Last time on The Shadow Club…
I finally had my chemistry exam! Oh, it was awful… But actually, my marks weren’t too bad! I got a C.
What was really surprising, though, was my creative writing homework. I just wrote about the first shadow attack, changed the names and so on. Well, Ms Knight gave me an A! Maybe I am a writer…
Things didn’t go so well for The Shadow Club, though. We couldn’t really be The Shadow Club, because there were no shadows around! We patrolled the school day after day, and all we found was that scared little kid who Ms Knight had shouted at and who had knocked Larry over. Still don’t understand how he managed to do that.
Until Wednesday afternoon, when Larry ran into The Shadow Club and said he’d seen one of the monsters in the toilets. It was really happening!
You can listen to the last episode of The Shadow Club at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Shadow5.
Yeah, but don’t, because I wanna go fight that shadow!
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 six, Just a Stick. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Shadow6. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Shadow6. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
So, if you listened to the last two weeks of episodes, you will know that my book has been officially launched now! So thank you so, so much to everyone who bought the book, and also to everyone who left reviews. I got some really nice reviews on the books and it was really lovely to hear about people reading them, to see pictures of people with their paper copies of the books.
Many of you also came to the launch party that I did on the 19th, and if you want to watch the launch party on YouTube, you can go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Steam. It was a lot of fun!
If you’re thinking, ‘Hey, this is the first I’ve heard about this book!’ that’s surprising, but you can go and buy it at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Book, and level up your English today.
I’m working to get the book published in some places where it is not available, such as in Iran and getting the paper version in India, but if you are in a different country and you really want to buy the book, but you can’t figure out where to get it, send me an email at Ariel@EasyStoriesInEnglish.com and I can help you.
Anyway, recently in the UK we’ve been having pretty crazy weather. We had a week of super hot weather. When I say ‘super hot’, I mean about 30 degrees, but hey, most people here don’t have air conditioning, so it’s hot! We were supposed to have a big thunderstorm to end the weather and bring the temperature down, but the thunderstorm actually never came.
Still, it’s gotten about 10 degrees cooler and at the moment we are switching between beautiful sunshine and pouring rain with basically no warning in between. Actually, the other day in London, a whole month’s rain fell in one day in a particular area, and it caused a lot of flooding and, you know, even busses were flooding and stuff like that.
So I’m really lucky that I wasn’t in any area like that! Apparently, a lot of the problem is to do with old infrastructure like old pipes and too many buildings being built close together, so that’s London! That’s the problem with big cities, I guess. So in a way, I’m pretty happy to be in the safety of the countryside right now.
Anyway, just a cultural note for this episode: one of the characters mentions the transition between primary school and secondary school. So these are two of the schools that we go to in the UK.
At the age of 11 or 12, kids move up between primary school and secondary school, and this is a really big change, and it can be very scary because many people will lose some of their friends, they might make different friends, they have to go to a different school, you have new subjects, you maybe have bigger classes, bigger playground, everything is just different and scary, and some kids find this transition between primary school and secondary school very difficult. I personally found it very hard. So, yeah. That’s what they’re talking about in this episode.
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
At the top of your legs, you have a big bone called your hip bone. Your hips are the parts on the left and right of this bone, under your stomach. People sometimes put their hands on their hips when they are talking and want people to pay attention. Some people have very big hips, but others have narrow hips.
More or less means ‘approximately’, ‘roughly’. For example, if someone asks if you can play the guitar, and you’re not very confident about your guitar playing, you can reply, ‘More or less.’ I can more or less cook, although I don’t know a lot of recipes.
When you intimidate someone, you try to make them scared so that they will do what you want. For example, a nasty teacher might intimidate a student to make them behave. Intimidation usually isn’t the best way to make someone do something. I think being nice is usually better than intimidating someone.
When you beat someone, you hit them again and again, so that they hurt a lot. Hitting is just once, but beating is hitting many times. When you beat someone up, you hit them until they are hurting a lot and on the floor. Usually, it’s the big bully at school who likes to beat people up. Luckily, I’ve never been beaten up.
When you say something hopefully, you say it in a way that shows that you have hope. For example, we have had a lot of rain recently in the UK, so I might say hopefully, ‘I don’t think it’s going to rain tomorrow.’ Really, it will probably rain, but I’m still being hopeful!
A tail is a long thing that animals have on their backs. Dogs, cats, foxes and so on all have tails. Humans do not have tails. When dogs are happy, they wag their tails, they move their tails quickly.
When you dodge something, you avoid it, you move so that it can’t hit you. For example, if someone throws a knife at you, you will probably jump to the side so that you can dodge the knife. If you don’t dodge it, it will hit you, and that will hurt!
