The little girl whimpered in fear. She saw shadows moving and heard strange noises. She knew it was a monster. She turned to her stuffed bear for comfort.
"Teddy! Teddy, I'm scared!" She couldn't find him anywhere. A rustle came from the foot of her bed. "Teddy?"
The bear's small white head rose over the blankets. A piercing scream woke the neighborhood that night.
"Seb, honey, this looks like a great neighborhood," his mother said brightly.
"It is not a great neighborhood," Seb countered. "The house is only for sale because the heartbroken parents can't stay in the house that reminds them of their missing daughter anymore."
"We got it at a great price though. So cheer up. It's a new beginning."
Seb didn't want to cheer up. He would be starting his Junior year at a whole new school. No way he'd fit in.
Why'd dad have to disappear like that? he wondered.
"Hey look, a garage sale!" his mom exclaimed, still far too happy in Seb's opinion.
"Just wake me when you're done," he said.
"I bought you this darling bear! The owners left it behind when they moved."
"Mom, I'm not a kid. Aren't stuffed animals more a girl thing anyway?"
"You'll always be my little boy, no matter what," his mom said, leaving the bear in his room despite his protests.
That night, Seb heard noises. Rustling and scratching from the cupboard he'd stuffed the bear into. Seb ignored it and fell asleep.
When he woke up, Seb found the cupboard door ajar. Small claw marks gouged the inside of the wood.
What the hell?
The cute white Teddy Bear fell out. Its smile was unnerving.
"Okay, bear, you've got to go."
Seb dumped the bear in the trash can outside and smiled as the garbage truck picked it up. Goodbye, creepy little bear.
When he returned to his room an hour later, the bear was back. Only this time, it radiated a fury that chilled Seb to the bone.
School was going to start the next day, and he still couldn't get rid of that bear. Every time he walked into his room, it sat on his desk, watching him. No matter how many times he threw it away, it just came back. He'd even gotten creative and thrown the cursed thing in the river. It returned four hours later, not even waterlogged.
A new record. Whoop-de-doo.
He felt eyes watching him as he got ready for bed. The bear was turned toward him.
"Trying to watch me change, are you? Keep that up and I'm gonna start calling you Pedo Bear." Seb stuffed the bear back in the cupboard. A sense of hatred floated out. "Love you, too," Seb said sarcastically.
His first day was not going as planned. Naturally, everyone ignored the new guy, and when he opened his locker for the textbooks for 3rd period, he found the most unpleasant surprise he could think of.
The bear had followed him to school, and was angrier than ever. Murderous, in fact.
Seb decided that this needed to end. His shop class had some rather interesting machinery he thought the bear deserved to see…
"Seb, honey, I'm going out," his mom called from the doorway Saturday night. Seb hadn't seen the bear all week, not since he'd destroyed it beyond recognition. Relaxation at last.
Murderous fury filled the house.
Seb's door creaked open. The bear stood in the doorway, one eye still drooping. As it raised a claw, its torn-off eye snaked back into place. The bear slashed the wall, and huge gashes covered it. The bear stepped forward.
Seb threw his lamp at the bear and dived for the door. A claw tore a hole in his jeans. Stuffing pulled back inside the bear's chest, and it stomped toward Seb.
"Crapcrapcrapcrapcrap!" Seb ran for his life. The bear followed him unnaturally fast, ripping holes in the wall and knocking everything over.
Seb got cornered in the kitchen. He'd forgotten that there was only one entrance. Who builds a house like that?
Seb grabbed a steak knife. He wouldn't go down without a fight.
"Fighting spirit. I like it. Come with me." A hand grabbed Seb's. He was blinded by light and found himself standing in a forest outside a cave. "Welcome to Faerie. I'm Wynn."
Seb stared cluelessly. A four foot tall boy dressed in green stared back at him.
"Faerie is in danger. It is under siege by a fearsome creature we call a soulspawn. You are the only one who can help."
"It has been terrorizing your world, too. They possess unthreatening items and gather victims to gain power. That, and there's this." Wynn held out a scroll.
From my dad?
It began: If you're reading this, I've most likely been killed while dealing with the matter of a cursed medallion and a fledgling dark lord. You see, I'm a warrior of Faerie…
"He left you this," Wynn held the chain of a necklace Seb recognized, his dad's Celtic cross. "I really hope you're the one who can wield him, because the weapon sealed in this cave is really particular."
"Okay, whatever." Seb was willing to believe anything. Nothing was as weird as a walking Teddy Bear that wanted to kill him. He walked in.
A minute later he came out with what appeared to be a kitchen knife. "Are you kidding me?"
"He changes form, depending on the wielder's skill and his own whims. Follow me. I know where the soulspawn's lair is."
"If you know where it is, why didn't you stop it already?"
"All of Faerie is too weak to fight back anymore. Besides, when has fairykind ever been proficient at fighting?" The cave's outline shimmered. The entrance now seemed infinitely darker, and a familiar sense of hatred leaked out. "It's in there." He walked in.
This is for those missing children. Seb followed. He saw nothing but darkness. Wynn held out a hand, and a orb of light hovered before them. A dozen small boys and girls were revealed.
"Wow, bear, you really are Pedo Bear," Seb said. An angry growl came from deeper in. The soulpawn, still in the form of a Teddy Bear, stopped absorbing a white light from a thirteenth child and stood up.
"The son of the man who destroyed my body dares insult me!?" the soulspawn roared in his father's voice.
"Dad?" Seb lost his will to fight. "He got you too?"
"What's the matter, boy? Can't bring yourself to destroy your father?" the soulspawn mocked. It loomed, seeming to grow larger by the second.
"Be strong," Wynn whispered to the line of children he'd snuck over to. They stood up, all fear gone. Calls came from the line in quick succession.
"We're not afraid of you anymore, Teddy! You're just a bully! You need a time out!" Defiance from every child.
"Noooooooooooooooo!" the soulspawn howled. Seb sensed it was growing weaker. "I'LL KILL YOU!" It turned toward the children and took a threatening step forward.
"Shut up!" Seb yelled. The knife morphed into an oversized sewing needle with a razor sharp point. He dashed forward and stabbed through the Teddy's bow tie. There was an explosive burst of light, and a soundless scream filled everyone's ears. The headless stuffed bear fell over, leaking shadows.
"You never mentioned you were the prince of Faerie," Seb said to the seated Wynn.
"We will be able to call on you if we need you again?" Wynn asked. Seb nodded. Wynn tapped Seb's shoulders with an oversized staff. "Then arise, Seb Jackson, Defender of Faerie."
Seb stood to roaring applause from a crowd of magical creatures.
"I have already returned the children to your local law enforcers. Take my hand and you will return home. It has only been a few hours. No one has noticed your disappearance." Seb reached out and found himself back in the kitchen.
The weapon, in the shape of an ink pen, reminded him of the double life he now led. Like his father before him.
Then front door opened. "Seb, honey, I'm home!" his mother chirped.
Seb took a look at the broken appliances and gashes in the wall from his encounter with the soulspawn.