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Within the Shadows

by

J.D MCG

This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places, organizations, incidents or events are purely coincidental.

Copyright 2021 J.D MCG

Dedication

For all my family, friends and fans. Thank you for making this journey so special and I hope you all enjoy whatโ€™s to come in the future.

Prologue

December 2019

Jack Roberts loves to run. Whether it was a bright sunny day or wet, rainy and miserable. Whatever the weather, he loved to be outside. Whenever he would get the chance, he'd sign up for any marathon and charity run he could. One thing people would say about Jack was he had a huge passion for running.

He kissed his wife on the lips like he always did before his late evening run. It was cold when Jack set off from his house but he soon warmed up after a few metres; sweat dribbling down from his forehead. Jack couldn't resist wiping the sweat with his wrist as he carried on running.

Before he knew it, a mile had passed and he still had more than enough energy to go further. Nothing could stop Jack, not while he was running anyway. He approached the woodlands as 'Eye of the tiger' burst through his earphones. Standing still for a moment, he placed his hands on his knees and took deep breaths. He needed a rest. After a few more long, deep breaths, he straightened his back and stood tall, lifting his head to look up at the night sky which peered through the trees. What a beautiful night, he thought. The moon shone brightly through the trees, lighting up the woods below.

Jack began to move again slowly but picking up the pace a few steps at a time. Ahead of him, he could see the end of the woods through to the open parkland. He kept his breathing regular, and his feet in rhythm with one another. Something stopped Jack in his tracks. A feeling as if someone was watching him, a feeling like no other he'd experienced in his lifetime. He stood still on the path surrounded by the tall trees and leafy bushes. The perfect spot for someone to be hiding. He removed his earphones from both his ears and called out.

'Hello? Is anybody there?'

But nothing, just the silence of the woods. The wind gently rustled the leaves and moved them around him. As Jack put his earphones back in, his eyes caught a glimpse of a bush rustling to the left of him. He removed his earphones once again and dangled them outside of his top.

'Who's there?' he yelled. 'This isn't funny. Show yourself.'

Jack's pulse was racing. His fitness watch was monitoring his heart rate, which shot up like a rocket as he kept his focus on the rustling bush. His eyes remained on the undergrowth, ready for somebody to jump out and mug him, but nothing happened.

A minute passed, and nothing else happened. What am I doing? he asked himself. I must be going mad. He placed his earphones back into his ears and started jogging again. The end of the woods was just within sight. Just a few more steps and he'd be out of there, but something else caught his eye. He could see someone hiding behind a tree as he stopped for the second time.

'What do you want?' he shouted at the top of his lungs, making sure the person could hear him.

The mysterious figure removed themselves from behind the tree and into the open. Jack couldn't quite see their face. They'd hid in the darkness of the unlit woodland where the bright moonlight was unable to lighten them up.

'Who are you?' Jack asked, but the figure said nothing. 'Why have you been following me?'

But again, the figure was unresponsive. They just stood in one spot staring directly towards Jack. He felt scared and he didn't scare easily.

Jack began to walk away slowly and kept his eyes fixed on the figure. One step, two steps and then picking up the pace slightly, he was almost at the end of the woods. The figure had gone from his sight.

He stopped while looking anxiously around to find the person. Jack was two steps away from the end of the woods. It was silent. All Jack could hear was his heartbeat thumping in his chest. He turned his head from side to side when he caught sight of the person standing right in front of him. Their face lit up brightly in the moonlight. He could see every feature on their face. What do they want? he thought as the person approached him.

Chapter 1

January 2020

Jacob waited for Barnes to arrive at the wake of his father and step-mother. He held a drink in his hand while tears filled his eyes. Memories of his mother and father flooded into his head as he sipped from his glass. The memory of him getting into the police force and seeing the proud look upon his fathers face. Remembering what his father had said to him at that precise moment was all he could think about.

'Your mother would be so proud of you, son. Just as proud as I am.'

Jacob snapped back to reality as his brother, Adam, sat next to him with a pint in his hand. Kate sat on the other side of Jacob, staring downwards at her phone like usual.

'Are you okay?' Adam asked him.

'No, but are any of us?'

'True,' Adam replied. 'I can't really remember half of these people,' Adam said while looking around at all the guests.

'Me neither,' replied Jacob. 'Dad never really had any family, well none that we know of anyway. I'm sure all of these people are from Maria's side of the family.'

'Where's your boss anyway? I thought he said he was coming.'

'I'm sure he'll be here in a minute,' Jacob said

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