Last time on The Shadow Club…
It rained and rained and rained! We all thought the football match on Saturday was going to be cancelled, so I didn’t bother studying for my chemistry exam. Sorry, Mum!
Except on Saturday, a miracle happened, and we got ready to play the match. That’s when I noticed Larry was acting a bit funny. He’s one of my best friends, so I always know when something’s wrong.
He was sad, because he thought his dad was going to come and watch him play. But his restaurant had him working crazy hours, so he couldn’t come. I told Larry, hey, there’s always next time, right?
So we started playing. We were going to beat those Langleywood boys! But just when I was about to score a goal, dark clouds filled the sky. I heard Larry cry, and there it was: a big, horrible monster, just like the one that attacked Max.
You can listen to the last episode of The Shadow Club at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Shadow2.
No, thanks! I have a monster to fight…
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 three: A Strange Kind of Club. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Shadow3. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Shadow3. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
So this will be the final episode of The Shadow Club… for now!
I need your feedback, I need your comments, to know if I should continue the story and how I should continue the story.
I want to know: should the story continue, should there be one episode of Shadow Club one week, a different story the next week, and then back to The Shadow Club?
Three episodes of The Shadow Club, three weeks in a row, and then one week of another story?
Or three episodes, three weeks, of The Shadow Club, and then three episodes, three weeks, of other stories?
Go to the transcript at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Shadow3 and I have put a Google Forms survey, a questionnaire, there, where you can answer these questions for me. Or you can just go directly to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/ShadowSurvey.
It’s really important for me to know what you think of the story, because I don’t want to continue it if it’s not very popular, and I want to make sure that there are other types of episodes as well.
Even if you haven’t enjoyed The Shadow Club, please go and vote at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Shadow3, just so that I know. If I know how many people enjoy it, then I can get a good idea of if I should do things like this in the future.
Anyway, the next few weeks of the podcast will be other stories, so I’ll give you a few weeks to go and vote, and then I will decide what to do.
Thank you all for being such amazing listeners, and I really hope you enjoy this episode!
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
When you swipe, you move your hand or your finger quickly in a sideways movement. Nowadays, we swipe a lot on our phones. On many dating apps like Tinder, you swipe left if you don’t like someone, and you swipe right if you like them. You move your finger quickly across the screen in one direction. You might also swipe with your whole arm if you want to take something someone is holding. Animals with sharp claws, like bears, attack by swiping their claws.
Overhead means over your head, above you. For example, if the sun is overhead while you are walking, you might get quite hot. If an aeroplane is overhead, it will be very loud.
A lunge is a fast movement made with the arm, usually to attack someone. If you have your wallet on the table, and you see someone trying to take it, you might lunge to grab them and stop them. If you are playing football and you want to steal the ball off someone, you might lunge and kick it away.
Your chest is the part of your body between your neck and your legs. You wear a shirt to cover your chest. Some people have breasts on their chest.
A mark is a part of something that looks different, usually because it was damaged. For example, you get your fresh, new shoes, and they look perfect. But then you get dirt on them, and now they have a mark that won’t go away. If someone grabs your arm and holds it very tight, it might leave a red or a purple mark afterwards.
Slide means to move smoothly along something. In children’s playgrounds, there is a big tube called a slide. Children climb up a ladder, a kind of staircase, and slide down the slide. You might also go down a slide in a swimming pool. When playing football, you might have to slide along the ground to kick a ball away before someone scores a goal.
A whistle is a small metal tool that makes a very loud, high-pitched sound. Whistles sound like [whistle sound]. Referees, lifeguards and physical education teachers often use whistles to get people’s attention.
When you are playing sport, you might take a timeout. A timeout is a short break, where the two teams often stop and discuss a problem. You might take a timeout because someone broke the rules, or because someone got injured.
When you wait before saying or doing something, you hesitate. You usually hesitate because you are unsure of what you are saying. You worry that you are going to hurt the other person, so you hesitate. You might also hesitate before doing something very scary or making a big decision.
When you give up on something, you stop trying to do it and stop believing in it. For example, if you are trying to help your friend study better, but they are always lazy and never do any work, you’ll probably give up on them. You might also have a crazy dream, like going into space, but if that dream seems like it will never come true, you might give up on it.
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 a delay on lockdown lifting in the UK, losing muscle, an update on me learning to cook, and more ‘have you ever’s. 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 and returning patrons: oscar caluzzi and Elínborg Arna Árnadóttir. Thank you so much. Your support really means a lot to me.
OK, so listen and enjoy!
