Illustrated by Kendall
Kenny jumped out of Marco’s car onto the sidewalk in front of PS 911. It was Monday, and he loved going to school on Mondays. It was gym day and Ms. Magee always had fun activities planned for the kids. Kenny ran into the schoolyard. He slowed down as he approached the door leading to the lunchroom. Ms. Fernleaf, the principal, always cautioned against running in the halls or on the stairs. “You can get hurt”, she said, “and I don’t want to call your parents with such sad news”. As he walked down the stairs, something seemed different. He put his hand out to pull open the door to the lunchroom and it suddenly dawned on him that there were no sounds coming from the room. “What’s going on?” he thought, as he hesitated just outside the door. He opened the door slightly and peered into the lunchroom through the crack. The lunchroom was filled with students and the lunch aides, but no one was moving. No one was talking. “How eerie!” Kenny exclaimed. There was Armand, pencil poised in mid-air, leaning over a drawing pad. And look at Richie, his head leaning toward Tiff, a devilish smile frozen on his face.
Kenny let the door close slowly. He backed away and climbed the stairs slowly. He returned to the yard and lined up with his classmates. He wondered about what he had seen in the lunchroom. He looked around the yard and it seemed emptier than usual. “That’s because the rest of the kids are frozen at breakfast”, he thought. Ms. Rivers appeared just then and led them into the classroom. When they were all seated, about one quarter of the seats was empty. Ms Rivers looked around in surprise. “Did someone forget to tell me that it’s a holiday?” Kenny was unhappy with the current state of affairs. As Ms. Rivers droned on about vocabulary, his mind kept wandering back to the scene in the lunchroom. He couldn’t wait to get back to the lunchroom. He missed his friends.
Finally, it was lunchtime. Kenny raced down the stairs, ahead of his class. Luckily, he didn’t run into Ms. Fernleaf. He burst into the lunchroom. The fourth graders were already there. The students were lined up with trays in hand, ready for the daily grub. On today’s menu – sweetened mystery sauce with rock-hard rolls, and wilted carrot slices. Ugh! Wait – where are Armand, Richie and Tiff? The lunch aides were unfamiliar substitutes. Something strange was going on. Kenny took his tray to the peanut-free table and opened his folder to his latest drawings. But he couldn’t concentrate. He placed his chin in his hands as his eyes flitted around the room. He sought out all the corners of the lunchroom while various scenarios played out in his mind. His eyes settled on a darkened corner over in the far side of the room where the wall met the ceiling. It didn’t make sense that there was a shadow there since there was a light bulb not far away. He peered into the corner more closely, and his eyes opened wide in astonishment. He closed his eyes quickly and opened them again. The shadow was gone! His senses tingled and he knew he had to solve the case of the missing students before school started tomorrow. He knew the mysterious shadow in the corner was somehow connected.
After lunch, the afternoon dragged. When classes were let out, Kenny headed down to the lunchroom again for the after-school programs. The programs ran until 5:30, so Kenny had three hours in which to find out whom or what was this shadow and what happened to his friends. Instead of taking his seat at the table, Kenny crept into the bathroom and waited a while. When all the kids had gone off to their respective rooms, he took a position on the floor in a corner of the lunchroom, behind a big storage bin. It was a strategic position. Kenny could see anyone coming into the room, without being easily seen himself. He felt that the answer to this mystery lay in this very room. He sat quietly and waited, and waited, and waited. For a long time, nothing happened. He wondered what they were doing in after school. He nodded off to sleep every now and then.
Then, out of the side of his eye, something moved. Kenny didn’t budge. It seemed like he wasn’t even breathing. He was looking at a smoky shadow on one of the tables. The longer he stared at the shadow, the darker, and the more solid it became. It took shape. The form became more defined – there was now a distinct head, arms, and legs. The being was short, about the height of a fourth grader, and had the strangest green eyes Kenny had ever seen. The Shadow looked around the room furtively. Kenny sat stock-still. Its eyes seemed to look directly at him and then moved on. The Shadow climbed down from the table, walked to the middle of the room, and with one more look around the room, waved its hand in the air as though it was erasing a blackboard. A shadowy door appeared. The Shadow opened the door with a flick of its hand. “What in the world?” thought Kenny. The door creaked open, and out of the smokiness stepped all of the missing students and lunch aides. They all carried objects in their hands. Something looked wrong. Richie and Armand and Tiff moved differently, almost as though an unseen force was propelling them forward. Their faces were blank – no laughter, no mischief. They stepped forward and lined up in front of the Shadow like martial arts students in front of their Sensei. Kenny looked closely at the objects they carried. They looked like various kitchen utensils, but grotesquely shaped. They were pots and ladles and soupspoons, cutlery and food trays.
The Shadow addressed the captives in front of him. His voice was raspy, but his words were firm. “It is our mission to take over PS 911, one student at a time. We will switch the kitchen utensils, and their food supplies, and replaces them with our special equipment and rations. By the end of breakfast tomorrow, we would be able to control the minds of at least a quarter of the students in this school. By Friday, we can have total control and use P.S. 911 as home base to plan our total domination of all mankind in Brooklyn. We will shut this borough down completely. We will obliterate the sunlight with cloud cover and it will be dark at all times; we will cause interference so that cell phones, televisions, and the Internet will crash. We will cut off all forms of communication between Brooklyn and the outside world. We will rule!!”
