“The Shadow” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Liv-Grete Medin, Montessori School Floda, Sweden.
I had just walked out of school when the weird things began. My best friend Clairy and I were walking home together as I spotted a side alley that I hadn´t seen before. It was weird because I had walked that exact way for 3 years! I told Clairy to go ahead and that I´d catch up with her later, what I didn´t know was that it would be longer than I thought before I would see her again.
I walked down the dark alley until I came to a stop. It was really weird because at the end of the alley there was something that looked like a purple mirror. It was so big that it covered the whole wall. It dragged me to it like a magnet and I couldn´t resist it, I had to touch it. I leaned forward and touched it! At that exact moment I got sucked into it, I closed my eyes and felt myself landing on a stone floor. The school I went to was a military school and therefore I was used to pain, I had basically broken every bone in my body at least once, I was one of the lucky few that survived for 5 years and so I was really good at recognising pain. Now I could feel that my left foot got sprained but I was fine. I opened my eyes and I was still in the alley. I walked out of the alley and ran to catch up with Clairy. When I touched her arm she starred at me:
-Please don´t hit me, she said pleadingly
-What do you mean, I asked. I seriously had no clue what she meant. I let go of her hand and starred at her.
-Seriously Clairy, I wouldn´t hit you, you´re my best friend, She looked at me with surprise:
-My name is Jennifer, Clairy is my grandmother, she began -and I think we have a lot to talk about , now it was my turn to look surprised:
-Yeah, I answered slowly.
-I think we do, she took my arm and started to run, but she didn´t run normally. When she took the first leap it was like we travelled a thousand miles in less than a second! She stopped after what felt like a minute and my chin dropped. We weren´t in the same city anymore, not even the same country. I was in a desert and I could see cactuses and a few houses but that was it. Jennifer walked me to the biggest house and she told me that it was hers and her grandmothers (A.K.A. my best friend) she took up something that looked like a stick with a lot of buttons. She pressed a button and the door opened. She looked at me and waved at me to come. I entered the house and I heard an old woman screaming down at us:
- - Jennifer, did you bring a friend home?
-Yes gran, Jennifer answered.
-We´ll be up in a minute, she smiled and while we walked up the stairs she told me a few things about her and this place:
-As you already know, my name is Jennifer but you can call me Jen, everyone does. You must be Francie, my grandmothers best friend when you were young, right I forgot to say, you´re in the future, she said it like it was totally normal, but I looked at her with wide eyes. I would have said something really smart like ”hugh” but I had no time because we had just reached Clairys room. In the room sat an old lady who smiled at me:
-Hello old friend, she said.-I guess Jennifer has told you about everything, but just to make sure I will tell you everything too. You are 94 years in the future and Jen here, is my grandchild, her arch enemy is your grandchild Lauren. Most kids hobbies here is practicing magic which they get from TechnoLab, and you´re stuck here until you master the powers of psychic ability, then you will be able to create a portal to take you home.
I didn´t know what to do or say so I just starred at her while she walked over to a cabinet and took up an amulet which she put over my face, I felt a tingle in my face and Clairy handed me a mirror big enough to show me my face. I jumped as I saw it because it wasn´t my face. The face was really pretty, the makeup was perfect, the eyes were ocean blue, I had beautiful freckles and light brown hair with 3 stripes of red coloured hair braided into my perfect braids. I stared at my reflection and then looked at Clairy
-You did this? I asked, and the old woman smiled and nodded.
– OK Jennifer, bring her to the wardrobe and get her some new clothes, you know something that will make the guys gasp. Then go to TechnoLab and present her as Lizzy Snow. Then she will need to take over.
Jen took my hand and she ran like she did before and that´s when it hit me, her superpower was speed! We stopped in front of a new room and she said:
-OK, we´re here now, let’s enter. We entered the wardrobe and she gave me a pair of black sneakers, tight jeans and a T-shirt with a camouflage print that showed part of my belly. I walked to a mirror and I was really pretty.
-Thank you so much, I said to Jen.
-My pleasure, she answered.