The Shadow Club Chapter 3: A Strange Kind of Club
The monster stood over Larry. It didn’t really have a shape, but it looked like a big dog. Then lightning struck, and it changed from a dog to a bear.
It didn’t matter what it looked like. It had long, sharp claws, and it was about to cut Larry with them.
‘Larry!’ I cried.
I turned away from the goal and kicked the ball. It flew through the air, landing right in the monster’s stomach. Despite the monster’s large body, the ball went straight through it. Where it had been, there was a hole. White light, white like lightning, filled the monster’s body, but black soon filled it back up.
Larry fell to the ground. ‘What is that?!’
The monster swiped at him, and I ran forward.
‘Get away from it, Larry!’ I shouted.
That was Max. I looked to my right, and saw him crying at Coach Barrett. But everyone around us was quiet. The storm was growing overhead, and the other players were acting like ghosts. Nobody moved or said anything, they just watched us.
Larry had managed to get to his feet, but the monster lunged forward, swiping him across the chest. He shouted as purple claw marks appeared on his chest, but his shirt didn’t tear open, and he didn’t bleed. Just like when Max’s monster had attacked me.
‘Max!’ I shouted. ‘Get the ball ready!’
While the monster was paying attention to Larry, I slid across the ground and into its feet. It was much lighter than it looked, and I easily knocked it to the ground.
‘Now!’ I cried.
Max passed the ball to me. It went through the monster, cutting into its body. Now it had a huge path of white lightning going through its black skin. I thought it was defeated, but when I tried to stand up, it wrapped a claw around my leg and pulled me down.
I screamed. Pain shot up my leg like lightning, and my head went cold. The monster pushed its claws deeper and deeper into me. The grey sky overhead started to turn white.
‘No way!’ shouted Larry, just above me.
I heard a roar as his football boot went right into the monster’s head. His foot came down again and again, and the monster roared horribly each time. Finally, the sounds stopped, and the horrible pain left my leg. The monster disappeared, as fast as lightning
‘What was that?!’ said Max, checking my leg. ‘There’s not even a mark…’
A whistle cut through the air, bringing me back to real life. It was raining, I realised. There was a storm going on. And I was lying in the middle of the football field, after two whole teams watched us fight a monster.
‘Timeout!’ cried Coach Barrett.
Somebody pulled me to my feet, and suddenly the whole team was there. We were having a timeout, like it was a normal football match. Like we hadn’t just fought a big, black monster.
‘Ricky!’ said the coach. ‘I’ve seen you miss goals before, but that was something else. Still, I don’t blame you. That Langleywood kid came out of nowhere.’
I looked over at the other team. The other coach was shouting at one of their players, who looked completely ashamed of himself. They seemed to think that he had attacked me, and that was how I ended up on the ground.
‘Anyway,’ continued Coach Barrett, ‘we won’t be dealing with him anymore. He broke the rules. Your leg feeling alright?’
‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘There’s not even a mark.’
‘Great. It looks like the storm came after all, but we’re going to keep playing, OK? Let’s continue.’
I looked up at Max and Larry. Larry was looking all around, unable to believe what was happening, and Max was just staring at the ground like he had seen a ghost.
We continued the game, but we played terribly. Playing in a storm like this would have been hard enough on a normal day, but there was nothing normal about this day at all.
Even when the weather got better, we still played poorly. The other team took the ball from me several times, and Max let in four goals. In the end, we lost 4-1, and the Langleywood boys looked like their birthdays and Christmas had all come at the same time.
Afterwards, in the changing room, me, Max and Larry waited for everyone else to leave.
‘So,’ said Max. ‘You weren’t lying the other day.’
‘Huh?’ said Larry. ‘You saw it before?’
‘Not the same one,’ I said. ‘Something like it. It attacked Max and I killed it. But he was too busy playing Heroes of Forever to see it.’
Larry looked at Max and said, ‘Couldn’t you hear it? Smell it?’
‘Hey!’ said Max. ‘That thing changed shape. I don’t even know if I could see the first one. And the question is: why could all three of us see this one, and why only us?’
None of us had an answer for that. Although the rain outside had stopped, it felt like there were still dark, heavy clouds overhead.
I jumped as my mum came through the door.
‘You know you have to revise when you get home. Stop wasting time!’
I sighed. We needed to continue this conversation, but it wasn’t going to happen this weekend. Mum wouldn’t allow it.
‘See you on Monday,’ I said to them.
Larry hesitated a moment, and then hugged me. I felt a bit embarrassed. He’d never hugged me like that before. But before I could say anything, Max had hugged me too.
It felt like the start of something important. Something dangerous.
