A fan fiction novel of ShadowFanFic
Cooperative FanFic storywriting of The Shadow. If you are familiar with the character of The Shadow feel free to contribute. For more information go to theshadowfan.com forums.
Synopsis: The Shadow dies at the hands of a currently unnamed villain who has been an accomplice in many of the crimes that the Shadow has dismantled and for some yet to be explained reason the Shadow has shed his mercy upon him. Even in his last moments, the Shadow grasps the villain's throat and instead of exacting revenge, gives out a final laugh and dies. The Shadow's agents can hardly believe that their master is dead, but eventually they begin to except it. They organize into a secret crime fighting society. The society expands and many new and interesting agents are introduced. Meanwhile, the yet unnamed villain questions why the Shadow has been so merciful and is plagued by nightmares and paranoia. In a strange love triangle Margo Lane questions who she was truly in love with; the Shadow or Lamont? The story gets deeper as seemingly supernatural coincidences lead the agents to question the death of their master. This is meant to be the first of a series which leads up all the way to present day.
IT was a cool night in New York. The moon shone brightly upon the city as if it were some eerie ghost of the sun. The "city that never sleeps" seemed to sleep soundly this night. The streets were desolate and quiet as if the whole city was a graveyard, the people silent in reverence. A wise man could tell that these were grave signs, that such a peace was only an omen of a greater, hidden destruction. A wise man would know that there is no such thing as peace. Not here. Not yet.
The brightness of the moon did much to reveal the desolate streets, but no fool fell for the illusion. The intense shadows hid warriors, warriors who were nervously awaiting the coming war. On one side were the loyal agents of the righteous yet mysterious creature known as The Shadow. The other side consisted of the most elite criminals that New York had to offer, unified by an unknown crime lord of a secret crime organization. The Shadow's agents have worked tirelessly for the past months tracking down this master of crime. Such work was not without risk. In the past months the agents have dodged death more times than in their whole lives, yet their faith in their master was unyielding, he always comes through, it seems almost..... supernatural.
A limousine strolled by slowly, seemingly aware of it's watchers who sweated profusely at the site. At once the agents mobilized using hidden alleyways and passages to prevent their exposure. 2...3...7 crooks were taken out silently as they moved. One particular agent climbed up a fire escape to an apartment, rented for the purpose of this mission. His silhouette framed the window as he climbed in. The apartment was small, dilapidated, and dusty; perfect. Old boards covered the windows, the boards to the windows facing the fire escape had apparently been taken down. In the room there was nothing else, but a small telephone which laid on the floor. The silhouette approached it and picked up the receiver.
"Harry Vincent speaking. Ready to report"
Harry spoke briefly to Burbank, the Shadow's contact man, reporting only that the limo had driven through this street and what direction it was moving. The Shadow had previously narrowed down the limo's destinations to about twenty buildings and from Harry's report, Burbank was able to determine it's exact destination. Calls were made to the various agents who had located themselves nearby phones and they acted at once. No call was made to the Shadow himself, there was no need.
THE limousine pulled up to the side of the Empire State Building. An attendant, looking rather awkward being the only person in plain view, stepped down to the limo and opened it. He bowed a little as his hand beckoned out the limo's single occupant. Out stepped Dominic Salvatore, a surprisingly young man, wearing a formal suit and looking rather calm despite the horrible invisible war that was occurring, in fact he smiled looking back at the desolate streets where he fancied he saw someone chance a look at him. He tipped the attendant and walked in. The lobby was as empty as the streets and his footsteps echoed. Obviously someone had taken precautions to keep any innocent people from being harmed.
SALVATORE entered the elevator. Produced a key and opened a hidden panel, revealing a keypad. By pressing a sequence of numbers he sent the elevator up to a hidden floor that cannot be accessed in any other way. Salvatore rode the elevator up until it slowed to a stop. The doors opened and he stepped out. The entire floor was one huge room with no internal walls or divisions, save that which was created by the elevator. The room was twenty feet from floor to ceiling, the windows which lined the room were arranged as if there were two floors. Salvatore looked about the room. Various sculptures and paintings adorned it including some famous ones which had been thought to be lost. There was one huge table and many more small tables around it and multiple storage closets which where awkwardly scattered in between. There was one thing that caught Salvatore's eye especially, a man holding a drink, was looking out a window on the far side of the room and had nonchalantly neglected to look back at his new visitor. Salvatore seemed to be taken aback as the man slowly turned around. The man possessed an exact likeness of himself! They stared at each other for a moment. The Salvatore at the window smiled calmly while the Salvatore at the elevator door tried to match his smile, but was failing horribly.
It must have been five minutes that they stared at each other. The Salvatore near the elevator had, for some reason, kept up his guise for this long. All at once the clothes, the worried face, the entire disguise seemed to literally melt off him revealing a black cloaked being. His face masked by a silken red scarf, eyes hidden under a wide brimmed slouch hat. This master of darkness lifted his head slightly and the real Salvatore was able to see his eyes. He saw a certain ferocity in them, full of utter hate and unstoppable will. His own eyes widened. His glass shattered to the floor. The room's lights began to flicker. Salvatore tried to maintain his dignity, but a tell-tale bead of sweat rolled down his cheek. The lights finally flickered out. Blue moonlight flowed into the room like the waters of a broken dam. Salvatore felt a terror like no man could have ever dreamed, For when he glanced into the eyes of that black cloaked monolith which stood before him, he knew that he was about to feel the full wrath of the Shadow!!!!!!
