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Awakening Chapter 8: Animosity

by Otterpop

"You alright?"

Blake lifted his chin with a start, and stared. Amelia had her arms crossed while she glanced right at him. Her gentle gaze plus a raised eyebrow conveyed both her amusement as well as her bewilderment.

"Oh. Me? Yeah. Fine."

"You sure?" Cameron pulled out a can of soda out of his backpack, but subsequently dropped it on some rocks and dirt. "Dangit. Well, you looked half asleep throughout classes today."

"Just, um, didn't get a lot of sleep last night. Or this weekend, really." That at least was true.

"I hear that," said Cameron as he picked up the can. "Some nights? I just don't get enough sleep. I've been the same way lately."

"You have?" You've seen spectres in greater numbers than usual and crazy shadow monsters that have no explanation for being there?

"Yeah!" Cameron now had a big smile on his face while he spoke. "With the end of the year coming up, summer vacation is just around the corner! We'll get three months to do all kinds of fun stuff!"

Blake paused, thought it over...and gently threw his hands into the air. "You got me."

"Figured as much!" Cameron laughed.

Someone approached from Blake's right a few seconds later. June strolled across the grassy park, with a few white packages in hand. In the distance sat a boxy truck with some colorful signs and images on its side. Blake gave her a small wave as she walked within a few feet of them.

"So, good news!" June grabbed two of the white packages, and tossed one each to Blake and Amelia, both of whom caught it with ease.

"Joshua had the Cherry Bombs, so easy peasy. And Cam? He also had the White Fudgesicle."

"Sweet!" Still clutching the soda can, Cameron thrust a victorious fist into the air. June tossed him a white package also, which he caught somewhat clumsily. He then popped the can open...but it spurted on his face and flowed over the sides a little. Some of it dripped on his shorts creating dark splotches on the khakis.


The other three laughed as they opened their packages. Blake immediately smelled the cherry, and wasted no time in gently licking off the red exterior. Amelia did the same. But June bit into the top of hers with a brief cringe.

"Cold! Cold."

"They're called ice cream bars for a reason," said Blake.

"Shut it!"

Nearby Cameron struggled to properly position his own bar and messy soda. Meanwhile, Amelia immediately created conversation.

"Saw you talking to Joshie again," she said. "Any interesting gossip to report?"

"Not a lot." June shook her head also. "Just mentioning being excited for the summer and get good business again with the truck. He did say his neighbors got sick too, apparently."

"Oh? That's not good."

Blake lifted his chin. "Got sick....too?"

Cameron just rolled his eyes, but Amelia smacked him in the shoulder with the back of her hand. "Miss Jeana sent him to the front office with those papers, remember? He wasn't there for that conversation."

He only tilted his head a little, but Amelia began an explanation without hesitation. "I heard Dalton's dad and sister got sick with something, and apparently he was a bit feverish too. And Haley told me that old couple that live a few doors down from her? They're not doing great either."

"Those are....weird coincidences," he responded.

"Yeah," June agreed. Her voice seemed a bit soft as she spoke. "But, Dalton's family was already having trouble with people getting sick since they had that big family gathering a couple weeks back. So, it could be just a crazy coincidence."

"Could?" Cameron said, shrugging. "You make it sound like they might be connected."

June merely shrugged in response. "Maybe, maybe not. Just saying, but it is weird."

Blake straightened his back ever so slightly. Perhaps Amelia and Cameron simply said nothing, or maybe they really didn't notice it. But he knew he heard just a touch of worry in her voice in those last few sentences. And for a few moments he did not break eye contact with her.

"Look, long as we stay away from them, we'll be fine." Amelia broke the silence with her voice. "Nobody's getting sick this summer."

"Why is it summer vacation is the only thing on your mind the last few weeks of every school year?" Blake then asked.

"Come on, how is it not on yours? Summer has all the freedom and friends and none of the homework and learning."

"Says the one who wants to become a pilot."

Amelia scoffed at the comment. "Learning something you're passionate about is different. That kind of stuff sticks with you because you want it to."

"Yeah," June laughed, putting some optimism in her response. "But you still gotta know things like physics, and math."

"Ugh.....don't remind me."

That was the last thing Blake paid attention to of that conversation. His focus already begun shifting elsewhere. A tiny little shiver ran up his spine, enough to get a little tingle out of him. He breathed out in a normal sigh but looked around when no one else noticed. Here? Now? Where?

Another chill traveled through him, this time in his arm. His gaze froze in place for a moment. Two at the same time?

