A sample of Awoken

Here is the long-awaited, much-requested teaser chapter for Awoken!

(under the cut ;p)

 Chapter Six


 Though I barely slept at all, I spent the rest of the weekend in bed. I saw no point in getting up. I knew I wouldn’t be able to focus on anything but my own thoughts, and I could just as easily do that lying down.

My mom came barging in every couple of hours, asking questions and looking at me as though I were dying. I must have said, “I’m fine, Mom,” a dozen times. Of course, I wasn’t fine, but she didn’t need to know that. There was nothing she could have done to help me, except leave me alone with my thoughts. Again and again, I went over the events of the past week, trying to make sense of it all, but it was like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle without all the pieces.

Riley had made Travis lose his mind. I was sure of it.

But how? And, more importantly, why?

I thought about Thursday in the parking lot at Henrietta’s, when he’d vanished into thin air. The way he talked, like he was from another era. The fact that he’d appeared in my dreams before I’d met him in real life. The conclusion was as obvious as it was terrifying.

Riley Bay wasn’t human.

But if he wasn’t human, then what was he? An alien, sent to Earth to learn about humanity in preparation for an invasion? Riley was certainly weird enough to be an alien, but I didn’t see why the mother ship would send him to Portsmouth, Rhode Island, in the guise of a high schooler. Surely, he would learn more by infiltrating our government or something, right?

If he wasn’t from outer space, then he had to be from Earth. But if any native of Earth could do the things he did, then the world was a much stranger place than I’d been led to believe.

In my head, I made a list of every mythical beast I could think of, but Riley Bay didn’t resemble any of them. He went out during the day, so he couldn’t be a vampire. He was in school during the full moon, so he wasn’t a werewolf. He didn’t have wings, so I could cross both faery and angel off the list. What did that leave? Leprechauns? I snorted at the very idea.

And what was his motive? What interest could such a creature have in me, the most ordinary girl in the world? Why did he despise me so? And why punish Travis for taunting me? If anything, he should have reveled in seeing me humiliated like that. The more I learned about Riley Bay, the less he made sense.

A big part of me wanted to pretend the whole thing had never happened, but that was impossible. Even if my mind had let me forget, my classmates wouldn’t have. On Monday, everyone was talking about Travis’s unexpected mental break.

“They’re saying it was drugs,” Vik informed us at lunch.

“He didn’t seem high to me,” said Bree. “I mean, until he started screaming about tentacles.”

“I guess whatever he took needed time to kick in,” said Vik, shrugging.

“What did he take?” Bree asked. “LSD? Bath salts? Mushrooms?”

“I’ve heard conflicting things,” said Vik. “But whatever it was, he must have way overdone it. They’re saying his brain is permanently fried.”

No one said a word about Riley. Apparently, I was the only one who’d noticed the look on his face as Travis went insane. That made sense when I thought about it. No one else had any reason to be looking at Riley at that moment. Even if they happened to glance in his direction, they probably wouldn’t recognize the significance of his expression. Only I had reason to be wary of him already.

By the time the 3:35 p.m. bell rang, I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to confront him.

Cornering Riley wasn’t hard since, as usual, he had chosen the desk directly behind mine. I waited just outside the classroom door, gesturing wordlessly for Vik and Bree to go on without me. Then, when Riley came out, I ambushed him.

“We need to talk,” I said bluntly.

Surprise flicked across Riley’s face, but a second later, he’d regained his composure.

“Yes?” he asked coolly.

I looked around. The hallway was swarming with students, but Mr. Price was still in his classroom, as most of the teachers would be. In the end, I pulled Riley into a nearby janitor’s closet. It seemed faintly ridiculous, discussing such fantastic events surrounded by mops, brooms and various other humble objects, but it was better than the hallway. It was going to be awkward enough without an audience.

“I want to know how you did what you did to Travis, and why,” I said.

He looked at me the way you’d look at a poodle that suddenly started reciting Hamlet.

“I… I know not what you mean,” he said.

“Don’t lie to me!” I snapped. “I saw the way you were looking at him.”

Riley’s lip curled. “That’s your damning evidence?” he sneered. “That I looked at him?”

My cheeks flushed. Now that I’d said it aloud, it sounded ridiculous. But my gut was still telling me Riley was to blame.

“It had to be you,” I protested weakly. “Who else could have done something like that?”

“I think you’ll find the question is not who, but what. The boy foolishly ingested a most potent drug, or so believe the authorities.”

