The awakening, p.1
The Awakening, p.1Part #2 of Darkest Powers series by Kelley Armstrong
WHEN THE DOOR TO my cell clicked open, the first thought that flitted through my doped-up brain was that Liz had changed her mind and come back. But ghosts don’t open doors. They will, on occasion, ask me to open one, so I can raise and interrogate the zombies of supernaturals killed by a mad scientist, but they never need one opened for themselves.
I sat up in bed and rubbed my bleary eyes, blinking away the lingering fog of the sedative. For a moment, the door stayed open only a crack. I slid from the bed, tiptoeing across the thick carpet of my fake hotel room, praying the person on the other side had been called away and I could escape before these people started whatever experiments they’d brought me here to—
“Hello, Chloe. ” Dr. Davidoff beamed his best kindly-old-man smile as he pushed the door wide. He wasn’t that old—maybe fifty—but in a movie, I’d cast him as the doddering absentminded scientist. It was an act I’m sure he’d worked on until he got it just right.
The woman behind him had chic blond hair and a New York suit. I’d cast her as the mother of the nastiest girl in class. Which was cheating, because that’s exactly who she was. Mother of Victoria—Tori—Enright, the one housemate we’d left out of our plans when we’d escaped from Lyle House, and for good cause, considering she was one of the reasons I’d needed to escape.
Tori’s mom carried a Macy’s bag, like she’d just been out shopping and popped in to conduct a few horrific experiments before heading to lunch.
“I know you have a lot of questions, Chloe,” Dr. Davidoff said as I sat on the edge of the bed. “We’re here to answer them for you. We just need a little help from you first. ”
“Simon and Derek,” Mrs. Enright said. “Where are they?”
I looked from her to Dr. Davidoff, who smiled and nodded encouragingly, like he fully expected me to turn in my friends.
I’d never been an angry kid. I’d never run away from home. Never stamped my feet and screamed that life was unfair and I wished I’d never been born. Whenever my dad told me we were moving again and I needed to transfer schools, I’d swallowed a whiny “but I just made new friends,” nod, and tell him I understood.
Accept your lot. Count your blessings. Be a big girl.
Now, looking back at a life of doing what I was told, I realized I’d bought into the game. When adults patted me on the head and told me I was so grown-up, what they really meant was that they were glad I wasn’t grown-up enough yet to question, to fight back.
Looking at Dr. Davidoff and Mrs. Enright, I thought of what they’d done to me—lying to me, locking me up—and I wanted to stamp my feet. Wanted to scream. But I wasn’t going to give them that satisfaction.
I widened my eyes as I met Mrs. Enright’s gaze. “You mean you haven’t found them yet?”
I think she would have slapped me if Dr. Davidoff hadn’t lifted his hand.
“No, Chloe, we haven’t found the boys,” he said. “We’re very concerned for Simon’s safety. ”
“Because you think Derek might hurt him?”
“Not intentionally, of course. I know Derek’s fond of Simon. ”
Fond? What a strange word to use. Derek and Simon were foster brothers, tighter than any blood brothers I knew. Sure, Derek was a werewolf, but that wolf part of him was what would stop him from ever hurting Simon. He’d protect him at all costs—I’d already seen that.
My skepticism must have shown on my face, because Dr. Davidoff shook his head, as if disappointed in me. “All right, Chloe. If you can’t spare any concern for Simon’s safety, maybe you can for his health. ”
“W-what ab-bou—” My stutter cropped up most when I was nervous, and I couldn’t let them know they’d struck a nerve. So I tried again, slower now. “What about his health?”
“His condition. ”
Apparently I wasn’t the only one who watched too many movies. Now they would tell me that Simon had some rare medical condition and if he didn’t get his medicine within twelve hours, he’d spontaneously combust.
“He has diabetes,” Dr. Davidoff said. “His blood sugar levels need to be monitored and regulated. ”
“With one of those blood testing things?” I said slowly, thinking back. Simon had always disappeared into the bathroom before meals. I’d thought he just liked to wash up. I’d bumped into him once coming out as he’d been shoving a small black case into his pocket.
