My little girl....my baby....my joy...my everything. It was hard enough to believe as it was, that my daughter has been gone for three years. Three. Whole. Years. She was only eight years old. My little Haley....I loved her so much. I remember when we used to run around chasing each other around the living room of our three bed room home, the third bedroom belonging to guests and the little of what family I had when they came to visit us. We used to go out every Wednesday for ice-cream and I would always take her to the park to play with other children afterwards, just so I could watch her enjoy herself. I would push her on the swing when she asked, and she would give her big dimpled smile and laugh as I did. Her blue eyes would sparkle, and the curly ginger hair, which she got from her mother, just made her so adorable. It was the best moments that a father could ever have. As you probably guessed already, I am a single father yes, but not by divorce. My wife, Jenna, had....she had lost her life in a car collision while coming home late from work. She had worked at a children's hospital taking care of ill and injured children, so in correlation, of course she would have some nights that she had to work late. My wife...loved her job. She loved working with children. She loved helping children in general. But....it still pains me that she couldn't be with me to watch our own child grow. To watch....Haley grow. Haley had only been three, but she surprisingly and impressively remembered quite a lot about her. One day she had even told me that she remembered when her mother used to read her the Three Little Pigs story before she would drift off to sleep. But my daughter....was taken from me. I remember it so clearly, as if it had only been last week that I had been been tucking her into bed and kissing her head and telling her goodnight. Three years ago....during the summer. I will never forget it.
It was her birthday, June 5th, and I had asked her what she wanted to do for her eighth birthday. The year before, she had wanted to have a big sleepover with her friends and stay up an extra hour to watch "Bleach", one of her favorite cartoon shows. Technically, it was an anime, a Japanese cartoon that even I had to some interest in after watching it with her a few times. I remember her saying "Daddy! I want to have a super big sleepover with cake and ice-cream and board games and snacks! Oooo! And I wanna stay up an extra hour to watch my cartoon! Can I daddy! Can I can I caaaaan I!?" I couldn't help but grant her request because after all, I promised her that she could do anything that she wanted on her birthday. And anything that she asked for, I wouldn't mind getting for the sake of her smile of happiness. Hell, we even had a "cake war" which resulted in a mess that I had to clean up in the end, which it didn't mind of course. This year, she had asked for a princess costume and a tea party set that came with a couple of tea cups and a tea top. She also wanted to go out to the to see "Despicable Me" in 3D at the theaters, which she enjoyed A LOT, before we would finally end the day with some cake, ice-cream, and a couple rounds of Monopoly, in which I purposely loss just to see those cute little dimples in her grin. And of course, she couldn't forget to add her extra hour to the schedule. After that, she brushed her teeth and slipped into her pajamas before I tucked her into bed. "Daaaaaaad, can you read me a bed time story?" She had asked, in which I responded with a "Of course" and a smile. I read her favorite story, Little Red Riding Hood with a bit of her own influence added to it. It was our own little father-daughter thing. I would began reading, and she would change the events. I would write all the details down for the next time and it became something that I went back to read. Something that I had always been proud of. Halfway through the story she fell asleep, and I happily kissed her forehead and left her room door slightly cracked as I left to get some sleep myself. Now skipping a few days ahead, I had gotten up early on a Saturday morning and after checking on Haley I decided to make breakfast for the both us. Her favorite raspberry waffles with just a hint of brown sugar sprinkled along the tiny squares and a dash of whipped cream with a glass of orange juice to go with it. Just as I finished up, I heard her room door open and her tiny feet tap across the floor as she yawned. "Good mornin' booger!" I called as I made sure everything was in order before she came and gave me a warm good morning hug. The same hug that warmed my heart every morning. After our breakfast, we took care of hygiene and it was the beginning of another day. Haley went to play with her tea set, and I sat