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Awakening Chapter 10: Instinct

by Otterpop


Even in the darkness of his room Blake could clearly see that his outstretched hand held nothing. He released an exasperated sigh and leaned back onto his pillows. His mind swirled with thoughts of uncertainty, as they had for the last hour or so.

How did I do it last time? If I actually did it at all. Blake twisted his head a little. The digital clock read 10:48.

He flung himself backward and bounced on the mattress a couple of times. His hand stretched out and up with extended fingers as Blake stared pensively. He held his breath, squinted his eyes a little, and waited. But still nothing happened.

"Dangit."

After June left, he realized minutes later that he'd still left the scythe in the park bathroom. His own mother came home shortly afterwards, and by that point he was so concerned about the mysterious weapon that he could bother himself with homework. But he had attempted to, in a way, summon it as he was sure he'd done in the past. But for some reason it did not work.

And the longer it went on, the more the knots twisted about in his stomach.

Blake finally pushed himself off his own bed and walked towards his dresser. He quietly reached for a dark hoodie out and pulled it over his head and through his arms. He then tiptoed into the hallway, and checked his mother's room with a brief peek. His mother's still form convinced him to make his way to the front door, slip on some shoes, and leave as quietly as he could muster.

The moment he heard the click of the door he spun around and scanned the front yard. A blade of grass occasionally twitched, visible only from a nearby and dim street lamp. The land beyond the fence line seemed normal, nothing unusual there either. A blanket of stars filled the night sky, and the light of the crescent moon gently coated the edges of the surroundings with a faint azure. The air smelled warm, but not so much that he felt overheated. Once he was comfortable enough, Blake took off in a quiet but fast-paced jog.

The park's only a mile away, he thought, continuously left and right, up and down. If someone saw it, I would've heard about it, we all would have, in a town like this. Right? It still has to be there......

The entire idea of him leaving his house late at night to retrieve an object, a weapon, he somehow knew how to use was simply mind-boggling. Not to mention that somehow the scythe put to rest shadowy monsters and benevolent spirits? What a crazy notion. Not to mention he still had yet to ask his mother about this! She had to know something, since he found the scythe in her room. At the moment nothing made sense no matter how he tried putting it all together, and he wanted so desperately to find the right time and ask her if she knew what was going on.

But right now, he only knew he had to get that scythe back, and hide it. Even the smallest of children in this town would know to fear such a menacing tool. Such a weapon was the very personification of ill omen to the residents. Even if he did not necessarily believe in the same things, Blake still respected the faith of his hometown. Which meant he needed to retrieve the scythe as soon as he possibly could.

No one was out this late at night, thankfully. Blake still looked every way he could as he turned corner after corner. His breathing quickened the longer he jogged, but neither his chest nor his legs lost their energy.

In minutes the park was just ahead and on the right. It was faint, but he could see the small and dark outline of the park bathroom. He picked up speed as he ran right over the grassy-

He screeched to a halt and froze in place. His hands tingled, but something else alarmed him. His entire back burned...and the sensation was terribly uncomfortable. His heart thumped irregularly and louder than ever, his chest tightened further with every breath he took in. And he did not need to look around to know of the impending danger.

Don't think! Just go! That one thought sent a surge throughout his body, one that pushed him forward in a burst of speed.

But he didn't make it far, as the next thing he knew his face planted right into the ground.

"Son of a bitch!" He so rarely cursed, but he tripped so fast he'd be surprised if he didn't chip a tooth or get a bloody nose. But he couldn't worry about that. Blake rolled onto his back, and immediately noticed a dark shadow at his feet. Without a moment to lose, he kicked the creature as it lunged right for him.

He rolled back into his stomach and struggled getting on his feet, then made another break for the building. In the corner of his eye he observed more shadows moving about. To the left, as well as his right. Just how many were there?

Another dark wisp stepped forward, some feet in front of him this time, but that wasn't why Blake skidded to a halt and nearly fell back. This one was different. Much larger than any he'd seen thus far. And unlike the rest, this one stood on two legs rather than four. His body seemed lanky in appearance, but if it stretched out its arms it could easily block Blake's passage.

The burning sensation strengthened so much his back almost became stiff, and the pain did not ebb away. Blake could only guess that this particular Shadow was more dangerous than the others. He had to be very cautious.

