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Awakening Chapter 13: Voice

by Otterpop

"Damnit; of course this stuff is old..."

Blake pulled apart a small rollup of ivory-colored gauze but noticed it did not stretch out very well. He didn't have much of a choice, though, as he wrapped the medicinal cloth around his wounded arm the best he could. The hydrogen peroxide had stung so much he almost couldn't move. His normally high tolerance for pain could not compare to his current wounds or the subsequent dressing.

Some of the gashes on his shoulder were still exposed, but there was nothing he could do. He rubbed some alcohol onto his shoulder and side as gently as he could, feeling the sting of the chemical seeping into some of the scratches. Afterwards he put his shirt on over his head and arms with great care, and then he grabbed the scythe next to him on the kitchen table.

A nearby microwave read 8:45. Alisha left before he did, yet still she had not returned home. Something was wrong; and Blake grew more and more worried by the minute. His fingers fidgeted around in his pants pocket for a moment, even though he knew there was no point.

I wish I had a phone too..... he mulled as he slowly made his way down the hall, back towards the front door. He felt completely blind, both to the goings on in the outside world and even in his own house. He absolutely hated it; despite having such a large weapon to aid him he still carried in his mind this nagging feeling of helplessness.

Blake poked his head into the living room, and looked around at every inch and corner of the space. His back still tingled with the slightest burning sensation, but the house was quiet. Even so the smallest step still incurred a creak that seemingly shook the whole floor, so he proceeded with both silence and caution. Still, nothing.

Something isn't right here, he thought to himself. It's like they're waiting nearby. For me? Something else?

Whatever happened with the shadows would have to wait, because a new sensation overcame Blake. An icy chill up his back and through his shoulders. They did not cool the pain in his arms, but his focus on the feeling did take some of the discomfort away. In all the chaos with the constant shadowy sightings, namely in the last week or so, he nearly forgot about the lost souls still roaming the area.

The shadows might have scared off some, maybe, he wondered. But, not all of them, clearly. All he knew was that if there were indeed spirits around, he might need to protect them. At least now he could. Or, he was sure he could......

The grip he had on the scythe remained firm and unyielding as he finally took a step towards the living room exit. Something felt different about the hallway, however. Was it darker, longer? The sun had to have dipped below the horizon by now, but still, the very air of the hallway he now walked through seemed heavy, and tasted thick with something that wasn't quite clean or normal. The chill across his back intensified, and Blake wondered if the nearby spirit did not stand outside as he originally suspected.

His suspicions were confirmed the moment he stepped into the kitchen and looked left. He was about to lift the scythe as a means of defense but stopped himself in the nick of time.

"Are you alright?" Blake asked.

The figure had a transparency about it, but still stood out clearly enough that Blake identified a middle-aged woman hunched over and sporting very short hair. But something felt different. Call it instinct or just a wild guess, but he sensed something recognizable about this particular spirit. Oddly enough, the familiarity seemed mutual the longer the spectre stared his way.

First things first, though; he needed information. The scythe still tightly gripped and his senses alert, Blake asked again, "Are you okay? What happened to you?"

Immediately a wave of pain and despair overcame Blake, enough to numb his mind momentarily. He'd encountered spirits who were curious and eager, or angry and distrustful, or even sad and unsure. but the anguish coming off this person felt stronger than anything he'd felt before, as if the woman that died lost all hope in her final moments and gave in to her sorrows at the very end. The sensation was such a strong one, and soon he felt a small tear roll down his own cheek.

After he wiped it away, Blake breathed to calm himself. "Look, I...I know it's hard to come to terms with what happened. How did it...how did you die, if I can ask?"

The taste of something strange caught his attention first. It tasted warm, and sweet, and...almost metallic? He'd never really tasted it himself, but he recognized the feeling from whenever he ate with a fork.

