked out. I can visibly feel Blake's relief.

Every part of him was drained, and he welcomed the darkness of unconsciousness as he closed every one of his senses to the surrounding world.


I like how in the past chapters you have managed to always keep a great tone from beginning to end and keep the tension the same. As noted at the beginning of this review, I like how this relief and all of Blake's pressure and stress is portrayed here in such a beautiful description.

I found it a very relaxing chapter after what we've been through in the previous chapters, and you also managed to keep it from ending too quickly or sluggishly.

Have fun writing!

Mailice




Otterpop says...


Another great review, thanks again Mailice!

Your thoughts on Blake on how he has the idea and will, but lacks the execution is a pretty good summation of what's happening with this story. Not the way I would have worded it myself, but I like how you did.

As with Puter, I was definitely nervous that I would portray him a little over the top or not quite malicious enough. But it seems, across the board, that people see him as a threatening presence and a good antagonist, and hey, there's speculation he'll return undoubtedly.

Thanks again for the awesome feedback, knowing where I might be lacking, but also where I might be strong, is very very helpful to me. You're too awesome a reviewer, Mailice!



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Sat Jun 11, 2022 11:55 pm
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SalisRuinen wrote a review...



Hi! Salis here with a review!!

Well, this fight ended very suddenly. I get that Blake was barely conscious at this point and responded purely driven by his will when Puter was getting ready to kill June, but after a clash as prolonged as the one between these two, I would've loved to see more from its final stage. Like just the moment Puter's arm is cut off, as managing to not just wound, but separate one of the limbs from the body of such a poweful opponent would be a great thing to see. Plus, in such a scenario it could be described how Blake initially feels a sense of triumph from managing to inflict great damage to further strengthen the protagonist's shock at how unfased the villain is by this injury.

And while needing time to heal, seeing as how unaffected Puter was by the loss of his arm, I would expect him to lunge at Blake or June for one final strike. Surely he still had the strength for that. But I guess those two have suffered enough for now, so it will be good for them to get a little rest. The good thing about Puter only losing an arm is that he'll be able to return soon enough and I'm so glad this isn't the last we've seen of him!

I also like that you pointed out the pain and numbness in Blake's body started returning the moment the adrenaline from the battle began wearing off. This is an important reminder that the boy is still only human and has his limits, finally being faced with the physical consequences of going beyond those limits.

The highlight of this chapter for me was actually Blake toiling to go down the stairs while carrying June on his back. That part was just so well written that it made me feel all the pain and worry the boy went through and it showed how even the most mundane action can became a struggle when a person is badly wounded. I don't think enough authors pay attention to that fact, so it was great to see it being shown here.

And of course it's great to know that June will get better and better from here on. Wihout having to worry about her so much, Blake will maybe get the chance to focus on finding answers to all the questions he has about himself after these events – something I'm looking forward to very much.

Thanks for the great chapter! Keep at it!!




Otterpop says...


Hey Salis! Thanks so much for the review!

I can definitely understand your concerns with the sharp ending to this conflict; action scenes have never been my specialty and maybe that shows a little in this chapter. But this is only the first in a trilogy, and there's definitely more going on than you may think (that's all I'll say for now on that!)

Regarding your comment about Blake feeling some triumph, while it would make for a good scene, I don't think that would reflect well on Blake's character. After the ordeal he's been through lately, it doesn't fully seem fitting, but I can understand why you thought something like that may have been a good addition.

But it seems I got some of the other parts of this chapter right, and hopefully that continues if you read the remaining chapters and epilogue! Thanks again for the feedback, it's very good information for me!



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Thu Jun 09, 2022 11:09 am
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Liminality wrote a review...



Hi again Otterpop!

First Impressions

This chapter felt really intense. Blake’s innate fighting ability is really impressive and also still hasn’t been fully explained, so I’m guessing that’s going to come in the sequel. The sequence of Blake sort becoming conscious of his surroundings again was really well done, and Puter’s reaction was chilling. I also really noticed the descriptions of the difficulty Blake had in getting June back down into the hospital building. Even though the battle was over, I still felt like that walk down the stairs and the ensuing collapse was full of tension in some way. It was a really impactful way to finish up the chapter.