A quick turn of his head told him that more creatures crept in his direction from many directions, more than he'd seen before. Twelve, maybe fifteen of them? He couldn't get an exact count in this darkness, but they were numerous and little else mattered.

He looked back at the one in front of him and rapidly tried coming up with an assessment. Unlike the others, this one remained still, unmoving, watchful. But why? Was it more docile? Would it attack if Blake attempted to run past it, or not? Either way, he got an uneasy feeling the longer he stared at it.

Terrible screeches echoed in the air, and Blake jumped sideways without even thinking. A cat-like Shadow landed right where he moved away from, and turned for another pounce. But in the corner of his eye two more charged at him from another direction. Blake jumped forward into a somersault and avoided their attacks, though he felt the slight brush of wind as a claw skimmed across his shoulder. The moment he got back up after the roll he had to dodge yet again, and once more. They slashed, lunged, leapt, and snapped, but they could not touch Blake with his quick and agile movements.

None of this changed the fact that he was defenseless without a weapon. And still the tall, humanoid Shadow stood there, having not moved an inch.

The grass beneath Blake gave way, and he nearly slipped onto his back. The unbalance caused the claw of a shadow to catch his arm. He felt a sharp and stinging sensation, and for a moment a sense of warmth spread through his arm. In the next however, one side of Blake's body collided with the ground in a loud thud.

He could not get back up in time. A large shadow bearing long jaws and a large tail jumped on top of him, snarling and chomping. Blake's hands caught the creature's neck, and it wriggled frantically as it tried sinking its dark and shadowy fangs right into his face. The gaseous creature should have been weightless, yet his muscles strained with all their might to hold up the load of the monster.

The shadow snarled with a horrific grating sound right next to his ears. It chomped again but he still held it up and away from his face. But other Shadows closed in, slowly creeping up towards him and his assailant from various direction. Blake needed a plan, and now.

The closest newcomer approached from behind his head. With little time for planning, Blake pushed up on his attacker, and pulled in his knees while leaning back as far as he could. In the next split second, he pushed his legs out as hard as possible. The creature atop him yelped with a faded hiss and flew backwards, right into the approaching attacker. Another split second later Blake rolled onto his stomach and jumped to his feet. Then he bolted.

There weren't many creatures in this direction, so he found ease in dodging or avoiding their massive claws and snapping jaws. But the real challenge lie ahead. That humanoid Shadow still stood in place, right between him and his destination. Blake still knew nothing about it but at this point he had no choice. He needed the scythe.

Would the dark figure attack? Would it remain? It did not matter; Blake had to take a chance as he bolted straight for it. For the first time since its arrival, the Shadow raised an arm. He looked for any opportunity to pass the creature in a way that would hinder him as little as possible.

The humanoid creature stepped forward, but Blake kept going. It then jumped, but in such a lame manner that Blake could step sideways, and leap past the shadow's side without so much as a scratch.

He dare not turn around. All that mattered at the moment was the fact that no other shadows stood in his way. The building was just ahead of him now.

Blake did not mean to slam his whole body into the door, but he ignored this and fidgeted for the doorknob. With the sound of a click he pushed it open with all his might. And once inside he slammed the door shut with his back and spun around.

The scythe!

There was no time to waste. Blake grabbed it and swung it before himself as a means of defense. For a few moments nothing happened. And then the door jiggled a few times. Blake was fully prepared to protect himself from whatever would try and burst open that door…but he was not prepared for what happened instead. Something was coming through the door. He could barely see the outline of a shadowy creature hissing as it tried to phase through the metal itself!

But he could not see much more than that. It was so dark in here, and his pupils weren't nearly dilated enough to get a good look at anything. He needed something else. The quarter moon's light.

With the scythe in hand, and despite the current limited space, Blake used the weapon to push the shadow away from the door before it could phase through all the way. He proceeded through the door as quickly as he could and stepped outside, the Shadow still struggling as the door split off half its dark form. Something screeched nearby, and Blake spun around just as another shadow leapt for him. Instinctively he lifted and swung the blade out, and barely managed to cut the creature in three. After a horrible hissing sound that made him flinch, the dark creature dissipated into nothing.

The fight was on.

