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Awakening Chapter 4: Box

by Otterpop


Blake unlocked the front door in a quick and frantic manner, and then slammed it shut behind him. He couldn't tell how fast he gasped for air, but he couldn't stop or slow it down. He dropped his backpack at the door, but walked no further. His eyes scanned left and right.

Something's wrong, very wrong, he thought. Those shadows, they were at school. They started the fire, I saw it.. How is that even possible?

Not only that....the strange burning sensation? He felt it. Here. At home. Why were they here too, and how?

Blake slapped his cheeks with his palms. "Get a hold of yourself!" And immediately, he tiptoed through the living room and kitchen, and down the hallway. Would he find those creatures? Because something told him they were near. But he had no clue if and where they might show up.

He drew closer towards the bedrooms. His room was on one side. His mother's room was just beyond that on the other side of the hallway. He stepped towards the slightly ajar doorway--

A searing pain assaulted his head without warning, causing him to drop to his knees. He grabbed his hair but the torment did not ebb. Where had this come from? It was like a barrage of voices screaming inside his head all at once, coupled with a twisted burning sensation that coursed up and down his spine and throughout his head. It was so overwhelming he thought he might pass out.

"No, no....stop.....stop it!"

For some reason, a little of the pain went away, but not all of it. He could finally look around now, though. Still, nothing seemed unusual. Blake looked back towards his mom's room.

He did not know why....but something drew him in. As if on instinct, he stood and slowly walked in there.

There were no windows in this room. As a matter of fact, there wasn't much of anything in here. A bed, a nightstand, a large shelf, a lamp, and a closet. Blake's mother had never been one for material possessions. So what pressured him to even come in here?

His head throbbed once more, and he nearly fell onto his knees, but he managed to hold his composure and balance. The room had already become blurry, and with the room so dark he couldn't clearly see his surroundings. He looked around, then stopped almost immediately. Something had come into focus. No, that wasn't it. More like something in his vision was pulsating, the longer he looked at it.

Blake closed his eyes and shook his head. Once his thoughts had cleared up a bit, he reopened his eyes, and found himself looking at the wall closet. With a raised eyebrow he stared. Why would he be looking at that of all things?

He reached out but hesitated. He'd never seen his mother's belongings before and the idea of snooping through her things did not sit well with him. The burn ran up his spine again, stronger than before. He felt he now had no choice but to open the closet door.

Clothes.

Most were hanging, others were folded in messy bunches amongst the little shelves stuffed in the closet. Other than a few random items here and there, Blake saw nothing unusual in here.

Take it.......

Blake shook his head fiercely. Where did that thought come from? And what did it mean? His vision went fuzzy again. And again he thought he saw a pulsating image. What was it exactly? With a few flutters of his eyelids he realized that whatever he saw, it lay in the corner of the closet, and it was large. He decided to go in blind and reached back, behind the clothes and shelves. He fumbled and groaned, but could not feel anything.

The burn in his body became so strong that his muscles felt hot and uncomfortable pain. He spun around.

A screech filled his ears with high-pitched agony as an outline of something crawled toward him. A shadow creature! Blake jumped and banged his head against one of the shelves. He was dizzy but not defeated.

"Get out!"

The thing was in his mother's room, which was a surprise. The creature leapt right for him without warning. But as if on instinct, Blake kicked at it. To his shock, the attack connected, and the shadow crashed against the wall with a loud shriek.

Blake felt his heart racing. What was going on? What was that thing? Why did it attack him? And why could he touch it?

Take it!

He froze. That thought again. Only, it was not in his own voice. Instinctively he spun around. The image. It was still blurry, but there. The dark creature struggled to stand, and so Blake once again reached for the corner of the closet. He reached behind the shelf, feeling around for something. The creature screeched, as if it prepared for another attack. Blake stretched further, groaning, hoping to feel--

Something solid.

The creature bounced around a few times before its final lunge. But just as it did, Blake pulled at the object and swung it, hitting the shadow away into the hallway. He quickly stood and slammed the door shut, gasping for a breath. And then he at last looked at what he held in his hand, and stared.

It was a long box, a simple one with three metal clips. Blake set it down, not having a clue as to why he was so drawn to this.

THUD.

Was the creature trying to break in? Blake set the box down and undid one clip, and then the second. The third, slightly rusted over, took a bit more effort. He heard another thud on the door as he unlocked the final clasp. There was another thud, and he finally opened the lid of the long case. And he couldn't believe his eyes.

It was a staff.