When you distract someone, you make them look at you so that they don’t pay attention to someone else, or something else. For example, you might have a friend at school who loves to distract you. You’re trying to pay attention in class, or do your homework, but they’re always distracting you with jokes or chatting to you.
When you swing something, and the past tense is swung, you move a long object between your hands. For example, when you fight someone with a stick, a sword or an axe, you have to swing it. Children sometimes play by swinging their arms around, but they might hit something and get hurt.
When someone puts a knife into something, they stab it. Getting stabbed is very dangerous, as you can quickly die from it. Julius Caesar, one of the emperors of Ancient Rome, was stabbed 23 times and died. You can also stab someone with something less sharp, like a pencil, but it will still hurt!
And I’ll just remind you of the meaning of some words that appeared in previous episodes of The Shadow Club!
When you do your business, you use the toilet.
When you ignore someone, you act like they are not there, you don’t look at them or talk to them.
A cubicle is a small space inside a bathroom where you can lock the door and use the toilet.
A bully is someone who is nasty to others for no reason.
When you press the button on top of a toilet, you flush it, and water goes through it.
When you put your arms together, you cross them.
A loser is someone who always loses at life, who has no friends.
When you nod, you move your head up and down to say, ‘Yes.’
When you slide, you move quickly along the ground. People slide a lot in football to hit the ball.
When you hit someone with a closed hand, you punch them.
When you duck, you quickly move down so that something doesn’t hit you.
When you knock someone over, you hit them so hard that they fall over.
When you stare at something, you look at it for a long time.
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 book launch in detail, and some health issues I’ve been having recently. 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 patron, Jessica. Thank you so much, Jessica. Your support really means a lot to me.
OK, so listen and enjoy!
The Shadow Club Chapter 6: Just a Stick
‘Guys,’ said Larry. ‘I’ve just seen one. A shadow.’
Me and Max jumped off our seats. Or, I did, and he stood up slowly, like he was half-asleep. He never had much energy.
‘In the toilets,’ said Larry. ‘I was just washing my hands, and then I saw it in the mirror. Come on, quick, before it runs!’
‘Yes!’ I cried.
This was it. We went to the door, ready for action, but when we opened it, we found Bethany standing there, her hands on her hips.
‘Move, Bethany!’ I said.
‘No,’ she said. ‘Not until you tell me what you’re up to.’
‘Max needs to go to the toilet right now,’ I said. ‘Unless you want him to do his business on you?’
‘Hey!’ said Max. ‘Why me?’
She smiled. ‘So why are you all going with him?’
‘Look, Bethany,’ said Larry, moving forward. ‘This is boys’ stuff. Go away. Now.’
He put his hand on her arm, and she looked down at it.
‘I wouldn’t do that if I were you.’
Larry grunted, but stopped holding her. There was no way that Bethany could fight him, but if a teacher saw him attacking a girl, things would not end well.
‘We’re serious,’ I said. ‘We have to go now. It’s important.’
‘So what’s a shadow?’ she said, ignoring me.
‘Have you been listening to our whole conversation?’ I said.
‘More or less,’ she said. ‘You talk very loudly, you know.’
‘Ugh, we don’t have time for this!’ said Larry.
He pushed her, not hard enough to hurt her, but she was surprised, and we managed to move past her.
‘Sorry,’ said Max.
But we were already running to the toilets. Bethany ran after us, but when we got there, there was no way she could follow us inside. It was the boys’ toilets, after all.
She said, ‘Hmph!’ as we ran in.
‘Check the cubicles,’ I said to Max and Larry.
We went through them all, throwing the doors open. But all the cubicles were empty, and there were no shadows anywhere. All we found was a backpack in one of the toilets. Some bully probably flushed it down there.
‘Damn, the shadow ran away,’ said Larry.
‘What did it look like?’ said Max.
‘It, uh… I forgot?’
‘How could you forget?!’ I said.
‘I don’t know! It’s like, as soon as I looked away, I forgot what it looked like. It’s a monster. We’ll know it when we see it.’
‘We’ve got to look for it,’ I said, walking out of the toilets.
I was surprised to find Bethany still there, waiting with crossed arms.
‘Seriously, Bethany. Did you stay after school just to follow us around?’
‘What is this shadow thing? Is it dangerous?’
‘Yes,’ said Larry, walking forward and crossing his arms.
He was quite a bit taller than her, and I was sure he wanted to intimidate her, but nothing could intimidate Bethany.
‘Well then, you losers will need someone strong to help you,’ she said.
‘We don’t have time for this,’ I said.
‘Let’s tell her the truth,’ Max said suddenly.
‘Max!’ I said, turning to him. ‘Ugh.’