-I´m just happy to help. We smiled at each other and while we walked down to the outside of the house she told me about Lauren (my grandchild).
-She looks just like you and that’s why you have the Face Changer, she started, -but you are much nicer, she is the biggest bully at our school and she hates me because I always beat her in games and in magical fights, that’s why she killed my mom.
The second she said that, I felt my head empty and for a few minutes I was an emotionless shell. I only started to think about something when I heard Jen crying. I went over and hugged her. The rest of the time to the TechnoLab we didn´t talk. When we arrived, you could see kids performing magical tricks everywhere, but Jen dragged me into the main building where a guy sat on a desk. Jen walked up to him and told him that my name was Lizzi Snow and that I wanted psychic powers. He nodded and held up his hand. A purple lightning bolt shot up out of his hand and came into me and the last thing I remember was my eyesight turning black.
I woke up in a bed and Jen stood over me.
-Good job, she said loudly. Most people don´t survive getting magic into their body.
I sat up and smiled.
-So what happens now? I asked
-You train, she answered and I sat up.
-How do I do that? She laughed and told me that I would train with Clairy. I stood up and felt so dizzy that I had to sit down again.
-Ok, I said, suddenly exhausted. -Can I train and sit down at the same time? It hadn´t been a serious question, but she nodded.
-Sure, I´ll bring Clairy down here. She left, and I relaxed but suddenly a question popped up in my head: if only people with psychic powers could open portals, who put me here? I sat and thought about that for a minute but then Clair came down and told me that Jen had told her that I was still too dizzy to stand up and that I would practice while sitting.-Cool I said, but what should I do? She smiled at me and said:
-Well you can start with closing your eyes and holding out your hand, I did as she said and she kept telling me what to do:
-Now imagine that the kind of portal that you saw when you came here floats up of your hand and imagine it leading to my room upstairs. I did as she told me and suddenly I felt a special kind of tingle on my hand and when I opened my eyes I saw a purple bubbly portal in front of me. It looked just like the portal that had brought me here, purple and reflecting, like a mirror. I looked at Clairy and she smiled really wide.
– Nice, now jump into it and see if it leads to my room, I did as she said again and jumped.
It was really dark in there but I could see two ways, one leading to a dark corridor that looked really creepy and one leading to something that looked like Clairy’s room but really blurry. I took the one leading to the blurry room. It was an obvious choice, but I made a mental note that I would have to ask Clairy where the dark corridor went. I closed my eyes and walked out into the room and while I was in the middle of the step I saw something out of the corner of my eye. It was tall and black, like a shadow but I had no time to see because I had just come out in the room where Clairy was waiting for me:
-Wow, you managed to do it in your first try, not many people can. I smiled but I suddenly felt tired and dizzy again. Clairy saw that and told me that when you had newly preformed magic as complicated as this I would feel that way and that I should go downstairs to Jen and her best friend Magnus. I was still really dizzy when I reached Jen´s room but the dizziness suddenly went away when I saw who Magnus was, he looked just like my crush Oliver!
-Jen, I said, who is this?
-Magnus, she said and looked at me, why?
-Nothing, he just reminds me of someone, I said and tried to smile.
-You must be Francie, Jen told me everything, said Magnus, I gulped, had Jen really told him about who I was? I tried to smile but I was kind of mad at Jen. I said that I needed to tell Jen something and she came with me outside of the room and I told her about the shadow and the dark corridor. She screamed and Magnus came running:
-What is it? He yelled at her and she said something that really scared me:
-Francie saw the Shadow, she yelled back at him and he turned as white as Jen was. Jen said something about that we needed to tell Clairy and then they both started to run up the stairs and I followed. They rushed into Clairys room and yelled:
-Clairy, Francie has seen the Shadow, now Clairy went pale to and I had to ask:
-Who is the Shadow? They all starred at me, like I was crazy:
-Long ago a prophecy was made, it said that a child of the past would come for a visit to old friends and see a black Shadow in a gap between fantasies and reality. She would find a way to get back, but she would be needed again to defeat the Shadow, the most powerful of all magicians in the battle of the moon. When she said this, I turned white as well. We stood quiet for a long time until Clairy said:
-Well the first step is to get you home, so I think it’s time we do that. But first let’s get a good night’s sleep. Francie, you can sleep in the room next to Jen. With that she pressed on a button on her drawer and an extra bedroom opened next to her and she walked in. We went downstairs and followed Magnus to the door and then we both went to bed.