at the desk in my room putting some touch ups on a book cover design for a children's book that I had been working on for weeks. I was an editor for a company that basically paid me to do so, and even I had to admit that I enjoyed it really. Not having to actually leave the house often, I could always spend time with my daughter and take care of whatever needed to be taken care of. But I was soon interrupted from my work by the sound of the doorbell. I went to go check to see who it was, but was minorly baffled to find that there was no one there. Nothing. Nothing except a light brown giant teddy bear. You know, the big ones that you could usually get at Wal-Mart. Yeah, one of those. It was strange. There was no tag, nor was there any sort of note or indication of who it came from. I looked further out the door to see if there was anyone who may have thought know one was home, which would have been awfully moronic on their end considering there was clearly a silver Nisan Altima in the driveway. But I saw no one. In fact, the streets were pretty empty, which happened only rarely. I had plans to discard of the bear without a second thought. That is, until Haley had seen it. "Whoa! Is that mine!?" She had asked. I told her that it was someone's idea of a prank, which I wasn't even sure of, and told her that I was going to throw it away. But of course, I should've expected an opposition. So after Haley's pleading and giving me that undeniable adorable face that I couldn't say no to, I decided to let her keep it as a late birthday gift. After thoroughly checking and washing it of course. Afterwards, I set it somewhere warm to let it dry out and went back to work. An hour passed as I sat there at my desk and began to add more to my cover. But something that had made me uneasy....was the silence that had blanketed the house. I didn't hear the television in the living room, and my door was wide open just for the purpose of listening out. "Haley?" I called, leaning back in my desk chair just enough to peer outside the door and into the hallway. I received no answer. I figured that she had gone to her room and fallen asleep. But with each ticking minute that passed by, my mind began to fluster with worry until I finally stood up from my chair and went to check on her. I opened her room door a little and peeked inside, listening to the deaf silence that drifted around in the room. I opened the door a bit more, and found that it was vacant. So the next place I checked was the living room. The television was off, just as I had thought, and Haley was no where to be found there. Now I had began to panic just a little, and walked a little faster into the kitchen, where I found her tea party pieces set up on the kitchen table. But still, no Haley. My heart raced and I noticed that the backdoor was cracked open a bit, so I went over to it and pulled it open. A sigh of relief eased from my lips as I found her outside playing Princess. She was wearing her princess tiara and the large teddy bear was sitting slouched on a stool. "Here he Here he, the princess wants to hug you!" I watched as she went over and hugged it tightly, and smiled. I thought I had made the right decision to let her keep it. But I didn't want to get scared like that again, so I told her to come back inside and play and that I would make lunch in a few. She did what she was told without any problems at all, not that she gave any to began with. Three or so hours later, I made lunch, and the following night, we had her choice and ordered pizza. A large pepperoni with cheesy crust and a large cheese pizza with extra toppings of...well, everything. Afterwards, I decided to clean up what little i had to in the kitchen. As I did, I listened to Haley play with her new bear. They were "Questions" and she pretended that the bear was speaking back, and giggling every now and then. She had also found that pressing it's belly would make it talk. "Hug Me!" I gave her another few hours to stay awake and play before everything had settled down and I was once again, tucking her into bed along with the teddy bear after that she had ironically named Teddy. I kissed her forehead goodnight and left, leaving her room door halfway open since she was still awake. I went back to my room and decided to continue my work until i ended up nodding off. I didn't know what time it was that I had waken up, but I clearly saw that it was at least three in the morning. I had to use the bathroom. I stretched for a moment before standing up and heading towards the in-room bathroom but on my way, I stopped in my tracks. I heard....whispering? And then quick moving footsteps. My blood ran cold. Was there an intruder!? The first thought that came to mind was Haley, and I