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Awakening Chapter 3: Blaze

by Otterpop

"Dalton, those are not push-ups. Cameron, you're next on the rope."

Blake's friend approached the thick twine hanging from the low gym ceiling, and opened his hands to grab it but did not yet begin the climb.

"Been practicing all semester," said Cameron with a grin. "I'll definitely beat my record this time."

"You've been saying that for the last two weeks," grumbled a nearby Amelia, who gasped a little for air. Movement in the corner of his eye caught Blake's attention immediately afterward. A number of students, with June among them, ran around the perimeter of the gym over and over again. Amelia, Cameron, and a few others stood near the rope, breathless. Blake, however, was not.

A couple of seconds later June approached the group at the rope, heaving for air. She still carried a smile on her face. "I'd like to...hear you say...you'll beat Blake's record!"

Cameron simply glared at her, but then put his focus back on the rope. A few feet away, the gym teacher held a stopwatch.


He climbed the rope by pulling up with his arms, and with his feet he grabbed and pushed downward. Blake raised his eyebrows, surprised by the speed at which the teen ascended. His gaze rose above his friend. At the top of the rope, at the low-rise rafters, was a bell.

Cameron smacked it as he reached the top.

"18.34 seconds!" the teacher shouted.

With one hand's hold on the rafters, Cameron pumped his open fist into the air. "Yes! Record beat!"

"By just over 0.4 seconds," said the teacher after a quick look at her clipboard. "Nice job. Come on down."

While Cameron slid down the rope in careful and short bursts, Blake's mind wandered. Over the course of the school day, he'd thought about todays' morning. During his and June's walk to school, he had sensed two more spectres, and a possible third. He even thought he'd caught sight of a shadow creature again, but it vanished as quickly as it appeared. The increasing frequency of these occurrences was already an unsettling concern.


Despite the loud shout, he did not jump. Though, he realized the teacher must have called his name a few times already.

"Sorry," he apologized. "I spaced out."

"Well now your attention needs to come back to class," said the teacher. "You're up on the rope."

Blake inhaled and stepped up onto the mat beneath the rope. He reached out a little for the rope but did not grab it just yet. He waited.


He grabbed the rope with one hand, and began to climb. But unlike Cameron's methods, Blake did not use his legs at all. He used only the sheer strength in his arms to pull himself, with ease, right to the top of the rafters. He smacked the bell once he reached the top.

"11.97 seconds!"

The teacher sounded mildly impressed, but Blake knew he hadn't beaten his record. He barely loosened his grip on the rope, and grabbed it again quickly to prevent an accelerated descent. He repeated the process a few more times; at about a third of the distance to go, Blake released the cord entirely and dropped. He landed on the mat with a loud thud, his knees having braced the impact. But then he brushed off his pants with a short swipe.

Nearby, Cameron snorted. "Showoff."

Blake shrugged, but could not help adding in a little smile as well. He then approached June, Amelia, and another girl beside them.

"Seriously, how do you do that?" Amelia shook her head though her eyes were wide with awe. "You don't look muscled enough for that kind of nonsense."

"No idea," he simply replied.

"Those kinds of things just comes naturally to him," said June as she stepped forward a little. "Athleticism can be a talent."

Blake shrugged again, not knowing. It didn't matter if it was dodgeball or soccer, testing his endurance or strength or speed, he was considered to be an asset in any team activity, and he often excelled at any physical task.

"Dean, you're up," the teacher called out. "Those that are finished, you can get changed. Those that are still running, hurry it up! You all got lunch next, which I'm sure you don't want to miss!"

Blake, Cameron, and a few other boys went to the locker room, changing out of the ragged shirts and shorts back into regular clothes. As Blake pulled his own shirt over his head, a sensation ran up his spine. An unsettling burn. Out of sight of the others, Blake looked around with narrowed eyes. There was a burn all right, but a slight one. Did that mean what he thought it meant?

"Hey Blake!"

He turned his head right as Cameron leaned over and waved at him. "Lunchtime. You coming?"

Blake nodded, and after he grabbed his things with Cameron out of the locker room.

