The Shadow Man

The kid jumped and chested the ball down to the ground and tapped it away from the opposition player who lunged in a vein attempt intercept but he was too late and before he knew it the kid took off leaving him in the dust. Dribbling the ball closer and closer to the penalty area and with no other defenders in his way before long the kid was one on one with the goal keeper who started to dash out of his goal with his arms stretched wide making the kid’s opportunity to score that much more difficult. He felt a presence to his right so he glanced quickly and noticed his best friend Nick coming up on his right. He smiled as he reached within a few yards of the keeper and kicked the ball. The goalie realized his error too late and couldn’t get back in position in time. The kid kicked the ball to his right where Nick was waiting who ever so confidently tapped the ball into the net. A roar came from the sideline as the team rejoiced, they made their way to the side of the field that held the most of their fans and celebrated with them but the kid only had eyes for one person. He ran over ecstatically and laid a full passionate kiss on the lips of the love of his life, or lady luck as he likes to call her but everyone else calls her Barbara. When they finally separated Tommy’s team went on to win the game thanks to that goal he assisted.

At 17 Tommy was an up and coming midfielder at the football academy, he was a true talent and most people said he was born with a golden foot. Tall with bright, long blonde hair and athletic most people naturally thought that he was just another dumb jock but he surprised everyone by having an intense intellect and curiosity as well. He was Barbara’s pride and joy, she was his and they enjoyed every second of their time together but like all good times they must come to an end and this one did… tragically.

After the victory they decided to take the scenic route home since it was Spring and the forest was radiant with wildlife. They saw rabbits, squirrels, badgers and lots of singing birds it was almost as if they were walking through a Disney movie. Tommy led Barbara up a slightly steep hill that seemed to just lead to a hedge, Barbara looked questioningly at Tommy but he just urged her on. Tommy knew it would all be worth it when they get to the top and after what felt like forever they finally made it.

“This better be worth it, Tommy,” she said blowing her hair out of her face.

“You’ll see,” he smiled that smile that made Barbara go weak at the knees. He turned to the hedge, found an opening and stepped through it to the other side. “Whoa Barb you got to see this,” he said putting his arm out behind him for her to take hold of. She grabbed his hand and he led her through. The sight she saw next was one of immaculate beauty: the sun was high in the sky illuminating a large pond, it was directly under the sun making it shimmer and sparkle. Barb squinted slightly, she can just make out the ducks splashing on the surface having the best fun of their little lives. To the far left horses where racing around a flat field full of the greenest grass Barb has ever seen, she smiled greatly as she loved horses and rode hers as much as possible. Just out the way of the horses Barb could see a family of rabbits staring at the big beasts in bewilderment, it’s the longest time Barb has seen a rabbit stay still. Directly to the side of them there was a large rectangular rock perfect for sitting and admiring the view so they both sat there and she turned to her love.

“It’s perfect Tommy I love it, and I love you,” she said planting a firm kiss on his lips.

“It almost is,” he replied with a smug look on his face as he pulled out a bottle of wine and two glasses from his gym bag.

“Mmmmm naughty.”

“I won’t tell if you won’t,” he said with a wink, “besides I think we should make tonight as memorable as possible,” he filled the glasses and passed Barbara a glass.

“My thoughts exactly,” she smiled that killer smile Tommy always loved and was attracted to in the first place. It looked as if half of the smile seemed mischievously s**y and yet the other half was clearly innocent. “Here’s to nights like these,” she said simply. They clinked the glasses together and drank.
They talked and laughed for what must have been hours, kissed for so long that soon their lips started to go numb and drank like there were no tomorrow. After a while though they had to start heading back, they stood up and took one last look at the view.

“Barb, this is our spot from now on, agreed?” he asked.

“Agreed,” she accepted resting her light head on his shoulder, “I love you, Tommy.”

“I love you too, Barb,” he kissed her head and stood there holding her watching the sun start to touch the hills in the distance. As he gazed at the setting sun something caught Tommy’s eye. When the sunlight touched the hill it illuminated a hole running through the hill, it was a tunnel he has never seen before and leading somewhere he has never explored, an itch inside him started to grow.

“Hey Barb look at that,” he said pointing to the illuminated tunnel, she turned and followed where he was pointing at.

“Looks like a tunnel, I wonder where it goes,” she said with genuine curiosity in her voice, “wanna go see where it leads?”

“Always,” he said taking her hand and leading her down to the odd tunnel. As they got closer they saw that the tunnel was quite large; around eight foot in diameter and stretching to about fifty meters, the inside was reinforced with abnormally shaped cobblestones but that’s not what interested Tommy. What interested him was always what was on the other side.

“Dare you to go first,” his princess said, smiling irresistibly.

“What do I get if I do?” he asked.

“Wait and see,” she winked and he laughed, he pulled her close and stole a kiss. He started down the tunnel slowly at first but then as slight claustrophobia started to seep in he sped up and soon found himself on the other side. Because of the sun still shining through the tunnel all Barbara could see was Tommy’s black silhouette, she thought it looked like the gun barrel sequence at the start of early James
Bond movies she giggled slightly and at that point she realized how tipsy she was.

“Barb its beautiful up here, you wont believe it!” Tommy exclaimed, Barbara was going to reply when a tall shadow figure materialized out of the side of the tunnel behind Tommy, it dwarfed Tommy, its head hugging the tunnel ceiling.

“Tommy behind you!!” she shrieked, Tommy turned and froze at the sight of the dark figure.

“Oh my…” he started to say as the figure came to Tommy’s side and stared down at him. All he could do was stare right back since all his muscles seemed to refuse to move and for a few seconds nothing and no one appeared to move as if everything in the tunnel was frozen in time but time will always catch up. The dark figure broke the lock first and clamped its hands down on Tommy’s shoulders. Barbara screamed as Tommy and the shadow both struggled with each other. On hearing her scream the shadow looked to her direction and tilted its head as if to consider her instead

“Barbara RUN! NOW! MOVE!” he yelled as the shadow took one step towards her with Tommy still grabbing its arm. With tears in her eyes she ran away not knowing if she’ll see him again but too petrified to turn back or even stop until she got home.

The next couple of days where a blur to Barbara as she recounted her story top to bottom and left to right to her parents, Tommy’s parents, police, her friends, everyone in town and eventually TV cameras. A search party was put together almost immediately and combed the woods night and day. They also guarded the tunnel incase the shadow came back but there was no sign of Tommy or the shadow.

What was truly odd though and threw slight doubt on Barbara’s story was the fact that there was no divots or holes in the walls of the tunnel for the shadow to hide in so where it came from stumped everyone Barbara especially but most people put it down Barbara being drunk and others who heard stories about the tunnel kept quiet in case of sounding like as crazy as she sounded.

After a month of searching every day and every night the search was regrettably called off. Barbara was inconsolable with grief and later almost lost her sanity and her life in a failed suicide attempt since she felt incomplete as if part of her vanished that day too and everyone close to her only saw a shell of her former self as for the rest of her life she would never stop repeating the events that happened on that day in her mind nor will she forget what she heard the day after the search was called off. Many people still searched for Tommy the morning after police disbanded the search party. People including Tommy’s parents who every morning journeyed to the tunnel opening in hopes of any clue turning up but what did turn up shocked everyone in the surrounding area to their core and for months after the community was petrified and suspicious of each other since the shadow was never caught and police suspected no one
of being the killer. As Tommy’s parents dragged themselves to the tunnel yet again they were horrified to discover the skinned corpse of their son hanging upside down from the tunnel entrance like a piece of dead butchered meat.