White Shadows (Part 3)

White Shadows (Part 3)

Hunter Taylor, Reporter

Make sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 before continuing!

Friday Night 

Ridge Park

*  *  *

To his graduating class he was known as Jim. But James Johnson hadn’t seen anyone he knew since then, in 1996. After graduation he lived with his parents for a few years to get off his feet. He wasn’t too smart. And if you asked him what a loan was, he would shrug his shoulders. His parents would help him with these things, and they were the ones who helped him get his first job when he was 20. He was 39 years old now, and he didn’t have his parents anymore. 

His parents weren’t too rich, so when Jim’s father died, the house was repossessed by the city. His mother had died a few years prior, so that meant he was sent to the street. He tried staying with a couple of people who were looking for roommates. But he soon left. He wasn’t comfortable around them…around anybody really. But as he stayed with them, he came to not enjoy their company the way he thought he would. He had a job until he was 30. Since then he has been bouncing around all over the city. He has slept in the park every night since then. 

He had a backpack and a suitcase with him. In the suitcase he carried a blanket and a pillow. He also had his personal items. In the back pack he had a few pairs of clothes. Of course they weren’t the same clothes he had packed in there when he was kicked to the street. Once the clothes got really dirty, he would crawl into The Salvation Army’s drop box and grab a couple new pairs and leave the old ones. And whenever he saw coins laying on the ground or and cash laying around, he would use it at the laundromat if his clothes weren’t too dirty.

And when it came to eating… he bagged for it on the street. But sometimes if he was really, REALLY hungry he would become desperate, and the trash cans would become his savior. Luckily, it barely came to that. But it would still happen two to three times a month. 

Anyone from his graduating class wouldn’t have recognized him these days. Even one of his friends would pass him on the street and think nothing of him. Sure he got half-decent clothes from that drop box, but clothes didn’t help his looks at all. He was thin and dirty most of the time (unless he took a bath in the streams at the park). He had cuts and scrapes all over. He was also growing a pretty mean beard. The last time he tried to shave was with a broken kitchen knife behind the pizza joint on Main Street. He used the knife to shave and also used it as a mirror to the best of his ability. He would take some hair off, then consult his reflection to see what he missed. A couple seconds into shaving he knew the reason they threw out the knife. The handle was loose. This contributed to the scar on his left cheek. And with age of course started bringing white hair. So he doesn’t have the straight black hair he had in school. 

And since he hasn’t seen the doctor since the age of 19, he wouldn’t know what the lump under the skin on his arm would be. I wouldn’t say that it was a good thing that Kraft took him when he did, but if he were to go on living like he was he would have died a long and painful death due to the cancer that was working its way through his body.

*  *  *

Jim had been walking through the park. He had just spent the day walking around town enjoying the day. Although Fall was coming it barely showed today. It was warm and sunny with no chance of clouds. But he knew the temperature would drop towards night. So he started to head back to the park sooner than he would have normally.

He had just passed beyond the tree line towards the main entrance to the park. The roads of the park were dirt and rocks, with a few pot holes thrown in for fun. Nothing like going to the park with your family and blowing a tire due to the city’s negligence. That brought a smile to his face. And unlike some parks across the county, this park had a few sets of playgrounds. One at the entrance, follow the path past that by the maintenance building there was a park for little kids. But keep going and you’ll find three more by the time you reach the little league baseball field at the end of this giant looped system of dirt paths, which leads back to the main road. He used to play on these when he was a kid. He remembered back when some of the playground equipment was a death trap rather than a fun way to pass the time. The merry-go-round broke at some point and a kid got hurt falling off the monkey bars. But I wouldn’t say it was the child’s fault. Whoever built the playground supposed that a giant steel contraption shaped like a wagon out of The Oregon Trail game ought to be fun for the kids. Turns out you had to be an acrobat to maneuver through it.

He whipped his head to the side at the snap of a twig. Must be a stray dog or raccoon. But he thought of the dog mostly because whatever was rustling in the shadows had to be big. Nevertheless he smiled and kept on walking. He has become used to the animals in this park over the years and the snap of a twig never really startled him. To him it was just an animal welcoming him back to the park. Although as he made his way to the center of the park, he gradually got the feeling that he was being followed. So he started to pick up the pace. He saw that he was nearing one of the restroom areas and thought he could hide in there. He didn’t know why he felt this way but he knew something bad was going to happen. But just as he was nearing the restroom door there was a crack and whoosh and a black missile plummeted from the trees above him. Jim tried to back away but tripped over his own feet and fell. He laid sprawled out in the dirt, staring at this thing on the ground where he had been standing seconds ago. At once the figure started to grow upwards. It reminded him of the “Wizard of Oz” movie where the witch was melting, but this was happening in reverse. The black blob on the ground was bubbling up into the shape of a man, but when the pale white skin of this man’s face was shined upon by the moonlight he knew it was no man.

“Hello Jimmy…” Kraft whispered. He had looked towards Jim laying there in the dirt. What a pitiful human being, he thought.

“Get away from me… just let me alone…” Jim said, crawling backwards.

“Alone?… you have always been alone… if anything I thought you would have appreciated my company…” Kraft said with a puzzled look on his face. But in this face Jim saw enjoyment. 

“I have been alone because that’s what I have always wanted… I don’t need anybody. And I may have been on my own for a while now… but my mama always told me not to talk to strangers… and I am not going to start now…” Jim said. He was scared. He was trying to sound calm, but he was doing a poor job of it. And for every inch Jim backed up, Kraft seemed to stay the same distance away from Jim’s feet. It was as if he was hovering towards him. Not wanting Jim to stray any further away from him.

“I am Edward Kraft… I am new to your town… and I plan to stay for a little while…” 

“Okay Ed… I don’t know who you are… or how you know my name…” This was Jim’s final attempt to stay strong, but he was interrupted by Kraft, and now he knew he couldn’t stay strong. He knew he couldn’t get away. Even if he were to get up and try to run he wouldn’t be able to escape. Kraft (if that was even his real name) had just fallen over thirty feet from a tree and landed on his feet. If he wanted to catch Jim if he took off, he could.

“I know a whole lot more about you other than just your name… I know that you are dying a slow and painful death,” The creature interrupted with a grin

“No I’m not… you’re a liar.” Now Jim stopped moving. The creature’s eyes had changed colors. They were glowing. And even though he had just told Kraft he was lying, he knew it was the truth.

“No… why would I lie to you… you have given me no reason to lie… but I can help you… I can heal you…” Kraft said with a thin smile.


“It’s very simple… you just have to agree to be my friend… and I could take you in… I could give you a home, and food… but even more important… I could heal you… you could live long… all you have to do is let me… but even then I guess I am lying… because I plan to help you whether you say yes or no…So which will you decide? Life or death?”

Jim just closed his mouth. And looked into those eyes. He saw that Kraft was telling the truth. He could give him a home and food. Kraft could even be his friend. And if this creature was right, he could heal him of his sickness.

“Life… a better one than this…” Jim agreed.

Kraft let out a little chuckle, “That’s good… now hold still servant… there will be a little pinch…and then when you wake up, the pain you feel will have just been a bad dream.” Kraft lunged on top of Jim and birds flew from the tree tops as Jim screamed into the darkness which consumed him.