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Awakening Chapter 25: Recovery

by Otterpop


The nurse had returned to Blake's room a few minutes afterward, giving him a hesitant nod. She readjusted the tubes and fluids on the stand next to his bed so he could safely leave the room. Slowly, she led him out. Blake silently waved to his mother as he left, to which she gave an understanding nod.

The hospital didn't feel as chaotic as before, but Blake wasn't fully paying attention. He simply followed the nurse, through hallways and into an elevator, while he contemplated his reunion with June. He had no idea what state she was in, if she would recover completely, nor did he know if she would be awake when they got there.

He was so lost in thought that he nearly bumped into the nurse when she stopped, and pointed.

Blake shifted and looked in a hospital room. June lay on a bed in there, breathing softly with her eyes closed. Blake stepped in cautiously.

"I don't want you waking her up," the nurse then whispered seriously to him. "She's been exhausted the last few days. Just sit in that chair in the corner for now, and leave her be."

After nodding in reply, Blake trudged forward and sat down in the chair the nurse directed him towards. The room fell silent within moments, save for the ticking of a nearby clock and the gentle beeping of the machine by June's bed. He sat there, waiting quietly, and remained as still as possible despite the ever-increasing tension in his arms and legs.  

Blake's eyelids fluttered but he refused to let himself fall asleep. The hospital chair wasn't comfy which actually helped. The machine next to the hospital bed in front of him trilled a slow but repetitive tone. June's vitals were slow, but she lay very peacefully and sound asleep in the bed.

Blake checked a nearby wall clock. 2:35. Six hours he'd waited, but he did not want to disturb her rest, and would wait the rest of the night if he had to. Two nurses had already tried to usher him back to his own room. But he refused each of their three attempts.

Much as he wanted answers from his mother still, Alisha was in no state to even speak. Now she knew, at least. She knew they needed to talk, and that once the chance arose he would tell her what he should have a long time ago. As long as she would recover, though, he could then focus his thoughts on June.

But...staying awake was becoming difficult. His eyelids shut for a moment, his head slowly falling to one side. He jerked back upright with a groan. With a weary hand he propped himself against the arm of the chair. His eyes were mostly closed; he couldn't keep them open any more than that.

A beeping trilled a little faster, catching Blake's attention enough for him to open his eyes. It wasn't his own monitor, but June's. Her heart rate was about ten beats a minute faster than it was some seconds ago. His suspicions were confirmed when her arms and legs shuffled a little underneath the blankets. Her head twisted away from him.

A few seconds later he could barely see the flutter of eyelashes.

Blake slid forward in his chair, but said nothing so as not to startle her. She soon turned her head and neck the other way until her gaze could finally settle on him. First there were the furrowed brows, then wide eyes of surprise, and finally a faint smile crept on her face.

"Hey," she said in a hoarse and barely audible voice.

Blake smiled back. "Hey, you."

Neither said anything more, but they did not need to. For a few moments they merely sat in the most calm silence Blake had experienced in recent days. The delighted expression did not fade one bit from June's face as she stared right at him.

Well, until her gaze drifted downwards.

"What..." She had to clear her throat after barely getting out a single word. "What happened? To you? You're covered. In bandages."

"The-?" Blake looked down at his hospital gown; he'd forgotten all about the little bits of medicinal cloth sticking out of his sleeves and chest.

"Yeah, the uh, well, did the doctors tell you about the weird earthquake in the building?" he asked, trying to recount the same story he'd told the nurses.

June stared at Blake for what felt like days. He sighed inwardly when she nodded though. "I was in the hospital when it happened," he explained further. "There was a bit of rubble that fell and pinned me under for a while. But I pulled myself to safety. Heh, I guess, I was unconscious for a while. But some doctors found me and fixed me right up."

Immediately June pushed herself into a seated position. Blake watched as the furrow in her brows intensified.

"Wait, are you sure you're okay?"

Blake froze for but a moment. "Fine, fine," he replied. "A-apparently I heal really fast. Anyways. I should ask if you're okay. You were in here days ago. June...you were really sick, when I got here."