No time to waste, and not a moment to prepare. Blake watched as two more Shadows charged toward him, jumping around as if to confuse him. He tapped his feet a few times, and instead of fleeing he ran forward to catch them first. The one closest to him was surprised, and unprepared for the strike of the blade, and dissipated after a few seconds. The other one charged, and while he could not attack Blake at least blocked the strike with the staff.

And shadow screeched and leaped from Blake's right. He had enough time for a counterattack, swinging his scythe up and sideways. However, instead of a slice straight down the middle of the creature, only a small portion of a leg was severed. The creature landed nearby and howled; it was a horrible crackling screech that grated against his ears, enough to throw him off balance. The shadow dissipated moments later but the effect of the noise still lingered as a few Shadows in the distance hissed and approached.

A fierce screech tore through the air, and Blake spun around. He nearly had the wind knocked out of him as a large dog-like shadow crashed into him, and forced them both onto the ground.

It was just like before, being pinned down by a dark monster wreathed in gaseous shadow. But Blake did not panic this time. He noticed a couple of shadows doing nothing but circle around him and his assailant, but made no other moves. He kicked the figure snarling above him, though it did not do much. So instead, with all his available might, he pushed his weapon upwards.

No good. The shadow still stood atop him with snarling jaws. But now Blake's scythe was forced up against its neck. It was then that he noticed the blade pointed outwards.

In a moment of impulse, he pulled himself sideways into a right roll, and with his left hand pulled the scythe as hard as he could. His grip suddenly loosened and the weapon flew out of his hand. But by the time he rolled onto his stomach he observed the shadow that just pinned him dissipating into the air.

His gaze flew back to the scythe, and without another thought Blake stumbled to his feet and ran for his weapon. On his sides a few more creatures ran alongside him, but kept their distance. One of them looked ready to spring toward him. Blake reached out for the scythe, and the moment he made contact with it, he prepared his body, and spun around in a split second with his scythe firmly grasped in both hands. He was ready this time.

The advance of the Shadows halted on all sides, as though they waited for something. He would not back down though, or release his tightening grip. The scythe remained in a defense position before his chest, and he couched ever so slightly, ready for the push. Many shadows remained fixed in their place, but a few of them did snap forward from varying directions as if attempting to intimidate him.

Movement caught his attention; it came from the lanky bipedal figure. And it was.....backing away? A couple of the other creatures stepped backwards also. Some remained still, but not a single one advanced. Blake could do nothing but shake his head with indignation.

"What are you waiting for?" he growled so softly he almost didn't hear his own voice.

The humanoid Shadow backed away further, slowly, but it did not seem as if it felt threatened. Strangely though, it did begin sinking into the ground. After a quick glance around, other creatures backed off and sank as well. It was as if their physical forms melded with the ground itself, darkening the patches of dirt and grass surrounding him before they faded back to normality. Blake did not relax for a second, even a while after the terrain returned to normal. A few wisps of darkness remained after a few seconds. When one of them hissed softly, the rest either ran off towards the horizon or sank into the ground with the others.

Blake stood in complete silence for what felt like a season. Every inch of the park he scanned, his eyes keenly aware of even the slightest hint of movement. But he saw no sign of any other shadows moving in ways they should not. He straightened up and still clutched the scythe; he refused to take his eyes off his surroundings. However, his determination did not rid his mind of the thoughts of confusion and unease swirling about in his head.

"What......the heck is going on?"

Everywhere he looked there were no answers, and more questions for him to fail at figuring out. And that two-legged shadow...did it have a kind of control over the smaller ones, somehow? His instincts told him that one had more intelligence than the others, which concerned him.

Blake shook his head as he turned and walked towards the edge of the park. He couldn't wrap his mind around understanding all the goings-on right now. But at least he now had the scythe, so no one could question anything for the time being. People could not know about this; he needed to figure it out first before anyone else discovered it. Last thing he wanted for Jordan Heights was a panic.

He swiftly rounded a tree, but about stumbled backwards when he nearly crashed into a dark figure towering over him. His heart raced without skipping a beat as his lungs locked themselves.

"What in the world are you doing out here?"

In a moment his eyes adjusted. He couldn't observe the details, but he did notice the shorts and loose-fitted T-shirt, along with some kind of arm band. A runner. In the middle of the night...

