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The Shadow: For Whom The Bell Tolls!

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The Shadow
Written by Dustin Denley

The Shadow, a mysterious figure who fights for law and order using the skills of a master magician and the hypnotic ability to clouds men's minds so that they cannot see him, is in reality lamont Cranston: Wealth young man about town. Cranston is accompanied by his beloved companion they lovely Margo Lane. Only Margo Lane knows to whom the voice of The Shadow belongs.

Today's Adventure: For Whom The Bell Tolls!

New York City, 1931. The city that never sleeps. Even now, at 1:30 A.M., citizens, cars, and taxi calls can be heard. Fortunately, James McCoy has lived in the city all his life, so he is able to find some sleep. James is a 35-year-old man who runs a small department store. His apartment, as a result of his meger job, is small and humble. Said apartment is silent as a graveyard, save for James' snoring. This silence is broken when a loud bell rings three times. "What....'Dat bell again...?", James mumbles, lifting his head groggily. James eyes grow wide when he sees a gleam in the shadows by his window. "Hey, what the Hell?!?", James screams just before the gun shot rings out. The entire floor is startled. The inhabitants leave their homes to investigate. "What was that?" "What's going on?" "Was that a gunshot?!?" "Came from James' apartment!" "Well, I'm kicking the door in!" Once the door is down, the residents pour into the apartment. A middle-aged man checks James' pulse. "He...He's dead!"

Lamont Cranston sat at his type-writer composing his next short-story. Cranston was a well dressed man of 30. He was a rather thin man with slicked back black hair, save for a few strands around his hair. Lamont muttered to himself before putting his cigarette in his mouth and typing. Margo Lane, having just finished her make-up, came to check on lamont in his study. Lane was a well dressed woman of 28. She was quite a lovely woman, to say the least. She had nicely kept blonde hair. "How goes the story, Mr.Writer?", Margo asked in a playful tone. "Nearly done, actually. Though, I don't plan on releasing it until The Commissioner has read it tonight. His input keeps my mysteries accurate.", Lamont answered. "I'd think The Shadow wouldn't need any input.", Margo remarked, skimming the completed pages. "Expert of catching criminals is something The Shadow may be, but on the judicial system, he is not.", Lamont chuckled. The two had invited The Commissioner over to their apartment to read Lamont's story before Lamont took it to his editor, and for Lamont to coax information on cases the police were having trouble with. As luck would have it, barely 2 minutes afterward, The Commissioner knocked at their door. "Speak of a critic and he shall appear.", Margo smiled as she went for the door. While Margo went to greet their guest, Lamont gathered the pages. "Good evening, Commissioner.", Lamont greeted him with a smile. "Evening, Cranston.", The Commissioner said, a worried look on his face. Lamont's expression softened as he and Margo sat on their couch, motioning for The Commissioner to take a seat in the chair across from them. "You seem depressed, Commissioner, what's the matter?", Margo asked. "There was a murder last night, and the killer hasn't given us an inch. No prints, fibers, or shells from the gun he fired. I've got a ghost running around in my town, and you can't arrest ghosts.", The Commissioner explained, his tone a mix of frustration and sadness. "Surely you don't really expect a phantom to be behind the killing, Commissioner.", Lamont remarked at his story. "Of course not, but he may as well be.", The Commissioner replied. "Who was the poor man that was killed?", Margo asked. "Now, Margo, I doubt The Commissioner wants to delve into any further into the matter.", Lamont said, knowing The Commissioner wouldn't need any more provocation. "No, it's no trouble, Miss Lane. The victim was a man by the name of James McCoy. Ran a hole-in-the-wall department store. Got shot in his own bedroom, and we figure the killer ran off usin' the fire escape.", The Commissioner explained. "Why would anyone want such a man dead?", Lamont asked. "No idea. The man had no criminal record, and he wasn't related to anyone that does. By all means, he was an average joe that didn't do anything to make himself stand out.", The Commissioner sighed, beginning to feel the frustration of the case once more. "Why don't we change the focus of our little visit, Commissioner. I've finished the story I needed you to read for me.", Lamont said, handing him the papers. "So I'm just a tool to use, eh?", The Commissioner said, feigning anger. "Of course not, Commissioner! I like to think of you as a valuable informant.", Lamont chuckled. "Heh, heh, I'm only joking, Cranston. If anything, these stories of yours let me see a case where the crook gets caught.", The Commissioner said, small traces of sadness in his voice.

