Silence in the Shadows

Silence in the Shadows PURPLE SM

Silence in the Shadows

by Matilda Leather, 11

A June 2024 Monthly Story Challenge Winner 

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It had been a while since I had been given a job, but then the shadow hasn’t ever been able to get through and loom over the new city for generations. I slipped on my Deoxyriboethene protective coat and grabbed my pocket knife. Deoxyriboethene is a chemical that has been mysteriously pouring out of the sky ever since the very first shadows appeared in the Ministry of Science. The rain completely drenched me as I ran from rooftop to rooftop. Careful not to make a sound, I slipped into some crack or crevice in a large, grand building, presumably another Enforcer’s “humble” abode, so that I could have a minute to catch my breath and take shelter from the acidic solution pouring down onto the overcrowded city. Now most buildings have a protective casing of Titanium or Palladium, which are now some of the most expensive metals on the black market. This is because they are pretty unreactive, so the acid can’t penetrate the surface and basically destroy the whole city. But the few buildings that have residents who can’t afford it, well, they aren’t here anymore. Although I am finally getting some time to think about this city’s multitude of issues, I decide to get up before I remember the part about losing my best friend in the shadows. 

I sprint over to a huge skyscraper, where I saw an abandoned elevator inside. Where shiny glass windows should have been, there were just shattered pieces all over the floor. And if the windows weren’t broken, they were insanely dirty, and had chunks of mold all over them. There is a ten foot gap from where I stood to where the broken windows are, but there is a thick cable pulled across to the other side. I pull out my pocket knife and flick up the saw attachment and grab a small bundle of neatly coiled rope. I unwind it slowly and tie the end of it to a metal loop on the end of my knife. Then, I throw it with all my might into the wall opposite me. To double check that it was secure, I tug at the rope, and to my pleasure, it doesn't come out. I walk slowly across the cable and use the rope as a support.  When I get to the edge of the skyscraper,  I whisper to myself “ I made it!”, and I almost did.

Chapter 1: A Broken City

I woke up in a small, dirty alleyway. Beside me was a flattened trash bag and my splintered pocket knife. I must have landed on the bag, as otherwise I would be a splat on the ground, but even so, I felt a stab of pain shoot through my right leg as I tried to get up, and suddenly I collapsed onto the grimy ground. I saw people staring at me, but as soon as they saw me looking right at them they abruptly looked away and they practically started running away in the opposite direction. 

“So much for being inconspicuous,” I grunted. I grabbed what was left of my knife and tried once again to stand, and managed to configure myself into a sort of hunchbacked stance and stumbled over to the unusually to hide in their homes, crowded street. Normally people try which is definitely nice, but at least the horde of people are keeping the Enforcers busy. My job should be a lot easier now.

I slip through the mob of angry and tired civilians. What’s got them riled up now? Every few years something gets everyone upset about something, and sometimes even they don’t know why. But this time something is different. I can see actual terror on their faces, and hear the deafening screams of people right beside me, and the fear begins to set in. I can smell the foul stench, like sulphur, of the shadows loom behind us, and feel the freezing coldness and apprehension envelop me, and I limp through the throng of people, ducking under legs and dodging hundreds and hundreds of people. I did try to help some little kids but they kicked me as I picked them up and I fell backwards and I try not to look back, but I can’t help but steal a glance and I instantly regret looking.

 I see people trying desperately to shove others out of their way, as if this would give them any advantage to the dark cloud gaining on them. The shadows seem to be filled with malice, and inside them empty purple glowing eyes stare out at me. The air is filled with screams, unhuman and human alike. The monsters encircle the back of the crowd and cover them with a dark, terrifying blackness. When they move on from the back, their numbers seem to have grown in size, and ours seem to have diminished. I turned back to the crowd, and I continued to sprint through the people. I felt my sides burning and pain shoots through my leg. I start slowing down, and I start dragging myself to the front. Sweat runs down my forehead. My heart is beating so fast that it might burst through my chest. I eventually stop and bend over, putting my hands on my knees. When I finally look up, I hear more shouting, but this time behind me and in front of me.

I scream to the person next me, “ What is happening !?!” He opens his mouth to speak, but before he can even blink, a black veil of shadow engulfs him. He shrieks out for help, but before I can react, a beast comes out the space where he just stood. The monster is joined by another, then another, until a whole army gathers. I see more of them thundering blindly towards us. I turn to run back but I just see an almost mirrored image of what just happen to the man, just in the hundreds, in front of me. In a last attempt, I take out my knife and smash a window of a nearby building. I leap in and hide behind a supporting beam. The creatures at first linger around my hiding place but quickly move on to some other houses. I get up and look around the cramped room I’m in. On the walls there are lots of old family photos. I looked at them, and I suddenly felt a bit sad. Some happy family had once lived here, and now they were all gone, lost to the shadows. I went over to a small kitchen where there is a small coffee table made out of slightly rotten wood, with a half-eaten breakfast laid out on the top of it. I walked over to a closet and pulled out a moth-eaten backpack and an over-sized leather jacket. I put both on and hurried back to the kitchen and opened all of the cupboards and drawers. Inside them, I found a pack of matches, a small water bottle, a lighter, a torch, a first aid kit, and enough food for at least a week. I knew that I didn’t have much time to leave before the shadows came back, so I ran out through the back door and didn’t bother closing it as I sprinted through the empty streets. I can still hear the massacre ongoing behind me. I guess my boss would be mad that I abandoned my job, but in the current disaster, I don’t think she’d blame me. I headed towards the Institute of Science, where the city gates are.

After a while of running, I finally found the gates. I’d never been given clearance to leave, but I had never questioned it. Now I knew why. Behind the huge metal gates before me, there was a huge expanse of trees and rocks. In the very middle I could see a metal cage full of people, and more weirdly, shadows. Right next to it was a small survival bunker with a bunch of antennae sticking out of it. I walked up to the metal keypad and typed in the security code. I had luckily once overheard it when I had been eavesdropping next to one of my targets. I leaped through the doors and ran into the forest.

(to be continued!)

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Silence in the Shadows