Blake licked his ice cream bar a few more times, trying not to look odd. The others had quieted down, also licking their cold treats. He did not need a scan of his surroundings; he knew the little bathroom building was behind him and to his right. And with the doors out of sight of his friends, then maybe, just maybe he could deal with one of them.

He wasn't even halfway through his cherry-coated bar when he stood up and handed it towards June.

"Think you could hold it real quick while I use the bathroom?"

She took the stick from him, a little twinkle in her eyes. "Sure. But, fair warning. I might grab a taste. Or two."

As he walked away, hands in his pockets, he shook his head. "Don't even think about it. I don't want your germs making me sick."

Blake twisted his neck right as June stuck out her tongue. He faced forward but kept his apprehension from showing. Please please please, I hope one is by the bathroom. Just, make it easy for me.

In about twenty or so yards he turned the corner of the building and came upon the doors, now hidden from view of his friends. He knocked on the men's bathroom door. No answer. Then he did the same for the women's restroom.

Still no answer.

He did not enter either. Instead he looked around, and prayed.

"Come on, come on," he muttered under his breath. "I'm here. So just one of you find me."

A chill overtook the entire backside of his body, and Blake spun around with a start.

"Where'd you come from?!"

While Blake held a hand over his chest, the spectre before him just stood. It tilted its head with confusion.

"You cannot sneak up on people like that," he said, but quietly. "It's not very nice."

But the wave of indifference he felt told him otherwise.

"Or you can not care. That's fine too..."

Another chill soon hit him like an icy breeze that left his hairs standing on end, again from behind.

"Jesus!" He spun around again....and there stood a second ghost. But this one was a little different. Both looked like middle-aged men, and both had impressive builds of bodies. But rather than indifference, this spectre emitted a seething fury so potent it made Blake's own blood boil.

"Woah. What's going on with you?"

The angry spirit raised an arm, and pointed at Blake. He was surprised, concerned, and confused all the same. But when he instinctively stepped sideways, the spirit's finger did not move.

"You angry at him?" asked Blake, jerking his head in the direction of the first presence he'd seen. The spectre nodded, and the anger he emitted intensified.

"Look; what did he do? I don't have a lot of time, so try to summarize."

The angry fellow tried speaking, but most of what came out was garbled nonsense. Still, he managed to catch some of it.

....hiking in the Rockies....played a trick....mountain lion pounced out of nowhere.....

The spirit continued its rant, but it gave him ample time to get a closer look at the gentlemen. He hadn't noticed it before, but with a different angle Blake could now see some of the massive holes on the neck. On both their necks, actually. And despite the indifference of the one spirit, both still carried some lingering pain that made Blake's upper body itch.

"I....still can't tell exactly what happened." Blake looked to the first figure. "You were friends, but you played a trick or prank on your buddy, and somehow got attacked by a cougar, and you both died. You are clearly not feeling any remorse, so if you really are responsible you ought to apologize."

The spirit said nothing, but that was not why Blake turned. A strange sensation coursed throughout his body, neither a chill nor a burn, but rather something like an uncomfortable vibration. He was turning slowly, but he looked at the second spirit before long. He still pointed at the other. But something had changed. It was as if the ghost was darker in appearance all of a sudden; instead of the faded gray wispiness he normally saw, Blake observed something coated in a dark gray storm cloud. And....the arm with the pointed finger almost seemed a bit longer. What was going on? Even the anger felt different. More malicious, almost.

His response to the situation was an impulsive one he didn't even think about.

"You have to calm down. Right now."

Blake's fist was balled up now. But there was something there, something solid he held onto that wasn't his own palm. He looked down for a mere second, but his eyes widened almost immediately. It did not seem possible, but he knew he was looking right at it with his own eyes.

The scythe? How?

When he looked up again, the spirit had grown even darker than a few moments beforehand. Blake stared up, looked down, back and forth again and again. Something was very wrong here.

Spirits must be put to rest. Shadows must be put down.

The sudden sound of those words in his head nearly knocked him right off his feet. The ghost twitched more prominently now, but still it did not make a move. Blake looked back and forth again between the spirit and the scythe. Was he supposed to destroy this apparition, like those dark creatures he'd seen before?

The now shadowy figure knelt as if preparing for an attack, and right then he knew. Still it had not made a move, but Blake jumped to make the first strike. He swung the weapon up and then downwards in a manner of seconds; the shadow had no time to react. Blake could see after the blade struck the ground with a hard clang that he'd only severed part of an arm off. The shadow screeched furiously and leapt without warning. Blake himself stepped back a few steps and instinctively turned into a defensive position.