I shook my head. “That doesn’t add up. There were a hundred people at that party, and none of them saw Travis take drugs.”

“Perhaps he did so while hiding in the lavatory.”

“Or perhaps he didn’t take anything at all,” I said mockingly.

Riley only smiled patronizingly at me.

“I suggest you leave the detective work to the police, Miss Slate. You clearly have no aptitude for it.”

He started to walk out of the room. Furious, I called after him, “That’s not all I’ve seen you do!”

He froze, his hand on the doorknob.

The next instant, I found myself pushed up against the closet wall. Riley was gripping me by the shoulders, his face so close to mine that I could practically count the eyelashes framing his unearthly eyes.

“What do you mean?” he demanded, his hot breath warming my cheeks. I was seriously freaked out, but there was no turning back now.

“Last week, in the parking lot at Henrietta’s,” I said. “You just vanished. I only took my eyes off of you for a second. No normal person could have run away that fast.”

For the first time, Riley Bay was at a loss for words. I would have smiled triumphantly if I wasn’t so scared of what he might do next.

“And that’s not even taking into account the weird way you talk, or the fact that your past is a complete mystery, or—” I stopped short. I didn’t want to tell Riley that I’d seen him in my dreams. That seemed too… intimate. He might get the wrong idea.

“You… you noticed these things?”

“Of course. I’m not blind.”

He shook his head. “But you’re just a girl. One utterly insignificant girl. How could you…?”

Riley trailed off. He was looking at me in a completely different way then: with wonder and—was it possible?—a touch of fear.

“Perhaps the prophecy is true, after all,” he murmured, more to himself than to me.

“What prophecy?” I asked, baffled.

Riley just stared at me some more. The gears in his head were clearly turning a mile a minute, but I couldn’t guess what they were producing. Finally, he seemed to come to a decision.

“They’ll never believe you,” he said. “They’ll think you’ve been ingesting drugs as well.”

I opened my mouth, then closed it again. He was right. If I was really the only person who’d noticed all of the strange things about Riley Bay, then trying to tell people would be pointless. They’d find it much easier to believe that I’d gone insane than that I’d actually witnessed any of it.

Riley finally released his viselike grip on my shoulders.

“Go home, little girl,” he said. “Enjoy your mundane little life while you still can.”

And with that, he was gone.


277 thoughts on “A sample of Awoken

  1. God, this book is just like HITLER. Look at how focused Riley is toward achieving his goal. You know who else was really focused? HITLER. That girl knows no one will believe her, just like no one believed the Jews when they were being slaughtered by HITLER. GOD THIS BOOK WON’T STOP REMINDING ME OF HITLER.

    • At first I was like “No, you’re overthinking it”. Then I was like “No, you’re overthinking it ?”. Now, I get it. And you know what ? There’s a german in the comment section who asks for a german transflation. He says his english is “baddening”. He can’t be that stupid, really, so that must be a code. Let’s interrogate him, the Jack Bauer way.

      • Hitler was Austrian though and this book isn’t! Oh my God why are you people all so mean to poor Serra!!! Ugh!!!
        Don’t let them get you down, Serra! I am German and I don’t think you book is anything like Hitler!!! I bet it’s super good because the chapter is really cool. Crossing my fingers for a German translation, but I’ll probably buy the English original too. You deserve the money for two copies!!!! You rock!!!

      • @ Mahogany

        I am not saying she put Germany in it. The Germans did with the internet. Did you NOT read my comment.

  2. Well, I can see some Reform Anabaptist themes in the writing, but I don’t think that it’s nearly so bad as what people have been saying. Really, these themes are pretty universal, and I think that a piece like this could have been written by just about anyone. Certainly, the prose may not read like the Lovecraft which inspired it (no spoilers, but see Serra’s earlier blogs), however I think that is understandable and indeed completely forgiveable. People need to understand that this isn’t being written for an early 1900’s adult audience. It is being written for a younger, modern audience. I for one applaud Serra Elinsen for having put forth her writing in a accessible format and relatable voice, while still maintaining the sense of a world in which the truth of our surroundings goes far beyond the limits of our understanding.

    • I’m torn about those “slight” Reform Anabaptist themes. On the one hand, I am very excited for this book, and really look forward to reading it. On the other hand, while I respect others’ religions, I’m not sure I’d want to espouse RA ideology by buying this book, and encouraging others to read it. I guess I’m just going to have to pray on it, and meditate on the importance of art, whatever politico-socio-ethno-religiosity it comes from.

