SHADOW

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CHAPTER 55

ONE OF THE two officers tasked with watching Samantha’s house that night was Officer Colton Rogers, a young lad fresh out of the academy. It was he who stirred first after only a few minutes of snoozing. He opened his eyes with a vivid, eerie sensation that there was someone else in the car with them.

Through sleepy eyes, Officer Rogers thought he saw in the mirror a person sitting in the backseat. He spun round sharply, catching his breath.

But there was no one there.

Rogers stared for a moment, perplexed and wondering if he’d been dreaming, because he was pretty sure there had been someone sitting behind him only a moment ago. He blinked, frowned curiously. Then just to be sure, he pulled the backdoor handles to check if they were both locked. He realized they were in a dangerous situation; there were many silly punks prowling the streets at night who were ready to slash your throat with a razor just to get at your wallet containing 50 bucks, and many of them didn’t particularly like cops.

He turned around and glanced up at the window of Samantha’s apartment. The lights were still on. Beside him, his partner snored quietly, stirred, mumbled some incoherent words, and then opened his eyes.

“Hey, buddy,” he said, squinting at Rogers. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing, Chad,” said Rogers. “Nothing.”

Chad stared at his partner for a moment, before getting out of the car into the quiet night, went round to the back of the car for a leak. Then as he undid his zippers and starting peeing on the ground, he began to hum under his breath. It was a familiar martial tune, one that made Colton Rogers back in the car to grin softly before closing his eyes and joining the humming.

Officer Rogers bobbed his head slowly with a wry smile, adjusted in his seat and kept humming. Then suddenly, he realized that he was the only one humming. There was a grim quietness outside the car and when he cast a casual glance out the back windshield, Chad was not there.

Rogers stopped, with a sickening feeling that something was not right. “Chad,” he called out quietly, a bit anxious. “Chad, where’re you, man?”

No answer.

Rogers called to his partner a couple more times before deciding, rather hesitantly, to get out of the car and go look around. He went round to the back of the car where Chad had been, and then he scanned the areas as he tried to puzzle out what was going on.

For a moment, he willed himself to be calm, assured himself that Chad was probably trying to pull a prank.

“Chad!” he called through tight, angry lips. “Chad! Stop fooling around!”

There was no response. Only an unnatural silence pervaded the atmosphere. Ross felt a bit edgy. Not quite sure what to make of it just yet, he turned around and looked at Samantha’s window some meters away; the light in her apartment were still on, and the reflection through her window provided what little brightness that Ross could make use of. The surroundings were enveloped in eerie shades.

Then Ross saw a vague movement up ahead. It was swift; a dark, hooded figure crossing the street and disappearing behind a building on the other side of the road, after pausing for a split moment to glare at the police officer.

The figure moved quickly, crossing to the other side of the street where it disappeared into the shadows. Mac Ross hesitated uncertainly, gasped, and then drew his service pistol. He ran forward in the direction of the unknown person.

“Hey!” he yelled. “Hey!”

Half way down, Ross kicked something on the ground that caused him to stumble. It felt like a stump or a discarded wooden object. When he turned to look at what it was, he shrank back, aghast at the grisly object he found on the cold ground.

It was a freshly severed human limb, a bloody leg cut from the knee down with the victim’s shoe still on the foot – a regular police-issued, shiny black leather shoe!

Wilson Chad!

Oh, God! thought Rogers, recoiling with disgust, almost throwing up. What in the world had happened to Chad, and where was the rest of him?

The rookie detective vacillated on the spot, shaking uncontrollably as he tried in vain to calm himself and to analyze what was happening. There are dozens of codes they teach you at the Academy, standard responses to various situational problems. Colton Rogers hurriedly rummaged through his destabilized mind in search of the standard way in which to respond to what was before him then, but his he failed to grasp anything.

He was confused as hell and shaking, and rightly so, too! Things like this were not written! There was no book that dictated how to react in the face of real horror.

