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Prologue 1: Happy Birthday
Egan winded the station wagon along the winding country road. “I think this was the best birthday yet.” Athena shook her head. “You spoil her! I know we said to make each birthday better than the previous, but this was too much, if someone finds out-” “You worry too much. No one’s going to find out. And there was no way I was going to deprive my daughter the privilege... I was the same age when my father –” “Oh don’t start with that story again…” She massaged her temples. “I know, but it was risky, and reckless, I can’t believe I let you do that.” She glared at the coffee haired man she called husband “Let me?” Egan arched his brow as he glanced toward his wife. “Yes, let you! Just because this is America, doesn’t mean you can pull a stunt like this... there are dangers all around. You know we defer to my expertise on these matters.” she flicked a strand of crimson hair from her face. “You’re so cute when you’re angry.” He gave an impish grin. Heat radiated across her face. “Well, she did have a lot of fun.” Looking over the backseat she saw her little girl’s frizzy mess of curly blond hair. “This one’s going to be hard to top next year.” The rows of tall corn stalks and farmland at last ended as they entered the small town city limits. “We’ll think of a way.” He rolled his neck as he turned toward the residential area. “You know I never thought you would be such a good father, she obeys you better than she does me. Maybe it’s because she’s so much like me... we don’t really get along very well.” She glanced toward the backseats deceptive soft purr. One minute a perfect angle, the next a wild animal. “Well, I can tell you right now it is because she’s so much like you, and that’s why she gets along so well with me.” He bounced his eyebrows. “She has your temper, my blue eyes and my mother’s mane of hair.” He laughed. “I’m trying to be serious here, can you not make jokes?” She huffed. “It was my flirting abilities that drew you to me. I’m simply stating the obvious.” He winked. “Besides when she gets older you two will be able to understand each other better. It’s not like you’ve been completely honest with her about our past, and by extension her past.” “Of course I haven’t, she’s only seven. She’s not ready to learn everything. Especially the truth behind her birth.” She looked to the road seeing their house just a block away. “It’s strange living here like this, such a different world. Becoming Americans, raising our daughter in Texas, driving on the wrong side... so different from England.” “I know and you’ve already lost the accent.” He drummed his hands on the steering wheel. “Oh... look who’s talking Mr. Elevator.” She socked him in the arm playfully. “We are American novelists now, it’s the only way this will work. For now our job is to raise her and figure everything else out as we go. Though I wish our daughter wasn't starting to talk like the natives.” “Do you miss it?” Egan pulled into the driveway. “Miss what?”Athena unbuckled her seat belt. “Home?” His voice barely above a whisper She stopped and leaned against the seat. “Every. Single. Day.” She sighed and laid her head upon his shoulder.
“Wake up Princess, we’re home!” The familiar masculine voice called from beyond her dream realm. Kim yawned. “We’re home?” She stretched and rubbed her eyes. Everything started to come back into focus and she saw her father’s face. “Daddy.” She smiled as she realized he was carrying her into the house. “That’s right sweetie. Don’t tell me you’re going to sleep through your birthday dinner?” “I’m up…” She yawned again. “That was the best birthday present ever.” Her eyes wide open now as she gazed at her father’s loving expression. An overwhelming happiness washed over her. He gave her that look, the one he told her how proud he was, but she didn’t understand what she had done to make him proud. “What’s the look for?” He arched his brow. “Well, your birthday isn’t over yet sweetheart. We still have at least one more gift for you. How about this, go play in the backyard and we’ll get it ready.” In an instant her sleepiness was cast off as she leapt from her dad’s arms. “Another gift? Like maybe a…” She moved her hand and made a swooshing noise. He chuckled. “You’ll have to wait and see.” She raced through the front door of the two story house, through the living room, past her mother in the kitchen and out the back door, faintly hearing her mom shouting. “Kimmy, don’t get dirty!”