I took a deep breath. Bethany wasn’t going to go away, and there probably wasn’t any danger in her knowing the truth…
‘We’re looking for a monster, OK?’ I said.
Larry uncrossed his arms and moved back. Now that I was talking to her, intimidation didn’t seem important.
‘You might think we’re crazy, and you probably won’t be able to see it, but they’re real. We fought one at the football match last Saturday, but we were the only ones who saw it.’
She opened her mouth to say something, but no words came out.
‘Well?’ I said.
‘That match…’ She bit her lip. ‘There was a really strange feeling. I can’t quite remember everything that happened. It felt like a dream.’
Me, Max and Larry shared a quick look. Maybe she could help us, after all.
‘Great,’ said Larry. ‘Then just follow us, and when we find it, stay away.’
We ran down the stairs, not waiting for her to reply. But Bethany did as we said, and helped us search the school.
We looked everywhere, but we found nothing. I wondered if the shadow had flushed itself down the toilet and escaped through the pipes. But shadows had never acted like that before. Usually, when we saw them, they attacked.
‘Hey, I see someone,’ said Larry.
We were on the top floor of one of the buildings, and he was looking out of the window. Outside the school, sitting on the wall next to the road, was the kid who we had seen in the toilets the day before. His shoulders were shaking, which probably meant he was crying.
‘I asked some people about him,’ said Max. ‘He’s called Sanjeet. I heard he’s not doing so well with the change between primary school and secondary school.’
‘Poor kid,’ I said, remembering how scary my first year in secondary school had been. ‘We were lucky. I mean, when we came, there were the three of us together. Best friends. Uh, sorry, Bethany.’
‘Like I want to be friends with you three,’ she said.
‘But some people come to secondary school alone,’ I continued. ‘And he’s getting bullied.’
Suddenly, I realised something.
‘Do you think that bag we found…?’
‘We should bring it to him,’ said Larry.
If we couldn’t kill a shadow, we could at least make this kid’s day a bit better. So we went and got his bag out of the toilet, tried to dry it, and brought it to him.
As we walked across the grass at the front of the school, his crying got louder and louder. I wondered what he was doing here, on his own.
‘Hey,’ I said quietly, offering him his bag.
He jumped, seeing the four of us.
‘Oh!’ he said.
He bit his lip, like he didn’t want to make a sound. His eyes were all red from crying, and his short black hair was a mess.
‘Some nasty bully flushed it down the toilet, huh?’ said Larry. ‘It’s happened to me before.’
Sanjeet nodded, but didn’t say anything. He probably didn’t believe Larry. Larry looked like the kid who would be the bully, not get bullied.
‘Hey,’ said Bethany. ‘Tell us who it was, and we can beat them up for you.’
‘Bethany…’ I said.
Sanjeet just made a whimpering noise, but didn’t say anything. He didn’t want to tell us, which didn’t surprise me. He probably thought we were lying, and didn’t want to get into more trouble.
‘Is your mum coming to pick you up?’ I said.
He nodded again, cleaning tears off his face.
‘She’ll be angry at me,’ he said quietly. ‘For the b-bag.’
‘Oh,’ I said, looking at the wet bag in front of him.
All his books were probably destroyed, and I wouldn’t want to use a bag after it had been flushed down the toilet.
‘You can get a new one?’ I said hopefully.
‘Y-yeah, I… Oh no!’
He turned around suddenly, and started shaking with fear. I looked where he was looking, and there it was.
The shadow was long, tall and thin, like a snake standing on its tail.
‘Shadow Club!’ I shouted. ‘Let’s go!’
Larry jumped off the wall and ran at the snake. But the shadow dodged easily. Although it had no feet, it could easily jump around, and Larry’s next attack missed as well.
While Larry was distracting it, I attacked. I slid along the ground and tried to grab its tail, but it jumped in the air and hit me in the face. Although its skin looked soft, it cut like a knife.
‘Ricky, are you OK?!’ cried Bethany.
So she could see it. But there was no time to worry about that. I got to my feet, the shadow cutting my ear with its tail, and ran back. Larry came in behind me and tried to punch it, but it easily dodged again.
‘That won’t work!’ cried Max. ‘It can move too quickly. We need—’
Out of nowhere, Bethany ran forwards. I was about to shout at her. She’d promised to stay away! But she came in swinging a long stick she’d found on the ground. The shadow was surprised, and tried to jump back, but the stick hit it in the middle. Although it was just a stick, it cut through the monster’s skin, and it hissed as bits of white lightning exploded out of it.
‘Good thinking!’ shouted Max.
We all ran around, looking for sticks, as Bethany fought the monster. I saw a stick on the ground, and ran to it, turning around just as the monster jumped forward to attack Bethany. But she ducked quickly, and swung at the shadow’s bottom half, knocking it over.
