Last time on The Shadow Club…
…you met me! I’m Ricky Marshall. What, you don’t remember? I told you all about my boring life last week!
Except now… things aren’t so boring. I’m not talking about what happened at school. Sure, when Mr Pearson threw a pen at Larry, that was funny, but that happens every week.
No, I mean what happened afterwards. Mr Pearson kept me and Larry after class, and then I went to visit Max. He was playing that stupid video game, like always.
But then I saw something. Something horrible, big and black. And it wanted to eat Max!
Good thing I was there to save him! I kicked it so hard that it exploded. Maybe my dreams of becoming a professional footballer could actually come true… unless more of those monsters attack.
Please, oh please let it be my imagination!
You can listen to the first episode of The Shadow Club at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Shadow1.
Yeah, what she said!
Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.
I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show. Today’s story is for pre-intermediate learners. The name of the story is The Shadow Club. This is chapter two: Shadows and Lightning. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Shadow2. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Shadow2. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
A few weeks ago, I went to Tintagel Castle with my girlfriend.
Tintagel is on the Cornish coast. It is on the coast of Cornwall, the region that is the most south-western in the UK. If you look at the UK on a map, you see there is a little pointy bit on the south-western end, and this is Cornwall.
Tintagel Castle isn’t really a castle anymore. It’s just ruins. But the ruins are absolutely beautiful, and it is in an amazing environment with the sea all around it.
Tintagel has a long history and it has been connected to the legends of King Arthur. King Arthur is the most famous mythical figure, the most famous legend, from England.
Our trip involved lots of walking and climbing because the cliffs around the castle are very rocky. There’s lots of different heights. There’s an amazing beach with beautiful, massive, hidden caves, and there are spectacular views all around of the ocean.
We were really lucky to have beautiful weather on that day and I seriously recommend Tintagel to anyone visiting that part of England.
I was quite surprised by how many international tourists were also there. I heard a bit of Polish, a bit of Italian and so on. Personally, I’m still not confident travelling abroad with coronavirus, and I probably won’t feel confident until next year, but I suppose we have to return to normality, we have to return to normal life, at some point.
Anyway, I took lots of beautiful pictures with my digital camera, and I will post the photos at the transcript at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Shadow2. Go and have a look!
[Click on the pictures to see the full size]
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
When you forbid someone from doing something, and the past tense is forbade, and the past participle is forbidden; you tell them that they can’t do something. For example, parents might forbid their children to stay up late on a school day. Or you might forbid a friend from telling your secret to other people. During coronavirus, it has been forbidden to have large social gatherings.
Pyjamas are a kind of loose, comfortable clothes that people wear to go to bed. Pyjamas usually have a top, a shirt, and a bottom, trousers. During coronavirus, many people have stayed inside and worn pyjamas all day, but personally, I don’t like doing this.
When you drag something, you pull something that is heavy, or you pull a person who does not want to go somewhere. For example, if your kids really hate going to school, you might have to drag them to school. If you are carrying a very heavy suitcase, you will have to drag it around.
When your head shoots up, and the past tense is shot up, it moves up very quickly. If you are falling asleep in school and the teacher calls your name, your head will shoot up immediately. If something shoots through the sky, it goes through the sky really quickly. For example, during storms, lightning shoots through the sky.
When you fail an exam, you sometimes have the option to resit it. Resitting an exam is doing the exam again, so that you can get better results the second time. In the UK, there is the option to resit many exams, but of course, if you have to resit exams then you’re giving yourself extra work.
When your stomach clenches, it feels tight very suddenly. Your stomach clenches when you are suddenly very scared and surprised. It feels like a hand is holding your stomach very tight. You might also clench your stomach while exercising.
A miracle is when something absolutely amazing happens, but there is no explanation for how it happened. In the Bible, Jesus Christ performs, does, many miracles. For example, he turns water into wine. These days, people usually don’t believe in miracles, and think that there is always a scientific explanation.
Nod means to move your head up and down. In Western culture, nodding your head is a way of saying, ‘Yes.’ You might also nod your head along to music, or nod in a conversation to show you’re listening.
A milkshake is a cold drink. You make milkshakes by mixing milk, flavouring and sometimes ice cream in a blender, a mixer. Personally, I love milkshakes. There is a great milkshake bar in my town where they mix everything into milkshakes: chocolate bars, sweets, fruit, nuts and so on.