Instead of a verbal response, June simply looked down at her own legs. Blake hesitated, then he swallowed nervously. "My nurse, um, she told me that you suddenly got better. Any idea why?"

Still she did not respond; her gaze remained fixated on her legs in complete silence. She then clutched the blanket with her hands, and that's when Blake noticed it. Her hands were shaking.

Blake hesitated to continue at first. "The nurse. She told me you were getting sicker, and it was really bad. But then you got better. They tested some of your blood on other sick people and it was getting rid of the infection, fast. They made some kind of medicine, I didn't ask how, I wouldn't understand that kinda stuff...but, you saved the whole town June. You saved so many people."

June's head twisted swiftly in that instance; she stared at Blake with the blankest of expressions that took him aback. Why did his words illicit such a strong reaction out of her? But it was not until some time later that he realized she fought back tears. Her lips quivered fiercely, and her entire body twitched as if she could no longer control her breathing.

Though frightened by her appearance, Blake leaned forward, worried for his friend.

"No, I didn't," June finally said, barely stringing the words together. "I didn't save everybody."

I can't tell her everything's alright, he thought. She wouldn't believe me anyways. "I...I know that some people didn't make it. It makes me sad too. And angry." He paused. "And I don't know how, and I don't care how, because you did still save a lot of the townsfolk. Jordan Heights won't forget that, I'm sure."

Still his words did not seem to reach her. She looked away, and was shaking her head with such a ferocity that surprised Blake. Why isn't she listening? What's going on?

"Please, June," he begged. "Don't you think you mean the world to the people that are alive because of you?"

When she looked back at him, her gaze bore into his with only the most vivid despair amd heartache that stopped Blake's heart if only for a second. He'd never seen that look in a person's face, especially not someone like June.

She could no longer fight the tears as we streams trickled down her cheeks. Her face turned puffy and red from what could only have been a massive surge of raw emotion.

"Mom......" She would not say any more than that and continued crying.

The weight of the realization completely crushed every part of his body. June let the tears erupt alongside a soft whine of anguish. Meanwhile Blake stood and walked to the bedside. He knelt down, and clasped June's hand tightly with his own. She did not pull away from Blake's reach, nor did she stop a fit of crying that pained his own soul. They merely remained where they were, still, with only the silence of each other's company to ease the pain. He wanted to say something...but he had no words, none at all that might lift her spirits.

"Does...um, does your dad know?" Even the simplest of questions was difficult for him to get out.

Blake observed her nodding very slowly. "Yester..." She couldn't even finish. A few more tears emerged from her eyes. Blake did not know exactly what happened, but he did not need to. Because right now, June needed him, and whatever happened he had to be there for her right in this moment.

He refused to leave her side at this point, not after everything.

"Blake...?"

June's nearly inaudible call reached him and he perked up.

"Please. Stay."

Despite her sadness and heartbreak, Blake couldn't help feel a little bit of warmth from those two words. He knew right then and there that she meant to him as much as he meant to her. After everything that had happened in the last week, the feeling fluttering in his chest was a reassuring one. He was glad he had protected her with everything he had.

Protect her. Always. He squeezed her hand even tighter.

"I'm here, June."

June nodded but said nothing. Both of them fell silent, and suddenly all sounds were drowned out by Blake's own thoughts. He remained in this very moment with his best friend. Despite the pains and the sadness emanating from them both, he would not leave this room or her side right now. Because she needed him just as much as he needed her.

"I remember..."

Blake twisted his head, confused when she spoke out of nowhere.

"I remember. Hearing your voice."

His breathing stopped for a moment. She...is she talking about what happened on the roof?

"You visited. Before the earthquake."

He sighed inwardly and stayed as relaxed as he possibly could in those moments. Calm down, just calm down. Blake swallowed, trying not to let his voice shake when he replied. "You're my best friend. Why wouldn't I?"

June had not stopped crying. A tiny smile crept into her lips now, but only for a split second that left Blake wondering if he'd imagined it or not. His hand held onto hers still as she leaned back and lay her head back on the pillow. Finally, she closed her eyes.

