A Box Within

First place winner of the June-July Hidden Power Competition. Sometimes it takes an outsiders view to make real a life so tragic and flawed, that once shown its true colours revitalizes a need for change. It shows that sometimes the greatest power man bestows, is the ability to change their life for the betterment of something far more valuable.

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5. The Awakening

"I don't get it," she said recoiling in horror. "There's nothing in here?"

"Well of course there isn't, what were you expecting?" Irvine said, amused. "A magical portal to a land of knights and princesses and a castle? A Matrix style rebirth into a vat of primordial ooze?"

Dumbfounded, Claire pushed the box away from her and couldn't think of anything else to say. She gripped her stomach and once again felt betrayed. 

"That emotion you're feeling now. That drive you felt just before you opened the box. That is my gift." Irvine said, so serious in tone that Claire was a little shocked. "That is what you've been missing, that yearning for change. The box is meaningless, I don't even exist. You aren't even in a café. You're dreaming Claire, you're still back at the party past-out."

Claire's headache resurfaced, a pounding pain in the center of her brain. It was so loud she could barely make out what Irvine was saying now. His lips where moving but no sound was coming out. She strained to make out the words, she leaned closer to him, the pain really setting in. 

Suddenly Irvines face deformed into something terrifying, fangs protruded out from his gaunt grey face, his eyes smoldering black and unnerving. Then a deafening scream came from his cruel lips, "wake up!"

Claire feel off her chair and down into a black void beneath. With a start her whole body jumped. Her eyes strained open and before her stood a boy from the party, one hand on her shoulder, the other gripping a half empty bottle of apple Cactus Jack. 

"You were having a nightmare," the boy said, his name completely forgotten. "Here have a drink, the parties not over till you sober up." He said smiling. 

Claire reevaluated her situation. She was back in the dank flat, the air heavy with cigarette and marijuana smoke. A swirling grey mist rising about four feet above the ground. Three other half dressed girls sat on the couch by the window, a laptop sitting between them watching some music video, the heavy electronic tunes bouncing around Claire's skull. 

She pushed the boy and the drink away as she got to her feet, immediately sober, her hungover fought away with determination. She looked at the faces of those she spent the evening with. Somehow they seemed different now, they seemed ill, unwell, sad. She couldn't stand the sight of them anymore. Everything seemed different now. Her strongest urge was to get out of the flat and get home.

Ignoring the others protests and efforts to stop her leaving she grabbed her belongings and left the flat. 

The summer sun felt good on her skin, the clean air refreshed her dry lungs. A weight had been lifted by one of the most bizarre dreams she'd ever experienced. 

She knew what she wanted, she knew where her life was heading. 'But first,' she thought, 'I'd love an omelette.' 

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