Last time on The Shadow Club…
Me, Max and Larry had to fight a monster in the middle of a football game! So I wasn’t the only one who could see them! We had to work hard, but finally we killed the thing.
It was strange, though. Everyone else acted like nothing had happened. But we couldn’t exactly concentrate on football after that, and we lost the match.
Afterwards, the three of us discussed what we saw, and decided we had to do something about these monsters. And then my mum came and reminded me I had to study for my chemistry exam… Come on, priorities, Mum!
So in the end, we formed The Shadow Club, and we promised to protect all the kids in school who the shadows want to attack. That’s right, we’re calling them shadows. Look, if you don’t like the name, Max thought of it, OK?
You can listen to the last episode of The Shadow Club at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Shadow3.
Don’t go back there! I don’t want to fight that shadow again…
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 4: Hunting for Shadows. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Shadow4. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Shadow4. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
So thank you to everyone who filled in the survey, the questionnaire, about The Shadow Club. Two weeks ago, I asked you if you wanted the story to continue and in what way it should continue. 30 of you replied and 29 of you said yes, I should continue with the story. So, I’ve decided to keep going with The Shadow Club!
Of course, I know that a lot more people than 30 listen to the podcast, so I will ask again in future, after there’s been more episodes, to see if people still want The Shadow Club to continue.
Anyway, it will go like this: one week, we’ll have an episode of The Shadow Club, the next week, we’ll have a different story, then we’ll go back to The Shadow Club, and then we’ll go back to a different story. So this way, you can follow the story easily, you won’t forget what’s happening, but we’ll also have variety! We’ll also have different stories from different genres and time periods on the podcast.
I also want to remind you that there is a live stream on YouTube next week. I will be streaming on the 12th of July, that’s Monday, from 16:00 BST (British Summer Time) or 15:00 GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). It’s the same time, but just in two different formats. And the stream will be an hour long.
Go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Stream to get the link to the live stream!
There was a stream yesterday, as well, but I am recording this episode before the stream, so I can’t tell you how it went, but I’m sure it was wonderful, and if you go to the Easy Stories in English YouTube channel, you can rewatch the stream there.
Anyway, I hope to see you next week at the live stream, and I hope to see you on the 19th of July, at the same time, 16:00 BST, for the Easy Stories in English book launch party! So we’ll be having a three-hour party to celebrate the launch of my book. Hope to see you there!
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
Daft means silly or stupid. Daft is a word that is mainly used in British English. For example, if your friend says, ‘Let’s have a big party in my kitchen and invite 50 people,’ you might say, ‘Don’t be daft! There’s coronavirus.’
A bench is a long chair made of wood or stone. Benches are in public places, like parks, banks, churches and so on. Benches are long, so several people can sit on them. Sometimes, when people die they leave money so that benches can be built in pretty places, and then there is some writing on the bench about the person who died.
A loser is someone who fails a lot and is bad in life. Losers usually have bad jobs, no friends and are very ugly. As you can see, ‘loser’ is quite a nasty word to use to describe someone. And if you’re listening to this podcast, you’re definitely not a loser!
A patrol is when a group of people goes around an area to keep it safe. When you are on patrol, you are looking for dangerous things and people. Usually, police patrol cities and towns, but guards also patrol places. For example, prison guards patrol prisons to make sure that no prisoners try to escape.
When you are in a group of people, and then everyone goes somewhere on their own, you split up. Usually, people split up when they are being hunted or chased. Then, the people who are chasing them have to run after each one. This means it is more likely that one or two people will escape. In horror films, characters are often in a dangerous place with a monster or a dangerous person in the building. These characters are often very stupid, and say, ‘Let’s split up,’ but this means that the monster can attack them when they’re on their own.
A chapel is a small church inside another building. In the UK, many schools have chapels in them, and students can visit chapel if they want to pray. Prisons and some airports also have chapels.
When you knock someone over, you hit them so hard that they fall over. You have to be quite big to knock someone over, usually. You can also knock something over. I am quite stupid and I often walk into things and knock them over.
When your hairs stand on end, it means that the hairs on your arms and neck stand up and get longer. Your hairs stand on end when you are very scared, or you see something amazing. It is sometimes called ‘having goosebumps’ as well, but goosebumps are usually positive, while saying that your ‘hairs stand on end’ usually means that you are scared or feel disgusted.
Bend, and the past tense is bent, is when you take something straight and make it not straight. For example, when you walk you bend your legs. If you bend a small piece of wood, a stick, it might break. Psychics, people with psychic powers, can bend spoons using their minds. If you bend someone’s arm back, you can really hurt them, and even break a bone.
When you cross your arms, you hold your arms together in front of your body. When you cross your arms, one arm goes on top of the other. People cross their arms when they are saying something serious, or when they are angry. When you stop crossing your arms, you uncross your arms.
There are also some words and ideas in today’s episode that appeared in previous episodes of The Shadow Club. I’ll just quickly remind you of them.
