Peer Review by Suri Purefoy (United States of America)()

Below, you'll see any text that was highlighted with comments from the reviewer.

Tap on comment to view. Using a mouse?

Hover over comments to view. On a touch device?

From Afar

By: mollyemmabarlow

Heaving out a weighted breath, I gently put my sore hands against the slimy brick wall behind me, using my arm strength to slowly lower my complaining body to the ground. The ground was soggy and smelt even more putrid now that I was more nearby. It was cluttered with damp pieces of rubbish that suggested the alley was more used as a junk yard. As much as it was nauseating, I was thankful for it. I might be able to rest for a bit, not disturbed by any human that miraculously decided to wander down. From the low level of pain that seeped from my ankle at every jerk of movement, I guessed it was only sprained. Nevertheless, some of the things I’ve fought have been increasingly more difficult and tiresome to defeat over the last couple of weeks. A sprained ankle won’t make them any simpler to fight just so I can survive one more day in this damned cycle.

Exhaustion pierced my brain, my bones and my muscles; each part of my body howled in agony whenever I moved a bit to get comfortable. Of course, there was only so much comfort you could get from sleeping on a wet cardboard box bed. Fortunately, the whole alley was scattered with them, some so torn and ruined they ended up looking like they’d been put through a blender.

Unsheathing my dagger, I lay down and positioned it near to my head just so I could reach it in case of an emergency. Today’s fight wasn’t only tiring; it made me weak in the head. I didn’t just have exhaustion from fighting for nearly four hours against what had appeared to be a basilisk–I was tired of doing it every day, of never ever being able to think I might finally be safe. The only motivation I have is ever shrinking and it’s rapidly reaching the point where it is now a minute ball of hope; more turns to ash with each passing fight.

Perhaps tomorrow someone will save me, will stop the monsters and demons coming after me. Maybe soon it will get better and I might actually be able to rest knowing in confidently I will wake up from it; that the sun won’t bring on the torture of my next battle. Even now, I felt vulnerable. Whatever was going to happen tonight, I know for sure that it will not be sleep.
Hesitant to let any body heat escape, I grip both of my shoulders tightly. In some ways, it was comforting. It felt close to what I thought a hug would feel like. As if you’re surrounded by someone who cares and their arms are the shield from the rest of the world.

Trying to clear my mind of the past events, I close my eyes, daring to hope that tomorrow my ankle won’t hurt as much. Already, the short period of lying down is soothing, making my body howl less in pain. The alley is silent for a moment. Just for a moment and that was it. Then it was taken away from me, my heart dropping like lead.

A loud hostile roar makes me spring to my feet. Ignoring the wicked pain in my ankle, I blink around the alley, slightly dazed by what was happening. Grasping my dagger, I glare through the dim light, straight towards the entrance to the alley where I thought the sound had come from. A monster I had never seen before paces around with the front body of a lion and a goat head that erupts from its middle. Fire crackles behind the goat’s mouth. It whips its tail around to reveal that it’s actually a snake, sizzling venom dripping from its large fangs.

Growling, hissing and bleating noises all erupt from the beast as it bends its legs, preparing to pounce. I raise my dagger above my head, gripping it firmly with two hands, having battled many pouncing monsters before this one. It should land on my dagger. However, this one seems to know better. It paws the ground and tears towards me, the distance between us closing fast. I turn around—wishing stupidly for a fence to be there so I can climb over—to come face to face with a tall, absolutely flat brick wall. Whoever had made it, was obvious reasonably talented in the brick laying department as much as it made me feel my death closing in on me.

Every second after I turn back to face my demise goes in slow motion. The monster has stopped charging and paces around just in front of me; its snake tail mocking me, oozes of venom dripping from its fangs. The goat bleats out a series of mini infernos as the lion lets out a harsh purr—almost as if it’s savoring my last few moments.

It was then that my minute ball of hope spiraled to zilch. Maybe that was all it ever was—made up by my brain to keep me going, to stop me from accepting that I would die aged ten, alone. As the monster prepares to actually pounce, gloating of its kill finally put aside, I embrace my dagger near my heart. It was allegedly my mother’s, given to me by adoptive parents—the only decent thing they ever did for me to be fair. I hug it tight, just like how I would hug my mother if I ever saw her again, the blade cool on the skin of my bare arms. The coolness was just enough to stop me from running. It brought me back down to earth. I would not run. I am done running.

In that fraction of a second, I also understood exactly how petrified I was of what was coming. I understood that maybe it was okay to be scared too. I close my eyes again, hopefully for the last time. I've had enough of the pain...


Message to Readers

Feedback would be really appreciated! :)

Peer Review

How you explain the pain that the character felt and the thoughts that raced through her head.

The way you explained pain, emotions, smells, and sights made it all feel very real.

In an alleyway, perhaps in a large city. I especially loved how you explained the monster near the end, how "fire crackled" from its mouth.

No. I think it's perfect!

Keep writing! This is really awesome, and I would love to find out what happens and how!

Reviewer Comments

Great, fantastic job!
You did an amazing job writing this and keeping things running smoothly and gracefully. Your character has a bit of mysteriousness that makes me want to keep on reading and reading!