Pray to the Shadow Man
Her red hair lay matted with leaves and twigs on the ground. He leaned in closer to her to watch the life drain from her eyes and smiled; another little soul that was his forever. With a satisfied smile he rocked back on his heels, staring down at her small frame lying sprawled out in the peaceful quiet of the woods. A final breath escaped her blood-spattered lips as he moved her limbs to make her look more presentable. The wind rustled the leaves overhead, casting shadows on the ground and her face. A dark shadow fell across her face as he watched her last breath leave her body in a sigh. He could have sworn he saw dark smoke slip out of her mouth. Shaking his head, he looked again. The small bit of smoke hovered over her body before moving away, leaving her face bathed in the dappled sunlight again.
Giving a short laugh, he shook his head once again, continuing to arrange her little body to look as if she were resting. He picked some of the leaves and twigs from her hair and smoothed it down. Satisfied with his work, he reached over to pick up the teddy bear, tossed aside in the struggle. Gently he brushed off the dirt and said, “You have been my lucky charm in helping me with my collection.”
He looked around the small clearing at the others he had collected. The dark shadow was hovering over his first prize. The dark shadow that had started out so small had grown. It now hovered over the little girl’s body, a small tendril of smoke caressing her face. He watched in amazement as the look of horror that had been etched into her face now looked peaceful. He watched as the dark shadow moved from one small body to the next, each time a small tendril of smoke caressed the face, changing it to a look of peace. First, was Emily, then it drifted to Jenny, Sarah, and Lisa and finally to his latest prize, who lay in front of him, Grace.
Surely, this must be a leftover of his last hit of the sweet stuff. Maybe he had a bad mix this time. The sweet stuff always calmed his nerves and helped him to enjoy his work more while he collected his trophies. The little girls were always so sweet and eager to help him look for his ratty old teddy bear. Everyone trusted him because everyone though he was too nice and slow in the head to actually harm someone. He rode his bicycle through town with the teddy bear in his basket on his handlebars. It did look silly for a grown man to parade around town this way but no one suspected him either.
He pulled the bear to his chest as fear started to register on his face. The dark shadow was quite large now as it moved back to hover over his latest trophy. Dark clouds roiled in its center as it moved. In the blink of an eye, the dark shadow shot forward, enveloping him. Muffled screams emanated from the darkness. The screams continued for several minutes until an audible crunch silenced them.
The black mass now formed into the shape of a man moved away from what was left of the child killer. The forest sounds slowly returned to fill the silence. The five small bodies lay peacefully in the late summer sun while the small puddle of refuse left behind was all that remained of the Bay Harbor Kidnapper. The teddy bear was gone.