The path from the gym to the cafeteria was a short one. There were many long tables, but only half were filled with students, most of them middle schoolers like him. Then there was the cafeteria line, with about a dozen students lined up, and he spotted June and Amelia in that line. Cameron joined them, but Blake took a seat at an open end of one of the tables before pulling out the lunchbox from his backpack. He opened it up: there was a half sandwich, an apple, and some broccoli....small but easy.

It wasn't long before his friends joined him.

"Only you would bring vegetables for lunch," sighed an exasperated Amelia.

"I'm not picky," said Blake.

"At least he eats healthy," June laughed. "Unlike someone I know."

It wasn't clear if she addressed Cameron or Amelia, but they both clearly took some mild offense to that.

"Change the subject, please." Amelia stretched her arms up for a moment. "Summer plans, anyone? We got two weeks."

"How often do we need to talk about this?" said June.

"Until we've got a solid plan."

"Solid plan? For three whole months?"

"We got a lot of time. Now, about that trip to the lake......."

Once again Blake zoned out. But, he wasn't bored. He just had an...uneasy feeling. He thought that burning sensation had returned, but his senses felt so overloaded with smells and noises right now that he wasn't entirely sure.

Everyone in the lunchroom had already grabbed their food and sat down. Some students headed outside through the cafeteria door for some sun. Others ate and cackled. His own friends talked plans, but he only half-listened to their words. Blake took a bite of his apple as he watched the cafeteria staff clean up the kitchen.

He stopped himself from taking a second bite. There, in the kitchen. It was a wisp of some kind, a tiny shadow floating around the room in there. Blake knew he saw it, and he squinted his eyes for a brief moment. The shadowy wisp fluttered about, mostly hanging around the three staff back there. And for a moment, he thought he locked gazes with it-

"Are you even listening?"

As if broken from a trance, Blake blinked and looked at his friends. June in particular had quite the quizzical expression on her face, with very furrowed brows and curled lips. Cameron looked a bit confused also, though Amelia just rolled her eyes.

"No, sorry. I zoned out."

"You've been zoning out a lot today." More than anything, June sounded concerned. "Are you sure you've been feeling alright lately? Maybe someone needs better sleep?"

Blake gave her a curt nod, then a shake of his head. He suddenly realized he just confused himself. "Yeah, no. I'm all good. Just, um...thinking about school ending. And summer."

"Oh really?" said Amelia. "Well if you're thinking so hard on it, why not share your thoughts?"

Of course. Now he had to come up with a good excuse for his 'daydreaming'. But what could he mention?

"The lake," he blurted.

"The idea is nothing new," said Cameron. "But if you'd like to add something-"

"We should maybe rethink going there at all."

Cameron and June exchanged a confused glance for a good few seconds. "Really?" then piped Amelia as she stared at him with narrowed eyes. "Why do you say that?"

"Because......" He swallowed, unable to come up with an explanation. He rested his hand on the back of his neck, and not a moment later the burning sensation returned. He couldn't focus on the conversation, especially now that his spine almost stung. There was definitely something nearby. But did he try to figure out why, or distract the others with a response?

"Hey, put that out! Now!"

The shouting of some adults caught the attention of most students in the cafeteria. Neither Blake nor his friends knew what was going on, but then Blake noticed a little flare go off in the kitchen. And then another.

"Put that out!"

Blake suddenly watched a huge flame burst from one of the appliances. The staff yelped, and a large crowd of students had noticed. Once they'd caught sight of the fire, they chattered with fear, yet remained in place.

The fire alarm sounded off moments later.

"Shoot, we gotta go!"

His friends did not hesitate to stand and head straight for the exit like everyone else. Blake reached for his backpack first, even though he knew he shouldn't, and prepared to follow his friends.

A wave of nausea hit him suddenly, and his vision felt fuzzy. His head began to throb terribly and he grabbed his hair with a groan, unable to stand for a moment.


June was at his side in seconds, and helped him stand on his feet. "Blake are you okay?"

"Yeah, yeah," he grumbled. "I just-"

"Save it, you're not. Come on!"

Her decisive and commanding tone convinced Blake not to argue or talk with her any further. He just let her lead him out of the cafeteria.

But he cast one last glance back at the kitchen. He ignored the presence of the remaining students in the room, and instead set all focus on the flames in the back. They grew, slowly. But something else caught his eye. A little shadow. And a second one. Both made eye contact with him, and for another moment his head throbbed. They looked at one another, and then both bounded towards another kitchen appliance. It was as if they disappeared into the mechanism. And moments later a flame burst from that appliance, which increased the size and strength of the fire surrounding it. Blake's eyes widened, but he said nothing as June carried him outside.