"Shouldn't you be home and not out here, kid?" the runner, a man, said.

"I...." How was he supposed to reply with sound reasoning for his being out here? He couldn't tell-

Blake then realized he still held the scythe in his hand, the blade very clearly at his side and reflecting some of the moon's light. He dare not look down, but he could not say anything in reply. The man did look him up, and down. A crease in his brow appeared, barely noticeable in the light of the crescent moon. Blake held his breath.

"You...."

All Blake could do was clutch the scythe so fiercely, despite his rising desire to let it go.

"Don't you live around here?"

What?

"Uh, y-yeah," he finally answered after a few awkward seconds of silence. He needed his voice to stay level and calm. "I just...forgot something in the bathroom earlier. Th-the one in the park, I mean."

Much to Blake's shock, the man simply sighed with exasperation. "You probably should have waited until tomorrow. Seems silly to be so far from home this late at night." The runner walked a couple of paces forward, and tapped Blake's shoulder as he did so. "Thank goodness for this small, quaint community though, huh? If you live around you probably know your way home without a problem. Get going, hurry along." And while Blake stared wide-eyed, the man eventually picked up his pace into a jog. His figure soon faded into the darkness of tree shade further down the sidewalk.

This was insane. Blake was utterly baffled by what just happened. When he looked down he saw the scythe still gripped by his hand. Yet the man said absolutely nothing about it, even with the massive blade so large and plainly obvious; he didn't bat an eye. No mention of it, no sign of any suspicion or confusion or even fear in his eyes. Had he...not seen it for some reason?

Blake gently felt the staff with his left hand as he turned home with a fast walking pace. He tried processing everything that just transpired as he quietly and sneakily approached his house.

He could see this weapon, clearly as day. For a long time he'd wondered what it was, but now he had yet another question to answer.

Could anybody else?


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Fri Mar 04, 2022 3:38 am
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Spearmint wrote a review...



Hiya Otterpop!! ^-^ Apologies, I haven't been too active in terms of reviewing lately, but hopefully I'll be able to change that through LRS (Last Reviewer Standing)! I'm still quite invested in this story and what's going to happen to Blake... So expect a few more reviews in the next weeks! :D

Alrighty, so overall thoughts: This was an action-packed chapter with good pacing. I feel like you're slowly leaving clues about Blake and these Shadows and building up to a larger conflict, which I can't wait to read about. :] There were also some neat details revealed in this chapter, like how the scythe doesn't seem to be visible to most people (reading my last review, apparently I predicted that hehe-- though we'll see if any other of my theories turn out to be true, like my suspicious of June :P), and that two-legged Shadow... The Shadow definitely seems to be a rank above the more animalistic ones, like a general in an army. But it doesn't seem like the ultimate leader of the Shadows either, so I'm looking forward to learning more about the Shadows and their motives!

And some specifics:

Even in the darkness of his room Blake could clearly see that his outstretched hand held nothing. He released an exasperated sigh and leaned back onto his pillows. His mind swirled with thoughts of uncertainty, as they had for the last hour or so.

I liked the scene description here! It's a nice introduction to the chapter and provides a glimpse into Blake's state of mind.

And the longer it went on, the more his heart fluttered.

Okay, so from my experience, expressions involving a character's heart fluttering often seem to be used in the context of the character being in love. I feel like Blake's stomach tying itself in knots or something like that might be able to show his anxiety better? But this might just be me, and I do get what you're trying to show here! ^^'

Not to mention he still had yet to ask his mother about this! She had to know something, since he found the scythe in her room.

Yes! Please ask your mother, Blake-- I'm very curious too! xD

His heart thumped irregularly and louder than ever, his chest tightened further with every breath he took in. And he did not need to look around to know of the impending danger.

This part had my heart pounding too... I think you did a great job of building up anticipation in this section!

He felt a sharp and stinging sensation, and for a moment a sense of warmth spread through his arm.

This makes me wonder if other people can see the wounds inflicted by Shadows, even if they can't see the Shadows themselves?

A runner. In the middle of the night...