DOMINIC Salvatore, no man more powerful stood. Behind his soft features hid the cunning of a criminal mastermind. He was young, in his early twenties, barely an adult, yet he was a prodigy of evil, accruing more wealth than most men had even laid eyes on.
Unbeknownst to the public, a secret criminal organization had formed. In fact, there were multiple organizations that sprouted up in this time, but one in particular became so strong that it commanded even these. It grew to become like a "second government" and controlled every aspect of the public's lives. Crime, once a measure of desperation, now had a new face. That face was the face of the Cosa Nostra, the most powerful crime syndicate in the world. No overt act of evil was done that was not controlled by this organization. Yes, the Cosa Nostra has been involved in almost every crime the Shadow has shot down. It's members enter in search of quick wealth and power. They are held obedient by their chronic fear of each other.
Salvatore stood, trying to recover his wits in the gigantic moonlit room. He continued to watch the Shadow who stared back silently and motionlessly.
As a small timer, Salvatore was known as Donny Slavo. He pulled small time heists and robberies. Eventually, using his profound intelligence, he made his way up the ranks and became an accomplice to more large scale crimes. Throughout his life as a small time criminal, he had come in contact with the Shadow multiple times, each time the Shadow ruined his crimes. But, for some reason, the Shadow shed his mercy upon him. Salvatore was not only spared death, but imprisonment as well. He had never before thought much more of it than that he was extremely lucky.
Lucky for more reason than one. Not only did he escape punishment, but he was able to suddenly accomplish that which no criminal had. He had snatched the position that most Cosa Nostra members weren't even aware existed. Donny Slavo gone from a worthless grunt to the Capo di Tutti Capi, the boss of all bosses. Only the bosses, or capi, of the crime "families" knew of his rule. The previous Capo di Tutti Capi had abused his power and caused a huge civil war within the organization. When the war had settled, all the members agreed to destroy the position. Somehow, Salvatore was able to covertly revive the powerful position and since it was such a secret, even to the organization's members, he also gained the benefits of indefinite security. He had struck the quite a sweet deal with the Devil.
"Dominic...." the Shadow broke the silence "...Salvatore. You are guilty of the dire crimes of thievery, murder, perjury, smuggling, enslavement, bribery, torture, conspiracy, and countless others." His voice was in a low and devious whisper.
Dominic's fear turned to annoyance as the Shadow listed off his convictions. His eyes narrowed slightly into a leer, but then quickly eased into their natural state. He stood up straight and recomposed himself. He calmly walked to the liquor cabinet and poured himself another drink to replace the one that he had dropped. He regained his confidence. Once again the arrogant look of nonchalance appeared on his face accompanied by a slight grin.
"So, you've finally come to take me away from the life I have worked so hard to build."
"Yes..." The Shadow spoke.
Silence arose from the darkness. Salvatore sighed quietly as he took a sip of his drink and turned to look out the window. It began to rain.
"You know," said Salvatore, "They're out there. Right now. They're out there fighting, fighting for me. They're fighting the police, the FBI. They're fighting, poverty, misery, they're fighting," he paused, " destiny!"
The Shadow remained as silent and unmoving as ever. Only the sound of the rain against the windows was heard. A bright light illuminated the room as lightning struck nearby. A storm was brewing in more ways than one.
All at once the Shadow withdrew a pair of automatics and fired them in rapid succession, but not at Salvatore. The bullets pelted the bodies of the thirty or so masked gunman that were swinging in through the uppermost windows from the floor above. Shattered glass flew everywhere as they broke through. They landed on the floor, some already dead, their grotesque masks glinted in the moonlight.
The storm raged outside, lightning flashed and thunder roared. The masked gunman bolted for cover from the Shadow's onslaught of bullets while raising their own weapons. All at once, the Shadow found himself facing the barrels of more than twenty machine guns. The weapons flared off, illuminating the face look of pleasure on Salvatore's face. The Shadow's figure fell. Splatters of blood were overcome by a growing puddle. The masked murderers approached cautiously. They turned over the limp cloaked body.
"Unmask him!" Salvatore ordered with a satisfied smile. The gunman were happy to oblige.
"Joe?!!" One of the gunman exclaimed.
The bloodied figure on the ground, apparently named Joe, opened his eyes wearily. The nearby gunman did not have time to gasp before his body exploded killing those nearby and sending out a flaming wind which knocked the rest to the ground. The windows exploded. A laugh was heard as shots were fired from the far corner of the room. The Shadow was well prepared for this night, he chose this night specifically for his attack for he knew that tonight was the night that the moon would glow brightest, intensifying the shadows and exposing the fools.
The masked gunman fired in the direction of the laugh. The muzzle flare showed the cloaked creature standing undaunted, weapons drawn and returning the fire. Salvatore sat behind a cabinet for cover. He was quickly calculating tonight's events with a string of strange coincidences which had occurred in the past couple days.