Miraculously, the curved blade was pointed in just the right direction. The creature could not stop its momentum and impaled itself in a fraction of a second. Blake remained still and watched as the transparent figure disintegrated away. He was frozen for a few more seconds, but still gripped the scythe so tight they turned a little red. But once he came to and slowed his breathing he turned around a little. The first spirit still stood, completely shocked by what just transpired. Its eyes were nothing but wide and its fingers trembled.

Blake breathed in and out a few more times; he maintained as much calmness as he could when he finally spoke. "I'm sorry. About what I did. I didn't...." But his voice broke a little at the end. It was just like every other time so far. He was always reacting with the instinct to fight back. And he also hated to admit it, but the weapon felt a littler easier to hold now compared to the first-

No, not right now. This man still needed him. Blake approached the spectre, holding the weapon with only one hand now. "Look, whatever happened between you two? You have to figure it out. Find closure, apologize, anything. I need your word."

A little wave of disbelief still washed over Blake. But, it nodded regardless. It arms were relaxed enough that he figured the spectre was committing to the young man's order.

But to make sure, Blake stuck out his hand.

"You will, yes?"

Eventually, its hand reached out also and grabbed his. The moment they made contact, a crackled rushed through him. Not painful, but intense enough to startle him. A for a moment he could very clearly see the man before him. Well-built, but aged and tired. Yet he still carried a little mischievous glint in his eyes and a tiny smile on his somewhat wrinkled face. His eyes closed ever so slowly.

Then he was gone.

The crackled disappeared as unexpectedly as it appeared, and Blake looked around in utter disbelief. What was that, everything that just happened. He brought the hand to his head, finding difficulty in processing this new sensation.

Spirits must be put to rest. Shadows must be put down.

So, there was a difference between the apparitions he'd seen? The spectres that appeared were just lost souls that needed him to find peace, for some reason. And those dark creatures he'd seen more often recently? Were those the Shadows? And where had those words even come from? The creature? The scythe? Did he have to now handle the decent spirits, as well as the bad ones?

His head hurt too much now.

"Blake, you still in there?"

"Damnit" he hissed, looking around frantically. Without a second thought he ever so carefully opened the door to the bathroom, closed it as quietly as he could, and locked it with the softest click he could muster. He set the scythe blade down in the corner of the bathroom, rushed to the other side, and flushed the toilet. He turned on the sink, and rinsed his hands under the cool waterfall for a few seconds.


He propped his head up. "Yeah, hold on!"

A couple of moments later he turned the faucet off, and used the blowdryer in the restroom to dry off his hands. And when he turned his head, he realized he had to figure something out with the scythe.

Shoot! Okay! Calm down....it's a men's bathroom. I'll just get it later when no one's looking! It was a stupid plan. But what else could he do?

Blake opened the bathroom door, and stepped out. There was June, still holding on to her and his ice cream bars.

"Sorry," he said; for some reason his voice had a slight waver. "Didn't mean to take so long."

But June did not respond. She looked to Blake's left, then stared at Blake, and looked back. Her eyebrows furrowed shortly thereafter.


He froze in place, and his blood ran cold. Was it another Spirit? No, June couldn't see them! Right? A chill ran up his spine as he stared at his friend's bewildered expression.

"Are you secretly a girl?"

WHAT?! It took a matter of seconds before he spun around, and another few seconds to stare. He'd just.....did he really just come out of the girl's bathroom by mistake?

Slowly, he turned back and faced June. "Uhhh, no. I just, I accidentally, didn't mean to-"

But June burst into a fit of hysterical laughter. It was the happiest sound mixed with a tiny squeal. She was bent forward, and her face slightly contorted as her mouth gaped.

"Oh my, you didn't!" June laughed a few seconds longer. "That is hilarious! We've been here how often? You've never done that!"

More than anything he was embarrassed. Surely his face must have been so red right now. Hers was for certain, but for a very different reason.

"Um, whoops," was all he could say.

"Honestly, I'm just surprised." Her laughter subsided a little, but the smile never left her face. "I mean, I figured Cameron would be the first to do something like that. On purpose....eh, maybe. You just got things jumbled up, huh?"

Dumbfounded. Dumbfounded and embarrassed was all he felt at this very moment. And so all he gave was the smallest of nods. "Guess so."

"Tell ya what?" June handed him the ice cream, which he grabbed from her. "I'm feeling a bit rebellious today. I'll go in the men's bathroom. That way we can be equally embarrassed. I've got dirt on you, but now you've got some on me too. Fair trade?"