Two policemen on what was supposed to be an easy assignment, one of them disappears into the night without a trace except for his severed leg that had just turned up from nowhere, with a strange, dark figure prowling the area…

What do you do?

Colton Rogers was overcome with so much dread, his mind began to shrink. He couldn’t think, couldn’t fathom the situation. His lips quivered terribly and beads of sweat broke out on his forehead. And when he finally reached for his radio to put an emergency call through to Davies, or to anyone else, his hand was shaking so much that he couldn’t maintain a steady grip on the device and it crashed on the ground.

Rogers lifted his eyes tentatively and saw that the sinister looking person was out in the open again, staring at him in dreadful silence from a few meters away. He paused, with the sickening impression that this person, whoever it was, was taunting him on purpose, luring him to somewhere he probably shouldn’t go. The police officer gasped and decided not to; rather, what he had to do then was hurry back to the car, use the radio to call for back up, or get the hell out of that neighborhood as fast as he could.

Colton Rogers turned and ran like crazy, shivering and whimpering all the way. He got into the car and slammed the door shut, engaged the central lock button at once. He was really scared out of his wit, so when he noticed that there was someone in the front seat of the car beside him, he started and caught his breath, almost passing out in fright.

It was the same person he’d seen outside on the street!

But…How did he get back in the car before Rogers?

Colton Rogers shrieked in terror as this unknown character turned and lurched forward, coming at him with a menacing, terrible hiss. The policeman only had a fraction of a second to react in the circumstance. He backed up against the window swiftly, raised his gun and squeezed the trigger twice.

Bam! Bam!

Wilson Chad’s brain matter splattered all over the front seat, dashboard and windshield, and his lifeless body fell back against the door of the car, twisted at an awkward angle. There was blood all over the car. Chad’s entire face was virtually eviscerated by the blast from that range.

The realization of what he’d just done hit Officer Rogers like tsunami. He dropped the gun, shaking to his bones with his jaws wide open and lips trembling, his eyes staring on in perplexed shock. Then he scampered out of the car in a state of utter horror.

What in God’s name just happened? Rogers tried to rationalize. How was he even going to explain it to anyone when he himself didn’t comprehend it?

What had he done?

“Oh, no!” he cursed quietly in confusion, freaking out now. Then he began to sob. “Oh God, what have I done?”

He could have sworn Chad was dead before the incident at the car; it was his severed leg on the street, wasn’t it? And when he got back in the car, Rogers could swear on his mother’s grave that it wasn’t Wilson Chad who had sat beside him and tried to attack him.

It had been something fiendish and bloodthirsty. But how was that possible when right now, it was his partner sitting there in the front seat with his head blown open?

Or –

“Think, think, think,” he was muttering in confusion, speaking to himself. “Think; get a grip!”

Although he was as terrified as he could possibly be, Colton Rogers began to tell himself to settle down, to sieve the thoughts flowing through his warped mind in that instant and to attempt to understand what really happened. He tried to consider all possibilities that he could immediately bring to bear.

Maybe this was some sick joke his friends at the department were putting together, just to scare him. That sounded plausible, and for a moment, Ross turned and stared curiously, half-hopeful, at the shades surrounding him.

He’d seen some sick pranks on Scare Tactics; pranks that might even make someone shit in their pants. Maybe there was a camera crew hiding around, and they’ll all come out any moment soon, laughing out of their butts.

Rogers’ eyes darted back and forth in bated anticipation. Then he took a few steps towards the car again, leaned in cautiously and looked at the body slouched on the seat. He recoiled. It looked real enough, he thought to himself.

From the corner of his eyes, Colton Rogers saw a swift movement in the night; something fearful and formless, like an otherworldly shade, rushing towards him with a cold, bloodcurdling wail. He spurn round at once with a scream in his mouth that was cut short the moment the shade gathered him up in the air like a loose sheet of paper.

Kicking in futility, the policeman’s agonizing cry shred the eerie atmosphere in the final moment before his squirming body fell on the ground with a heavy thud, the expression on his face frozen in an eerie and lifeless grin.

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