Hmm... I can't decide whether this man seems to be a suspicious character who'll show up later in the story, or just a normal civilian who's there to illustrate how most people can't see Blake's scythe. :P Either way, it's certainly interesting that he doesn't notice the scythe-- it reminds me of the Mist from Rick Riordan's books, which prevents normal people from seeing monsters and demigodly activities as they truly are. In this case, I'm wondering if seeing the scythe is limited only to Blake, or if Blake is just one of a small group of people who are able to see Shadows. And can his mom see Shadows? I suppose that's a question I'll have to read on to answer...

I enjoyed reading this chapter, and I'll be back for the next ones! Keep writing, and I hope you have a wonderful day/night!! ^-^




Otterpop says...


No need to apologize Spear! I am just glad to hear you still have an interest in reading/reviewing my chapters!

Leaving behind little clues at a time is definitely something I was going for with writing these chapters; I've had to reread them all a few times to make sure I wasn't leaving out too little, or putting in too much, and it's always entertaining to seeing readers perspectives and predictions.

In any case thanks a bunch for your feedback! Always nice to see what I'm doing well and what I could be changing or improving on.



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SpiritedWolfe wrote a review...



Hi Otterpop! I saw your chapter has been in the green room for a while, so I wanted to stop by with a review. Clearly, I haven't read other parts, so I'll focus on the chapter as a standalone and avoid plot related comments ^^

That being said, this sounds like a really cool idea! I'm actually really interested, and if I ever have more time (and you still need another reader ^^), I may go back and start from the beginning. This chapter is really well written, and it pulled me in very quickly. I also enjoyed that it was easy to read as a standalone, because most of the action and narration explained itself. You also have a very strong voice for Blake, with great characterization of him throughout, which just makes me wonder how this all plays out for him. Well done!

I have a few line comments I wanted to point out:

Alisha's fast asleep form convinced him to make his way to the front door, slip on some shoes, and leave as quietly as he could muster.


This read a bit awkwardly to me. The phrase "fast asleep form" doesn't read quite right, since it would be more direct and natural to say "he saw her fast asleep" or even something like "still form", because if he isn't looking at her eyes closed, he wouldn't know that she was asleep? Perhaps nitpicky, but it broke up the flow of the moment for me. Also, this may be something mentioned in the earlier chapters of the novel, but it also threw me off when Alisha was exchanged for mom. Does Blake typically call his mom by his first name? If not, why does he do so in the narration?

His entire back burned...and the sensation was both uncomfortable and painful.


Another small comment here. Why use the words both uncomfortable and painful? It feels a little redundant to use both, since pain usually implies discomfort. I think you may be able to use something more descriptive instead of the first word to get the feeling across. Also, I thought this was an interesting concept. This is likely something you'd introduced in earlier sections of the novel, like a way for Blake to sense when danger is around, but I'm curious if this is something new to him. Something that just started that he's grown accustomed to? What is the timeline since he's found the Scythe? There's been 10 chapters, but it still feels like something new to him, so if that's what you're going for, it comes across. If not, may be something to adjust.

Honestly, I don't have much else to say or critique. You control the action in this chapter really well, and while I agree with Mailicede that it might help to set up the setting/surroundings of Blake a bit more (just so we can have a mental image of the area he is fighting in), the moves were still easy to follow and engaging. I can also see some build up, what with mentioning the oddity of the humanoid shadow. I assume it will come back up and be important later on, but it felt like it was so prominent in this chapter with little reward. Again, it feels intentional, but I would love a bit more of a crumb of evidence, maybe so the reader can start trying to piece together the mystery of what's going on.

Anyway, let me know if you have any questions ^^ Happy writing!
~ Wolfe




Otterpop says...


Heya! Thanks so much for the review!

I am always happy to have more readers (more feedback/comments allow me to pull from many perspectives and catch little details or point out elements that may need changing), but it's purely up to you!

Your couple of grammar-related comments make sense and I'll be sure to change that a little. As for the general timeline, his acquiescence of the scythe was recent in regards to time and the general story, so I'm glad that even this much later on in the story that fact is apparent. And I do like spreading little crumbs here and there across chapters, so that's something to keep an eye out for if you ever happen to read other chapters!

Again, thanks a lot for your little notes and suggestions, I'll be sure to adjust some of the sentences a bit to make things more clear.



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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi Otterpop,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

At first glance, it was a split chapter with some new information, a brief moment of shock, and the calm before the storm.