Tony Fats, going off of appearance, speech, and body language, was a small-time mob enforcer. He lived in a crap apartment, and his neighbor was shot dead two nights ago. Tony was just making his way home, having spent the night "talking" with "friends". He stood in the lift, when he noticed a lovely blonde woman coming toward it. She wore perfume so strong that it seemingly replaced all air in the lift with its odor, but Tony didn't really mind, in fact, he found the scene intoxicating. "Looks like we're in for more hot weather.", she remarked, breaking the silence, and the tracks of Tony's train of thought had been travelling on. "Sorry to hear that, I was lookin' forward to cooler days.", Tony responded. By appearances, these two were both insane. It was January with the weather twenty eight degrees below zero. But, much like Tony, the appearance was intentionally deceiving. Tony HAD been a mob enforcer. That is, until his life was saved by The Shadow! The Shadow knew Tony had connections in the underworld, so he had Tony become on of his agents as payment for saving his life. As an agent, Tony's job was to gather as much information as possible for The Shadow. The phrase this woman had uttered was a code, warning Tony that The Shadow would be visiting for info that night. The woman stayed on the lift after Tony left for his apartment. When Tony reached the door, it was unlocked, and the lights in his home were off. Tony shut the door behind him, and, when he looked at the window a second time after doing so, he saw a figure that hadn't been there before. The figure wore a black trench coat, black fedora, and a flowing, red scarf that covered all but his nose and eyes. Though, one could easily have mistaken the figure for a demon wearing a cloak of crackling shadows with a fiery maw. "GOOD EVENING, Tony.", The Shadow's voice booms, seemingly coming from all corners of the apartment. "Uh, yeah, good evenin', Shadow.", Tony replies, feeling increasingly nervous with each moment in the mysterious avenger's presence. "I WANT YOU TO TELL ME ABOUT THE DEMISE OF JAMES MCCOY, TONY", The Shadow explained. "You're in luck, Shadow, I was Jimmy's neighbor.", Tony said. "I'M AWARE OF THIS, Tony. IT IS FOR THIS REASON THAT I CHOSE TO VISIT YOU OVER MY OTHER AGENTS.", The Shadow replied. "WAS THERE ANYTHING UNUSUAL ABOUT HIS BEHAVIOR?", The Shadow quizzed the former criminal. "Well, he heard a bell real late at night the day before he was snuffed.", Tony told him. "YES, THAT IS FAIRLY ODD...TELL ME, DID JAMES MCCOY HAVE ANY ENEMIES?", The Shadow asked. "Yeah, and in all the wrong places. Some mobsters wanted to sue his store as a front, but Jimmy refused 'em everytime.", Tony told him. "THANK YOU FOR YOUR INFORMATION, Tony. IT HAS BEEN MOST HELPFUL.", The Shadow said, just before snapping his fingers. The snap created a bright flare, momentarily blinding Tony. Once his vision had cleared, The Shadow was gone.

Lisa Addams was a kind soul. She donated to charity, worked at a soup kitchen, and rented the second room in her apartment on cold night such as this one. It was 11:00 P.M. when she stepped out of her bathroom, wrapped in a towel, and looked for a clean set of clothes. As she approached her closet, a bell rang 3 times. She turned to see a gun pointed at her from the darkness of her room. "Who?!?", were her last words before a bullet pierced her heart. The man who'd rented the room for the last week went to investigate, and found her body.

The Daily Taddler's headline was "Phantom Bell Killer On The Loose!", the morning after. Lamont eyed this for a few minutes before leaving for the police station. "Cranston, what're you doin' here so early? Delivering milk?", were The Commissioner's greeting words. "I saw The Taddler's headline, and wanted to help in the investigation. I've done so in the past, so I figured you'd allow my presence.", Lamont explained. "Sorry, Cranston, but now. The cases you helped on were small, and this one is looking more and more like serial killings.", The Commissioner said, the traces of sadness and frustration appearing in his voice again. "But, Commissioner-", Lamont began, only to have The Commissioner interject with, "This isn't one of your stories, Cranston! Amateurs like you can't stop a skilled serial killer!" The Commissioner's anger was apparent now. "What makes you suspect serial killings?", Lamont asked after a few moments of agitated silence. The Commissioner sighed, and said, "Same amount of evidence, and a bell was heard ringing both the day before and immediately before the killings." "Bell?", Lamont feigned curiosity. "Yes. Our victim was renting a room in her apartment out. Both heard a bell the night before, and the guy reported hearing it again moments before she was killed. After hearing about this bell, we asked around McCoy's floor. His neighbor heard a bell the day before too, and I'd bet he'd have heard it again if he'd been up when McCoy was killed.", The Commissioner explained. "And, on top of that, I've gotta calm the public down since some punk leaked info to The Taddler for a quick buck.", The Commissioner added. 'I see, Commissioner. I'm sorry to have bothered you.", Lamont apologized, leaving.

