"But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away..."

1 Corinthians 13:1-8

Sacred Nothing in an Empty Room

by Megan Auffart

This is a story based on a random drawing I did back in high school, of a teddy bear with fangs and claws and sad red eyes. I always wanted to write a story about it, and since I had to write
something for Independent Writing, I figured that I might as well write about him. I originally titled this piece (it's going on 19 pages thus far. Chapter one contains the first two) "Teddy Scare Bear" but later decided it sounded a little silly. Tell me what you think about the title, or suggest a better one, if you like.

This story will be divided up into chapters and is written to go at a slower pace than most of my stories, so don't be surprised if you're three pages in and there's STILL no decapitated babies or cannibalistic baby-sitters.

So please review, and thank you for reading, despite the weird title! :-)

Two red eyes peered out from the overgrown blackberry bush, but none of the neighbors noticed and, even if they did, they would still walk on by, comforting themselves that it was probably just a cat they saw, or a raccoon. The fact that the eyes seemed to reflect far too brightly for the overcast day didn't concern them. Although the neighborhood pets conspicuously avoided the patch of land that surrounded the blackberry bush, no one bothered to remark upon their behavior, not even old Mr. Gumbson, who was obsessive-compulsive and kept a detailed chart of exactly what times his pet poodle did its business, and where. To the casual observer, it might appear that the entire neighborhood had gone into some sort of large-group denial. But what would have happened if someone had bothered to investigate the thing in the blackberry bush, the thing that was just not quite right?

For example, if Mrs. Pottersby hadn't immediately flicked her glance from the bush to Mr. Kelly's ill-kempt lawn, she would have noticed a dark, circular outline of a face just barely visible from behind those ruby-red eyes. Perhaps her sense of curiosity would have overridden her sense of self-preservation and she would have taken a few steps forward, her ears straining to hear the slightest warning sound of a branch breaking, of a bunch of leaves brushing against each other as the thing inside the bush readjusted its position to attack.

"But there's really nothing there," she would say to herself when there was no movement, the two ruby eyes not moving from their position. Mrs. Pottersby still had the uneasy feeling that the creature was watching her.

Now, anyone who knows Mrs. Pottersby would know that, normally, she would have gone back home by now, writing off the thing in the blackberry bush as a rabid raccoon that needed to be put down by one of the neighborhood boys before it bit anyone. However, this was not a normal situation for Mrs. Pottersby.

"Hello?" she would call, taking yet another step towards the bush. She would see the dim outline grow a bit more fixed and notice, once again, how round the head was. And there were ears, as well. Not triangular, pointed things like a cat's ears would be, but rounder, and somehow soft looking. Further down, away from the head, she could make out the shape of the upper body, as chubby as a well-fed toddler, with thick arms lying heavily on either side. The creature was sitting upright, and Mrs. Pottersby could see that it was breathing.

She would take a deep breath herself, thinking that she was far too old for this nonsense as her heart beat fast. "Is anyone there?" she would say loudly, and she would flinch as the thing with the red eyes moved its head very, very slightly. So subtle was its movement that, had Mrs. Pottersby not fixed her tiny, speculative eyes upon it, she wouldn't have noticed it at all. But since she had been watching, she knew two, irreversible facts about the creature in the bush: 1, it was alive and staring at her, and 2, the creature had just nodded "yes".

Mrs. Pottersby would immediately turn around and walk quickly, stiffly, back to her house without looking behind her. It would all be too much. If she didn't see the creature in the bush, didn't think about it, then it wouldn't be there.

Although she was more afraid now than she had ever been in her life, even during the train wreck when she had been nineteen and the car had flown off the tracks, Mrs. Pottersby refused to break out into a run. If she ran, one of the neighbors, Mr. Kelly perhaps or that awful Mr. Gumbson, would ask her why she was running and then what could she say? There was no possible way she'd be able to explain the blackberry bush, the red eyes, the nod….

No! Mrs. Pottersby would not think about it. Head held high, she would walk back to her normal, two-story house, in her ordinary, upper-middle class neighborhood that had absolutely nothing, nothing unusual in its blackberry bushes. When Mr. Gumbson waved "hello" to her from the porch of his house as she walked passed, Mrs. Pottersby would ignore him and he would think to himself, why bother being nice to that woman? She's never friendly, no matter what I do. And then he would go inside of his own house, empty of sounds except for the quiet breathing of his sleeping poodle, and wonder why nobody liked him.

But this did not happen. Mrs. Pottersby never noticed the thing in the blackberry bush and so, when Mr. Gumbson waved "hello," she smiled and waved back, thinking that even though Mr. Gumbson was rather strange about his ways, he still kept his lawn a lot neater than Mr. Kelly.

And so, the creature in the blackberry bush, with its glowing red eyes shining far brighter than seemed possible for such a cloudy day, would continued to be ignored by everyone who passed around him, and, at least on that day, the ordinary, upper-middle class neighborhood continued about its business uninterrupted.

...to be continued...