“That’s right,” Dr. Davidoff said. “With proper care, diabetes is easily managed. You weren’t aware of it because you didn’t need to be. Simon leads a normal life. ”
“Except for one thing,” Tori’s mom said.
She reached into the Macy’s bag and took out a backpack. It looked like Simon’s, but I wasn’t falling for that—they’d probably bought a matching one. Sure, she pulled out a hoodie I recognized as Simon’s, but he’d left behind a whole closet of clothing at Lyle House. Easy enough to grab stuff from there.
Next came a pad of paper and pouch of colored pencils. Simon’s room was filled with his comic book sketches. Again, easy enough to—
Mrs. Enright flipped through the sketch pad, holding up pages. Simon’s work in progress. He’d never have left that behind.
Finally, she laid a flashlight on the table. The flashlight from Lyle House—the one I’d watched him put into his bag.
“Simon slipped going over the fence,” she said. “He had his backpack over one shoulder. It fell. Our people were right behind him so he had to leave it. There’s something in here that Simon needs much more than clothing and art supplies. ”
She opened a navy nylon pouch. Inside were two pen-like vials, one filled with cloudy liquid, the other clear. “The insulin to replace what Simon’s body can’t produce. He injects himself with these three times a day. ”
“What happens if he doesn’t?”
Dr. Davidoff took over. “We aren’t going to scare you and say that if Simon skips a single shot, he’ll die. He’s already missed his morning one, and I’m sure he only feels a bit out of sorts. But by tomorrow, he’ll be vomiting. In about three days, he’ll lapse into a diabetic coma. ” He took the pouch from Tori’s mom and set it in front of me. “We need to get this to Simon. To do that, you need to tell us where he is. ”
I agreed to try.
IN A GOOD DRAMA, the protagonist never takes the straight line to the prize. She must set out, hit an obstacle, detour around it, hit another, take a longer detour, another obstacle, another detour…. Only when she has built up the strength of character to deserve the prize does she finally succeed.
My story was already fitting the time-honored pattern. Fitting, I guess, for a film student. Or, I should say, former film student. Chloe Saunders, fifteen-year-old Steven Spielberg wannabe, her dreams of writing and directing Hollywood blockbusters shattered on the day she got her first period and started living the kind of life she’d once imagined putting on the screen.
That’s when I started seeing ghosts. After freaking out at school, I was taken away by the men in the white jackets and shipped off to a group home for mentally disturbed teens. Problem is, I really did see ghosts. And I wasn’t the only kid at Lyle House with supernatural powers.
Simon could cast spells. Rae could burn people with her bare fingers. Derek had superhuman strength and senses and, apparently, soon would be able to change into a wolf. Tori…well, I didn’t know what Tori was—maybe just a screwed-up kid put in Lyle House because her mom helped run it.
Simon, Derek, Rae, and I realized it was no coincidence we were in the same place, and we escaped. Rae and I got separated from the guys and, after running to my aunt Lauren—the person I had trusted most in
Now they expected me to help them bring in Simon and Derek?
Well, it was time to introduce a few obstacles of my own. So, in the spirit of proper storytelling, I told Dr. Davidoff where to find Simon and Derek.
Step one: establish the goal. “Rae and I were supposed to hide while the guys stayed behind to distract you with Simon’s magic,” I told Dr. Davidoff. “Rae ran on ahead so she didn’t hear, but at the last second Simon pulled me back and said, if we got separated, we’d meet at the rendezvous point. ”
Step two: introduce the obstacle. “Where is the rendezvous point? That’s the problem. I don’t know where it is. We talked about needing one, but everything was so crazy that day. We’d only just decided to escape, and then Derek was saying it had to be that night. The guys must have picked a rendezvous point, and forgot they never told me where it was. ”
Step three: map out the detour. “But I do have some ideas—places we talked about. One of them must be the rendezvous point. I could help you find it. They’ll be looking for me, so they might hide until they see me. ”
Rather than escape this place, I’d let them take me out by using me as bait. I’d list places I’d never discussed with Simon or Derek, and there would be no chance they’d get captured. A brilliant plan.
