Chapter One (Revised)

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The night was dark as it crept inside my room, its shadows long as they covered me, but hope was light in my heart as I stared out the window towards the city beyond. A new beginning awaited me in this glorious place.

The world was alight in shimmering colors that combined to produce London's nightlife in rambunctious bursts of neon flashes. The streets were overflowing with the cheerful chatter and joyous squeals of tourists.

But the air was heavy with a thick fog that cloaked the city in dark grays, hiding a great secret of some far off place from the eyes of men. The fog shifted and rolled as if I was below a great sea, floundering in the consistent waves of everyday life.

The moon was gone from sight, its ever faithful glow not greeting my travel worn eyes and soothing my frustrations.

The eerie weather should have been my first clue that something was amiss. That kind of cloud cover was rare even for a large city like London.

A frigid shiver skittered down my spine every time I glanced at that ominous fog. My senses were on high alert and awaiting any sign of danger.

I shook my head, breaking apart those thoughts, and headed to bed, not knowing in a few hours that my quiet world would shatter with images of creatures beyond common imagination.

***

It felt like my head had just touched the pillow when my little sister burst into my room, the bedroom door slamming against the wall and causing a reverberating sound.

I jackknifed in bed, my vision still blurry from lack of sleep. I rubbed them a few times in an attempt to clear my sight. I had barely had any sleep in the last few days, and now it seemed I wouldn't be getting much tonight either.

I reached over and flicked on the lamp upon my dressing table.

My eyes burned as the light illuminated the bare walls and scattered boxes that made up my new bedroom. It barely felt real to be in this place. In London of all cities.

My eyes skipped over the pink striped walls and hardwood floors until they landed on my sister. Wearily, I took in the sight of her quivering form as she stood, shaking, in the doorway.

Sticky tears streamed down her face unchecked, dripping off her nose and onto her colorful pajamas. Her small hands pleated and unpleated a corner of her nightshirt, worrying the fabric until it was a crinkled mess. Her brown eyes darted around the room in a panic, never once focusing on a certain spot before moving on.

The sleepiness that plagued me flooded away, adrenaline swiftly taking its place. I was left wide awake and completely aware. I was ready to take on any dangers that had dared to haunt my little sister this night.

"What's wrong, Wendi?" I asked softly as I ushered her towards me with a small wave of my hand.

She didn't reply. She wiped her tears before simply flinging herself onto my bed, one of the few things I had managed to unpack in the short week that we'd been here.

A choked sob trembled from her, the sound causing the panic already dwelling in my heart to swell. "Hook t-took Benny!" She gasped out, her small voice trembling with fright.

Hook? Who was this Hook, and why would he be interested in a stuffed toy of all things?

Maybe it was the infamous Captain Hook from the Peter Pan tales? Possibly, another Hook? An imaginary friend, perchance?

Wendi had always had a flair for the imaginative, so a midnight monster wasn't unusual.

"Who took Benny?" I asked gently, not willing to scare her more as I rose out of bed to stand on cold wood floors. This Hook figure couldn't have taken Benny far. Perhaps the toy was still in her room, hiding away under the bed?

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