As Blake opened his mouth to confirm, he realized he couldn't get a word out. His chest felt tight, like something squeezed him from both the front and the back. Not only that, but something else felt wrong too. His stomach. A strange flutter within it intensified after a couple of seconds, becoming painful before long. He thought his knees might buckle from underneath as the action of standing became difficult, but before that could come to pass the feeling stopped suddenly. He'd never experienced anything like that before, and so needed a moment or two of recovery.

"You got...oh. How sick were you?" he finally inquired. Within seconds he could pick up on some words the spirit emitted.

Came out of nowhere...felt delirious and awful...my husband......

It was as if the spectre began crying, unable to hold in her sadness any longer. She no longer spoke, and instead a wave of rising despair washed over Blake and caught him off guard.

"Your...your husband. Is he alive? Did he get sick too? Is he somewhere around here?"

She did now answer, however, because she had frozen in place very abruptly. All emotions and sensations had halted for both her and Blake...and in the same moment, a stinging burn raged down his back. Blake spun in place and held his scythe up in a defensive position. He looked around the kitchen, eyes peeled for any movement amidst the darkness.

A huge weight crashed right into his back with no warning. Whatever it was came from the hallway, and Blake barely had time to spin around and face his assailant before he landed with a loud thud on his back.

Blake thrust the staff upward in an instant, and two shadowy and unnatural hands grabbed onto the scythe with such ferocity. Blake performed a double take, eyes wide with disbelief. Hands? When he looked up he could feel his eyes adjusting to the dimmed atmosphere...and was stunned to discover that the Shadow atop him was both large and humanoid.

The creature's silvery eyes gazed right into his, and for the first time Blake felt as though the shadow stared right through him. He was not an object of baseless, instinctual focus; he was a specific target. This creature was intelligent, a strong hunch told him that. Just like the one in the park.

Shit! He straightened his arms out as much as he could to keep the Shadow far from his body. Blake soon noticed the creature had something akin to a small muzzle, and not the flat face he might have expected. Perhaps he could get an angle on this particular assailant somehow. Its right hand let go of the scythe and reached for its prey.

It was a risky move, but Blake released the scythe with his own right hand, and plunged a clenched fist straight into the shadow's face.

With a surprised yelp, the dark brute lifted its upper body. He was shocked he even made contact with the darker figure, but that was the last of his concerns right now. Blake clasped the scythe again with both hands and rolled in an instant. Now he was the one on top, and so pressed the staff onto what looked like the attacker's neck as hard as he could. If the dark figure could breathe or needed to, Blake did not know. The shadow being pinned did seem to prevent it from attacking further, but now Blake had no idea what he was supposed to do next.

The voice was so close, and so grating on his ears. However, his eyes were wide for a different reason. The Shadow's silvery eyes trained on him as its jaw opened in a sort of low growl.

Blake could not believe this. Was the Shadow actually speaking somehow? He didn't think they could! He knew they might have intelligence, but-

A yowl erupted from Blake when a sharp force jabbed him right in the abdomen, and launched him across the kitchen and into one of the counter cupboards. The impact sent his nerves in a frenzy and the pain pulsated throughout his entire body. One of his arms went numb and he focused his eyes just as the Shadow reached forward. Its claw-like fingers grabbed hold of one of Blake's shoulders. His injured one.

He reacted instantaneously by thrusting the end of the staff into the creature's abdomen. It was caught off-guard and Blake prepared for a swing with both his hands. Just as the scythe whipped around, however, the creature leapt back, but not before the curved blade got caught in one of the ceiling cupboards. Blake pulled and pulled but the blade would not budge or come out.

The shadow screeched, leaving Blake no choice but to let go of his weapon and dodge. The creature's claw-ridden hands scraped the counter and fridge that created a horrible sound like a knife on a chalkboard. Reacting, he clenched both his fists and punched the shadow with one of them. It had to have done a little damage, but a second later it swung its claws right at Blake's head.

A numb ringing tore through his ears, and for a moment his vision struggled to acclimate. He mustered all his strength to not vomit even as the dizziness faded. Moments later, as if on instinct he ducked, and hard a gentle swish as he did so. The instant he caught sight of the scythe with blurry vision, Blake reached up, and with a hefty grown pulled as hard as he could.