They walked and joined the rest of the students. The entire way, Blake's head pounded, making him both dizzy and unbalanced. Though, the further away he walked from the school, the less it hurt. But it did not vanish entirely. He still needed a moment, and so sat down the first chance he got. June stood by him the entire time, and eventually rested her hand on his shoulder.

Cameron and Amelia joined them before long.

"Oh, crap, what happened?" asked the former. "Are you hurt?"

One of the teachers approached the group just as Blake responded with a shake of his head. "No, no. I just got dizzy for a moment. Came out of nowhere. But it's already going away."

After the teacher ensured he had no injuries, Blake looked up and around at his friends. Every one of them had crinkled mouths and furrowed brows that conveyed their worry.

"Couldn't have been the fire," said Cameron. "Did you get the headache before it started?"

Blake shook his head. "No, no, it started after."

"Doesn't it seem weird though?" June's question confused everyone, so she further explained. "I mean....you never get headaches."

"It's not that weird," Amelia said. "He probably gets them but just doesn't say anything because he's stubborn like that. He's alright now, yeah, so what does it matter?"

"I don't know......"

It was a strange situation: both Amelia and June were right. He didn't often let others know if he was having problems. But he also knew he'd never really had a headache before, at least, nothing that would give him this much vertigo. And he had the sneaking suspicion that those shadowy creatures had something to do with it. But knowing he could not explain this to his friends, he simply groaned.

Trying to make sense of all this is almost giving me another headache.

He saw that Amelia turned her head, and without warning she ran off into the crowd of students. Blake and the others exchanged glances and shrugged their shoulders. He looked around at the other students and listened to their conversations. Most of them chattered about the fire, the cafeteria, and classes. But he heard no mention of any monsters or shadowy creatures. No one had seen anything, at least not anything unusual.

Those things must be like the spirits I talk to, he thought. But, they're not the same. They don't give me the same feeling. So then what are they?

"Hey guys!"

He must have been lost in thought for a little while, because Amelia was already jogging back towards them.

"The fire department should be here soon," she informed. "The faculty says we should probably call our parents, or just head on home. They don't think we should come in tomorrow while they do repairs and stuff, so..."

"Does that mean we get a three-day weekend?" Cameron perked up before he even asked that.

"Guess so."


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?"

"Sure." She handed her device, a little flip phone, into Blake's reach. He accepted it with gratitude and opened up the phone, dialed a number, and let it ring. And ring. And ring.

No answer. But there was a ringtone at the end.

"Hey, Mom. So, there was a fire at school. But I'm fine! I'm fine. Everyone is, no one got hurt. But school got shut down, probably for tomorrow too....anyways, I'm heading home early, so I thought I'd let you know. Love you, and see you later. Bye."

With that he hung up. And then he handed the phone back to June with a soft, "Thanks," as he did so.

"Cam and I need to wait for Dad," said Amelia. "We'll be about twenty minutes though."

"Too bad we're not within walking distance like you two." Cameron indicated Blake and June with his pointer finger.

"I can wait with you, to keep you company," June offered.

"Aww, thanks." Amelia gave her friend a quick hug. "Thank goodness for best friends, because I can't always stand a certain brother." She shot Cameron a squinty-eyed look, but he simply rolled his eyes in response.

Blake already had different plans. After a few more moments of rest, he reached for his backpack and stood, albeit carefully.

"Are you going home already?" asked a concerned June. "What about your head?"

"My head's doing better, so I'll be fine," he said. "Home's not that far away, and I could really use some water."

June tilted her head to one side, and Blake responded by setting a hand on her shoulder. "I'll be fine," he told her with the most matter-of-fact tone he could give her.

She looked convinced enough, and nodded to him. Blake waved to his friends and then set off for home. His pace was a tad slower than usual as he walked, then turned, towards his house.

But as soon as he was out of sight of the school, he stopped, then reached for his head as the slight throbbing sensation returned. With no hesitation, he jumped forward in a burst of speed and ran straight home.

Is this a review?