Margo waited for Lamont in the car outside the police station. When Lamont returned, cranking the car, she asked, "Well, is it the same killer?" "Yes it is.", Lamont answered, a mix of worry and frustration in his eyes. "Oh God, Lamont! A serial killer!", Margo said as the car began its journey to their apartment. "Don't worry, Margo. I'll be seeing Tony tonight, and the killer won't be on the streets much longer after that.", Lamont said, a steely look in his eyes now.

The Shadow made his way across the snowy rooftops of New York City. The wind carried a chill so powerful, it chilled his molars. Then, standing atop the neighboring building, The Shadow watched a man in a trench coat make a series of complex jumps and maneuvers down the fire escape outside Tony's apartment. The Shadow would have pursued the killer, but Tony was a well seasoned agent and friend, so he decided to check on him. Tony lay on the floor in his pajamas, blood soaking his wife-beater. The Shadow crouched down, and closed Tony's eyes. The Shadow called the authorities pretending to have merely been a passerby who witnessed the killer's escape, and made his way to the roof. Then, in icy silence with snowflakes dancing in the night's air, THe Shadow quietly mourned his fallen comrade.

"I'm sorry, Lamont.", Margo said after hearing what had happened. "Don't be, Margo. Tony did give me the final piece of information I needed in the end. His parting gift, I suppose.", Lamont replied. "What do you mean, Lamont?", Margo asked him. "These aren't serial killings, Margo. They're mob hits. James McCoy denied the mob's wishes to uses his small store as a front. I'm sure Lisa Addams did something similar in the past. Tony's old connections made him an obvious candidate.", Lamont explained. "What of the hit-man?", Margo asked, concern in her voice. Lamont smiled. "That's where you come in, Margo."

The next day was a lively one for Margo. She spend the day darting around the city, contacting other agents using Lamont's description of the killer. Lamont spent the day transferring money to Tony's relatives. Once they'd regrouped, The Shadow prepared to end the killings.

"Your work is satisfactory as always, Leo.", Al "The Boss" Zuccini congratulated the man smoking in the corner of his study. "The satisfaction is all mine, Al.", Leo grinned. "Please, let me pay you for this, Leo. Skills such as yours deserve reward.", Al insisted. "No need, Al. The reward is the look in their eyes that split-second before I pull the trigger.", Leo said, a maddened glint in his eyes. Just then, the study's lights went out. "AND WHAT A REWARD THAT IS, LEONARD FALCONE.", a demon's voice rang out. "Wh-What the Hell!?!",Leo yelled out. A "snap" rang out, and the study's fire place roared to life. The Shadow's silhouetted figure stood in front of the fire's glow. "W-Who the Hell are you!?!", Al yelled. "C'mon, Al, don't tell me you don't know a livin' legend when ya' see one.", Leo smirked. "TELL ME, LEONARD FALCONE, IS THAT WHY YOU MADE YOUR ASSASSINATIONS SO THEATRICAL?", The Shadow asked the hit-man. Leo grinned, and said, "Heh, heh, yeah! In a world of Hornets and Shadows, I figured flashy n' gimmicky was the new way of the world." "IT'S ONLY NATURAL A FORMER ACROBAT WOULD FIND A WAY TO BRING SHOWBOATING TO CRIME.", The Shadow spoke, much to Leo's surprise. "H-How'd you know about that?!?", he asked. "I KNOW YOUR DARKEST, WELL KEPT SECRETS, LEONARD FALCONE, FOR I AM THE DARKNESS YOU HIDE THEM IN!", The Shadow said, snapping his fingers. The roaring fire was immediately extinguished. "I'll find you, Shadow!", Leo said, pulling his gun and searching blindly. "HAHAHAHAHA! YES, LEONARD FALCONE, LET US MATCH OUR SKILLS!", the shadows themselves seemed to cackle with The Devil's laugh. "Ahh!", Leo yelled, firing blindly. "Ahk!", a voice yelled. A 'snap" ran out again, the lights flicking on. Al was leaned in his chair, mouth open and eyes wide. A bloody hole lay in his forehead. Leo felt a gun barrel against his neck. "THANK YOU FOR SAVING THE BULLET IT WOULD HAVE COST ME TO KILL HIM, LEONARD FALCONE. NOW IT CAN END YOUR LIFE!", The Shadow said from behind him before pulling the trigger.

That night as he lay in his bed, Margo's sleeping form beside him, Lamont Cranston stayed awake to hear the grandfather clock's bell toll.

End.