It was the summer of 1997, the year when all this commotion began. Shadow ghouls were unstoppable, forcing many villagers of Sand's Burrow to leave. The majority left without hesitation, but some were convinced that they would outlive this terror. One of the few was a journalist named Brian McGuire.

Brian was 6'2. He had dark hair that was over-styled, and his glasses hid his brown eyes. By working out often, Brian a good build. It had been five years since he had seen his family. He wanted to see them again, but no one was willing to come back to this terrorized village. Many of the stubborn residents were leaving if not planning to leave soon. Brian would too. He had tried everything he could to stop these creatures. He often wrote about them in his journal entries. He even submitted several entries to the press, none of them being published. They claimed that the story was too fictional and it would draw readers away doubting that those entries were true. He had tried calling the police in different areas, but with all the prank calls they got, they took this as another one of them. It was hopeless and Brian knew that. He sighed as he started packing.

As he was doing this, he thought back to what had happened and how those ghouls had taken his parents. How angry it made him, how terrifying it was to be there when it happened. They would pay for what they did. Brian was sure of it. For now, he was more focused on leaving the area. It was certainly not the easiest thing to do, especially if there were more and more shadow ghouls prowling around. Some of the victims became shadow ghouls so the population of these ghouls kept on growing. It also made the target on the remaining people bigger.

Brian was nervous. He jumped at his shadow. He shook at the slightest sound. Brian had been attacked before. Luckily, he escaped. However, that incident would never be forgotten. It had almost cost him his life. It was scary just thinking about it. He knew he should leave. He no longer felt safe at home. Screams of horror no longer took him for surprise. They were too common. "No! Please don't hurt me!"

He heard a voice call. He would have ignored it like the many others he had, but this one, this one sounded strangely familiar. "Noooooooooo!" Gone, another innocent life was gone forever. The creeping chill of the voice gave Brian shudders. It echoed in his head, "Don't hurt me, hurt me, hurt me." It frustrated him. He tried to ignore it like he had done before, but he couldn't. Those few words kept haunting his mind. They were like an unwanted song playing again and again unable to stop, like a never fading echo. In fact, the echo got louder, louder, clearer each time. But wait, there were more voices, more cries of helplessness. "Stop!" "Help me!" "Don't leave me like this. Please!" Voices, more voices all of them getting louder and louder, faster, more vivid, yet still clear and able to be heard. The calls kept coming and did not seem to have any sign of stopping.

Nothing like this had happened before. Occasionally, Brian would have a flashback or two about the incident, but hearing the pleas of victims was new to him. It was unnatural, it was frustrating, horrifying rather. The voices didn't seem to even be around where Brian was. It could have been as close as next door, or as far as out of town. Brian didn't know. He couldn't judge. He couldn't stop them either.

Chills ran down his spine. It was another feeling Brian got. It wasn't a good one. Nothing that happened in this village was anyway. These were not cries of help. He felt another presence. The voices continued, but they were engulfed by the new presence. This sense was strong, too strong to be a good sign. It continued getting stronger and stronger

Terrified, Brian grabbed whatever he had packed and darted out of the door. Something or someone was after him. He felt it. He was right. His senses came to a conclusion- shadow ghouls! They were after him He just knew, even without looking. He could see the evidence of their presence. His shadow was quickly followed by three others. Brian panicked. Sweat dripped from his forehead, but was quickly dried off by the wind he made by running against it. He glanced back often, monitoring how fast he would have to go to keep away from those ghouls. The voices were still in his head, "Help!" "Come back!" "Are you going to let me die like this?" They were disturbing but motivated him to run as fast as he could. He kept in mind that what the voices stated could be him if the shadow ghouls caught him.

Brian must have looked back once too often. As a result, he slammed into a corner of the building. He fell to the ground. The voices stopped, but only for a second and they returned. He got up but it was too late. The three ghouls surrounded him and they transformed into their human stature.

Brian had never been able to see his attackers before, but this time he was able to, and he was glad. He would remember their appearances of course. The first thing he noticed was that they all wore black from top to bottom. There were black leather jackets, belts, sunglasses, leather pants, and top hats. They all had very few features to distinguish them.