"Fools! He has replaced your bullets with blanks! Quickly! The munitions cabinets!!!" In actuality it had been an agent, Cliff Marsland, who had supplied the fake ammunition by the Shadow's order. Though Salvatore knew for a fact that the munitions cabinets in this room had been untouched for the last month.
The gunman quickly replaced their useless machine guns with the variety of weapons that filled the cabinets. Soon the Shadow was facing down shotguns, handguns, rifles, machine guns and also a few more exotic weapons such as swords, spears, flails, and flame throwers.
The Shadow, despite the odds against him, continued to fight boldly. The storm raged outside. Lightning struck the Empire State Building itself and the thunder shook the building. The master of darkness stuck to the shadows, exposing himself only to further his deceptive tactics. He took out his enemies one by one, the last sound in their ears would be the sound of his weird and terrible laugh.
As their numbers decreased, the gunmen were able to fire more wildly. The room caught fire from the flamethrowers and the Shadow lost the advantage of the darkness. He inevitably took bullets and stabs, but chose wisely to accept the smaller injuries than avoid them and put himself in positions where he would receive worse.
The Shadow pocketed his weapons, he had no time to reload and all cover was lost, but only two gunmen were left. He ran, faster than the gun hand of a machine gunner toward the other man who held a flamethrower. A trail of bullets followed him as he ran and a jet of flaming liquid shot from the flamethrower and exploded in all directions as it collided with the tangible darkness which it targeted. This darkness ran through, bringing with it a trail of flame, and grabbed it's enemy's weapon and fired it at the machine gunner who at the same time accidentally mowed down the previous holder of the flame thrower.
The Shadow and Salvatore were once again alone in the room. All was suddenly silent. Even the thunder had halted. The Shadow knelt, still and quiet as once before. Salvatore had to take a moment to for his mind to adjust, the shock of the battle and this sudden calm had taken their toll. Salvatore did not know what was happening, he could not comprehend it.
The Shadow stood slowly and painfully. The scarf that once masked his face fell off, still in flame. He turned around slowly. Salvatore expected to finally see the face of his enemy, but there was nothing left of it. All that was left of the Shadow's face was a gruesome skull. The skull gazed luridly at Salvatore. The Shadow was ready to exact his final vengeance.
IN the streets below, a yellow cab sat parked in a lonely vigil. The driver, Moe Shrevnitz felt as if his heart was going to beat through his chest. Sweat pouring down his blanched cheeks, he strained his ears, desperate to hear some sign, some clew that Dominic Salvatore was dead.
In the distance, he heard a noise. Was it what he thought is was? Yes! He was certain of it. He had heard a gunshot.
Then another. Three shots in all.
Moe Shrevnitz let his breath exhale. His boss had finally dispensed justice.
- - - - -
"WHY now," asked Salvatore, "after all these years?"
"The time was not right before," answered, the horrific skull cryptically.
"Are you going to kill me?"
The Shadow's skull was silent, which Salvatore took to mean "yes."
"Why not turn me over to the police? Surely that would be more just. Do I really have to die?" With a cry in his voice. A desperate attempt.
Dominic had not achieved so much by taking foolish chances. He always carried a pistol with him wherever he went, whether meeting with lowest crook or the highest socialite. If this thing wanted Dominic Salvatore dead, he would have to fight!
Dominic drew his gun from his shoulder holster. He expected his foe to do the same, but he didn't. The Shadow just walked toward him, as if he intended to envelop Salvatore in his long, black cloak. Did the Shadow really expect to be able to kill him? Dominic didn't wait to find out. He fired a shot that hit Shadow squarely in the chest.
He didn't stop walking or even falter. He didn't even acknowledge that he had been shot at all.
Dominic fired again, but the Shadow was still alive and kept coming. It was as useless to try and stop the Shadow as it was to try and stop Death itself.
Still, Dominic fired again. By now the Shadow was upon him. He felt a firm, strong hand wrap around his throat. Dominic struggled for freedom, all the while waiting for this inhuman creature to squeeze the life right of him.
IT was a sensation he never felt. The Shadow, the being that had ended so many lives, the one that had foiled so many brilliant crimes, did not even attempt to kill Salvatore. He just laughed. A low, eerie laugh that filled the room and echoed off the walls. A laugh that made Dominic's skin crawl.
The laughter died away, the grip on Salvatore's throat released and the Shadow collapsed.
FOR a long time, Dominic just stared at the body on the floor, as if he expected it to rise and attack him. Finally, he screwed up his courage and felt the Shadow's wrist.
He put his hand on the Shadow's chest.
It was motionless.
He picked a strange and brilliant girasol ring from the Shadow's gruesome body and held it in his hand.
All the fear drained out of him and was replaced by glee. He would be deified by the entire criminal underground. No one would ever dare question his authority as the leader of the Cosa Nostra. He had done the impossible. He had killed the Master of Darkness.
Thunder roared violently outside.
His smile melted away slowly. He slumped back against the wall, alone in the darkness, surrounded by the bodies of those who died by his orders. He was somehow horrified by his own victory. Yes, he had done the impossible. He had killed the Master of Darkness. But now there was no hope, not even for him.
The Shadow was dead!