Kim hopped down the stairs, two steps at a time, despite only four of them to begin with. When her feet hit the ground, she held her hands wide as if she had just dismounted the pole vaulting. Looking around the yard, she bowed to an invisible audience. “Thank you, thank you.” She giggled. Looking over toward the swing set in the corner of the back yard, she spread her arms and ran toward it. “Flying atop a mighty Hippogriff, Kim soars into battle!” Instead of sitting properly on the swing she pressed her belly against it, walked as far forward as she could then jumped, holding onto the chains as she pretended she was flying. Kim laughed as she soared through the air, the wind in her face. When the swing stopped she shivered and rubbed her arms. “Brr...” The July warmth had vanished. Looking up, the sky looked darker than it had a moment ago. It reminded her of the time when a tornado had come. Fear’s icy hand gripped her heart. She opened her mouth to call out for her parents when- An earsplitting scream shattered the still air. “Mom!” Kim raced toward the back door, the air growing colder, the closer she got to the house. Shoving her way inside, she froze at the sight before her. A strange black hooded creature hovered over her mom. A horrible sound emitting from the thing. She ran toward her mother’s still body despite the creature. “Mom!” She screeched. “Kimberly down!” Egan’s voice sounded from upstairs. Kim hit the floor seeing the same creature coming toward her. “Expecto Patronum!” A massive silvery white dragon erupted from the end of a small stick in her dad’s hand. The black cloaked figure screamed and screeched angrily, but the silvery beast banished it. Egan raced down the stairs and scooped Kim into his arms. “Are you alright?” “Dad... mom...” She sobbed. “Shhh....” He pulled her into a hug. Silent tears fell down his face. He looked to his wife and grasped her hand. “Until we meet again, Athena.” He picked up another wooden stick just inches from his wife’s hand. “Mom’s magic wand... it didn’t protect her.” “It would have, but they surprised her, princess...” He raced up the stairs clutching his daughter close. “We don’t have much time before those things return. I need you to be a brave girl for me. Can you do that?” Tears fell down Kim’s cheeks as she nodded. “Yes.” “Good girl.” He ran into he and his wife’s bed room, entered the closet and sat her down on the floor. “Pay close attention.” He clicked on the over head light bulb, knocked several bags and items around before he found what he wanted. He handed her a backpack, then shoved a large black cloth inside, her mother’s wand was placed with care and a small wrapped present was inserted as well. “No matter what, do not let these be taken. They are everything our family stands for.” “I won’t....” She said amidst sniffles. “But you’ll protect me, right daddy?” He smiled sadly at her. “Angel.” He zipped up the back-pack up and helped her put it on. “You are my princess.” He wrapped his arms around her then stood. “But, you have to go on a trip. Know I’ll always be with you. Believe me.” “No! I don’t want to go without you, daddy, please.” She grabbed at his leg as he started to open the closet door. “Kim.” He looked down at her with an expression she had never seen before. “You said you’d be brave. What I’m doing is to protect you. Please.” He pulled his leg free of her grasp. Then reached into the top of the closer and pulled out a small black shoebox. “One day you will show the world just how amazing you are.” He wiped the tears from her cheeks. “I need you to be strong.” “O-okay....” She feverously wiped at her eyes as she sniffled. His hand gently lifted her chin. “You are my pride. Never forget that.” He laid the box in front of her. “Once I walk out the door count to fifteen then open the box and grab what’s inside. Don’t let go no matter what and don’t tell anyone where you came from, understand?” At her nod, he stepped out the door. “I love you.” Were his last words before she was shut in darkness. “1... 2... 3...” She trembled and sniffed. “6... 7... 