In terms of structure and build-up, I liked the thoughtful wordiness you use when the scenes are calmer and more relaxed, and well how you change all this structure and sentences into a dynamic and flexible build-up as soon as a fight takes place. I really liked that you managed to keep that in a single chapter and also show the reader where the music is playing.

I liked how you started, with a brief summary of Blake, and how he continues to think about the scythe. You presented that well, but also thought you could maybe add a little bit about what the consequences might be if someone found it. Maybe Blake doesn't think that far ahead or skips that point, but I would have put in a bit of that sort of "Then the police will be at my door" or something alternative. (Maybe because he's looking at it a bit too narrowly).

During the fight in the park, I had temporarily lost track. Since Blake assumed at the beginning that there were about a dozen of these creatures, I found that this number shrank during the whole fight. Of course, Blake can't have eyes everywhere and think of what's happening, but you could at least include one or two more sentences about what's not happening in his immediate vicinity. At times it seems like a chicken fight, where Blake is fighting a Shadow in a circle and the others are around the area and cheering someone on. Since most of your fights have always focused on a few Shadows, I thought it was already good that you tried to go for something new here, but think you can expand on it a bit. Since your writing style is good and quick to read at these moments anyway, I think one or two of these sections certainly won't hurt.

I liked how the runner comes by at the end, which I found very suspicious at first glance and shocked me more than the many Shadows that were in the park. I liked how the chapter split really well between this commotion in his room until he heads off to the park where it seems like he's relaxing in the cool night air until it starts again. I'm glad that he finally found the scythe and I'm very curious to see what happens next. Will the runner still play a role? Or Blake's mother?

Some other points that I found while reading:

He released an exasperated sigh and leaned back as he sat on his back.

I think that's just me objecting to a word appearing several times in a sentence, even if it goes into one meaning. :D That's why this is just a note that you paraphrase the second half of the sentence, for example that he sits down on a chair or his bed or something.

He moment he heard the click of the door he spun around and scanned the front yard.

At first sight I was totally confused to read this sentence, but there is only one "T" missing at the very beginning, then it is understandable. :D

The land beyond the fence line seemed normal, nothing unusual there either. A blanket of stars filled the night sky, and the light of the crescent moon gently coated the edges of the surroundings with a faint azure. The air smelled warm, but not so much that he felt overheated.

Here I would just like to say that you radiated an incredibly calming aura with this. I loved reading this paragraph and found it a really fantastic example of what can be achieved with words.

The entire idea of him leaving his house late at night to retrieve an object, a weapon, he somehow knew how to use that he'd never seen before recently to somehow put to rest shadowy monsters and benevolent spirits...the notion of every part of that thought was crazy, simply put.

This sentence is a bit long and I would split it up a bit, like this for example: “The entire idea of him leaving his house late at night to retrieve an object, a weapon, he somehow knew how to use was crazy, simply put. He´d never even seen it before recently and the thought that it somehow put to rest shadowy monsters and benevolent spirits was just strange.”

since he found the scythe in her room. 

True. I have never thought about how important the mother is in the story and what possible connection she has with the scythe.

and barely managed to cut the creature in 3.

I would write the 3 as a word and not as a number.

"What are you waiting for? he

Here is the quotation mark missing at the end.

Could everyone else?

Here I am a little confused why you used "everyone" and not "anybody". You indirectly pointed out that the runner did not notice it.

Overall, I liked the chapter, it was just a bit too long in places, and yet it had a good ending.

Have fun writing!

Mailice




Otterpop says...


You pointed out a lot that I definitely didn't quite think about! (besides the obvious grammar mistakes of course). I definitely could either expand or remove some of the details, but at least there seemed to be a decent transition and not too much going on in a way that was very difficult to understand.

Once again your advice and suggestions are most helpful! Thanks for that! Hopefully I'll type up the next chapter before long!




The day, which was one of the first of spring, cheered even me by the loveliness of its sunshine and the balminess of the air. I felt emotions of gentleness and pleasure, that had long appeared dead, revive within me. Half surprised by the novelty of these sensations, I allowed myself to be borne away by them, and forgetting my solitude and deformity, dared to be happy.
— Mary Shelley, Frankenstein