IN hiding for the past weeks, the Shadow's agents gather in a dark room hidden behind the foreboding office door which held the name "B. Jonas". Though it had been long that this office been used, the cobwebs and dust that covered it's exterior were superficial, this was the meeting place of the Shadow's agents.
They sat at a large elliptical table. The only light in the room was from the above vent and it landed directly on the center of the table. The agents would turn on the lights, but from what they had experienced in the past weeks, they were afraid to do even that. A light from an abandoned office? Even the slightest sign of surreptitiousness would gather the murderous armies of the Cosa Nostra. Oh, how many innocent lives were lost as they searched for them.
Only the sound of rain could be heard in the dim room. The storm had lasted abnormally long. It had been their curse, but it was also a blessing. Because of the rampant flooding, the agents were just barely able to escape death more times than they could count.
The agents had doubted, but now they were sure, the Shadow was dead. Moe Shrevnitz remembered that fateful day well for he had arrived to hear the shots that penetrated his master's chest. The command was that if the limousine was bound for the Empire State Building that all agents were to fall back, all except Shrevy who was to wait to provide transport for the master fighter, "just in case". It was a half hour of waiting after Shrevy heard those fateful shots that a group of machine gunners attacked his cab. As he fled, cars came at him from all directions. They wanted him for information, to reveal the locations of the other agents. He was able to avoid capture with his expert driving skills, but ever since that day it had been nothing but running, hiding, and more running.
Next to Shrevy sat a wiry man wearing a trench coat and hat. His clothes were torn and wet, just like the others. This man was Clyde Burk, reporter for The Classic and as which was a professional at gathering information and an important agent of the Shadow. He shivered slightly. Next to him sat an agent known only as Burbank. He was rarely seen by the other agents. He was young, but had a solemn look about him. He was an electronics expert and worked as contact man for the Shadow. All reports were sent through him. Next to him sat Jericho Druke, a powerfully built black man who ran an employment agency in Harlem. Despite his large and powerful body, he was a relatively quiet man. Across from him sat Cliff Marsland, renowned throughout the underground world as a thief and murderer, but in reality he was none of these things. His tough exterior and jaded soul hid his dedication to the Shadow. A reliable agent. Next to him sat Rutledge Mann. Mann was chubby, quiet, and friendly. He was once a rich investor, but the Great Depression set on with full force and he lost his business. Suicide was imminent, but the Shadow offered him a second life. Next to him sat an agent known as Hawkeye. Hawkeye was once an underworld spy, but was reformed and has become a dedicated agent of the Shadow. His face was prematurely aged and his keen eyes darted back and forth. Next to him sat Harry Vincent. Harry Vincent may be the Shadow's most dedicated agent. He had nothing, but the Shadow put him back on his feet. He had moved from Michigan to seek a life in the city, but lost even that which he had, even the love of his life. The Shadow found him standing on a bridge, contemplating suicide, it was then that the Shadow brought him in. These eight were the Shadow's core agents and each one was worthy of the title.
They sat somberly. Wet, tired, miserable. None had spoken. The thunder roared loudly, awakening something Harry Vincent. He stood up and walked toward the window. He wanted to look out, but resisted to pull back the curtains recalling that this same day last week he had apparently been seen looking out an apartment window and the entire building was in flames within the hour. He turned around to the others.
They all looked at each other, desperate for an answer to this question. They were all thinking the same thing. The smart thing to do was to move to a far away to some rural farm town and live there quietly, but each felt that they would, somehow, be betraying their master.
Thunder roared again. They stirred in deep contemplation and a horrible nervous pain grasped their hearts.
Suddenly, the door burst open. In it's doorway stood a dripping silhouette. The outside streets were seen being pounded by rain.
The agents drew their weapons quickly, but none fired a shot. The silhouette stumbled in through the darkness. The others were shocked to perceive his countenance for it was that of the Shadow. In stumbled the Shadow's alter ego, Lamont Cranston. Though not actually the Shadow, he possessed his visage and it was equally shocking to see him. A rogue millionaire turned agent, Lamont lent his identity to the Shadow over the course of several years while he himself traveled abroad.
"Lamont?! What are you dong here?!!!"
"....Margo...they have Margo."
A young boy walked down the bustling New York streets. He was skinny, underfed. His clothes were torn and dirty. No parent was apparent which was strange for this part of town. He looked somewhat bewildered. A recent immigrant, he knew little English, he knew little of these grand streets.
He went from shop to shop. He asked for food, but food was in high demand and everyone was looking out for themselves. In other shops he did not even have the chance to ask.
It was this day that he came across a storekeeper who possessed a very expensive pocket watch which had been a family heirloom. The watch was chained to the man's jacket which he had placed on the desk where he sat.
The young boy struggled in his soul as he stared at the scene. He had been told that stealing was wrong, but no one would pass up this opportunity, would they? The storekeeper sat back in his chair and put his feet up, the day was slow today.
The young boy approached the desk cautiously. His short stature helped conceal his approach. When he finally reached the desk he explored the overhanging jacket and found the pocket watch.
He walked out twice as nervous as before, not looking in any direction , but forward. A strong hand grabbed his shoulder and pulled him back sharply. Caught! Someone must have seen him!