It worked. Now removed from the cabinet, he swung the blade out and around, but only the back of it made contact with the Shadow. Blake didn't even think after that; he just swung, back and forth, grunting with each movement. He turned and turned, clumsily dragging the blade with every swing, but the Shadow dodged every attack. Blake swung wide again. Too wide, he realized too late, and the creature lunged.

In a moment of improvisational panic, Blake thrust the end of the staff into the figure's face, disrupting its vision and causing it to screech violently. Without hesitation Blake swung around in a nearly complete circle.

A large cut appeared on one of the Shadow's legs, but for some reason it didn't seem to dissolve at all like they normally did. Blake looked up and right into its eyes...and it looked right back at him. It did not lunge, or show any signs of a willingness to attack, but merely stood and stared.

Moments later the Shadow turned and bolted off, phasing right through the backyard door with ease and vanishing without a trace. An eerie quiet filled the air, and for a moment nothing moved, not even Blake himself. Even so, his heart continued to pound fiercely, and he refused to relax even a little.

His senses still trained, Blake lowered his chin and stared at the ground in utter disbelief and shock. The ringing in his head had stopped but a part of his vision and his mind still felt a little numb. He lifted a shaky hand and rubbed his head a little, convinced only after about twenty seconds or so that there was no blood up there at least. The stinging on his shoulder did not ebb, and so he craned his neck and checked it. A little red already had stained a part of his gray shirt.


The sudden pounding startled Blake, but it was not him. It sounded like it came from the front door, or was the front door. He perked up with relief, but quickly told himself that much as he would have wished that was Alisha, she would not bang anything like that, as if she would have the strength to knock so loud anyhow. But why not the doorbell?

In the corner of his eye he noticed, and panicked. If there was a person at his door, and they opened it...Blake shuddered at the thought of having a startled or horrified person on his doorstep.

He called out, in a somewhat shaky voice, "B-be there in a moment!" Blake tossed the scythe to the corner of the kitchen and subsequently raced toward his room. He kept low so as not to stomp and cause even a small ruckus. He pulled open a drawer once he reached it and yanked a black sweatshirt right out of it. While walking towards the door he frantically pulled the clothing over his head and through his arms. An awful stinging ripped through his body as the sweatshirt pulled and rubbed against any open wounds, but he stifled a single sound.

Once it was on and he could see again, he stopped at the door, waited a second to calm his breathing, and opened it.

A man stood at the doorstep, and for a moment Blake held his breath. But then he realized it was not an unfamiliar figure to him. The very short brown hair and marks of a shaved beard accompanied by faded beige skin was unmistakable to him....but the furrowed brows accompanying the concerned expression on this well-muscled man's face surprised Blake, as did the fact that he stood a good few feet away from him.

"M-Mr. Cordon," he stuttered. "What are you doing here?"

"I'm glad to know you're home, Blake," the man responded in a gruff yet gentle voice. "I got the call that June was in the hospital, and her mother was sent in last night..."

Blake nodded, trying not to let his shoulder fidget around. Naturally, June's dad would have gotten the call about what happened. "Yeah. Yeah, I heard her say that at school today."

"You haven't felt sick at all, have you?"

After shaking his head, Blake asked, "No...why do you ask?"

"Nobody had any way of reaching you. Blake, your mother's in the hospital."

Is this a review?



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Mon Mar 28, 2022 6:05 pm
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...

Hi Otterpop,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

The chapter felt like a little animal climbing up me, slowly but surely, and gave me goosebumps the further I read. After re-reading the previous chapters (some rather skimmed over as the outlines sharpened again as I settled in), I noticed a few things here that had been on display a bit more directly in the previous parts.

Alisha left before he did, yet still she had not returned home. Something was wrong; and Blake grew more and more worried by the minute.