  3. You’ve got a few grammatical errors, just fyi. Other than that, bravo. To me, this comes off as parody, like you were aiming for.–The beginning even reads like the back cover of the first Twilight book. Any idea how long your self-publishing route will take?

    On an unrelated note, I love the background you used for the website. It’s adorable XD;

    • The grammatical errors were probably intentional- the books that Elinsen is parodying has TONS of grammar issues, so I think they should stay in the book 🙂

      • She’s not PARODYING anything. If you take human emotion for parody, if you try to deprive US from our right to feel and express what we believe no matter how YOU feel about it, then it makes you something. I’ll tell you what it makes you. I don’t know what it makes you. Yes, I know what it makes you. It makes you Anti-American. And Single.

      • Parody? Are you insane? To call this art a “parody” is just insulting! Just because YOU can’t see what a genius Serra is doesn’t mean that it’s all just one big joke. You must just be jealous that you can’t write a masterpiece like this!

    • How can you say that this is parody? This is real, raw, emotional – I doubt Serra even knows the meaning of the word ‘parody’. You’re just jealous you can’t write like she can.

  4. Riley makes someone mentally insane because that dude was teasing a girl.

    Our love-interest everybody!

  5. Reading some of these comments makes me wonder how many people here truly understand the brilliance and thought that went into this.

    • I totes get it, sister ! It’s like totally the awesomest radicalest thing ever ! Adorbs ! I feel so freaking ashnedyeyufggdezvcg because of how this book influenced my personality, my outlook on life, my vocabulary… Jive Turkeys Unite !

  6. Long-time reader, first-time poster.

    I’ve been looking forward to a reinterpretation of Lovecraft’s work for a long time. I admit to not knowing much about Reform Anabaptist themes and teachings, but Ms. Slate (what is her first name? For the life of me I can’t find it on this site) seems to be an all-right protagonist. We’ve all had those days where we just can’t seem to get out of bed, am I right?

    I look forward to when this book is finally released.

  7. Eyes so deep and full of terrors that he can drive men mad with just his gaze!
    So terrifyingly hot! Forget boyfriends with claws or teeth that meerly pull their victims apart like ragdolls – madness is so much more deep, so human, and yet inhuman at the same time!

    This just leaves me aching for more!
    Who/What is this Riley Bay, and why didn’t he just drive Slate mad there and then?
    Could this ‘prophecy’ be protecting her from his roth? Or could it be… intrigue?
    What is she to him, and why does he hide behind her desks.

    So much tension! The distance and closeness – it’s so Darcy!!! 😀
    MORE! Must have MORE!!!

  8. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this! Your writing is just so brilliant, Serra. I wish that I could write a book like this. I love the Lovecraft theme, and I can definitely see the Reform Anabaptist themes in your writing. Just keep up the good work and don’t let all of these haters get you down!

  9. The writing is a little stale and awkward in places, especially the transitions and inner monologues. For example, when you say “Riley made Travis lose his mind,” the phrase “lose his mind” is so entirely commonplace that it almost breaks the serious tone. Surely Miss Slate (first name was never stated anywhere in the passage) can have more intelligent and eloquent thoughts within her own mind? I’m certain she doesn’t have to be constantly restrained by the barbarous bonds of vulgar, expressionless, modern language in her subconscious, does she? I should hope not!

    The transitions are rather quick and punctual. A good transition is one that gradually slides into place. You go from sulking in the bedroom to sulking in the classroom without so much as a second thought. At least provide a section break or something if you’re going to be so abrupt. Also, when it comes to characters stating dialogue, you do not have to always follow the bland format ” ‘ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn,’ said Cthulhu;” you can actually use other verbs; for example: ” ‘I… I know not what you mean,” he stuttered frantically, a small tiny speck of something he never new before now rising from the depths of his cold, heartless demeanor.’ ”

    I did notice a few minor spelling errors, such as “faery,” as opposed to “fairy,” or “faerie.” Other than that, the story seems a little slow, but it is engaging enough to intrigue the reader. Who is Riely bay? How did he ravish the mind of poor Travis? Why did he do so? What does he want? And ultimately: where does Miss Slate piece into this puzzle? The mystery is curious enough to make the reader yearn for the answers to the questions.

    The answers to such questions may provide an aesthetic experience expressly penned by Mary Wollenstonecraft Shelley: “I busied myself to think of a story — a story to rival those which had excited us to this task. One which would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature and awaken thrilling horror — one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart.”