grabbed my bat from behind the door. Being that I had played baseball all threw high-school and had a total of 64 home-runs, I'd say I had a hell of a swing. I flicked off the lamp by switch and crept out into the hallway, bat ready to be swung. There was something uneasy in the pit of my stomach, and as I made my way down the hallway, I looked to see that Haley's door was exactly how i'd left it. I didn't hear anything either. I took a bold chance and flicked the hallway light on, and almost laughed in relief at my paranoia. I stepped into the living room, and paused. No, more like, froze. It took me a moment to process what I was seeing but, that teddy bear was sitting on the couch, staring directly towards the hallway. Almost as if....it were to be looking directly at me. There was a moment of hesitation in which I found myself pushing it off as a silly little prank from my sleeping angel and shook my head at my own midnight overthinking. She must have put it there while I was asleep. I went over and grabbed the bear, brushing my hand through it's fur before taking it back to Haley's room and tucking it in with her. This time, I closed her door when I left. Turning the hallway light off, I went back to my room and laid down in bed after using the restroom. Just as I began to nod off, I heard a loud thud through the wall and I jumped up, falling off the side of the bed sloppily. Haley could be heard screaming, and I pushed myself to my feet quickly and grabbed the bat once more. My heart pounded hard as I stumbled out into the hallway blindly and found my way through the darkness to Haley's room. I nearly tore the door off the hinges trying to get inside, and flicked on the light switch only to find the insides of a pillow floating from the air and to the ground. Haley was under her covers screaming "Daddy! Daddy help!". I rushed over to her side and checked her. She was fine physically at least. "Hey, hey tell dad what's wrong. Did you have a bad dream?" I asked. She shook her head, and her answer brought a chill across my skin.
"Teddy! It's Teddy Daddy!"
I looked over to see the bear sitting in the corner of the room across from the door, looking just as it had did when I had found it in the living room. I let out a sigh. This had to be some sort of joke. "Haley, do you know what time it is? You need to get your rest, and so does Daddy okay?"
"But Teddy! It was him!" Haley protested, her eyes glancing towards the teddy bear as she did so.
"Then maybe Teddy just needs his sleep to." I said. But something about this was definitely unnerving in such a sense that I practically wanted to brush it off. But instead, I ended up calling the police and having them come check things out and they were right over in mere minutes. I told them what had happened, but they just said that they couldn't find any way that there had been an intrusion. So with that, I marked it as just Haley being a child. But for safety precautions, i let her sleep with me for the rest of the night. The next morning, I nearly had a heart attack. I woke up to find that damn bear sitting at the foot of my bed. But something that had me was the....the grin it had. Of all of the teddy bears I've ever seen in my entire life, I had never seen something so....unreal. I felt something sick in my stomach and I looked over to Kaley to see that I had woken her up with my panic.
"Daddy....." She whimpered, scooting closer to me, her weary eyes landing on the bear.
"I'm getting rid of it." I said finally as I moved the sheets out the way before getting up. I grabbed my bat for the third time since last night. As I went to grab the bear, it spoke.
"Hug me!" It said, in it's usual cheerful tone. That didn't make me relax at all. That grin....and it saying something like that? But it didn't stop there. "Hug me....." It said again, but this time, the voice seemed to glitch some. "Hug me!" It said again. "Hug me....F***ING HUG ME!" It said, in a much deeper, menacing voice before it began to laugh. I stared in horror before I instinctively swung my bat and knocked it from the bed post. "F***ING HUG ME WHILE I TEAR OFF YOUR SKIN!!" I continued to smash at the teddy bear over and over. "LET ME HUG YOUR SOUL!!" I swung harder, now swinging with full force until I didn't hear it anymore. What kind of sick and twisted f*** would give something like this to someone!? I grabbed the bear by the leg and quickly ran outside to the back yard where i always kept a grill for the summers, though it hadn't really been used since my wife had passed. But it was going to be put to use now. I threw the bear onto the grill, not carrying that it didn't fit. I ran back to get the gasoline and returned, dousing it before lighting a match and setting it ablaze.