With details like this, it was usual for you to include some brief thought processes or at least another sentence where you learned more about Blake's direct emotions. Here, except for the brief thought in the next paragraph, we didn't learn anything except from the omniscient narrator. I think right here it would have been fitting to be at least a little more direct about what he's thinking.

I didn't want to start with something negative right away, but actually describe - which I've probably written in every one of my reviews - that I liked the chapter. It's always a good structure and builds up the emotions well for me as a reader. At first I was strongly concerned about this spirit of the woman Blake had glimpsed (by then I thought it might be his mother) and then I was intrigued and amazed by the "short fight" between the shadow. And there also well done with this writing style. It gave the whole thing another strong touch of mystery and questioning for me.

He didn't think they could!

That's a fitting description for the moment. But I think here you should either make that a thought process from Blake, or you could take away the exclamation mark. It seems a bit out of place to me, especially after this situation.

One thing I noticed briefly that had bothered me a bit was here at the very beginning in your first paragraph:

Blake unwrapped a small rollup of ivory-coloured gauze but noticed it did not stretch out very well. He didn't have much of a choice, though, as he wrapped the medicinal cloth around his wounded arm the best he could.

The double "wrapped" felt bumpy, especially at the beginning, and the way you described it, I think you could also use a synonym in the second sentence, thus describing it more directly or with a metaphor.

In summary, I thought the chapter itself was quite solid. I didn't get the impression that it was too big because at some point you get totally sucked into the story and just keep reading because you kind of go from one suspense to the next and then end the chapter with a cliffhanger. Now I'm very worried...

Other points I noticed while reading:

Whatever happened with the shadows would have to wait, however, because a new sensation overcame Blake.

I don´t know but this sentence sounds weird. Has it something to do with the “however” or the “because”? The more I read it, the more it sounds better, but there is still something bumpy in it.

He about lifted his scythe as a means of defense but stopped himself in the nick of time.

Here is the beginning a bit strange, I guess it should be “He was about to lift” or something like this.

Your, your husband. Is he alive?

In this specific situation, I think it would fit to add three dots as a break. It seems more fitting than the comma in this sentence.

Have fun writing!


Otterpop says...

Thanks a lot for the valuable feedback, as always! It's always the little things, the brief moments of weird grammar or wording, but sometimes it's other aspects. But glad you enjoyed the chapter and glad to know it's still pretty solid this far in!

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Thu Mar 17, 2022 3:40 am
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Spearmint wrote a review...

Hey Otterpop, I'm back for another review! ^-^ So, getting right to it...

Blake unwrapped a small rollup of ivory-colored gauze...

It seems like Blake is good at taking care of his own wounds-- definitely useful when he's fighting shadow creatures by himself! He seems a lot more responsible and capable than an average teenager of his age, though that makes sense, considering how Blake's been caring for his mother too. I like how you're consistent with Blake's character descriptions, and that they connect well to his background. :D

I wish I had a phone too..... he mulled as he slowly made his way down the hall, back towards the front door. He felt completely blind, both to the goings on in the outside world and even in his own house.

Hmm, and now I'm wondering why Blake doesn't have a phone? I don't think his mother would be the kind of person to forbid it, unless I've been imagining her character wrong this whole time. Sorry if it was mentioned earlier, but if not, I think that might be a good detail to add in somewhere!

An icy chill up his back and through his shoulders.

Ohh, so icy chills are for usual spirits and burning sensations are for shadows... I wonder what it would be like for a spirit who's turning into a shadow?

The voice was so close, and so grating on his ears.

The shadow spoke !! :O By now, I'm thoroughly intrigued by these shadows, the specifics of how they form, and what they can do, and why they're doing what they do... That's a sign of good writing! :))

The creature's claw-ridden hands scraped the counter and fridge that created a horrible sound like a knife on a chalkboard.

Ouch, the poor house is getting all roughed up. >.<

Now removed from the cabinet, he swung the blade out and around...

