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Boys & Girls Come Out To Play. Ch 4 - Awake

by Shnarkle 

Posted: 29 October 2009
Word Count: 1307
Summary: This is a rewrite of the last chapter which didn't really work. I'm trying to get a bit of background across; I hope this works better. Your comments, as always are welcome

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William lay in the coma ward of the general hospital. Tubes and wires snaked from his body to machines that monitored his vital signs, as his mother sat by his bedside holding his warm but lifeless hand, crying softly to herself. He felt nothing; saw nothing; heard, smelt and tasted nothing. He was totally unaware of the warm sunshine as it filtered through the blinds at the window, and described a latticework of spring across the ward floor. His mind floated, as if in a freezing, pure white fog. Not thinking, no imagination; just waiting.
“Will-i-am.” The girl’s voices were the merest whisper as they focused William’s inert mind.
“Will-i-am!” They were more insistent; demanding his full attention, although at some level he wished they’d go away. As his mind fully awoke the images of the girls gradually condensed before him from the fog; one to the front, and one to either side; their deathly pale features making the fog seem almost dirty by contrast.
Who are you? William’s disembodied mind asked, What do you want with me?
“We are your half sister, Emily.” Their voices phased and swirled around his mind.
Half sister? William thought, Why are there three of you?
“I am death.” said the girl to his left.
“I am life.” said the one to his right, with the yellow bows in her plaits.
“And I live in the nether world between the two.” said the girl with red bows, as she stood before him.
“We need you to wake up, William.” she continued; her dead, black eyes boring into him as if, in reality they faced each other, “We need you to play a game with us.”
“Yes, a game, William.” said the girl to his left.
“A game.” droned the other.
What game? William’s mind shrieked, leave me alone!
“We can’t.” said the girl before him.
“No, we can’t.” said the second.
“Can’t.” said the third.
The girl with the red bows moved closer so that William felt she was almost inside his mind; he felt the depths of cruelty and evil emanating from the chasms that were her dead, lifeless eyes, as if a conduit to her twisted, corrupt mind.
“We need your soul, William. I need it; Emily needs it.” Her words were pure ice as the other two moved in front of William and the three of them began to fuse together as one, a green baleful light detailing the points of their joining until they became one, seething entity. Their combined voices echoed and flitted in and out of phase as their words took on a demented passion and scaled higher in pitch at each word, “We need your soul, your life force; we need your very essence itself, William so that we, Emily, may live again and avenge the wrong that has been done to us! Wake up William!” Their tormented, unearthly scream shocked William’s mind back to reality; back to his body lying in the hospital bed. He let out a shuddering sigh, which shocked Laura back from the reverie she had lapsed into. William’s eyes snapped open and he shouted, “Emily, leave me alone!”
“William!” his mother shouted as if in a panic, as she stood up, sending the chair she had been sitting on skidding across the ward floor; “William, are you alright, darling?”
“Where am I?” asked William, completely disorientated.
“Wait, darling.” His mother replied in a rush, rapidly walking to the end of the ward shouting, “Nurse; nurse, my son has woken up!”
William sat up in his bed, somewhat bemused at the gaggle of nurses and doctors that descended upon him; reading his vital signs and shining lights into his eyes. Once they seemed satisfied that he was awake and stable, and the senior doctor had had a whispered conversation with his mother, they were left alone.
His mum grasped him in a huge bear hug of a cuddle, squeezing him so hard he could hardly breathe as she sobbed, “Oh, Will; Will. I thought we’d lost you for good; tell me that you’re Ok, baby.” Tears coursed down her cheeks as William eased his mother back slightly, “I’m fine Mum; just a bit groggy, that’s all. What happened?”
His mother told him that after she had fallen from the ceiling and called an ambulance, William and Susie had been brought to the hospital where William had been in a coma for the last two days.
“How’s Auntie Susie?” William asked.
“Not good,” replied his mother fighting back tears, “Her mind seems to have been totally wiped; about the only thing she can do for herself at the moment is breathe. The doctors are baffled.”
William bit his knuckle and sobbed, remembering his auntie’s madness during the horror in the bedroom. “Who’s Emily?” he asked in a small quavering voice. “She visited me when I was in the coma and said she was my half sister. What did she mean, Mum?”
His mother didn’t meet his gaze at first, but turned to look out the window at the sun bathed hospital grounds. Then, as if coming to a decision she turned back to William. “It’s true, Will. I had Emily when I was nineteen. I was living in Norwich with my Uncle Tobias and Aunt Agnes. They brought her up for me because she was such a difficult child.”
“Mum!” exclaimed William, wide eyed in disbelief, “You never told me about Emily.”
“I’ve never told anybody.” whispered his mother, biting her lower lip. “Not even your father. As I say, she was very difficult. Right from the start she had…” she paused, as if searching for the right word, “…she had emotional problems.”
“How do you mean, Mum?”
“Oh, it’s so difficult, Will.” His mother took a deep breath, as if steeling herself, “To put it simply she was pure evil.”
“Evil? How do you mean, evil?” asked William, almost unable to believe what he was hearing.
“Oh, there were lots of things, Will. She killed Tobias’ cat. She would threaten us with knives and say she was going to kill us. She was very frightening to be around, Will. You had to be there to really appreciate how strange she was.”
“What happened to her, Mum?”
His mother wouldn’t look him in the eyes as she said, “She caught pneumonia and died when she was nine.”
“How horrible!” gasped William.
William’s voice took on an edge of hysteria as he said, “Well, she wants to come back, Mum. She told me that she needed my soul so that she could live again.”
William watched the blood drain from his mother’s face, “What do you mean, Will; what are you saying?” her breath was coming in pants as she was almost beginning to hyperventilate with panic.
“She’s coming for me, Mum.” whined William, “She wants to take my life force from me so that she can have it and be alive again herself, while I’ll be dead. What are we going to do; what are we going to do?!”
His mum buried her head in her hands and cried, “I don’t know, Will; I just don’t know.” William could see the effort she made gathering herself as, after a moment she continued, ”I’m going to ring your dad to tell him that you’ve woken up; then we’ll have a long talk and try to work out what to do. There must be some way of stopping this.”
His mother stood up, and picking up her handbag, said, “Will, I’m just going outside to call your dad; I shan’t be long, but if you get worried push that red button by the bed and a nurse will come straight away. See you soon.” She leant down and gave him a peck on the forehead, and with that she was gone.


