The Shadowman

The Shadowman

By

Joseph Bassell

When a man fires all six shots of his revolver in rapid succession in the middle of the night when one shot would usually suffice, one would safely assume he is in mortal danger or worse. One could assume just as easily that a man is running away from an unexplainable fear when his piercing screams reach an octave commonly reserved for calling dogs. What this fear was, Brent Matthews did not know. All he knew was that no matter how many shots he fired at the dark shadowy silhouette of a man, it did not stop advancing towards him.

Brent Matthews was certainly not the type to step down from a fight. With a body that was horizontally and vertically superior to others, he had an edge in fights, but he was most especially talented at intimidation. Brent would be the last person on this Earth that would even need to carry a gun. But on this particular night he was carrying a revolver and several rounds of ammunition. Brent was hastily loading his revolver while tugging his gargantuan body though the forest on Mount Greylock in the Berkshires frequently turning and firing three shots each time at the approaching figure. The forest during the day is ominous, but even more so at night during the winter. The dark shadowy outlines of the trees are home to the unseeable demons that lurk in the darkness, the branches are like claws ready to grab and tear apart anything that comes to close. The fallen leaves mixed with the crunching ice which was crunching so loudly as if some beast nearby was crunching its victim's bones. The sky had a glow of a dark blueish grey. There was no moon or stars tonight as it was covered with a thick layer of clouds. The shadow figure was so much darker in contrast to its surroundings, it was so dark that Brent could see a clear outline of it. This figure was impervious to all attacks Brent attempted to make.

Brent was running even faster and as he sped up, so did the shadow man. The man walked with great speed, yet he remained calm and composed as he hunted down Brent. The sky seemed to change to a deep dark red instantly signaling that blood will be spilt tonight.

Brent stopped, the shadow man stopped and the two just stared at each other. The shadow man with his unseeable dark demon like eyes were watching every move Brent made, sensing the fear inside of him, relishing the fact he would soon catch his prey. Another wave of fear boiled inside Brent as he turned to run away, he tripped on a fallen branch and came crashing to the ground. Brent and the ground united as the shadow man ran towards him at breakneck speed. The shadow man was standing right in front of Brent snarling at him. The sky turned a deeper red that matched the color of Brent's face when all the blood shot up to his head in an adrenalin rush that failed to force Brent to run away.

There were no signs of life in the forest, no one there to save Brent, no one to stop the shadow creature who at this moment lifts its hand high into the air and a pair of razor sharp shadow claws extend from the hand gleaming in the red light the bloody sky was giving off. In one swift and clean motion, the shadow man slashed Brent's face and neck. Blood was pouring in out in large quantities. The snow turned a deep dark red which blended with the color of the sky, the shadow man still standing over Brent watching him squeal and struggling to cling on to his precious life. The shadow trees looked as if they were watching and laughed silently to themselves as the bitter cold winter air howled though their naked branches that carried a voice whispering "Die…Die…Die…" three consecutive times in Brent's ear. Brent stopped moving. He felt as if he were leaving his body. Everything had collapsed on him as he watched the shadow man, the trees, the sky spin out of control and dissolve into nothingness…and then…

…Brent woke up. He was perspiring all over his body, his pillow was on the floor and his blankets were all askew from the tossing and turning. As he righted himself along with his bed he assured himself that this was just a dream and there was nothing to worry about. He walked over to the window and saw there was a fresh bed of snow on the ground, untouched and undisturbed by people and animals. The trees appeared to be much lighter because the sun was just starting to rise, inching its way above the horizon and eventually reaching high into the sky. Brent got dressed and went outside for an early morning walk and was in a pensive mood. He recalled the dream he had last night and wondered what it meant. Anytime Brent was in a pensive mood, it meant something serious was on his mind because he did not have much of an aptitude for thinking.

The morning was calm and quite. The snow started to fall a bit faster. Brent could see his breath and watched it dissipate into thin air. No human life stirred; only a few squirrels were hopping around looking for food and a few were birds flying around but none of them were chirping their daily song. There was a eerie quiet calmness that covered the town of North Adams that Brent has never seen before. Perhaps it was the fact that is was so cold outside with a good two feet of snow on the ground.