A simple black staff. And yet he found himself strangely drawn to it. He did not know exactly what it was, or even why his mother had it. But it must have meant something to her. Blake reached forward and opened his hand to grab one end of the staff--

As soon as he touched the staff, his entire body froze. He grabbed his chest with his other hand, panicking. Had his heart just stopped? He could feel the heat coming off his body, like a faint steam. Yet his appendages were so cold he felt completely frozen. No matter how hard he tried he could not let go of the staff. The pain in his chest was now agonizing, and his head again throbbed with sharp pain, as though someone stabbed a spear right into his skull. He gasped for air, and was utterly terrified.

And still, he could not release the staff from his grip. But for some reason, his arm pulled the object up and out of the box.

Crack!

Blake spun around. The shadow had forced the door open, and now stood just inside the doorway. But something was different. Before, the creature had been nothing more than a four-legged and blurry wisp of shadow and mist. But now it's form was tangible and clear. Its shape was reminiscent of a dog, with gangly legs and a thin body. While it possessed no muzzle it clearly snarled, and the only non-blackened part of its body were the eyes; they were a faded silver. But the shadow creature was angry, and stalked right towards him.

The shadow's presence had surprised and even frightened him at first. Yet at this moment, he felt a new strength coursing through him. It was as if all the fear had been expelled from his mind. Without hesitation, and without feeling the slightest bit of pain, Blake stood up, holding one end of the staff. As he spun around he reached with his other hand and grabbed the opposite end of the staff. He widened his stance, prepared for either an offensive of defensive tactic.

For some reason the creature stopped. And then, it backed away.

Something happened with the staff. A black wisp emanated from it, and shrouded the black rod in a translucent cloak of darkened shadow. And suddenly his gaze rose up to eye the staff's end. A massive black blade was fastened near the tip, curved and draped in shadow. Blake could not believe his eyes.

Not a staff....but a scythe?

Click click.

The strange sound drew Blake's attention back in the direction of the door. He could not believe his eyes as soon as his gaze fell upon the shadowy creature. He should be afraid. He knew he should be. This was very clearly a dark creature, more malevolent than the ghostly spirits he would often encounter. What was he even supposed to do?

His lack of focus prevented him from noticing the shadow leap into the air right for him. It was all Blake could do to hold the staff in front of him, and get forced onto his back once the creature made contact. Blake held up the staff with as much strength as he could muster while the shadow snarled and chomped for his face. This weapon.....was it a heavy burden, or was he just imagining it? His mind couldn't concentrate on any single thing; it merely struggled to survive by telling the rest of his body to keep this creature at bay.

With little thought, Blake suddenly kicked up at the creature. It wasn't strong enough to push off the dark entity, but enough to throw it off balance. Blake then thrust one side of the scythe into the creature, but one would hardly consider it an attack. But now, he could stand, back away with his hands clutching the weapon even tighter. The shadow emitted a series of clicks and growls as though it prepared another pounce. A tightness overwhelmed his chest; he had no idea what to do.

Destroy it.

That voice. Something about it felt almost.....familiar. For some reason, his grip on the scythe lessened. No longer did they feel tight with tension, but rather clutched the staff with a sort of inner strength welling up inside of him. The room did not appear as dark as it had moments ago, and a feeling of ease overtook him for but a moment. The creature no longer readied itself for an attack, but merely stared at Blake for what felt like a season.

Go.

As if on instinct, a pair of feet pushed off the ground, propelling him forward with intense speed. He clutched the scythe tightly, and watched the creature back up with a startled click. But it was too late. It could not even turn around completely, as the curved blade swung about in the blink of an eye. The shadow screeched as it's physical form was severed completely in half. Its silver eyes glowed wide before it disintegrated in the air like ash in the sun, and the unusual burning sensation from earlier had all but disappeared.

Blake finally blinked his eyes, and his mind cleared enough to let him know that he had no idea what had just happened. He stood up straight and looked around, his brows becoming furrowed. He felt light-headed, as though he'd just been in some kind of trance. And yet he was acutely aware of what had just happened.

The creature he'd just seen....it looked different from before. At first, he'd seen a wisp of darkness with two barely distinguishable eyes the color of a faded silver. But now the shape almost looked more tangible, having taken the form of a dog-like creature. It bore a mouth almost like a muzzle, with what looked like tiny teeth in its slightly-gaped jaw.

Even the sound of it had been different. He'd heard something akin to a chicken growl, mixed with the strange noise of what sounded like a trickling stream of water from an old videotape. The little puffs of shadow particles surrounding the creatures waved, almost like a dance, but that which clearly still emitted a sense of malice.