He didn't have long to think about it; she seemed dead set on her proposal. "Sure, I guess."

"Alright, I'll be right back. Just take these first!" June held out the two ice cream bars for Blake to grab, then did something of a skip before she entered the men's restroom and closed the door.

In the space of silence around him, a sudden realization reminded him that it was simple luck that June did not use the women's bathroom. If she did, she would have seen it. And he would have had a lot of explaining to do. Maybe he could sneak into the restroom right now, toss it somewhere.....?


Blake spun around. Cameron appeared from around the corner of the tiny building, and gave him a small wave. Blake waved back, but awkwardly because of the ice cream he still held.

"Want to start walking back? Ya know, once June is done."

"Yeah. Sure." Cameron called for his sister, but Blake was nothing but apprehensive in that very moment. How was he supposed to get it now?

Is this a review?



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220 Reviews

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Reviews: 220

Thu Jul 15, 2021 8:23 pm
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Spearmint wrote a review...

Ah hi again; sorry I didn't review this earlier! ^^' I should probably start checking the Green Room more often >.> Or, if you don't mind, it'd be wonderful if you could tag me in a wall post when you post the next chapter! You can just use the @ symbol and my username, so it'd be like: @Spearmint. Then I'd get a notification for it and I'd be able to review it faster. This is on me though, so don't worry about tagging if you don't want to! C: Anyways, let's get to the review...

I thought there were definitely some interesting developments in this chapter, like the way spirits can apparently turn into shadows. I do remember that the shadows Blake saw before seemed like animals though, so I'm wondering whether shadows starts as human spirits and then eventually become more animalistic? Or maybe there are different types of shadows... Overall, this was an intriguing glimpse into how spirits work in this world!

Ooh and this is just a random thought, but I feel like around here is the place where some stories include a mentor figure or something xD Like, in my personal experience, a lot of heroes find people to guide and teach them, and help them learn more/get better. I feel like that mysterious voice Blake is hearing might possibly be such a figure?? But I'm not sure yet... Anyways, whether Blake gets a mentor or not is completely up to you though, and I think it'd work well either way! ^-^

"You have?" You've seen spectres in greater numbers than usual and crazy shadow monsters that have no explanation for being there?

I don't know why, but I love that touch of sarcasm/skepticism in Blake's thoughts. XD Blake doesn't think it in a mean way or anything, and yet it still conveys how he knows that his life is becoming different from his friends'. Hmm, maybe not all of his friends-- I still have my suspicious about June... ;)

June strolled across the grassy park, with a few white packages in hand. In the distance sat a boxy truck with some colorful signs and images on its side.

When I first read about the white packages, I was a little confused because I was envisioning them as square boxes like the packages you get from the mail or shipping services. It seems like they were actually ice cream packages though? I think it'd be great if you could clarify that description a little, like maybe saying "ice-cream bars in white wrappers" or "plastic-wrapped ice-cream bars" or something, and maybe specify that the truck is an ice cream truck (I feel like there isn't a specific purpose for keeping it a mystery?) Completely up to you though-- this could definitely just be me missing something or being clueless ^^'

"Says the one who wants to become a pilot."

Amelia scoffed at the comment.

Just another random thought, but Amelia and pilot... makes me think of Amelia Earhart... I kinda feel like you did that on purpose xD

Ah and like Mailice said, I really liked the balance between normal friend stuff and spectral activity in this chapter! The part where June looks at Blake with a confused expression on her face and asks, "Are you secretly a girl?" made me laugh XD These bits of humor keep the overall story from getting too dark, which I think is great C:

And last thought, about that final line...
How was he supposed to get it now?

Well, Blake, I have a feeling that scythe can take care of itself... ;) For some reason, I doubt that the scythe would let anyone else see it. It seems to have a mind of its own :]

So overall, this was another wonderful chapter and I'm looking forward to the next one! Keep writing, and have a fantastic day/night!! =D

Otterpop says...

Thanks so much for the review! Appreciate that you mentioned the tagging, though I don't always like tagging people for anything so I might avoid that, if that's alright.....

Again, always appreciative of people pointing out the little things, like with the packages vs the wrappers. Sometimes I just forget the words I need and that's probably the word I was looking for, so thank you!

And you seem to be enjoying the story, laughing on occasion, and even making some interesting predictions. Always makes me happy to see people so engaged with it, and I hope that continues, because that at least means I seem to be doing a good job!

Spearmint says...