Brent walked around town for a few hours before stopping off at his favorite inn for a drink and talk to some of his friends who spent their days drinking and failing miserably at impressing the ladies. The inn had a thick smell of old wood combined with old urine, and the candles hanging from the ceiling were so close to setting fire to the entire place. There were three tables hastily setup, at the far left, middle and right of the inn. There were stairs leading to the top floor where guests may stay for the night, but it was hard to sleep since the inn was crowded with drunks and they made so much noise one could not hear him or herself think. Inside this inn there were about 35 people, which is a lot for such a small place, and they were laughing, telling jokes, swapping stories, having drinking contests, and others were beating each other up for money. Brent noticed a strange looking man sitting not too far away from the table where his gang of friends were having a drink and talking loudly. His beard was unkempt, his eyes looked old, and his hands were trembling. It was surprising that he managed to finish his entire drink, but Brent paid little attention to the stranger. He took a seat right next to his friends, and they greeted him merrily. He described his vivid dream in great detail and added the gory parts just to be disgusting. His friends were too drunk to understand the meaning of these dreams, but when the stranger heard these dreams he suddenly came to life.

The stranger said that these dreams are the result of an Iroquois curse put on the land after they have been driven. Long ago when the English first came to the Berkshires, they worked well with the Iroquois, but as relations became strained fights between the colonists and Indians broke out. After the Indians endured many years of fighting and death of their people, they decided to move to a new location. Before they left, their best spell casteor cast upon the land a horrible curse that would never be lifted. There is a shadow demon that rampages though the mountains and invades innocent people's dreams causing them to go mad and then leading to sudden death. The man spoke with a quiet eerily low voice which scared Brent and his gang. He wondered if the shadow man would come back again.

Brent was reluctant to go to sleep that night, but his tiredness took control of him and he met his fluffy pillow with great relief now that he is going to sleep.

Brent found himself in the middle of a field. The sky had the same bloody reddish glow from the last dream. The ground was black and on the other side of the field he saw the shadow man with his shadow claws extended rapidly advancing towards him. He found in his hand another revolver and fired it several times but it did not damage the shadow man. Brent realized as he ran the field started to get longer with each step. He turned his head and saw the shadow man disappear. He stops in amazement; he turns around and sees the shadow man standing in front of him. Brent screams, but his scream was soon silenced.

Brent woke up with a cold sweat and remembered what the stranger told him and thought it possibly may be true. For the next several days, he kept having the same dream with the shadow man in the end killing him. Each day he told his friends of his newest dream and they did not know what to do. One night in his dream he meets the shadow man in the graveyard. There are no names on the graves. Some are broken down, and some are freshly dug. The bloody red sky was raining blood and each lighting bolt was a vein. Brent saw the shadow man watching…waiting for the opportune moment to strike. Brent had no revolver this time and started to run, dodging the graves and jumping over the open holes in the ground. The shadow man started to run after Brent and easily dodged each grave and with each passing second got closer to catching him. The shadow man shot a shower of shadow needles at Brent. Miraculously he tripped and fell into a open grave dodging the rain of needles. Unfortunately he was hurt from the six foot fall. He was on his back struggling to get on his feet. To make matters even worse, the Shadow man found Brent. The shadowy demon stared at the wounded Brent happily knowing what will happen to him for the last time. The demon's arm morphed into a giant saber and it jumped saber first into the open grave plunging the weapon forged out of shadow into Brent's beating heart. Blood splattered everywhere and Brent had no chance to defend himself. The wind howled "Die…Die…Die..."

Nobody heard from Brent for several days. Rumors began circulated the town that he went insane and left town. His friends went to his house to check up on him. They broke down the door and upon entry found his house to be in perfect order. There was no sign that anyone has been in the house for a couple of days but it looked as if the owner would be on vacation. They went into his bedroom and there they found this bed all askew. It was not made, the blankets were tangled, the pillow was missing, but there was no sign of Brent. His friends examined the room and on the floor beside the bed facing away from the door was Brent, lying motionless and cold on the wooden floor. They turned him around and his face looked as if he saw a monster. Eyes wide open and mouth contorted in such a way it almost looked painful. The friend that found him first said, "Poor guy must of died of fright. Those dreams must be real! I'm getting out of here!" A second friend casually looked out the window in an attempt to hold back tears for his dead friend. He saw a dark shadowy silhouette of a man watching at him standing in between two large maple trees, waiting, and then in one giant leap disappeared with a dark blur.