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504 Reviews

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Wed Feb 16, 2022 1:44 pm
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Liminality wrote a review...

Hi again Otterpop! Lim here to review Chap. 3!

First Impressions
The thing that stood out most for me this chapter was the wisps, because I love your take on supernatural creatures and the scene of the wisp causing a kitchen fire was spooky and just fits so nicely with urban fantasy. I’m also starting to enjoy and appreciate the characters more, especially with their continued interactions in this scene. They’re starting to feel more familiar at this point, and I’m starting to see moments where I think “aha, that’s just what Amelia would do!” etc. For example, when Amelia wandered into the crowd and came out with all that information.

I like that we get to know Blake a little more in this chapter.

Nearby, Cameron snorted. "Showoff."
Blake shrugged, but could not help adding in a little smile as well.

This moment helps round him off and make him seem more like a kid, even though he’s got a lot on his mind. I also like the description of what Blake has in his lunch and why he chose that food. It sort of gives insight into his responsible, adult-like character but in a more lighthearted way than in the previous chapter.

"Seriously, how do you do that?" Amelia shook her head though her eyes were wide with awe. "You don't look muscled enough for that kind of nonsense."
"Couldn't say," he replied.
"Those kinds of things just comes naturally to him," June stepped up in defense of him. "Athleticism can be a talent in and of itself."

This exchange was a bit confusing for me. I get it up to the point where Blake replies. I wonder why June “stepped up in defense of him”? Was Amelia implying something bad there? I didn’t get the sense that Amelia was suggesting Blake had a trick or something, so June’s reaction was a bit confusing.

"I can wait with you, to keep you company," June offered.
"Aww, thanks." Amelia gave her friend a quick hug.

This little interaction made me smile. It’s nice to see small details like this that flesh out the relationship between June and Amelia, as compared to the first chapter where it’s just ‘told’ that they’re best friends. Here, they seem more believable as best friends.


Sometimes the writing in this chapter felt a bit ‘squeezed’. The gym scene in the beginning was a bit hard to imagine, outside of the dialogue. For instance, it wasn’t immediately obvious to me where June had “suddenly” appeared from, but I later pieced together that she’d been running around the perimeter with the other students before her appearance.
Cameron and June exchanged a confused glance, while Amelia stared at him with narrowed eyes. "Really? Why do you say that?"

Another part where things felt a bit abrupt was this line. All three characters’ reactions are squeezed into a single sentence, and so it’s unclear who is speaking in the following bit of dialogue.

June’s lines also sometimes seem a bit wordier than they need to be. I’m not sure if it’s part of her character, but I have a feeling it’s not, since none of the other characters seem to notice that June is long-winded, whereas they notice Blake is mature, that Amelia is loud, that Cameron is competitive and so on.
"Athleticism can be a talent in and of itself."

For example, this sentence felt hard for me to say aloud when I tried.
"Save it, I can tell you're not. Come on!"

Whereas here I wondered why she didn’t just say “Save it, you’re not.” Or maybe even “No, you’re not” if her tone is meant to be “commanding”.

"Hey, Mom. So, there was a fire at school. But I'm fine! I'm fine. Everyone is, no one got hurt. But school got shut down, probably for tomorrow too....anyways, I'm heading home early, so I thought I'd let you know. Love you, and see you later. Bye."

As is with other chapters I’ve reviewed, I really like how you write phone conversations. In this bit, the “But I’m fine! I’m fine.” seems so realistic an interjection to have there, especially since we know Blake is always worrying about his mom.


I liked this chapter and the one before it as well. They seem like good build-up for what is to come. My only concern is I remember reading as far in as chapter 11, and then Blake still didn’t have much of a clue as to what the shadowy spirits were. I wonder if the suspense on that might be built up over such a long time that readers get too impatient? The introduction of the ‘sickness’ part of the plot might keep that from happening, though, since it acts as a complication.

Still, as for the plot in this chapter, I like the development from the casual character dynamics I’ve been discussing to the fire breaking out. It’s still relatively ‘mild’ at this stage compared to the later chapters, so I can’t say they contrast each other. Blake still is the only one who knows what’s going on and a fire at school isn’t exactly something out of this world, after all. But I like that I can see the scaling of intensity, comparing the early chapters to later ones, if that makes sense.