Yup, I'm definitely enjoying the story, and you're doing a great job!! And hmm... interesting predictions, eh? :3 I'm looking forward to seeing if any of them were right! (or, more likely, how wildly wrong they were xD)
And for the tagging, no problem!! I'll keep an eye out for the next chapter ^-^
Thanks for the reply!! <3

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Mon Jul 05, 2021 5:05 pm
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...

Hi Otterpop,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

Another reunion with Blake's friends, which I enjoyed. The chapter had a great mix of his normal teenage life and his new ability. I liked that the focus was on his friends overall and that going to the toilet was a good way to get a break between the two parts where he had been talking to the spectres. I always find that feeling of leaving the laughter of the group to go to the toilet for a moment a bit lonely. :D (Hope that doesn't sound weird).

The interactions between the characters is great and I like that they all have their own character and you can see that in the dialogues. I can really picture the sympathies between the friends (and I felt like I was back in my own school days). The relaxed mood before the summer holidays, the gossiping and the ice cream were a good mix to give the reader that feeling that everything was okay for a while.

When Blake sensed that spectres were around, it felt like one of those moments where you're sitting with friends and suddenly you get a call from your parents that they want you to come home. :D You suddenly feel this isolation and how everything around you shrinks like a fishbowl and you couldn't get out.

I don't know why, but I liked the story behind the two spectres and also how Blake was a mediator between them, looking for a solution instead of blaming someone straight away. I like that kind of justice he always tries to show. The end brought back that relaxed mood that you know from friends.

All in all, it was - as in the previous chapter - a very relaxed and calm chapter. I liked that we also get to see this side as readers and I'm already looking forward to the next one. Some points that stood out to me while reading:

You've seen spectres in greater numbers than usual and crazy shadow monsters that have no explanation for being there?

I like this line and how Blake's friend more or less indirectly responds to it. The moment was fitting.

Blake paused, thought it over....and gently threw his hands into the air.

Here's one too many dots before the and.

He then popped the can open....but it spurted on his face and flowed over the sides a little.

Here is the same problem. It happens several times here in the chapter that instead of the usual three ... there are four.

"Look, long as we stay away from them, we'll be fine."

Here the "as" before the "long as" is missing.

He swung the weapon up and then downwards in a manner of seconds, and the shadow had no time to react.

For the moment here to stand out more due to speed and action, I would take away the "and" and insert a semicolon. This makes it read more dynamically, with the "and" it seems more like a result than a reaction.

"Are you secretly a girl?"

Until the revelation came that Blake was in the girls' loo, I thought it was a funny announcement and think it can certainly be used to build a conversation straight away.

But June burst into a fit of hysterical laughter. It was the happiest sound mixed with a tiny squeal. She was bent forward, and her face slightly contorted as her mouth gaped.

I like the description here. In general, you've written some vivid descriptions and characteristics here that breathe more life into each character.

"I'm feeling a bit rebellious today. I'll go in the men's bathroom. That way we can be equally embarrassed. I've got dirt on you, but now you've got some on me too. Fair trade?"

That's fair trade! :D

The chapter was well written as usual. What I would like to say here is how I like the names of the chapters and how you can always interpret their meaning.

Have fun writing!


Otterpop says...

Once again your feedback is remarkable and appreciative! Sometimes I feel like the further you go in the story, the more constructive criticism I ought to get. Yet, that doesn't seem to happen. I guess that's a good thing?

Generally speaking, though, I am very glad you are enjoying the story even with the little errors here and there, and that you're reading so much in between the lines that it feels like catching things I wouldn't have thought of, catching things that were intended to be as such, even picking up on things that surprised me! Readers like you I think are EXACTLY why I keep writing and showing my work to others. There's so many great things going for it, but it still needs some polishing even if people are enjoying it!

So thank you, so much, for this review and all the previous ones you've done. It really does mean a lot to me.

MailicedeNamedy says...

I think proper constructive criticism can only be given when you have read the whole story. In the reviews, I usually try to refer to things that turned out well and also to points that could be improved. Unfortunately, I don't have much to offer here, because I think your pacing and the presentation are good. You always give the reader those "minutes" of peace before something new comes along. You continue to keep some secrets, but without putting the reader in a position that leaves them confused. What I also just love about your story is that it's a really great mix between fantasy and realism.

Otterpop says...

You make a fair point, definitely!
Either way, your insight and the insight of any other readers here is most appreciative and helpful, especially if I intend to publish one day.

fun fact i hear my evil twin once wrote a story about a hacker who used the name fyshi33k bc there are 33k-ish species of fish and she liked phishing so fyshi-33k made sense but then she got super embarrassed when someone forced her to explain
— VyperShadow