There was a light tapping on the door. It was so quiet, David almost didn’t hear it, and when he opened the door, there was no one there. As soon as he closed the door, the tapping returned. This time, something caught his attention in his peripheral vision, and he looked down.
A light brown teddy bear, not even a foot tall, stood on the floor looking up at him. As soon as it was certain David had seen it, it began running down the hallway.
“What the hell?” He was tempted to follow the stuffed animal but decided it was probably a prank from one of the other house members. He closed the door and headed back to his research. Almost immediately, the tapping was back once more.
Sure enough, the teddy bear stood there. This time, it waited for him to step into the hallway before running. It moved surprisingly fast for its size, and he had to jog to keep up. After rounding a corner, it stopped outside another door and looked at him.
This wasn’t Sarah’s room, and he hadn’t met anyone else yet, so David hesitated. The bear, however, appeared to grow impatient and knocked on the door itself. A moment later, a woman opened the door. She looked at the bear first.
“Is this him?”
The bear nodded before walking into the room and vanishing from sight.
“David. Nice to meet you. I’m Rebecca. Please, come in.” She opened the door wider and gestured for him to enter.
A little perplexed, David nodded and stepped inside. The room before him was circular. A round table was pushed against the wall, and a couple of couches faced each other in the center of the area. Two doors led elsewhere, though both were closed. This place had an entirely different layout from his rooms, and it looked as though it wasn’t even in the same building.
“Have a seat. Can I get you anything to drink?”
The question forced his attention back to her. “Uh… I’m sorry. It’s nice to meet you, but I don’t know what this is about.”
She smiled. “Oh. I just wanted to introduce myself and get to know you a little. Thomas suggested everyone do so, and I just hadn’t had a free moment until now. You weren’t busy, were you? I didn’t mean to drag you away from your work, if this is a bad time.”
“No, it’s fine.” He waved away her concern. “I was just taken aback by your… bear.”
“Yeah. It’s my assistant, after a fashion. Not a usual sight, I suppose. I really need to give it a name.”
“Your assistant is a teddy bear?”
“Haha. It’s a spirit. I put it in the bear. Useful, if a little unpredictable. Nothing malicious about it, though. I used the bear thinking it would be less unsettling.”
“Hmmm.” David was unsure it had achieved the desired effect.
“So… how do you know Thomas,” she asked.
“I don’t. Not really. He knew my… instructor. Asked if I would join the house once my training was finished. Seemed like a good opportunity, so here I am. Not really sure what to make of it, or what’s expected of me. But it’s nice having my own lab.”
Rebecca nodded. “Yes it is. Honestly, since I’ve been here, no one’s really asked much of anything from me, either. I feel a bit like a freeloader, actually. Jason supplies us all with crystals. Sarah and Julia seem to handle security. And Thomas is rarely around. Every time I ask Sarah if there is something I should be doing, she tells me not to worry about it. That Thomas will let me know if I’m needed for something. Mostly, I just pursue my own investigations.”
“She told me something similar. And I still haven’t even met Jason or Julia.”
“You may not meet Julia for awhile. She keeps to herself. You’ll bump into Jason eventually. My advice? Just relax. This is a rather laid back house.”
“I’m getting that… Ow!!!”
It felt as though he had been poked in the head with something sharp like a needle. He spun around to find the teddy bear on the back of the couch. “What the…?!”
Rebecca jumped to her feet and rushed over to shoo the bear away. “Crap! It’s never done that before. Are you okay?”
Rubbing the back of his head, David tried to downplay it. “Yeah. It just startled me. Are you sure that thing isn’t evil?”
“Yes. Or… at least I was.” She picked up the bear, opened one of the doors, and threw it inside before slamming the door shut again. “I’m really sorry. If I had any inkling it would do that, I never have let it out.”
“It’s okay. Just… Check it, will you? I’m not fond of demonic entities wandering around. Even if they’re only teddy bears.”
Rebecca tried to stifle a chuckle. “It’s not, but I will make sure. I’m sorry we’ve gotten off on a bad foot.”
“We haven’t. But I think I’ll head back now. Maybe you could stop by sometime. Without that thing.”
“Of course. Again, I’m so sorry.”
“Really, don’t worry about it.”
After David had left, Rebecca opened the door to her lab again, and the bear walked out.
“Real subtle,” she said. “Did you get it, at least?”
The bear held out one arm with two strands of hair wrapped around it.
“Good. Perfect.” She unwrapped the strands. “Now, I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to stay inside for awhile.”
The bear seemed to sigh before walking back into the lab.