‘Larry!’ cried Max, throwing him a stick.
I got up, and the four of us surrounded the shadow. It had learned how to avoid Bethany’s attacks, but when it dodged, another one of us swung with our sticks. Soon, we were hitting it from all sides, and it could do nothing to avoid us.
Finally, I hit it hard, and knocked it to the ground with my stick.
‘Now!’ I shouted.
Larry moved, but Bethany was quicker.
‘Rrraaaaagh!’ she screamed.
She swung her stick down and stabbed it into the middle of the shadow. White lightning shot out of it like sauce out of a burger, and its skin came off piece by piece. A horrible screeching filled the air, but finally, it went silent.
Bethany panted wildly, and I fell to the ground, exhausted.
‘We did it,’ I said. ‘We did it!’
I jumped up, hugging Max and Larry. We laughed like mad people, punching each other’s shoulders and dancing around.
‘What was that?!’ said Bethany, her mouth wide open. ‘Are you just gonna celebrate?’
I left my friends and looked at her seriously.
‘That was a shadow,’ I said. ‘We’re The Shadow Club, and we’re going to kill all those things.’
For a moment, she looked like she might call us crazy and run home. But then a huge smile appeared on her face.
‘I’ll join,’ she said.
‘Uh, I don’t remember us asking you,’ said Larry coldly.
‘Larry,’ said Max, pushing him. ‘We need all the help we can get.’
‘Yeah, but she’s—’
‘Who cares if I’m a girl?’ she said angrily. ‘If I hadn’t been here, that thing would have killed you, Larry!’
‘I deserve to be in your club!’ she said, walking over to him.
She was trying to look intimidating, but holding a big stick wasn’t really helping. Sure, she had killed the shadow with it, but still. It was just a stick.
‘Guys!’ I said. ‘Now is not the time.’
They had all forgotten about Sanjeet. He was sitting on the wall, shaking, his face as white as a sheet. This wasn’t like what happened at the football match. He had seen it.
‘Hey,’ I said, putting a hand on his shoulder. ‘Don’t worry, it can’t hurt you anymore.’
‘N-no,’ he said quietly. ‘It can.’
‘It’s dead,’ said Bethany, walking over. ‘I killed it.’
‘We killed it,’ muttered Larry.
‘No!’ shouted Sanjeet. Suddenly, he was as loud as a lorry. ‘It will just come back…’
‘Wait… Have you seen it before? Did it… hurt you?’
Sanjeet opened his mouth, but the words didn’t come out. He made a whimpering sound, and held his throat, but it looked like he couldn’t speak.
‘Come on,’ said Larry. ‘Just tell us.’
But he couldn’t. His eyes filled with tears again.
‘Don’t worry,’ I said, putting my hand on his shoulder. ‘You don’t have to tell us now. Or ever. Just… if it comes back again, you’ll tell us, right? We’re here to protect you.’
Sanjeet moved out of my hands, like it hurt him. A car drove up, and I thought it must be his mum.
‘Let’s leave,’ said Bethany. ‘I don’t want to hear her shout at him.’
‘Beth,’ I said. ‘We should at least talk to her.’
‘LEAVE MY SON ALONE!’
The car stopped suddenly. The window was open, and the head of Sanjeet’s mother was coming out of it. She was small, but she looked like a ball of fire, she was so angry.
‘Sanjeet, get in!’ she shouted.
‘Look,’ I said. ‘We weren’t the ones who—we were just helping him!’
‘I said, leave him alone,’ she said.
She stared at us like we were the monsters. She had bright red hair, different to Sanjeet’s black hair, and she really did look like a ball of fire.
‘C-coming,’ said Sanjeet.
He grabbed his wet bag and ran into the car. He didn’t look at us or say goodbye. Before we could say anything, the window had closed and they were driving away.
‘You’re welcome,’ muttered Max. ‘What a lovely woman.’
I sighed. ‘Look, we didn’t start the Club so people could thank us. We started it to protect people. And that’s what we did today.’
‘Let’s go to my place,’ said Larry, yawning. ‘Maybe my dad will have left some food.’
‘Can I come?’ said Bethany.
Suddenly, she didn’t sound so confident.
‘I mean, you have a lot to explain to me!’
I looked at Larry. For a moment, he looked like he really didn’t want to invite her. But then his shoulders fell.
‘Fine,’ he said. ‘But you can’t say anything nasty about our furniture, OK?’
‘I… wasn’t planning to.’
So we walked to Larry’s, and the dark atmosphere from the shadow slowly cleared. Soon, we started joking and laughing, and I realised something.
We had done it. We had won. The Shadow Club had a meaning. A purpose.
And this was just the beginning.
END OF CHAPTER 6
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.