"H--H--ME-Me-ME-ME---HUG--" The bear glitched. "I'LL DRAG HER SOUL TO HELL!!" It screeched with one final laugh. By this time, the fur had burned to a crisp and kept on burning. I got a stick and folded it's legs into the grill and slammed the top shut. My chest hurt from the pounding of my heart. I....was terrified. I ran back into the house and back up stairs to Haley, where I found her still staring, her eyes wide in shock. I picked her up, throwing the bat down to the floor. "It's gonna be alright baby. Now listen, i'm going to take you to grandma's for a few days--" I told her. Her grandmother, my mother, stayed on the other side of town, so getting there was no problem. I had packed Haley a few pairs of clothes and we headed off as soon as possible. My mind raced as I sped through town, almost running three red lights on my way to the destination as I did. Haley was silent the entire ride. My mind wouldn't leave the words of that teddy bear. My knuckles turned white from gripping the steering wheel so hard, and when I noticed I was doing so, I tried to relax for Haley's sake. When I got to my mother's house, I wasted no time honking the horn before jumping out. I gathered Haley's belongings and opened the door for her before we rushed up the stairs that led to the door. I rung the door bell and waited until I could hear the door finally unlocking and opening. My mom was happy to see the both of us, like she always was, but I was sorry to cut the talking short. I told her that Haley needed to stay there for a few days and me.....I went back to our home. As long as Haley wasn't in that house, then I was relieved. But when I arrived and went inside, I found the entire house....in a mess. The kitchen table had been flipped over. Pictures that were on the wall were busted with only the frame there. The couch had been clawed apart. It was a total catastrophe. So I had decided that I would just stay at a hotel for a few days to clear my head. To pull myself together. My last night at the hotel, I packed up all that I had brought and did a bit of tidy work before I left. I washed, dried, and folded the sheets and called for a vacuum to finish up. It was around 8 and I was going to go pick up Haley. As I left, I stumbled over something. It was....a book. MY book. My heart sunk into my stomach at the realization and with a trembling hand, I picked it up. The urge to open it overwhelmed me quickly, and what I saw....what I saw made me regret everything. There was only one page in the book. And on one side of the page, it had what appeared to be Haley hugging the teddy bear, and the bear itself having a devilish grin. On the other side of that page.....it showed graphic image of the bear grinning even more, it's legs stained by the pool of blood that it stood over. I saw what appeared to be....human feet in that same pool of blood. Fingers and hands....I threw the book and swallowed down the vomit that was coming up in my throat as I rushed to my car out in the parking lot. I fiddled around with the key, my hands shaking to bad to have any sort of equilibrium to them. When i finally got the key in, I unlocked the door, pulled it out, and got inside. I started the car up....and sped out of parking lot like a madman. I checked my glove compartment and pulled out my phone. I dialed my mother's number and literally screamed at the phone for her to pick up as it started to ring. "Pick up pick up PICK THE F*** UP!!" I mashed my foot down on the gas harder and my car jerked forward on command. When there was finally an answer, my mother's voice was not what greeted me. Instead, it was a laughter unlike any other before the phone hung itself up. My stomach twisted. F*** the police. F*** the red lights. All I could think of was my daughter and mother. I sped through every red light that was thrown at me and ran off of a nearly empty gas tank before I finally made it. I jumped out of the car and sprinted towards the house at full speed, stumbling up the steps as I leaped two at a time to get to the door. I didn't even think of knocking. I lifted my foot and kicked the door with so much unexpected force that it tore off of the top hinge. I looked around frantically. The house was trashed. I could see streaks off red here and there. And then I saw it....there on what was an old dusty couch that my mother kept around, now stained in crimson. And sitting there....was the damned bear....chewing at the lower torso of my mother....and the upper half of my daughter. There was nothing that could amount up to what I felt. The last thing I remember was the thing noticing me, and lunging off the couch, knocking me down to where I would hit my head and be knocked unconscious. When I woke up, I found myself unable to move for a while. But when I could, there was nothing else I could think of. Nothing else i wanted to live for. Nothing else....that I could do. I never seen that damned thing again, the bear I mean. This....is my story. F*** it....WAS, my story. I cant bare this anymore....and no...no pun intended. My name....is Teddy Grouns.
There was a click....a clack....and a final pow as the trigger of a pistol was pulled, and a life was lost.