He slowly and unhappily turned to face his captor. A hand suddenly shot out and clasped his throat, another brought a gun to his head! He looked up to see a black cloaked skeleton, alight with flame and riddled with bullets. It was the Shadow!!!! A horrific laugh rang out as the hot steel of the gun barrel was pressed against the boy's skull.
Dominic Salvatore sat up suddenly with a yell. He breathed heavily and cold sweat covered his body and trickled down his cheeks. He grasped the girasol ring that he now wore, it burned. He looked around the darkness, still panting. Finally regaining his senses he opened up the window and looked at the clock. It was almost seven.
He stood up. It was time to get ready. There was much work today. He looked at the girasol. Much work to do indeed.
"....Margo...they have Margo."
THE words hung in the air until Burbank asked the question they all should have asked right away:
"Who has her?"
"La Cosa Nostra. They left a ransom note."
"What do they want," asked Clyde Burke.
"They want a meeting tomorrow night at seven at the Cobalt Club. One agent, no guns."
IN the end it was decided that Harry Vincent would be the one to go. Jericho Druke had wanted to go and many agents supported him. If a gun was pulled on him, he would have the best chance of escaping with his life. But others aruged that he wouldn't be taken seriously by the Cosa Nostra. So, finally, they all agreed on Vincent.
HARRY did his best to hide his fear as he was shown to a table at the Cobalt Club. He put on his girasol ring and felt a little better. It had always been a kind of talisman for him.
But nothing would have prepared him for the shock he got when he was shown his table. Sitting there already was the man he hated most at that moment in time: Dominic Salvatore, himself.
"Sit down, Mr..."
"Vincent. Harry Vincent."
Recovering quickly, he sat down and started looking for the telltale signs of an concealed weapon. He saw none.
Salvatore, apparently seeing where Vincent was looking, said "I'm unarmed, but I wouldn't advise attacking. The club is filled with Cosa Nostra tonight. And try the prime rib; it's excellent."
After ordering the prime rib, Harry got down to business.
"She's safe. And as long as we can reach an agreement, she'll stay that way."
"What do you want?"
Harry wasn't sure he had hear right (why would the most powerful criminal in New York want truce?), so repeated the request.
"Yes, a truce."
HARRY didn't think it would be wise to voice his question, but he couldn't help it:
"You have us up aginst the wall, and you want a truce. Why?
"With the Shadow at the helm, you put some of the cleverest men away. It won't take long for you to reorganize. I can't afford that, after all that's happened. If you agree not to seek revenge, I'll release Ms. Lane."
There was a tense silence, while the two sized each other up. Harry saw Salvatore's knife lying on his plate. He was itching to grab it. How easy it would to kill right that and there, but he had to think of Margo.
"You know that's not good enough. How do guarantee my safety?"
Harry shrugged and said simply, "There's no one to order us other wise."
Dominic smiled contently as he stood, "Then it's settled then," he extended his hand forward.
Harry gaped as he brought himself to his feet. He gazed suspiciously at the grinning Salvatore and then at his extended hand. He slowly began to shake it, somewhat in disbelief.
"Yes, I guess it is settled," said Harry as he began to walk away.
"Oh, one more thing," Salvatore's grin had grown to wild proportions, "I want you to tell me the locations of the other agents, or else... I kill you."
To Harry, everything began to make sense again. That knife on the table looked better than ever. He grabbed it and lunged for Salvatore, but the attack was in vain. Harry found himself holding the knife to his own neck.
"Please, sit down," Salvatore's pleasure was uncanny, "we have much to talk about."
FIRE trucks, ambulances, and police vehicles assembled themselves. The eastern sky was alight with the coming sun as dawn approached. The police arrived. From the first police vehicle to enter the scene came inspector Joe Cardona and the commissioner, Ralph Weston, both of which had been personal friends of Lamont Cranston and had been aided by the forces of the Shadow numerous times.
They viewed the scene before them in amazement. The whole of the glorious mansion of Lamont Cranston had been reduced to a gigantic heap of smoldering ruins. An officer who had previously arrived approached them.
"Unbelievable, isn't it?" said the officer.
"You're telling me. So, are there any survivors?" It was commissioner Weston who spoke.
"I don't know yet, but we haven't seen or heard any of the mansion's occupants. We haven't got any bodies, but we haven't had much time to look for 'em and there's plenty of rubble to look through"
While they discussed facts, Cardona inspected the scene.
"Ralph, you better have a look at this," Weston and the other officer brought their attention to Cardona, "Look at this residue, it's excessive, and feel it too!"
Weston grabbed a clump of soot and rubbed it between his fingers.
"Oil? Do you think...."
"I don't know, but we better find out for sure."
A glass bottle of water was retrieved from the ambulance's medical supplies. Cardona placed some of the soot in the bottle. After most of it settled, it was apparent that oil was used as an accelerator because some of it had risen to the top of the bottle. Commissioner Weston stood in amazement.
"Who would do this?" Weston knew that Lamont Cranston had many enemies, but no one would commit such an overt crime against such a wealthy and well known figure as he.
"I don't know"
A courier approached and delivered a letter to Cardona. He eyed it curiously. The words disappeared as he read.
The sun rose had now fully risen, its light stifled by dark clouds.
