Those were not the clangs of distant church bells. The hollow echo drained of its passion was nothing more than a steel pipe swinging overhead on its lonely chains, rocking in the breeze and hitting a crumbled wall. Sombre stacks of dirt piled below once hopeful they would become the foundation of new life, but they sagged tired, trapped in their mound. A fortress of iron fencing guarded this construction site with all its might. Not a soul had entered here in weeks and even the hopeless pigeons of the city knew to stay away from such tainted grounds.
A homeless man with his blue sleeping bag roamed the perimeter; babbling about the shadows beyond the gates. The police had questioned him many weeks ago, but his answers were more absurd than a theatre filled with nonsense. He clutched his sleeping bag as comfort as he feared whatever lingered beyond the gates. Whether he'd witnessed the truth of those shadows, nobody could answer.
Before all this, it had been weeks of hard work. Workmen sweat underneath a city's heavy sun as they followed plans of their construction. Between sandwiches, they watched as businesswomen in their clip-clip heels trotted across the road to avoid their wolf whistles and chauvinist retorts. They mocked the school kids on their skateboards trying their hardest to be cool as they wobbled along the rails of a nearby stairwell. Each night they left the site in whatever messy state they’d created, back home to their families forgetting that place once again. It was just another job. Nobody spoke of shadows amongst them and whether they knew of them they dared mention it amongst their peers. They wouldn’t take such discussion seriously and yet had they spoke, perhaps the site would not be abandoned and each man out of work.
Those weeks had passed and the sun the only visitor. She crawled over the abandoned cement mixers and yellow helmets, stretching towards the corners blocked by a towering skyline. Her rays crept between the cracks, searching for life with no avail to its pursuit. The shadow did now want to be found; even the moon-- the suns own sister-- made an attempt. Her glow was weak in this yard as if the iron gates stopped her searching. Had they reached those very edges, not only would the silver of metal pipes reflect back at them, but also glimmer with the stains of blood.
When the workman left and the sun had set, the shadows snuck between the gaps in the iron fence. Ignoring the crazed man with his blue sleeping bag, and scaring sleeping pigeons away it lingered for a moment taking in the surroundings of this construction site. This would be the setting for the shadows greatest deed, hiding the crimes and the screams. It disappeared again alerting the homeless man who shouted after the darkness.
They had hoped for the clang of church bells. It would have been a message others were still out there. The shadows had swept the city, the site being their home. Stories had uttered of workmen digging too deep into the ground, or the curses of a single murder bringing forth demons to punish civilisation. Some even spoke of rapture; a punishment that would take every single life into darkness and merge into a shadow of their very own.
Nobody could determine the exact date or time when disappearances began. They knew it happened under the night sky and could guess the first to go were not cared for- the prostitutes, the alcoholics and the criminals. Assumptions were made about police doing their jobs for once and shadows blissfully ignored. When others went, heads rose in confusion.
The homeless man could have told them; he had seen the shadows for what they truly were. His senile senses detected the truth, that these were not merely shadows, but a true threat on civilisation, one even he would soon submit to. With every missing person, the shadows were growing in force and the deserted city was evidence enough of its might. Their eyes were red, sunken with life sapped out of them and faces gaunt, bruised and grey.
The clangs of the abandoned construction site echoed in the lonely wind.