This story takes place in a British secondary school. The years in this school are years 7 to 11. The main characters are in year 10, meaning they are 15. One of the teachers in the story mentions doing coursework. In some subjects in the UK, you do coursework as well as exams. Basically, it is written work that gets marked, it is part of your final grade.
Punch means to hit someone with a closed hand.
And to resit an exam means to redo an exam that you did badly in.
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 taking a sabbatical from teaching, the British Health Secretary cheating on his wife, getting vaccinated and how writing makes me feel. You can support the show and get all the extra content at Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. That’s Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish.
OK, so listen and enjoy!
The Shadow Club Chapter 4: Hunting for Shadows
Usually at lunchtime, I sat with Max and Larry, ate food and made stupid jokes. I say ‘ate food’, but I always ended up throwing half of it at Max for saying daft things. We even had our own bench, right at the back of the playground, where the teachers couldn’t see us easily. We had chosen that bench right at the beginning of the year. Now that we were in year 10, none of the older kids could take it from us, and we made ourselves very comfortable.
Unfortunately, that was not how I was spending my lunchtime now. I was walking around the playground, on my own, like some kind of loser. I felt daft, and wondered if everyone was looking at me, but most kids didn’t seem to notice.
We were on patrol, you see. It was Max’s idea. Every break and lunchtime we patrolled the school, to hunt for shadows. There were lots of places to look—the playground, with its many corners, the lunch hall, the sports field—so we split up and looked on our own. Of course, there were some places none of us wanted to go, like the chapel. That was where the losers went, the kids whose only friend was Jesus. And then there were the places we couldn’t go, like the girls’ toilets. Even Max wasn’t daft enough to try and go in there.
When our patrol was over, we met back at our bench, told any of the younger kids who were there to leave, and discussed what we’d seen.
Except there wasn’t anything to discuss. None of us had seen any shadows for three days. The only interesting thing that had happened was someone had thrown a basketball at Max’s head, and some kid had run really fast into Larry and knocked him over.
‘He was running faster than the speed of light, I tell you,’ he said.
‘He had to be fast if he could knock you over. You’re like a bull,’ I said.
‘Careful, or I’ll knock you over right now!’
‘Please do,’ I said, pulling a tomato out of my sandwich and throwing it at Max. ‘Knock me so hard that I have to go to hospital. Then I’ll have an excuse not to do my English homework.’
‘Hey, why are you throwing tomatoes at me?!’ cried Max.
‘I know you like them.’
‘Then give them, don’t throw them!’
Larry looked at me. ‘Our English homework… you mean that short story we have to write?’
Our wonderful teacher, Ms Knight, had decided to give us a big piece of creative writing homework, and it was our first lesson of the day! A great way to start things…
‘Since you will be doing a piece of creative writing for your coursework, I think it would be good to get a bit of practice.’
She always spoke funny, like she was in a Shakespeare play or something.
‘You may write about whatever you want, but it must be interesting. No, not just interesting. Gripping. You do know what “gripping” means, don’t you? It means when a story is so good that it holds you by the throat. Larry Fisher! I’m tired of having to tell you to pay attention. This is important stuff!’
‘I was paying attention, Miss, really!’
‘Oh?’ Her eyes shone red. ‘Then what word was I just talking about?’
Before Larry could reply, the door to the classroom opened. Some poor year seven kid was standing there. His short black hair was standing on end, and he looked like he thought we were going to eat him.
‘What do you want?’ said Ms Knight.
‘I have a m-message, from Mr Pearson…’
‘Huh?’ said the boy.
He looked like a mouse next to Ms Knight, who filled the whole door as she looked down at him.
‘What. Is. The. Message?’
‘I-I-I—’ He gulped. ‘I forgot.’
Ms Knight quietly walked out the door and closed it. We all sat in silence as she shouted at the boy. It was hard to hear exactly what she was saying, but we could guess.
I hoped that she was so angry that she would forget about our homework, but no. She added an extra 500 words onto it because she was so mad!
I had been worrying about it all day, and now I couldn’t even enjoy my lunch.
‘You’re not the one who needs to be worried,’ Larry said, interrupting my thoughts. ‘I can’t even spell.’
‘Yeah, but I hate writing!’ I said. Max tried to put the tomato back in my hair, but I grabbed his arm and bent it back until he cried. ‘I never know what to write about…’
‘Ow, alright, alright!’ said Max. ‘One day, I’m gonna pour tomato juice all over you… Anyway, I’m gonna write about—’
‘—some heroes fighting monsters, using magic and stuff?’ I said. ‘We know, Max. You always write the same thing. Your life is Heroes of Forever.’
‘I’ll just write about football,’ said Larry. ‘Easy.’
‘They do say, “Write what you know,” Ricky,’ said Max. ‘Why don’t you write about the shadows? Just change some of the details.’
‘You know… That’s not actually a bad idea. Here, how would you like my other tomato as a reward?’
‘No!’ shouted Max, jumping off the bench.
But it was too late. I’d already thrown the tomato right onto his white school shirt, covering it with red juice.
‘Ugh, Mum’s gonna kill me!’