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Comments by other Members

Pat M at 23:10 on 29 October 2009  Report this post
Shnarkle, this works so much better than the other version. I'm sure it gets the same information across, but in a far more emotional way and staying with William's pov. It's far better, you've done some excellent work on this chapter.

Course, I've gone and done it again and read this at 9.45, just before bed. Now I've got these horrid images stuck in my head and will most likely have nightmares! Still if it has that effect, that's good, isn't it?

One thing, that one of you told me,(either Ben or yourself I think!) was not to repeat the name too often of the character whose pov you are in. Maybe you could replace some of the "Williams" with "he". I found it did read better in mine.

“We are your half sister, Emily.”

I just wonder if they might have taunted him more, by simply saying "We are Emily" a few times, before divulging who Emily was, building up the tension a bit more?
Or even not telling him about the half sister, just leaving it to William to ask his mum, "Who is Emily?" and letting her do the explaining?
Or again, maybe they could say "We are your sister", which seems more emotive than half-sister, and again his mum would have to explain.

My only real niggle is the ending, which is not up to your usual cliff-hanging scariness!

Would his mum have walked out and left him in that state? I think she would have smuggled her mobile in to call her husband. Then, if she had to go out, (maybe 'someone' could be calling her?) it would work better to end with a sentence emphasisng that she is leaving William 'on his own.' (more scary, not what it says, but what it doesn't say!)
That's just my thoughts, but I really love this.


Shnarkle at 23:57 on 29 October 2009  Report this post

Thank you for your very constructive comments; I agree about the repetition and you definitely have something regarding Emily's revelation of who she is.

Yes, the chapter does end quite quietly; however this is deliberate as the next chapter immediately picks up with Laura's phone call to Ben; and believe me, all hell breaks loose from the start. So it's sort of lulling the reader into a false sense of relaxation. Can't reveal too much.

I'm glad you think this is a more acceptable approach to the difficult task of back filling.


Issy at 03:27 on 30 October 2009  Report this post
Scary stuff to be reading at this time of night.

A huge improvement on the previous version. I like the way the mystery slowly reveals itself, but it's horrifying, and I cannot imagine what's going to happen next.

Even Emily's mother calls her pure evil, and we know that she is a warm and caring parent. Emily sounds as if she was mad when she was alive, but her mother doesn't appear to have taken any steps to do anything about that, nor the couple who looked after her.

Keen to see how you're going to resolve these situations!

Ben Yezir at 22:46 on 30 October 2009  Report this post
There's some very powerful writing here, great images - only one small gripe and that is that some of the language is unnecessarily difficult - I'd keep the target audience in mind and simplify things slightly.

The only bit that jars a bit is the opening. I'm confused: I think it's the description of the light etc in the middle of a section that's all about not seeing, smelling etc., yet you are very poetic about the light. Maybe you need to move this earlier?

Otherwise this a huge leap forward, very gripping stuff and perfect for the weekend that's in it.

Ben Yezir.

SusieL at 20:33 on 01 November 2009  Report this post
He was totally unaware of the warm sunshine as it filtered through the blinds at the window, and described a latticework of spring across the ward floor. His mind floated, as if in a freezing, pure white fog. Not thinking, no imagination; just waiting.

Perhaps delete from 'and described' to 'ward floor.' It's a beautifully written phrase, but perhaps in the wrong place - you know what they say about having to kill your darlings - I've been murdering loads of mine! But other than that, I love the opening, Shnarkle - works very well. Powerful.
As his mind fully awoke the images of the girls gradually condensed before him from the fog;

Bit of a clunky sentence - don't know if you can tweak it slightly?
His mother told him that after she had fallen from the ceiling and called an ambulance, William and Susie had been brought to the hospital where William had been in a coma for the last two days.

Could you put this briefly into dialogue - it was a bit of break to read this and then jump back into dialgue - would be a smoother read I think.
her breath was coming in pants as she was almost beginning to hyperventilate with panic.

Perhaps just tweak this a little? (her breath was coming in short gasps) - well, that kind of thing! I think the reader will know she is panicking without being told.
This is very good, Shnarkle. This chapter has a slower kind of tension, more chilling, less dramatic - but works just as well as your previous chapters. Look forward to the next part.


Sorry, Shnarkle, I haven't spaced this out very well so it's a little hard to read clearly. This wretched cold is stopping me from thinking coherently - nothing to do with the wine we had with our dinner - honest!

NicciF at 10:59 on 10 November 2009  Report this post
Hi Shnarkle

Sorry that this is coming so late, however, I just want to add my comments to the others.

This is a great improvement on the previous version. Not only have you imparted the same information in current action rather than back story, I also think it helps with the character development of both William and his mum.

I think Susie's right that this has a slower tension than the pervious chapters. If the next chapter delivers what you've indicated, this should provide a lovely jolt, snapping us out of that false sense of security.

Love it, however, have started to learn to read this during the hours of daylight! A very good sign for this genre.


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