When you play sports like football, basketball and hockey, you often pass the ball. When you pass the ball, you throw, kick or hit it to another player. In some sports, like football, it is very important to pass often, or the other team will take the ball away from you.
If you enjoy the podcast and want more, you can support me on Patreon. For just $2 a month you can get exercises with each episode, and for $5, you get an extra story every month, as well as Elevenses with Ariel, a daily conversational podcast for intermediate learners. Last week I talked about my new haircut, an exciting castle by the sea, how noisy cities are, and LGBT Pride Month. You can support the show and get all the extra content at Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. That’s Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish.
A big thank-you to my new patrons: Micaela Carella and pavel. Thank you so much. Your support really means a lot to me.
OK, so listen and enjoy!
The Shadow Club Chapter 2: Shadows and Lightning
It rained all week. Nobody was expecting it. Every day, I jumped out of bed and opened the curtains, hoping that the rain had stopped, but I had no luck. If it kept on like this, the football match on Saturday would be cancelled. And we couldn’t practise with the awful weather.
I started to wonder if the monster had brought the rain. I hadn’t seen anything like that thing before, and I didn’t see it after that, but there was a strange energy in the air. Something was going to happen, but I didn’t know what.
On Thursday morning, I woke up to Dad shouting. It was the usual reason. Willow, my lovely sister, always woke up at five in the morning to go downstairs and play on the computer. Mum and Dad had tried forbidding us from using the computer in the morning, but it never worked. Willow always said she wouldn’t do it, but then a few days later, we would wake up to find her reading Fighting Cats websites in her pyjamas.
‘You’re going to eat your breakfast, young lady,’ said Dad, dragging Willow into the kitchen, ‘and then you’re going to shower and get ready for school. Got it? If you wake up early, you can read a book, but don’t go on the computer!’
‘Take it easy on her,’ said Mum, putting a plate of toast in front of Willow. ‘She has problems sleeping.’
Willow said nothing, just started eating her toast. She was staring into the air, not looking at any of us. Sometimes I wondered what went on in her head, but I thought I already knew the answer. Fighting Cats. Did she ever think about anything else?
‘Besides,’ Mum continued, ‘Ricky is the one we need to talk to.’
I stared down into my cereal and tried to hide. It didn’t work so well.
‘You need to revise for your chemistry exam,’ Mum said, putting a hand on my shoulder. ‘I know you haven’t even opened your book.’
‘There’s ages until the exam!’ I said. ‘Anyway, I find it hard to study with all this rainy weather.’
‘Then it’s your lucky day,’ said Dad. He tapped on the window. ‘It’s stopped.’
My head shot up. I hadn’t even noticed, but Dad was right. It was a beautiful sunny day!
‘Yes!’ I said, punching the air. ‘That means I can play footb—revise, I mean revise. Oh yes, after school I’m going to revise so much!’
‘You had better,’ said Mum. ‘You don’t want to have to start resitting exams.’
The phone rang and I jumped to pick it up. I would use any excuse to get out of this conversation!
‘Hi, Ricky. It’s Coach Barrett.’
My stomach clenched. Coach Barrett was the coach for our football team. If he was ringing us up this early, it was probably bad news.
‘What’s up, Coach?’
‘Bad news, I’m afraid. Although the weather is lovely today, there’s a storm forecast for Saturday. A big one. A bit of rain might be OK, but a storm… Unless a miracle happens, I’m going to have to cancel the match.’
My stomach clenched again, and I felt like I was going to be sick.
‘No way! We can’t cancel the match. We’ve been training so hard! Well, when we could.’
‘I know, I know. But it’s better to be safe. I don’t want one of you to be struck by lightning!’
‘Sure, I get it. Thanks for ringing.’
I hung up, and gave the news to my parents.
‘Well then,’ said Mum, ‘you’ll have the whole weekend to revise. But I want you to start today, just to be safe.’
‘Love,’ said Dad, putting his hand on hers. ‘Don’t be too hard. He can play football today, can’t he? We should let him enjoy the good weather.’
‘Yes, let him enjoy the good weather,’ I said, nodding quickly.
‘Fine,’ said Mum, ‘but you’re going to work really hard this weekend, right?’
School passed by too slowly that day, and I was worried the sunshine wouldn’t last. But it was still beautiful when we finished classes, so me, Max and Larry played football for hours.
Afterwards, we went round to Larry’s place and had milkshakes. Larry’s dad worked in a restaurant, so he was always bringing home extra food. Today we had chocolate milkshakes, and they tasted extra good after our practice.