Blake breathed the quietest sigh of relief when she lay back. Right now, he didn't want to worry about spirits or Shadows, or the assailant, or any of that nonsense. He only wanted to sit here, with his best friend, in peace. He hated omitting the truth from her, but she could not know. About any of this.

I will keep protecting you, I promise. He knew he must, and would, hold his word. Because he was convinced this was not over, not after what Puter said.

I think...I'll have to learn more about the Shadows, the scythe, everything. If something else really is coming, won't let anything or anyone touch my home and my family. They'll have to kill me for that.


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Thu Jul 21, 2022 11:59 pm
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SalisRuinen wrote a review...



Hey! Salis here with another review!

First of all, I want to apologize for taking so long to get to this chapter. Apart from some trouble at work, I started writing a second novel alongside my other series, so I haven't really had too much time to do anything! I'm finally back, though, so I hope I'll be able to make up for my absence.

This was definitely a much more peaceful chapter than some of the previous ones, which feels just right as the change of pace provided a good opportunity to focus more on the characters than on the events.

While I do look forward to Blake's conversation with his mother to hopefully get at least a few revelations, it was nice to see him reunite with June in a fully conscious state. I was expecting to have to wait a bit more until June woke up, but in the end it's better that this happened sooner as the support she and Blake provided for the other wouldn't have felt the same if they were still unconscious.

The story's protagonist may have seen his fair share of traumatic experiences, but it's good that we get some focus on June's pain in here as well. As if her condition wasn't bad enough, she has lost her mother, making it understandable why she could not accept herself as anyone's savior despite of Blake's words. The mental and physical suffering both of them have had to endure seems to have made their bond even stronger and that is probably the best thing I'll take away from this chapter.

How much June remembers from what's happened on the roof remains a mystery, one not being able to say for sure if she's telling Blake the truth here as we're only seeing things from his perspective. It's possible she has some memories of him fighting with Puter and the Shadows, but simply wants to wait for a better time to address the matter.
Another great thing you gave us were the final sentences which show Blake's resolve has only been strengthened by his reunion with June. I'm really proud of how much he's grown in seemingly such a short amount of time and that he now seems more confident than ever. All that's left is to learn more about himself and prepare so he can stand a better chance at dealing with whatever's coming next – something I can't wait to see!!

Thanks for the great chapter! Keep at it!!




Otterpop says...


No need to apologize! We all have busy lives I'm sure.

You're definitely not the only one looking forward to the conversation with Blake and his mother; I myself have been looking forward to writing that. But at the moment ending on the conversation with June was much more important for this story. Their bond has been fantastic to write and [in my opinion] will only get better and I cannot wait to write more of it, whether it's just them chilling or discussing what happened on the roof, who knows when or how it will happen?

Thanks a bunch for the review and will be reading your comments on the epilogue very soon!



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Tue Jul 19, 2022 8:37 am
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi Otterpop,

Mailice back with a short review! :D

A good continuation of the previous chapter, with a nice short transition. What struck me was the beginning, where I didn't really know where we were exactly at the beginning. Still, I really liked how you managed, section by section, to set the atmosphere a bit by emphasising several times that it's getting harder for Blake to stay awake. I especially like how you use it indirectly, which contrasts with the previous chapter.

In the previous chapter you had more of a directness in the text, a connection that was open, as opposed to this part where Blake - also to protect June, of course - can't say everything. There is this distance in the text that I like very much. You can tell that Blake has changed significantly now and his character has grown up a bit as a result.

His reflection as he was reflecting came across as convincing and well built up on some points, especially after we witnessed it all. You also go in a great direction of moving away from the previous chapter and not answering some more open points, which puts the focus elsewhere but also makes it feel like Blake has a different perspective and priority once again.

Other things I noticed while reading:

For a few moments they merely sat in the most calm silence Blake had experienced in recent days.


Meistens möchte ich, dass man etwas mehr beschreibt und einfügt, aber hier finde ich es wirklich gut, dass du dich so kurz gehalten hast, weil es deutlich mehr Tiefe hat, für diesen einen Augenblick es so zu schreiben.

