I don’t know how to explain this. I don’t know where to start, or if anyone is going to believe me. We’re not in London anymore. You probably heard about how we’re all wanted criminals. Johnny Patel, aged 17. That’s me. And no matter what the papers might have told you, I haven’t committed any of those crimes I’ve been accused of. I don’t think I’d even know how.
I guess that news report is where this story starts. After we heard that, it was obvious we had no choice but to run for it. London is a big place, but there’s no way we could hide there forever. It would only be a matter of time before someone recognised us, or the car, and then we’d have been screwed.
So we headed away from the city. We’ve were on the move for a while. We had to stop by the roadside on Wednesday night. Iaru was exhausted, since he’s the only one who can drive. Well, I’ve had a few lessons, but not nearly enough to trust myself over a long distance with three passengers.
We’d been trying to keep away from urban areas, but we’d also been trying to avoid main roads if we could help it, because we didn’t want to stay out in the open. That’s how last Thursday afternoon we ended up driving down a winding, ungritted country road in the falling snow. Can you guess what happened?
Yep. Skidded off course, went down a ditch, hit a tree. I guess we were lucky none of us was seriously hurt, but the front of the car was badly damaged, and in any case there was no shifting it. Iaru was in shock. I guess he really liked that car. We tried to move it out the ditch for a good hour or so, but all we succeeded in doing was wearing ourselves out. Meanwhile, we were getting colder and wetter by the second.
It was Bradley who suggested we should go have a look around before it got too dark. Personally, I thought it would have been a better idea if we all just got back in the car and rested for the night, and worked out what to do next in the morning. I think Megan agreed with me, but none of us felt particularly sleepy, and eventually we agreed that the car could well be unsafe in the state it was in.
So we wandered down the road for about half a mile until we came to an old farm. It was quite traditional: fields, yellow limestone walls, corrugated iron, just like you sometimes see on postcards.
We debated what to do next. Megan was all for going to the farmhouse and asking for shelter, but I didn’t think that was particularly smart, us being wanted criminals and all. But before we could make up our minds, Iaru said “Do you hear that?” And we all listened, and there was this weird hissing sound. We all turned around, and – this is going to sound crazy – there was this big, faceless, shadowy thing standing in the snow, looking directly at us.
I say looking. It wasn’t obvious it even had eyes. If I had to describe it, I’d say it was more like a shadow made solid than anything else. A human shadow, but still a shadow.
Then it struck, darting forward, waving its arms around its head. It barrelled straight into me and Bradley, knocking us both over. Then Iaru punched at it, but it dodged his fist easily and sped past. If only Iaru hadn’t left his sword in the car!
Then the creature stopped moving and two faint red specks of light appeared where its eyes should have been. As we watched, the snow surrounding the creature melted away in an instant and began to turn to steam.
The creature darted forward again, leaving a trail of evaporating snow behind it, this time heading straight for Megan, who screamed. Then the creature withdrew abruptly, hissing furiously and clutching the side of its head. A man had just emerged from the farmhouse and shot the thing with a rifle. The creature crouched low to the ground and sped away like a rocket, still hissing furiously. Within seconds, it was gone.
We all started to thank the farmer guy, but he just shrugged off our thanks and demanded to know what we were doing there and what that thing had been that was attacking us. He seemed rather rude, actually, but we tried to explain as best we could that we had no idea what had attacked us, but that we’d been pursued for over a week by everyone from the police to the Hawkbites, and that our car had broken down and we were desperate for somewhere to stay. We were throwing caution to the wind, I guess, but we were so tired, and it didn’t really occur to us to lie seeing as he’d just saved us. Besides, there’s something about a man with a rifle that makes you inclined to do as he says.
To our relief, he said that while he wasn’t sure he understood, he believed us for now. I guess once you’ve fended off a shadow monster, anything seems believable. He introduced himself as Tom, and invited us inside the farmhouse where we could get some sleep.
We’re still at the farmhouse. Tom’s explained our situation to his brother and sister (the three of them share the farm). They seem uneasy, but I think they believe us. We don’t know how long we can stay, but it looks like we’ll be allowed to stay a while longer if we all help out around the farm. I don’t know how we can ever thank them enough.
I think we’re all lucky to be alive after yesterday’s encounter. Me, Iaru and Bradley were barely scratched, but Megan sustained a nasty second degree burn on the side of her face when that creature lunged at her. As far as any of us can tell, it didn’t actually touch her, but even the air around it was scorching. I think she’s trying to put on a brave face, but it’s obvious she’s in a lot of pain. Obviously, seeing a doctor would be ideal, but it’s out of the question. Tom has a good first aid kit, and he’s given Megan some ointment and dressing to put on the blisters. I feel so bad for her.