8-” “Ahhh!” Her father screamed. “The sins are repaid, you were a fool to run!” An unknown voice growled. Mustering all her courage, Kim crawled to the door and slowly reached for the handle, peeking out. Three men in hooded cloaks stood around her father. “Then kill me cowards!” Egan struggled to rise to his knees. “Oh no.” A burly individual moved a step closer. “You deserve a worse fate than death. Just like your wife... you will be judged by the kiss.” The same creature from before glided into the room. The trio split as it moved toward Egan. “No, you...” Egan growled. “Crucio!” The burly man pointed his wand at their victim. Kim’s father screamed and flailed in agony. “Daddy!” She burst through the door. “No! Kim, the box!” Egan ordered as the creature hovered over him as it had earlier to Athena. “Get her!” The leader shouted. Kim shrieked, stumbled backward, and tripped over the box. A hand grabbed her foot. She kicked, but he wouldn’t let go. Another hand came for her arm, and without thinking she bit it. The man shouted and dropped her. She groaned as her back landed on the box something jabbing into her ribs. Reaching under her she felt something cold and metal. She held it tightly and everything began to spin. Fading sounds of her father’s blood curdling scream, men shouting “She’s getting away” and the spinning grew worse and worse until. Thud Kim gasped as she was able to breathe again. She sat upon wooden planks and looked up at the dark and cold attic. Not cold like her home had just been, but chilly and damp. For a long while, she sat there, shivering in the darkness. Tears falling down her cheeks. She pulled her knees against her chest. “Mom...Dad...” Her body shook uncontrollably. For a long while the only sound was her weeping and a steady dripping from above. Until a new sound joined. Skittering. Kim scrambled to her feet. The boards creaked and groaned beneath her. Something moved, then stopped in the darkness. She could see a bit better now, it wasn’t big. She backed up into a wall. She felt along the wall for a light switch or a door knob, but she couldn’t find either. The skittering thing lunged at her. With reckless abandon, Kim charged across the room, tripped over something and hit the floor. The rotted floor boards gave way as she landed. Kim fell through the floor colliding onto an old dilapidated bed. She groaned and winced. She climbed to her knees, her elbow stung and head ached. A strange squeak like noise came from above, as a black matted Vole with glowing eyes peered down from the gap in the ceiling. She ignored her aching body and raced through the bedroom door, down the stairs of the abandoned old house, and through the entrance to get outside. The house stood in the middle of nowhere. Hills and meadows surrounded for what looked to be miles. No way, I’m going back in there. Kim trembled. “Where am I?” She spotted a small road. Maybe there’s a sign down the road.
As Kim walked along the road her back-pack felt heavier than it had been. “Why...” She mumbled as tears threatened to come again. “No, be brave. Daddy said...” The image of the monster flashed in her mind. Daddy. The scabby grey fleshed demon, that looked like the grim reaper without a scythe. Haunted her. Every time she stopped to look around she swore she heard it behind her, screeching. It was worse than any nightmare she had ever had and it did something to her mom and dad. “Maybe dad got away. Maybe mom was just sleeping...” She hugged herself as the country road seemed to stretch on forever. “Yeah, she tricked them. E-even fooled dad...” Deep down Kim knew it wasn’t true, but it made her feel a little better to imagine it differently. “I bet she came up the stairs after I vanished and saved dad.” She laughed. “Yeah she’s always getting daddy out of trouble.” She continued imagining just how they beat those bad guys, and the police arrived. They would get medals and then send a search party for her. She would be home in time for dinner!
Kim had been walking for what felt like days, though probably only hours. Her feet throbbed, her head ached, her body hurt, she was covered in grime, and every time she dared to stop she’d start crying again. She struggled to put one foot in front of the other. “They’re really dead aren’t they?” She stared at the ground and at last stopped. Her heart melted within her, she didn’t have it in her to keep going. She collapsed to the ground. “Im sorry daddy, I’m not strong enough.” She sniffed. I’ll always be with you. Believe me. At the voice she lifted her head. “Dad?” She looked around there was light in the distance. The sun had not begun to rise yet, but the sky did seem to have more light as the stars began to vanish from sight. She squinted, a few hundred yards away it looked like a small town or possibly a village. She was almost there. Just a little further... Is forced herself to climb back to her feet. She was so close now. Desperation took over as she went into a sprint. She pulled up panting as she reached a sign that read. Welcome to Little Hangleton A man in uniform saw her, and raced toward her. “Good Lord! What in heaven’s name happened to you?” Kim smiled. “I made it...” Her knees buckled and collapsed. The man caught her. “Hold on.” He scooped her up, just like her dad had, when he carried her from the car. She had no more tears she could shed, they had run dry. I promise. I will get strong, I will find those bad guys, the monster, and beat them for good! The world sunk into darkness.