Blakw looked down at his hospital gown;


Tiny typo here. It should also be noted here that there are a few typos or errors scattered throughout the story. But that´s nothing to worry about! :D

In summary, a nice chapter where the peace comes out again clearly.

Have fun writing!

Mailice




Otterpop says...


Thanks for the review Mailice, really appreciate it!

Apologies for any confusion at the beginning but I hope it was easy to follow afterward in terms of where the story/characters were. This chapter actually took quite a few drafts for me to figuring out how to describe the atmosphere and Blake's thoughts & feelings, and that distance in the conversation was definitely something I wanted to convey since Blake's conversation with the Shadow followed more of a direct and logical process, while his conversation with June was intended to focus more on their relationship and the emotion behind it.

Apologies again on the long-winded explanation but I did appreciate that you seemed to notice that as that was something I was going for. Thanks again for the review, gonna check out the last one soon!



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Fri Jun 24, 2022 9:41 pm
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Spearmint wrote a review...



Hey, mint here with a review! ^-^ I binge-read these last chapters so I'm nearly caught up now... but I think I'll drop off a review here before going on to the epilogue! Also, major congratulations on finishing your novel!! :D That is such an impressive feat, and I wish you well as you revise and publish this (if that's what you choose to do)!
Anyways, it's been quite a journey for Blake and us readers. C: The present Blake's worldview has been expanded, and he's definitely more experienced in spirits and Shadows than he was at the beginning! Also, I don't know if you remember, but I was pretty suspicious of June at the start (maybe because she seemed like such a perfect best friend), but honestly, it's really sweet how Blake and June are reunited at the hospital. The ending has a great balance of winding down after the big fight, some hope of things returning to normal (though maybe not for Blake :P), and a hint of Blake's adventures to come. Overall, amazing job with this novel!

Alright, now for some specifics...

The room fell silent within moments, save for the ticking of a nearby clock and the gentle beeping of the machine by June's bed.

I really liked this description-- even without much detail about the appearance of the room, the reader is able to get a sense of the peaceful-yet-expectant atmosphere. :]

"Yeah, the uh, well, did the doctors tell you about the weird earthquake in the building?" he asked, trying to recount the same story he'd told the nurses.

While I get that Blake is lying to try to protect June, I do wonder what'll happen when he eventually has to tell her the truth... It doesn't seem like keeping things from his best friend will work out particularly well. >.> But I suppose hiding the truth for now helps everything wind down smoothly here, and there's gotta be some drama left for the next novel, eh? ;)

She could no longer fight the tears as we streams trickled down her cheeks. Her face turned puffy and red from what could only have been a massive surge of raw emotion.

"Mom......"

:'( I could really feel June's pain here... As always, you do a wonderful job of describing the emotions of the characters. And while the loss seems absolutely heartbreaking, I'm kind of glad you didn't make it a completely happy ending for the main characters. The bittersweetness makes the plot seem more realistic.

I think...I'll have to learn more about the Shadows, the scythe, everything. If something else really is coming, I won't let anything or anyone touch my home and my family. They'll have to kill me for that.

Ahh, I love Blake's determination here. He's faced the enemy once now, and next time, he'll be ready. Definitely a powerful line to end this chapter with!

Thank you for the great chapter (and novel), and I hope you have a fantastic day/night! =D




Otterpop says...


Thanks for the review Spearmint! I am definitely delighted to have finished the novel also, and while I do have some slight changes and edits to make in later chapters given the feedback I've received I think this is on it's way to really becoming finalized and polished as much as I can make it.

I'm glad you've enjoyed this read, and while I don't know when I'll start up the next book I hope you'll read that as well! Thanks again for the awesome feedback and comments and critiques over the chapters!



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Sat Jun 11, 2022 9:50 am
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Liminality wrote a review...