And him....he'd started out frightened and panicked. But then he just jumped right for the creature without a second thought, and slashed it in two? Blake stared down at the scythe he clutched, his gaze slowly moving over its sleek and curved blade. He released his grip on it without a second thought; it landed on the carpeted floor with a very soft thud. Blake couldn't move, and he couldn't look away either. He just......stared.

Honk.

Was that a car horn? Blake spun around, and his heart picked up the pace. He ran out towards the hallway without a second thought and headed straight for front door, stumbling a few times in the process. He skidded to a halt, but did not reach for the doorknob. Instead he leaned towards the small window at the upper section of the door, and took a careful peek.

There was no car in the small driveway. Blake repositioned. A neighbor, opposite of June's house, popped out of his vehicle and walked down the sidewalk to their own front door. He breathed a heavy sigh of relief, and as soon as he backed away his knees crumpled beneath him. The world seemed blurry for a moment, and no matter how often he attempted to replay the event he just could not. Blake soon realized just how labored and uneven his breathing was, so he put a hand to his chest in an effort to calm himself down, and to stop the very slight shaking of his hands. Whatever just happened in his mother's room.....he had no idea how to process it all.

Wait. Her room! Though his legs felt weak Blake jumped onto his feet and raced down the hallway, screeching to a halt before the open doorway with wide eyes.

The scythe was gone. And so was the box he'd pulled it from.


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Sun May 02, 2021 12:45 pm
MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi Otterpop,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

Let's start right away:

Not only that....the strange burning sensation? He felt it. Here. At home. Why were they here too, and how?


You've struck a very good tone here, keeping the sentences short to describe Blake's condition. It gives the reader the same uncertainty and excitement that he has. I'm just not sure if you should do "the strange burning sensation?" in italic, as it seems to me to be a continuation of Blake's train of thought from the previous section.

A bed, a nightstand, a large shelf, a lamp, and a closet.


The previous sentence says that there isn't much in the room, and here you list the furniture / items. I would rewrite the sentence a bit, so that the reader also notices that the room seems empty. Something like "Next to the bed was a nightstand, opposite it was the large shelf (covered in dust) and a lamp, right next to the closet. There was still enough space to fit in a table..."

I found while reading that the chapter was long yet short. You managed to draw me in a lot here in the chapter and unlike the previous chapters, here you focus more on the narrative rather than dialogue. I thought that was very good. You tried not to repeat yourself with a great choice of words and synonyms and also built up a nice and pleasant tension. I didn't find the chapter too crowded, but gave me as a reader a new insight into this "creature(s)" that Blake sees.

In places, whether it's for the potential tension or because it's a mix of Blake's thoughts and the narrator, some sentences feel too short. It doesn't happen as often as it did in the previous chapters, but I would, there look to combine some sentences. Also, I sometimes have the feeling that you don't really know what you want to write, and that's why it seems as if the "theme" is repeated again. I noticed this in the previous chapter too, here for example it's with the staff or opening a door. The action doesn't take long (to open, to grab) but you describe it a bit too much, which makes the pace of the story a bit slow. I would look at either trying to make a whole sentence out of it by combining some actions or paraphrasing it a bit, for example what Blake feels.

It might seem a bit counterproductive for the writer, but the reader can guess that when Blake sees the scythe, for example, he looks at it or wants to grab it, etc... You can leave out a sentence there.

I thought the chapter was great. It was very different from the previous ones in that Blake was more in focus and also his ability. You continue to keep a good pace to the story and throw around some mysteries that call the reader to keep reading.

Enjoy the writing!

Mailice.




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Thu Apr 29, 2021 8:11 pm
starlitmind wrote a review...



HEY FRIEND <3 here to leave another review, if you don't mind! ^_^

Something's wrong, very wrong, he thought. Those shadows, they were at school. They started the fire, I saw it.. How is that even possible?


Ooh, so it's like, now these shadows are interfering with the human world - it's like the two worlds are colliding, and Blake might have to bee the one to restore the balance or something >.>

It was like a barrage of voices screaming inside his head all at once, coupled with a twisted burning sensation that coursed up and down his spine and throughout his head.


I love this description! What makes it awesome is how specific it is and your word choice - "twisted" makes the whole thing seem even more negative, and it's cool to know physically where the pain is (coursing up his spine) -> the specificness makes it sound even more painful

Once his thoughts had cleared up a bit, he reopened his eyes, and found himself looking at the wall closet.


Omg the closest has so much horror movie potential, I am nervous 0.0 would the shadows perhaps be in his closet? :O
again, I am really enjoying the way you're building up suspense with the pain Blake is feeling and him needing to constantly readjust to his surroundings

He'd never seen his mother's belongings before


Oh that's quite interesting! I wonder why he hasn't seen his mother's stuff despite living together for awhile now ~ maybe he values personal space more? but I guess he doesn't really have a reason to go through his mother's closet xD

The burn in his body became so strong that his muscles felt hot and uncomfortable pain.