Kenny had heard enough. He couldn’t imagine a life with no light, no communication and no friends. He had to do something, but what? He knew where he could find the answer, but he needed to move away from his spot in the corner. The Shadow had his back to him. Kenny knew that he had been unable to see him, but did the Shadow have a heightened sense of hearing? Kenny was about to find out. He rolled out of his corner, along the floor. He moved quickly towards the doors that led to the auditorium. He had to get to the boys’ bathroom in there!! There was no reaction from the students who were facing him. They seemed to be in a trance, and the Shadow was so busy with his speech that he paid no attention to the slight sounds behind him. Kenny breathed a sigh of relief as he exited the lunchroom and sprinted across the empty auditorium to the bathrooms.
Once inside the bathroom, Kenny lowers himself into a stance and his hair spikes out. A blue aura envelops him. He yells “HAAA-ARGH” at the top of his voice and his body glows white. He is now clothed in a black bodysuit with orange gloves and boots. He has become Super K. He races out of the bathroom to confront the Shadow and his captives in the lunchroom. The Shadow turns around surprised and his lips turn up in a snarl at the intruder.
“Well, what do we have here?” he rasped. “Who are you?”
“Someone ready to destroy your evil plans! What are you doing?” snapped Super K.
“First, I conquer PS 911, then all of Brooklyn”.
“But why? What have we done to deserve this?”
“People have invaded my home and I have to keep moving. I finally started living in the shadows of PS 911 and I was comfortable. I roamed the school at nights and nobody bothered me. Then they started construction on the school, putting in better windows and making the grounds more attractive and people-friendly. The workers stayed late at night and I couldn’t move around anymore. When they were done, families came to use the playgrounds late into the night, and there were more after-school programs, like tennis and chorus. I didn’t want to move again so I decided to take over the school.”
“I am not going to let that happen. This is MY school, and Brooklyn is MY home.”
Shadow laughed mirthlessly. “Exactly how do you plan to stop me?” Super K did not respond. Instead, he lunged at the Shadow, throwing a hook punch. To his surprise, he fell forward. He did not connect with the Shadow. The Shadow was all light and darkness and Super K’s hand went straight through him.
Pathetic, boy,” the Shadow cackled, “show me what else you got!” Super K stepped back and came again with a sidekick. The Shadow sidesteps the kick and sucker punched Super K. Super K went down. He was woozy. With all his strength, Super K back flipped onto a table, away from the Shadow. He needed to think quickly.
The Shadow snapped. “No more games!” He balls up his fists and throws his arms out pitching shadows forward that surrounds Super K. They hold him in a helpless position and pull him off the table. He is unable to move. The Shadow approaches menacingly, and as he does so, his body solidifies. He starts hammering away at Super K’s torso. Each blow makes Super K see stars. He realizes that if the Shadow can be made to solidify, then he is most vulnerable. Super K slumps to the floor, and the shadows release their grip on him. As the Shadow and his minions start to taunt Super K, he thinks about the Shadow’s own words. He remembers that he can only survive in darkness. At that moment, Super K finds his opportunity to attack. He rises and starts to blow fire fists at the Shadow and his minions. The minions disappear, and the Shadow retreats. Super K seems to be having an advantage.
The Shadow commanded Armand, Richie, and Tiff to go after Super K. “Get himmmm!!!” Super K yelps. He dodges each one deftly. When they come at him again, Super K waves his arms in the air in a circular motion and weaves a force field around his friends to keep them away from him and to protect them from further control by the Shadow. Super K knows he has to hurry. Marco will be at the side gate at 5:30 to pick him up. It is now 4:00. The Shadow stares in awe at the force field. He starts to retreat, but Super K is quick. He rolls a massive fireball towards the Shadow. The flames seem to engulf the Shadow, and the ball smashes him into a wall. He slides down the wall in a semi-conscious state, and as the fireball explodes, the Shadow slips away, weakened by the explosion.
Super K says tiredly, “I’ve had enough of this.” He surrounds the Shadow with a force field, similar to the one surrounding his friends.
“What are you going to do with me?” asked the Shadow.
“I think I know of a place where you can live in peace and not harm anyone.”
“Where is that?” asked the Shadow. “Every place I tried has been a failure.”
“Have you thought about the subway tracks? There are miles and miles of old train tracks underground, which haven’t been used in years. I can take you there, and I believe you’ll be satisfied. But, if I ever hear of you above ground ever again, I won’t be so lenient the next time.”
Super K picks up the Shadow, force field and all, and throws him over his shoulder. His blue aura deepens, and he runs upstairs, out of the building and rises into the sky. He heads towards Grand Central Station and locates a manhole in a narrow side street that goes down into the subway. He climbs down, with the Shadow still in the force field. When they arrive at the empty tracks, Super K deactivates the force field.
“Hopefully you’ll live here in peace, Shadow.”
The Shadow replies, “Why, I feel better already, Super K.”
Just then, back at the school, Armand, Richie, Tiff, and the others return to normal.
“Oh no! The others! And Marco! I’ve GOT to return to the school!” He zoomed out of the manhole, leaving the Shadow to search for his new abode. He races through the sky, over Manhattan, to free his friends from the force field before the adults figured that something was wrong, and to get back to Marco.