The next morning I woke up, and first I couldn´t remember where I was. When I remembered I started to shake. The whole day I would have to do so many crazy and dangerous things and practice how to create portals. Next to my bed there was a note with some text on it. I was so scribbled that I couldn´t see what it said, I could see the words breakfast and 10 o´clock. I looked at my wrist watch and saw that it was quarter to 10 so I put on my clothes and just for the fun of it I tried to make a portal to the kitchen and it worked! I jumped in and again I saw two ways one black and one with a blurry kitchen. I suddenly got a crazy thought and I yelled:
-Hey Shadow, show yourself! I really didn´t expect it to work but I saw a black shadow coming out of the black corridor. When it came into the light I could see the scraped, dark, scarred so called face staring at me through a dark capes hood, the eyes glimmered in different colours, one was yellow and the other silver. The Shadow couldn´t be much older than me, but it looked so much more mature. We stood for what felt like hours just starring at each other. In the end the Shadow put its hand forward and a purple ball of lighting shot up out of it. It shoot the ball at me and I was thrown backwards. My mouth was bleeding and I was pretty sure my nose was to. I looked down and felt my eyesight beginning to blacken, in some weird way I got to the kitchen and the last thing I remembered was screaming voices for help.
When I woke up the first thing I saw was 2 big relived eyes staring down at me.
-She´s OK, the person yelled and someone that I recognised as Clairy helped me to sit up. When I had some water, I was finally able to see perfect again and I could see Magnus, Jen and Clairy.
-That was quiet an entrance to breakfast. You scared the hell out of me, you were just lying there, all bloody, she hugged me and then Clairy said:
-Well now we know that the Shadow can get physical, that is so much worse than I thought, we need to get you home now, and so she took me by the arm and lead me to an old library under the house and from Jen´s expression, she had never been here either,
-Here we are, said Clairy when we had reached a podium with a big book on it, she started to read aloud:
-To go back in time you will need to start at the place you want to go to, imagine what time you want to be there and you have to imagine exactly how it looks. She took me, Jen and Magnus with her to her car outside. Jen showed her where she had found me and suddenly we were in the old alley again. She told me to stand where I stood before I came here and I stood next to the wall,
-OK, it´s very important that you imagine all the details perfectly because if you don´t, you might get stuck in the wrong time. Before I left I gave them all a big hug and then I closed my eyes and imagined what I was supposed to. Like before, I came into the room where you could choose between two ways. I was walking towards the one that looked like the alley as the Shadow stood in my way:
-Are you leaving already, it said with a hateful, raspy voice. Just so you know I will find you again Francie, this is not a farewell. With those words it disappeared and all that was left of it was a lot of dust. I walked into the alley and landed on a stone surface, I stood up and ran out of the alley to catch up with young Clairy. I touched her arm and we walked home together.
When I got home I walked into my bedroom and sat down, I wondered if my powers would work here and I tried to create a ball of lightning like the Shadow had done. It worked alright but now I could see a picture in the lightning. It showed Jen and Magnus sitting under a tree, I could hear them, and they were talking about me. Suddenly Jen looked right at me and she gasped:
-Francine, is that you, she said and now Magnus looked at me too
-That must be some kind of time phone, he said and I smiled:
-This might be the way we talk to each other, I said and we chatted for a while about the Shadow but after a while we said goodbye and that’s when I saw it. There was a piece of paper under my pillow and there was text on it. I had seen the squiggly hand writing before but I couldn´t place it in my head and when I had read it I knew that this wasn´t the end, it was only the beginning. It said: THE CHOSEN ONE