Fortunately, my Sunday was much safer, although I had to spend all day revising. It was a beautiful sunny day, so I could at least study in the garden. But Willow was playing her stupid Fighting Cats games. She ran around the grass, talking to herself, smelling plants and meowing. Oh well, it was certainly more interesting than chemistry.
At one point, Mum came out with a glass of lemonade and a Magnum ice cream. I happily accepted the gift, but I knew she wanted something.
‘Ricky,’ she said, sitting down next to me. ‘We need to talk about your future.’
‘I already told you,’ I said, opening my ice cream. ‘I’m going to be a footballer. We’ve talked about this a hundred times.’
‘I know, but you need to consider other options, like—’
‘Mum, I’m tired of having this argument with you!’
She stopped, surprised that I was shouting. But I was tired of it all. I had been stressed all day, expecting monsters to appear everywhere. I tried to get on the computer to send Max and Larry a message, just to see if they were alright, but Dad had caught me.
Besides, I’d had this conversation so many times with Mum. She said she just wanted me to ‘consider other options’, but I knew what that really meant. She wouldn’t stop until I gave up on my dream. And I would never give up on my dream.
‘I’m trying to revise.’
Mum sighed. ‘OK then.’
And she left me.
The next day in school, Max, Larry and me didn’t have a class together in the morning, so we met at lunchtime. We found a quiet part of the playground, where some of the older kids sometimes smoked, and talked there.
‘First one of them attacked me,’ said Max. ‘Then Larry. So, who’s next?’
‘It’s gotta be me, right?’ I said.
‘I wouldn’t attack you if I was one of those monsters,’ said Larry. ‘You kicked a hole right through it.’
‘Yeah, and you kicked its head off!’ I said.
‘I don’t think they’re just attacking us,’ said Max. ‘I saw one the other day.’
‘Huh?’ me and Larry said, our heads shooting around.
‘And you didn’t say anything?’ I said.
‘Well, this was before I saw one close up. I just saw it quickly, when I was going between classes. It was smaller than the one at the match, and it was following one of the students. But a moment later, it was gone. I thought it was just my imagination, and I forgot about it. Until now.’
‘So they’re attacking students?’ said Larry.
‘I think so,’ said Max. ‘And that student didn’t even seem to see it.’
I clapped my hands together. ‘Then we’ve got to protect them.’
Max and Larry looked at me like I was mad.
‘Come on!’ I said. ‘If we’re the only ones who can see them, then we have to protect people. We don’t know what happens if they get someone. And I don’t think we want to find out.’
‘So you’re telling me,’ said Larry, ‘that the three of us are going to become the monster police for our school? We’re going to fight these strange black monster things, and we don’t even know what they are, or what they can do?’
‘Shadows,’ said Max. ‘Let’s call them shadows. They’re all dark, and they change shape. Just like a shadow.’
‘Max,’ I said, ‘this isn’t a video game, you know.’
‘I know, but we’ve got to have a name for them.’
‘Ugh,’ I said. ‘Fine then. We’ll call them shadows.’
‘And what’s our group going to be?’ said Max.
‘Our group?’ said Larry. ‘Do we need a name?’
‘Well, yeah. I think we should be The Shadow Club.’
‘We’re not an after-school club,’ I said. ‘And we’re not a nightclub. That’s a stupid name, Max.’
‘Ah, but what if we were an after-school club? Then we have a good excuse for staying after school and we can look around, make sure everything’s safe, you know?’
I hesitated. If we were taking this seriously, then that meant less time for football. But could I really go and play football every day if I knew there were horrible monsters going around the school, attacking students?
I didn’t want to give up on my dream. But sometimes, life had more important things for you to do.
I wasn’t giving up, anyway. I would practise football by kicking a hole through those monsters. How many of them could there be? And they couldn’t really hurt us. We didn’t bleed or anything. We’d kill them all. I knew it. Just like in one of Max’s stupid video games.
‘Fine then,’ I said. ‘We’ll be The Shadow Club.’
Max smiled. ‘Nice.’
I looked at Larry. He didn’t look so sure.
‘Come on, Larry. We can’t just let the shadows get people. And don’t you at least want to find out what they are?’
‘I guess. I can’t leave you two alone. You’ll get eaten.’
I smiled. ‘Then we agree. We’re The Shadow Club, and we’re going to protect this school and kill all those monsters.’
I put my hand forward. The sun broke through a cloud and shone on us. Max put his hand on mine. Larry hesitated for a second, then put his hand on ours.
And so my boring life ended, and a life of danger and adventure began.
END OF CHAPTER THREE
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