Me and Larry just laughed.
Later on, we had football practice. The weather was getting a bit colder now, but we still played outside on the grass. I found it hard to concentrate, because I expected to see a shadow at any moment. During the breaks, the three of us stood apart from the rest of the team and talked. We were getting annoyed, not finding anything during our patrols. If they weren’t around the school, maybe they were in kids’ homes, but what could we do then?
‘Hey, what are you three losers up to?’
I turned around. Bethany was standing right next to us. She was the only girl in our team, and none of the other boys liked her very much. Sure, when we were on the field, we were a team, but it was strange when you were hanging out with other boys, and then suddenly there was a girl there. And she wasn’t like the other girls in our year, either.
‘Leave us alone, Bethany,’ said Larry. ‘This is boys’ talk.’
‘Oh, talking about how many girls you’re gonna go on dates with? Please, you’re probably talking about that stupid game that Max is always playing.’
Max went as red as the tomato I’d thrown at him earlier.
‘What do you w-want, Bethany?’ he said.
She crossed her arms. ‘I want to know why you three losers have been acting so strange recently. You’ve been walking around the playground every day, like you’re looking for something.’
‘Hey, have you been watching us?’ I said. ‘Just because you don’t have any friends.’
I said the words, and then immediately felt bad. I had no reason to be nasty to Bethany. She was annoying, but she wasn’t a bad person, and I knew she didn’t have a lot of friends.
‘Pfft, I’d rather be alone forever than hang out with losers like you. And it was hard not to notice you. Seriously, what have you been up to?’
‘It’s boys’ talk,’ said Larry. ‘Seriously, leave us alone.’
Bethany bit her lip. For a moment, it looked like she might try to knock Larry over. But instead, she uncrossed her arms and said, ‘Fine. Keep your secret. I’ll find it out in the end.’
‘Why is she so interested in us?’ said Larry, after she left.
‘Yeah, she’s so annoying,’ said Max. But he didn’t sound very annoyed.
‘Forget about her,’ I said. ‘We need to find out where those shadows are hiding. They could be moving around after school, or at night.’
Fortunately, our opportunity to explore more came very soon. The next day, Max came to our bench after patrol with exciting news.
‘Oi, Larry. Let me sit down! Look, I just talked with Mrs Cowper, and she said yes.’
‘She said yes to what?’ I said.
Larry moved on the bench, making space for Max, but I immediately moved into the space so he couldn’t sit down.
‘The Shadow Club! Don’t tell me you forgot? I asked her if we could set up an after-school club. A board games club. But really, it means we have an excuse to stay after school, and we’ll get a classroom to plan in.’
‘Max, you’re daft!’ I said.
He kicked me in the leg, so I let him sit down.
‘You should’ve chosen something really strange, so that nobody will want to join the club. I just know there are some losers in school who will want to join a board games club.’
Larry smiled. ‘Well then, I’ll just make sure to give them a very cold welcome if they try to join.’
On the word ‘cold’, he punched Max on the shoulder.
‘Ow! Why are you hitting me? I did the hard work! Anyway, Mrs Cowper said we can meet for the first time tomorrow. Isn’t that great?’
‘Urgh,’ said Larry, opening a bar of chocolate and taking a big bite. ‘I’m not sure I’ll have the energy to hunt for shadows tomorrow. It’s our chemistry exam.’
I jumped in the air, and my lunchbox fell on the ground, sending tomatoes and lettuce everywhere.
‘I completely forgot about the exam… I’ve been telling Mum all week that I was revising with you two, but I didn’t actually do anything.’
I turned to look at Max. He ate his brown bread sandwich and looked back at me.
‘What?’ he said. ‘Why are you looking at me like that?’
‘Well, you know how you offered to help me revise…’
‘Oh no,’ said Max. ‘I spent all week revising, and today I’m meeting with people on Heroes of Forever. I don’t have time to help you.’
‘Hey, hey, Max,’ said Larry, putting his arm around Max’s shoulders. ‘We’re a Club, aren’t we? A team. If you don’t help Ricky, he’ll have to resit the exam, and then he’ll have less time for The Shadow Club. You should help him.’
‘Ugh, fine! But you have to give me all your chocolate bars for a week. Both of you.’
Max’s parents didn’t like him having unhealthy food at school, and he was always trying to steal ours.
‘Fine,’ I said. ‘Larry?’
‘And by the way,’ said Max, ‘I’m not daft. Nobody will join our after-school club because we won’t tell anyone about it. If we don’t advertise it, nobody will know, right?’
The bell rang before we could reply.
‘I’ll see you after school,’ said Max, getting up. ‘We’ve got a lot of work to do if you’re going to pass that exam.’
‘Don’t remind me…’
END OF CHAPTER 4
If you enjoyed the story and want to say thank you, you can buy me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Just go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com and click the orange button that says Buy me a coffee! Then you’ll be able to send me $3 so that I can buy a coffee, but really, I’ll probably get a bubble tea. And I’ll think of you while I drink it! Thank you for listening, and until next week.