HARRY VINCENT awoke as the sunlight began to creep upon his face. His body ached all over. He looked around. He was surrounded by cement walls. A metal door stood in front of him. It was from a small window in the door that the intense beam of light which woke him shown through. Everywhere the beam did not touch was a contrasting blackness. Harry ached as he regained his consciousness. His shaky voice emanated from from his cell.
He coughed up a little blood, now recalling the events of the night before.
"So Mr. Vincent," said Salvatore back at the Cobalt Club, "tell me everything."
Harry was terrified as his hand, still grasping the knife, moved against his will toward his side.
"Well?" asked Salvatore. Harry was silent, not in defiance, but in horrific amazement.
The knife plunged into Harry's side. He gave out a horrible scream of pain. A waiter hurriedly approached.
"Would you sirs like any drinks?" asked the waiter as Harry bled.
"Yes, some brandy for me," answered Salvatore, smiling.
"And you sir?"
"......help....help me!" Harry was in horrible pain.
"Right away sir," and the waiter left.
Harry's eyes met Salvatore's and his hand withdrew the knife from his side and once again plunged it into his body. Blood spurt on to the carpet. Harry would have been bewildered that no one in the club had even noticed his plight if he had not been in so much pain.
"So? What do you have to say?" Salvatore asked, quite contently.
"I....I....I know nothing about the Shadow," which was absolutely true, the Shadow revealed nothing, even to his agents.
"I didn't ask about the Shadow, did I?" At these words Harry's left arm landed on the table and his knife hand hovered over it shakily, "Tell me or you lose your hand."
After a moment of hesitation, the knife began to saw through his wrist. He yelled out in horrible pain only to the satisfaction of Salvatore. He always wondered how Salvatore was able to exert his power over the capos if his minions were not aware of his authority to enforce his orders, was this how?
HARRY writhed within his dim cell. He couldn't feel his left hand. What happened to it? He couldn't remember beyond that point. He squinted at the intense beam of light which fell upon his face and looked down at his left arm. He had completely sawed off his own hand. He smiled to himself, he had not given in to the torture. A small victory.
He heard a grown from another cell.
Several figures ran quickly through a system of underground passages. The Shadow's remaining agents were well at work. Because of Harry's enduring dedication, Salvatore could only guess their location. Unfortunately Salvatore was right. The agents were in the Cranston Mansion at the time of the attack. Harry's suffering was not in vain, he still held a very important secret. During the Shadow's impersonation of Cranston, he had built an underground safe house connected to an intricate system of escape routes which the agents and the numerous housekeepers of the mansion now used to escape. Though the mansion was destroyed in the siege, the agents, for the first time in weeks, had a strong feeling of hope, for leading them through the dim passageways was a familiar cloaked figure who took every stride with bitter confidence.
"WHO's there," a woman's voice asked through the darkness. Harry crawled to a small crack in the wall, and saw the eyes of Margo staring back at him.
"It's me, Margo. Harry."
"Oh, Harry, I'm so glad you're here! What happened to every one? How did you get- oh, Harry, your, your hand!"
"I'm fine. And so is everyone else. For now. But we've got to get out of here. Salvatore wants to kill all the agents. He tortured me."
Though neither he nor Margo could see it, Harry could feel his face blanch as a horrible thought crossed his mind.
"They didn't hurt you did they Margo? Have you told them anything?"
"No, I think wanted to use me as a bargaining piece."
Harry let his breath out. Thank God for small favors, he thought.
"How are we going to get out of here, Harry?"
"I don't know, Margo. I just don't know."
"I may be able to help with that," said a third voice and both Harry and Margo were sure they were delirious.
It was the voice of the Shadow!
"NO, please go away!," a young Donny Slavo pleaded, "please, have mercy."
Donny Slavo was cornered in a dark alley in a foreboding part of town which he had become familiar with as a child. Before him stood a powerful looking man, clothed in exotic Asian armors. Though it was night, an extremely bright light seemed to emanate from behind him and he appeared only as a silhouette. His sword was pointed forward at Donny, not yet within striking range, but there was no way the young criminal could escape.
"Look, I'll make you a deal," At these words, the Mongol warrior halted. He moved his sword to his left side and extended his right hand forward.
"So, it's settled then," said the Mongol warrior with a strong Asian accent.
Donny was incredulous. He cautiously approached and shook the man's hand. He smiled.
"I guess it is"
With his left hand, the Asian warrior swiftly sliced off Donny Slavo's head.
Dominic Salvatore awakened, this time without a scream. It seemed that ever since the occurrence in the Empire State Building he had been having strange and horrific nightmares. His sleep patterns have changed dramatically because of it. He now found that he was sleeping at strange hours of the day and he could only sleep for a couple hours at a time.
Dominic reached for the lamp, but there was something surrounding his body. All of a sudden a door opened in front of him. He saw a gigantic place. Hundreds of candles lit it. Two gigantic black velvet curtains hung about a hundred feet in front of him from a place which must have been miles higher in the sky. Everywhere beyond this area was in complete and utter darkness.
Two hooded skeletons pulled Dominic Salvatore from an emaculate casket. He stood, bewildered, in the center of the lit area. The atmosphere was thick and difficult to breath, it refracted the candlelight. From the blackness between the two black curtains came a gigantic black figure. It was none other than the Shadow himself. He stood about ten feet high. His body was whole as it once was, his face was full and unscathed. His cloak was different as well, cleanly black and eerily beautiful, it looked almost royal as it trained on the ground. A strange girasol ring glistened on the ring finger of his left hand, it did also on the left hand of Salvatore.
