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Carrie pulled the blankets up around her head. He was coming again. She could hear his heavy breathing. There was the sound of dragging feet. She began to cry. She clung to her teddy bear. It was almost as big as she was. Her parents had bought him for her to comfort her when she cried at night.
“Little girl, where are you?” the raspy voice whispered. “I can smell you.” Carrie muffled her sobs and curled up as tight as she could. “I know you’re afraid. I can taste it. Your parents don’t believe I exist, but soon they’ll know. When their precious little daughter dies for no apparent reason, her body unmarked, they will know.”
Carrie shuddered. Every night the creature stole a little more of her life to make itself stronger. She was getting weaker. She’d had to stop going to school because she kept passing out. Doctors were baffled. Her parents were frantic. No one knew what to do.
Something wiggled in Carrie’s arms. She clung tighter to her teddy bear. The movement grew more pronounced. A voice whispered in her ear. “Let me go. I’ll protect you.”
Carrie opened her eyes. Teddy’s eyes were shimmering gold and there was a faint white glow around him. “Teddy?” She tried to be quiet, to keep it from hearing her.
“I’m here to protect you, Carrie. Let me go.”
Unsure but desperate, Carrie released him. Teddy climbed out of bed. “What is this? A new toy?” the creature rasped.
“Her defender.” Teddy’s voice was clear and strong. It rang like a bell.
“You can’t protect her.”
“Watch me.” Teddy began to glow brighter. The creature, never more than a shadow, hissed and drew back from the light. Teddy steadily approached it, his light driving away the darkness. “You will never devour another child.” A sword of fire appeared in his hands. He thrust it into the shadows. The beast let out a high pitched wail. Carrie clapped her hands over her ears.
In a moment it was done. The feeling of dread lifted. The beast was gone. Strength flooded limbs made weak by constant feedings. The dizziness passed and Carrie sat up for the first time in weeks without aid. She pushed back her blankets and got out of bed.
The light faded to nothing. “Teddy?” There was no answer. She crept forward until her foot found something soft. She bent down and picked him up. The gold was almost gone. “Teddy?”
“Don’t worry,” Teddy whispered. “Teddy bears are the protectors of children. I will always protect you.” The gold faded and the bear became the toy again. Carrie clung to him as she went back to bed, free from fear for the first time in months. She crawled under the covers and, holding Teddy tight against her, drifted into peaceful sleep.