To say the most, one of them had a firm build. He was tall, very tall, and by that, he was much taller than Brian was. Another one had bright red hair you'd think he dyed it. He was shorter, but you could tell he worked out. The third was the one with the best strength. He blond hair gleamed in the light, though he tried to avoid it. They stepped closer and closer, confident that he was trapped. Brian proved them wrong. With his fast reflexes, he took out his pocket camera and flashed it directly in the tallest ghoul's eyes. A severe exposure to light could permanently damage a shadow ghoul's eyes. It could possibly blind them. While the ghoul's were distracted, Brian darted out the door.

He headed for his car. Struggling in his pocket for his keys, he started the engine and drove away. He was safe now, or so he thought.

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Like any typical day, I wandered down the empty, dark streets of the city. Broken Downtown it was referred as. It deserved that name. It had earned it. Almost all the residents lived in apartments, all the residents that were left that was. This town was treated like a dark alley that no one would intend to venture into unless they absolutely had to. Me, I lived wherever I could find shelter. It was far from a glamorous life from many people's standards. It was more of an opposite, but I didn't care, as long as I was not living in Sand's Burrow.

Shadow ghouls had taken over it. They had made it their convenient home, and there was nothing anyone could or was willing to do about it. My stubborn half brother just had to stay. Of course, what I have isn't something to brag about, but living in your own home constantly fearing death was another thing. At least I was more at ease. I continued walking. There was an open market. This was the place to be if you wanted the best deals. They sold practically everything, and the market was crowded every time, guaranteed. It was a place for people who sold items to make a few dollars and those who bought, to get a good price. There was no property fee. I rarely saw police around here fine anyone. The worst of the worst stayed around here, and I had become one of them.

I strolled past, trying to find something I could afford. Even though this was the market, I still had trouble finding something I could buy. I made a living though, just not one with a steady pay. Then, I saw an opportunity to make some extra. I passed my payer to collect. Out his wallet went. He didn't notice. Besides, he probably had a job. It was someone who was able to buy a fine leather wallet. If he stole it, well, easy come, easy go, either way, he'd get around. I needed the cash here and now. I opened it up and found two twenties. Now we were talking. I bought water, bread, some fruits and veggies, and left before someone had the chance to rig me.

I didn't have to worry for at least a few more days, and I still had money to spare. I quickly ate and continued to walk. I actually had no destination, but walking helped me escape from my past. What was my past? It had been so long ago I had forgotten. I remembered- no, I didn't remember, I won't remember. This was why I came here in the first place. I didn't need anyone. I was fine on my own. Connections made people weak. They were the bars of a cage, and if there were enough, they'd trap you. Call me selfish but I didn't care.

I looked in a shattered mirror down the street to see what I had become- broken. That mirror was right. I brushed my brown wavy hair back with my hands. Tears gathered in my brown eyes. They surrendered letting the tears conquer my face. I realized what I had become- an independent, incomplete, self-centered loner. No matter how free I was, there was always something missing. I knew I needed someone, but whom could I turn to. My parents had died at an early age, bickering at each other, and I had a no good half-brother who wouldn't even listen to what I had to say. The only person I had feelings for was my older brother, Tristan, but where was he now? He had mysteriously left, and he never returned.

"What seems to be the matter?" A voice asked. I turned and found a woman dressed in fancy black clothes wearing sunglasses. She had black hair, and was the same height as I was. The rest was hard to describe about here because of the way she dressed.

"Why do you care?" I inquired.

"Sad isn't it, not being able to let out those bottled up emotions, huh?"

"What are you talking about?"

"Let's face it. You have no dreams or goals, no friends and no family. You're singled out."

What she just told me made my mind go blank. "How do you know?"

"I'm one of them, a shadow ghoul. You should know what those are by now."

"I don't know who you think you are, but stay away from me you conceited creep!" I ran, as fast as I could, but I was only stopped by that shadow ghoul again.

"Look, you don't have that many options. I tried asking nicely, but if that's the way you want to be, I can make your world so much bleaker than it already is."

"Oh, and how would you do that?" I cynically remarked.

"That's right, I can't since it's hopeless anyway."

There and then, I snapped. I threw a punch at her, but my fist was only stopped. I was paralyzed.

"Listen," she told me, she lowered my arm. "I can help you. I can help you find your brother."

"You know him?" I asked surprisingly.

"Of course, he's well known in our group."

"He's one of you?"

She nodded. There was a slight pause.

"How do I know that's true?" I asked.

"Here, he gave you a note." She replied.

I read it and recognized his writing. Seeing that I had no future anyway, I agreed and followed her. **************************************************************************** **********

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