"Dominic Salvatore," said the Shadow.
Dominic was speechless.
"How will I judge you?"
In the blackness beyond the curtains, Salvatore fancied that he spotted some movement. Yes! He did! There was someone walking about in the darkness. It became clearer now. It was his younger self walking the streets of New York which were also hidden in the blackness. He watched his entire life all over again. He saw every act of evil he had committed. He saw himself threaten innocent families. He saw himself in various acts of theft. He saw himself speak every lie he spoke and bribe every bribe he made. He saw himself commandeer businesses using dire threats against the helpless owners. He saw himself smuggling in slaves from across the Pacific. He saw himself kill a man with his bare hands. Then another. Then many others. At last he saw himself ordering the death of the Shadow's agents.
Throughout this entire event the Shadow did nothing, but stare luridly at Salvatore until the last scene which the Shadow turned to watch.
The Shadow's eyes narrowed into a leer as his head turned back to Salvatore.
At once the two hooded skeletons grabbed Salvatore and pulled him around his coffin into the infinite darkness which was beyond. He said nothing, he looked as if he was in a daze, his heart beat sickeningly against the inside of his chest. He went limp as the skeletons dragged him away.
Salvatore opened his eyes still in complete blackness. He screamed hysterically. He threw his arms in front of his face as if in defense of some unseen attack. He jerked back in forth violently as he fought with the interworkings of his mind until he realized that the darkness he was in was that of his own bedroom. It was just another dream. He pulled back the thick curtains which lined the room and light flowed in. Was this the Shadow's curse?
x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
Dear Roger Smith of the Daily Sphere,
I am mailing this in response to you inquiry about the Cranston Manor accident. We have confirmed that, without a doubt, Lamont Cranston, his house maids, butler, chauffeur, and his friends who were staying there at the time, have died in the accident. You may have heard the rumors that we believed that this was an act of arson. I can assure you that those rumors are absolutely false. I and the well renowned detective, Joseph Cardona have confirmed it ourselves. We have no other information regarding this accident.
Commissioner Ralph Weston
New York City Police Department
x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
IN Harry's dim cell, the Shadow stepped into the little light that was present and pulled off his red scarf. But there was no skull, a human face. It couldn't be the Shadow, but none other than...
"Hello, Harry. Margo," said Lamont Cranston, smiling from ear to ear.
"Lamont," Margo asked in fast, excited voice, "how did you get here? And where did you get that costume?"
"The boss always left one at the mansion, just in case. It was one of the few things I could save, among other things that were very useful"
Seeing their puzzled looks, Cranston explained, "Oh, you wouldn't have heard, would you. They tried to get me last night. Burned the mansion, but I got out all right. With this. Thought I'd give them a scare. Anyway, I also I found a map that show a connection between a building and an old mine tunnel. That's how I got here. And that's how we're getting out."
LAMONT produced a small pick axe and, as quietly as he could, made it hole in the wall dividing Harry's and Margo's cells. Soon there was a hole just big enough for Margo to squeeze.
"Quietly, now," whispered Cranston, as he lead them down and through the tunnel. At the end of it, they could see a taxi cab waiting for them, with Moe Shrevnitz behind the wheel. Harry and Margo clamoured into it, but Cranston, seeing them safely into Moe's care, turned around and ran back into the tunnel.
"What are you doing," Harry asked.
"Leaving a little surprise for our friends," Cranston called back.
"We'll wait for you."
But Cranston didn't hear. He had all ready disappeared back into the tunnel. Margo and Harry waited in solemn silence. A few minutes later, they heard and explosion and saw a building erupt in flames. They waited for Cranston to return, but he never came. It was full hour before Moe drove away.
The next morning New York would wake to hear the news of Cranston's death in his mansion, but only the agents would know of his true sacrifice.
"WHAT do you mean it was blown up?!!!" An angry Salvatore screamed on the phone from within his luxurious Empire State Building office which had, by now, been thoroughly cleaned and rebuilt. The only tell tale signs of the firefight which had occurred over three weeks ago were a bullet whole in a chair which the "cleaning crew" had deemed fit to stay and a strange blood stain in the carpet which, for some reason, could not be removed. Most of the priceless decor had been destroyed and the room seemed relatively bland. Also, most of the cabinets which were scattered about the room now lined the windows.
"All the prisoners were freed?!!"
"There were only two." A deep voice on the other side of the line responded.
"Who were they?"
"Uh... Harry Vincent and Margo Lane."
Salvatore was silent for a moment. Reading this morning's news report, he was sure that he had destroyed the other agents. Even if he hadn't, how did they find Harry and Margo?
"Oh, yes. Do you have any more information? Do you know who did this?"
"The men that were there, they said they saw a man wearing a black cloak and a large, wide brimmed hat. They tried to catch him, but they said he moved like a ghost."
Salvatore's face went pale. He stared forward blankly as he put down the receiver. A horrific terror gripped his heart.