    • Oh, dear. I made a typo. I must concede any thought or argument of perfection at this point. Touche! Madame, I acknowledge the hit: it is yours. En garde.

      • You sound sane. Get out of here before she breaks your will. You do NOT want to be her slave.

  10. Oh Em Gee..! I’m like in love with Riley now and I love how she knew straight away he wasn’t a vampire bcuz i knew that too! I love her we are so alike, like I feel that we are kind of the same person! She is rly funny too like that leprechaun joke? SO me haha! I’m new here so I’m not reading Serra’s older posts bcuz i don’t wanna spoil this for me, so i don’t know what riley is exactly, u guys are gonna think I’m nuts but what if he is like, the ghost of a tiger prince from india..? I know my theory is crazy but I mean all the fuss around his eyes, what if what the guy so where like his real tiger eyes and that scared him to death?.. And the title… Awoken… What if riley like, awoke from a dream just like tigers do when they stop sleaping!!!1!
    Anyway any thoughts on my theory guys?

    • Oh my gosh! I love your theory, but alas that is not what actually happens. However, you should totally write a fanfic about it!

      • Hahaha really!? Oh now I’m even more intrigued on what Riley actually IS!! I guess I SHOULD write a fanfic about it but maybe Serra is not okay with that…….
        I mean once I got an A on an english assignment so I guess that kinda makes me like kind of a writter myself!! I guess even Serra started at some point!

  11. Stop being haters!
    What Serra has created is on par with the greats, like E L James. Riley is kind and caring, it’s nice to see a male character for a change.

  12. OMG guise hes CLEARLY in love with her and trying to protect her! Thats why hes being so mean cause shes totaly gonna get hurt

  13. Since this is a romance, she should be at least mildly attracted to him. Maybe throw in a bit about how she tries not to think about doing the things with Riley that teens NORMALLY go into school closets for.

  14. I’m just soooooo delighted to FINALLY get a glimpse of this awesomeness ^_^ I feel like I have been waiting foreveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer! Okay so I only found out about this like… a week ago, but as soon as I heard I knew~! it was like ‘omigod! This is totally a book for meeeeeee!’ Seriously! She’s so spunky and fierce! Yeah! You go after him and find out the truth! He’s bein all freaky an weird.

    I can’t waaaaait to read the whole book! I totes hope it’s like a series. I mean come on! How can this NOT turn into a multi-book epic?

  15. I have always been a huge fan of Lovecraft’s work, and to see it make a “reawokening” if you will. I have heard some whispers in the film and literary communities regarding this kind of Lovecraftian horror trend for the furute of these artistic mediums. I, for one, am stupid kinds of ecxited for this new trend, and your book may be the spearhead for this. I have a lot of faith in your writing now, judging from your sample, a lot of mystery and eldrich fathomlessness, just what Lovecraft would have wanted out of works inspired by his. This will be a first day buy. (well first week, i need to work for that money at some point. :)) Keep up the good work!

    • It’s “reawakening,” not “reawokening.” “Re-awoke” is past tense for “re-awake,” and the -ING suffix is present progressive. You cannot put -ING on a past-tense word.
      You see, when you type a word and a little red squiggle appears beneath it, that is called a Spell Check. It appears whenever you use a word that doesn’t exist in the computer’s vocabulary. Now granted, a computer’s vocabulary is limited to that of it’s makers, so it may incorrectly “correct” a word. That is what Google is for (or the search engine of your choice). Search the disputed word to check that it really is a word. This should solve any disagreements you and your Spell Check may have, and I therefor encourage to make use of it!

      • It’s a play on words you pretentious unmindful cunt. God, why must Serra’s brilliant blog be ruined by idiots always on the lookout to criticize everything, even each others’ comments. You plebeians need to take your unsolicited advice elsewhere, because if you can’t understand the sophistication and brilliance that is Awoken, then I think you just need to stay quiet! Oh yeah, you rule Serra! Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Awoken when it comes out!

  16. Brava! This just makes me want to pick up a copy even more. I’m rooting for their love, they shall now be known to me as “Slay” or “Bate”.

  17. May I just say: this is terrible. in fact, this is FRIGGING AWFUL.
    But after Mortal Instruments, I needed a good laugh.
    So keep it up!

  18. The best book ever written, and I mean EVER. Like I’ve read it 1000 times already and can’t get enough. It’s sooooo amazing. I recommend that everyone would love this book.

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