Characters

Blake’s protective characteristic was depicted well in this chapter. I like how his concern for June’s safety was shown, both in his actions and his emotions, like the following:

Suddenly he touched something, and realized that his hand had grabbed one of hers. Her fingers did not respond, but he did not care.

I thought this almost unconscious reaction of his showed his earnestness, and it was moving to read.

I like that there is this continuity with him, that it all ultimately comes down to protecting others from harm. I find that I’m more able to root for characters whose motivations I understand fully, and so I like this aspect of Blake.

I think you’ve managed to sell Puter as this really intimidating antagonist. I kind of gather that’s what he’s supposed to be, since we still don’t know much about his backstory, only the enormous threat and danger he poses, and I think it works really well especially in these recent chapters.
“You filthy insect”

^ This line really got me feeling this dread and terror because the italics haven’t been used with dialogue much, and it’s also very short, which contrasts his usual long-winded demeanour, like he’s reached a breaking point. He’s one scary dude!

Descriptions and Nitpicks

I think I mentioned in some of the earlier chapters that there were a few super-long sentences that I had a hard time keeping up with. That seems to have lessened a lot here. By and large, I thought the prose flowed really smoothly in terms of sentence length. For example, you do a great job of pulling us back into the hospital setting in just a few lines.
Flurries of yells and frantic chatter echoed all around him. Most of the hospital staff and patients he could observe were running about in rooms far ahead of him. Most of the lights flickered on and off, distorting his already fuzzy vision even more.

I could really imagine the scene here, especially with concrete details like the flickering lights.

There are also plenty of short-but-impactful sentences that help to balance the longer ones out, such as:
Blake reached the second door and pushed. Not locked.


Something I think that could be worked on if you’re editing/ revising would be to look at parts where certain words/ descriptions are repeated. For example, in the hospital description I said I liked, I think it might come off even better if the second and third sentences didn’t both begin with “Most of”. I also wonder if there are other visual signs of June’s illness that don’t have to do with the paleness of her skin? It might just be me but I feel like it was repeated quite a few times. It didn’t distract from the flow of the scene too much, but it might be a good thing to think about for a supernatural illness, since I think going pale is kind of a very ‘common’ thing that happens when people feel unwell and so doesn’t give off the scary unearthly vibe that the rest of the disease has (like coughing up blackened blood).

Now for some quick nitpicks:
The man straightened a little and calmly reached for the stubble where his arm was, and stared.

Was this meant to be ‘the stub where his arm was’?
He could just barely feel a heartbeat there, and though he was a doctor he was sure of it: sh would make it.

A couple of little typos here – I think you might have meant to write ‘though he wasn’t a doctor and ‘she’.

Blake’s Inner Thoughts

I really like how you used Blake’s internal monologue in this chapter. It feels very real and also heightens the emotion of each scene. It kind of helps in the second half especially since there’s no one for Blake to talk to – the conversation he’s having with himself helps to give context to his actions and make the scene more dynamic.

Overall, this was a hard-hitting chapter. I could really feel Blake’s relief when he finally had a moment of respite, after all that running around and fighting in what looks like an apocalyptic scenario. As I think I said in my previous review, the payoff from all those chapters of build-up feels well worth it with these scenes that are very well-structured in how they present the tension, the drama and the emotion.

Hope some of this helps, and feel free to ask for more feedback!
-Lim

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Otterpop says...


Great feedback! I was always a smidge worried that the sudden end to the climax might disappoint some but I'm glad to be wrong at least in your case. Thanks for the nitpicks and suggestions too, I'll be sure to look them over and do some editing at some point.

Have a great rest of your day now!




You are in the wrong land even if the roosters recognize you.
— Nathalie Handal, "Noir, une lumière"