Hope some of this is helpful, and keep writing!

Otterpop says...

Hey Lim! Thanks a lot for the review!

You do make a lot of good points regarding some of the squeezed-in nature of some sentences as well as some dialogue-related issues, I suppose you might call them? I'll be sure to give this chapter another look and adjust some things if necessary.

Hoping that any future chapters you read will be more satisfying in terms of the build-up and characterization. Thanks again for the critique and I will be sure to use it well!

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Thu Aug 12, 2021 4:07 pm
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RealSadhours296 wrote a review...

It's been a while since I've picked up this story. Let's continue onward!

So I feel like June has been more characterized in this chapter. She seems protective, almost parental in a way when it comes to Blake and her friends. That's good. I'm starting to get a clearer idea of who exactly she is. She reminds me of Katara from The Last Airbender in a way.

We've gotten more insight on Blake as a person as well. Despite how aloof I feel he can be at times, he's talented at athletics, which is a nice subversion in my opinion. Usually the guy who can see the ghosts is more intelligence-based. Blake seems like a jack of all trades with a bonus in the athletics skill.

We have more info surrounding those shadowy beings: they're evil or just mischievous. They started the fire for a reason. Whether that reason was for pure chaos, or to specifically hurt Blake, I'm very curious about.

I liked this chapter, keep up the good work!

Otterpop says...

Glad you came back for another chapter read! Stuff like that always brightens up my day!

Love the perspectives you gave and are getting to know the characters and perhaps the world a little bit better. And as early as Chapter 3, I'd say that's a good sign I'm doing a good job.

Glad you enjoyed it, and hope you enjoy any other chapters you might happen to read!

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Mon Jun 28, 2021 1:20 am
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Spearmint wrote a review...

Hiya, mint here with a review! I've been enjoying this so far, and honestly it reads a lot like an already-published novel C: We've got this protagonist who can see ghosts, as well as these shadow-creatures that provide some mystery and suspense, and I'm curious to see where this story will go! On the whole, I don't think there's much for me to critique, but I'll see if I can maybe provide some small tips to help this flow a bit better! ^-^

Some students headed outside through the cafeteria door for some sun. Others ate and cackled.

Here I just feel like "cackled" is an interesting choice of word-- I feel like people usually associate it with witches and more villainous characters, so unless that's your intention, I think it'd be better to replace it with "laughed" or something like that!

Blake reached for his backpack first, even though he knew he shouldn't, and prepared to follow his friends.

Hm, so I think it's a tiny bit odd to have Blake reach for his backpack even though he knows he shouldn't... Perhaps you could either expand on why Blake reaches for his backpack (is there something important in there?) or maybe add that it was on instinct or something? This is a super small thing though, and just my opinion! ^^

They looked at one another, and then both bounded towards another kitchen appliance. It was as if they disappeared into the mechanism. And moments later a flame burst from that appliance...

These definitely seem like mysterious and mischievous creatures! I'm wondering why they wanted to cause that fire... are these just general chaos-causing beings, or do they serve a master, or do they have some grand plan? Tons of possibilities here, and I'm excited to see what you'll do with this! :]

Okay, that's about it for this review. So far, this looks like this a great start to a novel~ keep writing, and I hope you have a wonderful day/night!! =D

Otterpop says...

Every little bit counts if it helps to improve my writing, portions that don't make sense, et cetera. I definitely appreciate all kinds of feedback including the little bits, and am thankful people like you take the time to really read through it.

I also appreciate the first compliment to my work! Hearing that fills me with a lot of joy and I do hope you can enjoy future chapters if you ever happen to read them. Thanks so much!

Spearmint says...

Ah thank you for the reply!! It makes me happy to know that my reviews are being read ^^ And I'll definitely be checking out the future chapters too!! =D

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Tue Apr 27, 2021 9:12 pm
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starlitmind wrote a review...

Hi! I really enjoyed the last chapter, so I can't wait to review this one! c:

During his and June's walk to school, he had sensed two more spectres, and a possible third. He even thought he'd caught sight of a shadow creature again, but it vanished as quickly as it appeared.

Ah, and the shadow creature appears once again >.> nice building of suspense!