"Things aren't looking well for you...." a booming voice from behind startled him, ".....my apprentice."
Salvatore turned around to see the Mongol warrior from his dreams. He wore a fantastic Asian robe with beautiful metallic trimming. His hair was long and untamed, his voice, loud and commanding. This man was known by some as the Shiwan Khan, decedent of the infamous conquerer, Genghis Khan. Shiwan had always believed, deep in his heart, that the world was his birthright, that it was his destiny to control it. His ancestor's infamy, no doubt, contributed to this delusion. If any existed, this man would be the Shadow's nemesis and he indeed thought himself his rival. He remembered that long ago in Tibet, he had trained as a peer alongside a man who claimed the identify of Lamont Cranston. There is something else to say of Shiwan. He has been endowed with the uncanny power to control people's minds.
"No! No, ev-everything's fine." Salvatore lied outright. Despite the fact that his master taught him the power to control the minds of men and secured him the position of capo di tutti capi, he felt a strong resentment towards him. The relationships of criminals have always been this way, each wary of the fact that the other is plotting their downfall. Salvatore's recent dream had furthered his suspicion, his hand rested in his pocket where his gun was hidden, ready to draw in case his master had chosen this day to betray him.
"Really? Because things don't seem to be fine." The Khan smiled at his apprentice, "It sounds to me that you've had an unhealthy brush with our old friend."
"Our old friend?" It was now Salvatore's turn to smile, "You mean The Shadow?"
Shiwan's forehead wrinkled in inquisition.
"Our old friend," continued Salvatore with an insane smile, "is dead"
Shiwan stared at him as if waiting for a punch line. None was needed. The Shiwan Khan soon began to tremble with laughter.
"What?" Salvatore was offended. At the site of his serious looking face, the Khan broke into an even more uproarious laughter, it echoed loudly through the room.
"You can't kill him," chuckled the Khan, though he believed that he himself was able to kill him, in fact he had thought that he had killed him many times before.
"Well I did kill him." His voice raised with anger. "I wear his cherished ring on my finger! I use his skull as a paperweight."
Shiwan Khan ignored his further rantings and eyed the strange ring. He indeed recognized it. He could never forget it's brilliance. Engraved on each side were symbols which he identified to represent good and evil. In between the two symbols lay a stunning red girasol gem, otherwise known as a fire opal, a desert jewel thought, by some, to represent death. It glimmered like a droplet of blood on Salvatore's finger. If inspected closely, one could see that dazzling colors were continually dancing, flowing, changing, and coalescing deep within the very center of the gem. Shiwan knew that his apprentice was incapable of fully appreciating such a thing. All his life he had been far much too absorbed by how much things were worth to other people to ever discover any value in them himself.
Shiwan chuckled to himself, interrupting Salvatore's rants. He wisely decided to hide his surprise over the ring.
"Okay," spoke the Khan, a word so casual sounded awkward in his accent, "so let's say the Shadow really is dead. Let's even go as far to say that you killed him yourself. Then why is your temper so unstable? Why can't you sleep? Why do you pace back and forth nervously during the night? Why have your decisions been so rash and hasty?" Shiwan paused, "Why haven't you seen your fiancé in the last month?" Salvatore was struck by the last statement most. Amongst the recent events he had completely forgotten about his fiancé.
Salvatore struck back with a continuation of his previous rants, but with increased vigor. He gestured violently as his shouts reverberated through the room and occasionally found opportunity to plant his fist into some object as if to better communicate his anger.
But just as before, Salvatore's senseless rant fell on deaf ears. Shiwan Khan simply smiled as a glowing white fog grew from the cracks in the walls. Salvatore's yells grew with anger, but as the fog filled the room he found that they were being muffled by it until even he could not hear himself. The fog eventually began to dissipate, revealing a room lacking one Shiwan Khan.
Because of his master's ability to control the mind, Salvatore could never be sure whether he had really left. Apparent from this conversation, the Khan spied on him frequently, even while he slept. Wary of this fact, Dominic painfully bent his lips into his usual sly smile. He did not want to give Shiwan the satisfaction of watching him in disgruntlement. He poured himself a drink.
He wondered to himself how he had lost his temper so easily. He was usually much more cool. Was it was true what the Khan said? Why had the Shadow's death effected him so?
He squinted as a revenant sun rose above the clouds.
JOE Cardona awoke as a beam of sunlight penetrated his heavy eyelids. It had been a long time since he had seen the sun so bright. He was a bit groggy as he awoke. He had been working all night on a case, namely the Cranston Manor Arson case.
It was, but one piece of evidence that had consumed him that night. A single white sheet of paper with the words "Do not tell them the truth." scribbled on it as well as the familiar signature of none other than the Shadow. He and Commissioner Weston had received it the morning of the Cranston Manor fire. According to the courier, the letter was supposed to have been received long ago, but apparently had fallen through the cracks and was just recently found. The return address seemed to have been effaced by the wear and tear the envelope had endured. Immediately after the letter was read, news reporters arrived at the scene. Apparently some people in the are had seen some suspicious activity before the fire and clued the papers in on it which certainly accounted for all the interest. Cardona had never before encountered coincidences concerning the Shadow. He promptly informed them that he had no information at the time and that he would give them a formal statement once anything can be said.