Hi Otterpopǃ

That reveal about June’s Mom was really, really heartbreaking. It’s such a Pyrrhic victory kind of moment, you know? Like I can’t imagine waking up from a deadly disease to find out people are starting to get cured now, but someone I loved died from it a day ago. Yikes. That’s kind of the main thing in this chapter that’s leaving an impression. It certainly makes the ending feel a lot more somber than I maybe expected at first. I thought Blake’s interactions with June were heartwarming, though it does feel like some of his dialogue is a bit rushed (and I’ll elaborate a bit more on that in a bit).

Still she did not respond; her gaze remained fixated on her legs in complete silence. She then clutched the blanket with her hands, and that's when Blake noticed it. Her hands were shaking.

This description really got to me. June’s reaction starts off small, but really telling. The short sentence ‘Her hands were shaking’ is a great example of ‘show don’t tell’, I think, because it conveys a lot of emotion in the context of the rest of June just freezing up after Blake starts talking about the disease. I wasn’t sure what to expect and was able to empathise with Blake’s distress and confusion as this part of the scene went on. The slowness with which June is able to reveal what happened emphasizes the difficulty and made the emotional impact much larger when she does.

When I was first reading the chapter, what I noticed immediately was actually the time skip. I think there’s a bit of jumping around in time for quite a number of the chapters and I think this is effective when in the beginning of the story, when the hints of mystery are slowly being revealed. Here, though, where things are already moving quite fast, the chapter starting with Blake already having been at June’s side for a few hours felt a bit jarring and disorientating.

"This week, or, last week, feels like a blur. I hope the town can get back to its old self soon.”
June nodded but said nothing in response.

It felt like Blake ‘changed the topic’ in the conversation too soon? I get that he’s trying to make sure she hadn’t heard anything and so ‘protect’ her from the knowledge of all those scary creatures, but as a reader it somehow felt like it was happening too fast, since Blake also knew June’s mother and would likely be feeling the loss as well, or at least the mood of the story would still be in the grieving phase . . .

Something I did like about the continuity in this chapter was Blake’s old lying habit.
"Yeah, the uh, well, did the doctors tell you about the weird earthquake in the building?" he asked, trying to recount the same story he'd told the nurses.
. . . "There was a bit of rubble that fell and pinned me under for a while. But I pulled myself to safety. Heh, I guess, I was unconscious for a while. But some doctors found me and fixed me right up."

I like how it’s just believable enough to possibly be true and yet as the reader we know an ‘earthquake’ wasn’t what happened there at all. So it was kind of amusing to see Blake coming up with a story like this like he did often in the earlier chapters. A nice ‘coming back around’ book end, if you will, despite all the heavy stuff in the recent chapters.

Now for my usual little nitpick sectionː
Blake smile back. “Hey, you.”
Missed a ‘d’ there.
"The-?" Blakw looked down at his hospital gown
Accidental ‘w’, it looks like.
Jordan Heoghts won't forget that, I'm sure."

‘Heights’

Finally, I appreciate how the character relationship between Blake and June has been developed throughout the story. It’s not the kind of dynamic that has any ‘groundbreaking’ or super dramatic moments, but it’s earnest and sweet. Watching them interact definitely grew on me over the chapters as compared to maybe the first impression that June made, where I liked her, but wasn’t sure how she fit into the story.
The delighted expression did not fade one bit from June's face as she stared right at him.

Reading this line for example made me smile immediately cː

Overall, wonderful work on finishing your novel, Otterpopǃ I’ll give the epilogue a read tomorrow and leave some feedback there as well. I’ve really enjoyed reading ‘Awakening’ and have grown to care for all the characters in your setting. I’m also curious as to where the story will go from here, especially as to how Blake's powers came about and what exactly Puter's people want with him.

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




Otterpop says...


Hey Lim!

After reading your comment about the dialogue...yeah, I think I have to agree. I'll definitely have to change some of that around at some point. The timeskip suggestion you mentioned was surprising, as even rereading it I did not fully see it that way. But, it could be something to write out some other alternative descriptions or ideas.

Hope you get a chance to get to the epilogue soon, and thanks again for the feedback! I'm so happy you enjoyed Awakening as much as you did!




No one achieves anything alone.
— Leslie Knope