“We’ll keep that in mind, Chloe. But for now, just tell us the locations. We have ways to find the boys once we get there. ”
Obstacles. An essential part of the storytelling process. But in real life? They suck.
After Dr. Davidoff and Tori’s mom had gotten my list of fake rendezvous points, they left, giving me nothing in return—no answers, no clues about why I was here or what would happen to me.
I sat cross-legged on my bed, staring down at the necklace in my hands as if it were a crystal ball that could provide all those answers. My mom had given it to me back when I was seeing “bogeymen”—ghosts, as I now knew. She said the necklace would stop them from coming, and it did. I’d always figured, like my dad said, that it was psychological. I believed in it, so it worked. Now, I wasn’t so sure.
Had my mom known I was a necromancer? She must have, if the blood ran in her family. Was the necklace supposed to ward off ghosts? If so, its power must have faded. It even looked faded—I swore the bright red jewel had gone a purplish color. One thing it didn’t do, though, was answer my questions. That I had to do for myself.
I put the necklace back on. Whatever Dr. Davidoff and the others wanted from me, it wasn’t good. You don’t lock up kids you want to help.
I certainly wasn’t going to tell them how to find Simon. If he needed insulin, Derek would get it, even if it meant breaking into a drugstore.
I had to concentrate on getting Rae and me out. But this wasn’t Lyle House, where the only thing standing between us and freedom was an alarm system. This room might look like it belonged in a nice hotel—with a double bed, a carpeted floor, an armchair, desk, and private bathroom—but there were no windows and no knob on the inside of the door.
I’d hoped to get Liz’s help escaping. My roommate at Lyle House, Liz hadn’t made it out alive, so when I first got here, I’d summoned her ghost, hoping she could help me find a way out. Only problem? Liz didn’t realize she was dead. As gently as I could, I’d broken the news. She’d flipped out, accusing me of lying, and disappeared.
Maybe she’d had enough time to cool off. I doubted it, but I couldn’t wait. I had to try summoning her again.
I PREPARED FOR A séance. As set pieces went, this one was so lame I’d never put it in a movie. No sputtering candles to cast eerie shadows on the walls, no moldy skulls forming a ritual circle, no chalices filled with what the audience would suppose was red wine but secretly hope was blood.
Did experienced necromancers use stuff like candles and incense? From the little I’d learned about the supernatural world, I knew some of what we see in movies is true. Maybe, way back in history, people had known about necromancers and witches and werewolves, and those stories are based, if very loosely, on old truths.
My method—if I can call it a method since I’ve only used it twice—came from trial and error and a few grudging tips from Derek. As a guy who was taking college-level courses at sixteen, being confident of his facts is important to Derek. If he isn’t sure, he’d rather keep his mouth shut. But when I’d pushed him, he’d told me that he’d heard that necromancers summoned ghosts either by being at a graveside or by using a personal effect, like Liz’s hoodie, so I was sitting cross-legged on the carpet, clutching it.
I pictured Liz and imagined myself pulling her out of limbo. At first, I didn’t try very hard. The last time I’d focused all my power into summoning a ghost, I’d summoned two right back into their buried corpses. I wasn’t near a grave this time, but that didn’t mean there weren’t bodies around somewhere. So I kept the voltage low at first, gradually ramping it up, focusing harder and harder until…
“What the—? Hey, who are you?”
My eyes flew open. There stood a dark-haired boy about my age with the build, looks, and arrogant chin tilt of a star quarterback. Finding the ghost of another teenager in this place wasn’t a coincidence. A name popped into my head—that of another Lyle House resident who’d been taken away before I arrived, supposedly transferred to a mental hospital, like Liz.
“Brady?” I said tentatively.
“Yeah, but I don’t know you. Or this place. ”
He pivoted, scanning the room, then rubbed the back of his neck. I stopped myself before asking if he was okay. Of course he wasn’t okay. He was dead. Like Liz. I swallowed.
The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong / Young Adult / Fantasy have rating 2.3 out of 5 / Based on34 votes