I like the inclusion of this gym scene because it's a pretty normal and natural occurrence, and it makes Blake's life seem super normal. Or at least, it adds some normalcy to his life, aside from the supernatural stuff xD I also like it because we get to see that Blake is physically fit, which makes him more of an ideal character to be this spectre seer and the "adventurer"/hero of the story

As Blake pulled his own shirt over his head something happened. A sensation ran up his spine.

Personally, I would just condense these two sentences instead of saying "something happened"
but oh no 0.0 this is bad timing, at school

"Only you would bring vegetables for lunch," sighed an exasperated Amelia.

xD Continuously through other's dialogue, Blake is made out to be such an ideal and "perfect" guy

He thought that burning sensation had returned, but his senses felt so overloaded with smells and noises right now that he wasn't entirely sure.

Ooh, I like this little sentence! ^_^

Some students exited outside through the cafeteria door for some sun.

"exited outside" is a bit of a redundant phrase in my opinion, you could take out "outside" since exited and the sun part implies that :p

"Are you even listening?"

Rip Blake ;-;

The fire alarm sounded off moments later.

Saved by the fire alarm >.>

A wave of nausea hit him suddenly, and his vision felt fuzzy. Suddenly his head began to throb terribly.

Just a bit of repetition! ^_^ But ouch, poor Blake, I wonder if the fire and the spectre is related :c

Ahh, love the characterization of Blake in other people's dialogue! It's a lot more subtle than directly stating it out, so it's a fun and easy way to sneak some information it

He noticed Amelia turn her head, and suddenly she ran off into the crowd of students.

I believe "turn" should be "turned" since this is in the past tense ^_^

No answer. But there was a ringtone at the end.

I hope his mom is okay :O I'm sure she's just too busy to answer, but I do hope that nothing is wrong with her >.>

Also, Blake has the most caring friends! You can really tell by their actions how much each one cares for the other, and I'm glad he has a nice support base somewhere if he's often the one taking care of his mom at home. Just something I thought of haha c:

Ooh okay, so I wonder what the two shadows had to do with the fire! I wonder if this is their way of fighting back against a bigger force? Maybe they're retaliating? Or what if they're taking revenge against someone who has wronged them 0.0 I hope we can find out soon enough!

Can't wait to see where you take this next :)

Otterpop says...

Many of the subtle details you were noticing were indeed intended to be subtle, especially as I'd rather not dump exposition everywhere! Can't have writers doing that too often!

Even so you pointed out a couple of things that I'll be sure to fix up at some point, so thank you very much for that! No sure if you've yet read the first chapter, but if you haven't you are certainly welcome to, but you do not have to write a review for it!

No idea if this story will go the way you expect it to or think it might go, we'll just have to wait and see!

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Fri Apr 16, 2021 4:22 pm
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...

Hi Otterpop,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

Your beginning turned out very well, using the technique of starting with a dialogue. After a few chapters I think you should do that too, as the reader already has a certain impression of the writing style and also the characters to get along with.

Let's start with what I liked. The dialogue turned out very well again and you get the clear feeling of belonging to a group of friends who talk about everything mundane and get on well with each other, and also allow themselves jokes from time to time. They are there for each other and you can clearly see that in the second half. I don't think Blake will be telling them about his ability anytime soon, as "normal" as the story seems to be for the others. You can clearly read that out of the text and I think you should keep this kind of dialogue.

Also, as already mentioned, your beginning was good, that you are now in the middle of the lesson before it goes to lunch break later. It gives you that feeling of being "there". However, I also found that the story dragged a bit. There were some of those "dry stretches" where I thought you could certainly cut some things. (Like with Blake's headache, for example). What I like about the point in the brackets again is that you get a new insight into his personality. Already in the previous chapters you saw that he has compassion and sometimes puts himself second, here it shows again clearly when his friends remark about the headache. (Along with his being athletic, as he proved while rope climbing).

The two shadows he laid during the fire seemed well integrated and unlike the previous chapter where Blake went to that shadow in the backyard, I didn't find it outright contrived or strange, but rather caught in a good moment. I also find it the most exciting point in the story so far and am also very interested to see what else is in store for Blake.

I can't say much else. I liked the chapter a lot. Some minor points could have been shortened, but all in all, it was a very great chapter! Keep up the good work.

Have fun with your writing!


I know history. There are many names in history, but none of them are ours.
— Richard Siken