Did you mean to have a verb in the end, like "and were in uncomfortable pain"

A screech filled his ears with high-pitched agony as an outline of something crawled toward him. A shadow creature!


I think you could leave out the "a shadow creature" part just to make this more eerie and chilling - perhaps you could further describe the "outline" to replace that part? Just a thought - because maybe in all of the panic and confusion of having that crawl to him, Blake might've not realized himself what it was. Up to you though, that just popped in my head! :p

The dark creature struggled to stand


Oh so does this creature take on a human shape? I kind of imagined it like a blob in my head xD

good thing his mom isn't here, I just realized 0.0

Blake set it down, not having a clue as to why he was so drawn to this.

THUD.

Was the creature trying to break in? Blake set the box down and undid one clip


Looks like Blake sets it down twice :p

He heard another thud on the door as he unlocked the final clasp. There was another thud, and he finally opened the lid of the long case. And he couldn't believe his eyes.


Instead of saying "there was another tho" 2x, perhaps you could change it up? Like the second time you could say something like "the door rattled on its hinges as he finally opened the lid" or something like that xD just so your paragraph isn't the same and more colourful!

Loving all o these descriptions about what holding the spear does to his body!

But now it's form was tangible and clear. Its shape was reminiscent of a dog, with gangly legs and a thin body.


Nuuu the enemy is a dog :'(((
( small thing, the first "it's" should be "its" c: )

It wasn't strong enough to push off the dark entity, but enough to throw it off balance. Blake then thrust one side of the scythe into the creature, but one would hardly consider it an attack. But now,


hehe this is super tiny, but I noticed there were quite a bit of "but" conjunctions, so I thought I'd point it out :p

The scythe was gone. And so was the box he'd pulled it from.


0.0 you and your cliffhangers asfhjkl

Blake has no idea what just happened, AND ME NEITHER OMG I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS (IN A GOOD WAY!!!) that was quite intense, and there was so much going on all at once :O not only did Blake meet this very violent dog glob, he also found this scythe in his mother's closet? I wonder if his mother was once one of these spectre helping people. and if she was, maybe her illness has something to do with that? haha I am probably completely wrong xD but his mother is a bit suspicious to me, now that the scythe was found in her closet >.>

As always, can't wait to read the next chapter! Things are escalating, and something is clearly changing in the spectre world, or whatever you'd like to call it xD I just hope these shadows don't disrupt the human world too much - the fire is a pretty huge issue, I wonder what other problems they will cause :c




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Wed Apr 28, 2021 10:20 am
stygianmoon17 wrote a review...



Oooh interesting

I love where this is going, truly there is always action in every single one of your chapters, it's awesome ^^

The action was impeccable and gripping, the character had believable responses to all these supernatural things happening around him, but one thing confused me. When he picked up the staff, he felt like he was being controlled. he also felt as if something was beckoning him to take the staff, someone even spoke to him, saying to take it and where to find it.
Is it his mother ? Is it his sixth sense or something ? Or is his mother stuck in the staff and telling him to do all these things ? Who knows. But I found it confusing.

Also, after killing a shadowy beast, I am pretty sure he wouldn't be totally fine afterwards. I mean in this chapter, he just walks out to go see his neighbour.
He'd been in shock, wondering what just happened, maybe even pass out- but he wouldn't be so chill about all of this.

On another note, the fighting was way too one sided. The moment the fight started, so when he had the staff, he had already won. To make a fight more interesting, you need to raise the stakes, here there are no stakes since he *knows* he's gonna win. So to raise stakes, you need to balance out the opponents.
Since he's never used the scythe before, perhaps it's too heavy, so he uses it with great difficulty before finally winning. Or maybe it's not so easy to use, so he struggles to wield it. Maybe he could even ditch the scythe for what he believes it a more optimal weapon, like a knife or something, and just before the shadow can kill him, he tries using the scythe, and it cuts him in half. That would've raised the stakes for most of the fight.

These are still really minor points, that you can decide how to take. You have a very interesting premise and I hope what I've pointed out will help you in future works :)

Have a fun time writing the rest of this novel <33




Otterpop says...


Thanks so much for the review!

I will say after reading your comments that a few things were absolutely intentional, but a couple of things I'll need to reword, rewrite, or clarify. But, I won't specify which sections are which.

Even so your feedback was much appreciated and I'll be sure to keep it in mind when editing this section and writing future ones!




"Be yourself" is not advice. It's an existential crisis waiting to happen.
— Hank Green