‘Ugh, Mum keeps texting me and telling me to come home,’ said Max.
‘So just turn your phone off,’ said Larry.
‘If I do that, then she gets angry…’
‘She wants you to revise?’ I said. ‘My mum’s the same. She says I have all weekend to revise, since the match is cancelled.’
‘We could do it together?’ said Max.
‘Hah, I work alone!’ I said.
Really, I didn’t want to study with Max because it made me feel stupid. He was so much smarter than the rest of us.
‘You’re pretty lucky, Larry,’ I said. ‘Your dad doesn’t bother you much, does he?’
‘He couldn’t if he wanted to,’ said Larry. ‘He’s never here. His restaurant has him working crazy hours all the time. Sometimes I come home and find him asleep on the sofa with the TV on.’
‘That’s great,’ said Max. ‘You can do whatever you want.’
Larry didn’t smile. He just drank his milkshake. I wondered how much fun it really was, never having your family around. His mother had left a few years before, and he didn’t have any brothers or sisters. As much as I found Willow and my parents annoying, I wouldn’t want to live without them.
‘Alright, time to go,’ said Max, getting up. ‘Mum says she’ll drive here and drag me home if I don’t.’
‘I’ll go, too,’ I said. ‘I don’t want to give my mum any more reasons to be angry at me. Thanks for the milkshake, Larry.’
‘No problem. See you, guys.’
On Friday, the bad weather returned, and all my hopes of a miracle disappeared. I went to school, came home and considered revising. But why did it matter? I had all weekend to do it. So I watched TV instead.
But on Saturday morning, a miracle did happen. I opened my curtains, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.
I quickly ran downstairs to ring Coach Barrett, but the phone started ringing before I got there. I picked it up, my heart beating quickly.
‘Great news,’ said the coach. ‘The storm came and went in the night. I’ve talked to the other team’s coach, and they’re all ready to play. The match is happening!’
I ran into my parents’ room to tell them the news. Dad looked pleased, but Mum was not so happy.
‘That’s great news. But, you’re going to revise all day tomorrow. No football. Understood?’
‘Sure!’ I said. I was so happy I would say yes to anything. ‘But come on, you need to get up and drive me there!’
My friends were just as excited as I was when we got there. Willow wasn’t happy at having to leave the computer, but she brought a Fighting Cats book with her to read during the match. The field was still a bit wet from the rain, but I didn’t care. We were going to win.
The other team looked ready to fight as well, however. They were from another school in our town, Langleywood. We had played against them quite a few times, when I was in primary school. I didn’t know why they looked so confident now. We had always beaten them before.
Coach Barrett got us in a group before the match to talk to us.
‘Listen, guys. I just talked to their coach, and he said they’ve been training really hard. This isn’t going to be easy like it usually is. So don’t be lazy, alright?’
‘We can do it!’ I said. ‘They could train for a thousand years and they wouldn’t beat us.’
The coach nodded. ‘Alright then, let’s play!’
We got ready to start. And then I noticed Larry was a bit quiet.
‘Everything alright, Larry?’ I said.
‘Yeah, I’m fine.’
‘You’re obviously not.’ I put my hand on his shoulder. ‘Come on, you can tell me.’
He couldn’t look me in the eyes. ‘It’s just… I thought Dad would be home this morning, but he wasn’t. He said he would come and watch me play today. I just want… No, it’s stupid. He didn’t know the match was happening. I’m fine, really.’
‘Hey, come on,’ I said, punching him on the shoulder. ‘Of course you want your dad to watch you. He couldn’t be here this time, but there’s always next time, right?’
‘Stop chatting, boys!’ shouted Coach Barrett. ‘We’re about to start.’
We got into position and the game began.
Things started off well. The Langleywood team used their offense, trying to score goals quickly. But Max, our goalkeeper, stopped all of them.
I decided to test their defense. I ran quickly, passing the ball to Larry when one of the Langleywood boys ran at me. We ran forward, and he passed the ball back to me. Although he had been sad before, he was playing just as well as he always did.
I got ready to kick the ball. I was going to score a goal, easy. If I didn’t, I would kick the ball so hard it took the goalkeeper’s head off.
But just before I made my kick, a dark cloud filled the sky. Lightning shot across the sky, followed quickly by thunder. I had a horrible feeling in my stomach.
There was a cry from beside me. I turned to look at Larry, and I saw a huge black shadow standing above him.
It was another monster, just like the one that attacked Max.
END OF CHAPTER TWO
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