Hmm... I might have missed something here, but how did the blade get free? It seems like it was firmly stuck just a few moments ago, so I'm not sure what changed. Did the shadow's attack loosen the scythe somehow? Or was it almost freed already and Blake just had to pull one more time? I'd appreciate it if you could clarify that! ^^

He pricked up with relief

Tiny wording thing here-- I think "perked up" makes more sense in this context. ("Pricked" makes me think of pricking one's finger or something.) :]

the man responded in a gruff yet equally smooth voice.

Another nitpick, but to me it seems like "gruff" and "smooth" are direct opposites, so maybe something like "gruff yet calm" or "gruff yet kind" might be good? Your choice, though! C:

Blake, your mother's in the hospital.

0.0 Oh dear... is it her chronic illness, or the mysterious one that's sweeping through town? Guess I'll have to read on to find out. ;)

Overall, I enjoyed reading this chapter, and I hope you keep writing! Have a fabulous day/night!! =D

Otterpop says...

Hey Spearmint! Thanks a ton for the review!

Seems I do have a couple of little itty bitty things to change and clarify, but I've come to always expect that when new reviews pop up so thank you for pointing some stuff out!

The phone thing I can explain right away since it already has come up a couple times that he has to use other people's phones constantly.....living in a small town, and with his mother being single and sickly all the time, there isn't a lot of money to go around even for a simpler cell phone. But again, small town so Blake kinda knows everybody and he's never had this problem until recently. I could have possibly clarified that information...I'm not sure, what are your thoughts on if or how I could add that in somewhere in the story so far without it feeling shoehorned?

And of course, awesome to see that characterizations and story elements are still coming through or providing a sense of intrigue that makes a reader want to keep going. Hopefully that sticks even to the end of the story!!

Spearmint says...

Ohh thanks for the explanation!! I looked back at the previous chapters and found that you did mention it in Chapter 3, when there was the fire at school and Blake had to borrow June's phone. (So props on the consistency!)
I think a nice place to add some clarification could be here, near the middle of Chapter 3:
A teacher neared them and many other students before long, and relayed to all of them the same information that Amelia already had. The students seemed content with the news, and many of them readied for departure from school grounds. Some of them didn't have any bags with them, but few looked worried about that.

Blake looked at June.

"Can I borrow your phone?"

More specifically, I feel like somewhere near or before the line "Blake looked at June" might be a good place to add some context about how he often borrows people's phones and the reason why! Though it's completely up to you, and now that I see it's mentioned in previous chapters, it's not as much of a concern anymore C:

Thanks for the reply (it's always nice to know my reviews are appreciated! ^^) and expect another review within the next few days!!

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Thu Jan 06, 2022 1:07 am
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NewHope wrote a review...

Hello Otterpop,

Can I just say that this chapter was... amazing.

Blake’s wounds were depicted in an excellent style and the part of his injury was played well throughout the chapter. May I point out the possible strain on his arm from swinging the scythe that much? Maybe Blake couldn’t get the scythe out the cupboard at first, because he ‘winced in pain’. When he does get the scythe out he tries to deter the shadow. Then you speak of the scythe following him clumsily, but the shadow dodges all attacks. What I see in my mind is him dragging the scythe behind him with his one good arm as he runs around the house. Worrying that it’s weight is making him slower. Making a wide turn around a corner to maybe try to use his weapon. I’d love to hear more detail about how the shadow reacts when the back of the scythe hits it and especially when the scythe cuts it. Was there blood? Black goo? Did it heal instantly? I’d love hear about the shadow disappearing as it jumped over a wall or fence. The knocking that I’m used to is 2 knocks. Unanswered pause. Louder insistent knocking. The ending is excellent.

Like I said the chapter is excellent. Incredible use of suspension and a good depiction of a fight scene.

Finish writing,

Otterpop says...

Thanks so much for the compliments, and the couple of suggestions! You make some good points, and I like the idea of editing a couple of your ideas into the chapter at some point. Fight scenes and actions aren't my specialty but I am happy to hear that I still seem to do a good job from time to time! I certainly will finish writing!

if ya mention chickens, i have to show up, that is the law.
— alliyah