Lilly Prescott was facing a huge dilemma. She stared at the display in front of her while chewing on her bottom lip, trying to make a decision. In her hand was the $20 bill her aunt had given her to spend on whatever she wanted. She had initially narrowed it down to two choices, either the new Barbie Vanity Playset, which came with six pair of shoes and two tiaras, or the Hannah Montana CD she had been wanting for a month. Hannah had been firmly in the lead, until she walked down the doll aisle and saw the ‘Sale’ sign in front of the Cabbage Patch Dolls. There was a particular brown-haired, brown-eyed doll that had caught her eye and she was seriously considering getting it instead. After another few minutes of deliberation, she decided she needed advice.
Kaitlin Matthews noticed the extremely thoughtful look on her niece’s face as she rounded the end of the first aisle of the toy store. Lilly normally took quite a while to decide what to buy with her money, but this wait had been longer than most. She had disappeared down the aisle with the dolls a few minutes ago and Katie hadn’t heard a peep from her. This had given her an excellent chance to talk to Miss Bonnie, who had been running the cash register at Granger’s Toy Shoppe since Katie had been a child. Seeing the expression on Lilly’s face meant that she was about to be asked her opinion on something dreadfully important, such as which color of dress would look best on Barbie.
Sure enough, Lilly approached the counter. “Hi Miss Bonnie,” she greeted the older lady, before turning to her aunt. “I need help.”
“Having a hard time deciding?” Katie asked her, after exchanging amused smiles with Miss Bonnie.
Lilly nodded in response. “I thought I wanted the Hannah CD, but the Cabbage Patch Kids are on sale,” she explained. “And they have a girl with brown hair and brown eyes.”
“Those Cabbage Patch dolls will only be on sale for a couple more days,” Miss Bonnie added, “if that makes any difference to you.”
Lilly frowned a little at this information. She had been hoping to sing along with Hannah and her Aunt Katie while she did her homework when they got home. She looked up Katie and saw she had her ‘idea look.’ It was the same look her mom would get when she thought of something really fun for them to do together or when she thought of a good joke to play on Daddy. Lilly hoped she had an ‘idea look,’ one day too.
“If I remember correctly,” Katie began, “someone has a birthday coming up in a month. Maybe she has a really cool aunt who would promise to get her the Hannah CD for her birthday and she can get the Cabbage Patch today. Would that work?”
Lilly beamed. Aunt Katie was so smart! She could wait another month for the CD and sing along with the TV show until then. “Thanks Aunt Katie!” she squealed as she raced back to the dolls, leaving Miss Bonnie and Kate alone again.
“She reminds me so much of you when you were that age,” Miss Bonnie told Katie, her voice warm with affection. “Amanda and Alex have done such a good job raising her.”
Kate turned to face the older woman again, knowing Lilly wouldn’t be but a minute. “She’s a good kid,” she agreed. “Now, tell me more about Tina Lloyd’s broken arm. You said it happened in the Wal-Mart parking lot?” Without any further prodding, Miss Bonnie launched back into the latest gossip.
“Yes, Tina was putting her mom’s cart back into the corral thing and another cart came out of nowhere and smashed her little arm,” she elaborated. “The paramedic who responded said Tina was in shock and wouldn’t talk after they patched up her arm. And,” Miss Bonnie paused for a moment, “when she finally did say something the next day, she said she saw that little boy again.”
“I can’t believe that story is still going around,” Katie said. “Ever since Miss Sadie put that story in the paper about her grandson’s accident, every kid that’s been hurt or does something they know is going to get them in trouble, they say the same thing. They see a strange little kid and he’s the one that caused it.”
In the next aisle over, Lilly studied the face of the doll in her arms, wanting to be completely sure that this was the doll for her. As she tried to read the name on the birth certificate taped to the side of the box, she noticed a movement out of the corner of her eye. She turned and saw a boy who looked to be a little older than her standing to her left at the end of the aisle. She started to say hi to him, when she noticed something odd about the boy. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but he looked out of place. His clothes were a lot different than any her or her friends at school wore. And now that she thought about it, she didn’t recognize him, and she knew every kid under the age of 15 that lived in Commerce. Maybe he was new in town. Lilly decided to introduce herself.
She had taken a step toward the boy when he blinked. Lilly stopped dead in her tracks. This wasn’t the usual eye-blink; his entire body disappeared for a second and then reappeared, like one of her videotapes that she had watched too many times. Lilly knew that wasn’t anywhere near normal and she knew she wasn’t seeing things. Especially when she noticed she could see completely through him. She opened her mouth to yell for Aunt Kate but froze when she heard something behind her. She looked up just in time to see the top row of Barbie boxes start to fall. This time she did scream a little, as she covered her head in preparation for the boxes hitting her.
Katie heard Lilly scream at the same time she heard the boxes fall. Miss Bonnie quickly followed as Katie raced to the doll aisle. “Lilly!” Katie shouted. “Lilly, are you alright?” She rounded the corner and saw Lilly crouched on the floor, with her arms over her head. Barbie packages were laying all around her; the top two shelves now completely bare. “Lilly, sweetie, answer me, are you okay?” Katie stepped over several boxes to get to her niece, with Miss Bonnie right behind her. Katie knelt beside Lilly and gently touched her arm.
Lilly finally lifted her head and Katie’s heart leapt into her throat at the side of her tear-filled eyes. Her lip trembled slightly and she sniffled a little as she said, “Aunt Katie, all those boxes fell on me.” She moved quickly into Katie’s embrace, wrapping her arms around Katie’s neck. Katie returned the hug, stroking the little girl’s back soothingly.
“Lill, are you alright? Are you hurting anywhere?” Katie felt Lilly shake her head against her shoulder. “Are you sure sweetheart? Because we can go to the doctor if we need to.”
Lilly sniffled again and said quietly, “No, I’m okay. That was really scary.” Her grip on Kate’s neck hadn’t loosened at all. She shivered slightly. “I wanna go home.”
Katie picked her up and slowly stood up. “Sure thing, sweetie. We’ll head home right now.” She began making her way through the now crowded aisle, she heard Miss Bonnie gasp. She looked over at the older woman, keeping her niece firmly in her grasp. “What’s wrong?” she asked. She followed Miss Bonnie’s gaze and saw the top shelf previously holding the dolls now scattered on the floor was hanging rather precariously from the shelf below it. Two seconds later, the heavy metal crashed to the ground as well. Katie’s stomach flipped several times when she saw the shelf landed exactly where Lilly had been crouched.
The bell on the front door jangled, announcing a new customer. Miss Bonnie turned to greet the person, her voice quite shaky. “Welcome to Granger’s.”
“Bonnie, are those Cabbage Patch Kids still on sale?” Sadie Jenkins, the owner of the town newspaper asked, as she saw Miss Bonnie standing at the front of the store. “Miranda’s been wanting one of those and…oh my goodness, what happened here?” Mrs. Jenkins had entered the toy-strewn area. “Katie, Lilly is everything okay?”
“Everything’s fine Sadie, there was just a little accident with one of the shelves. Lilly got a good scare, but we think she’s alright. Isn’t that right Lilly?” Miss Bonnie answered the question, although she didn’t sound completely convinced of her own version of the story.
“It wasn’t an accident,” Lilly added quietly. She turned around as much as she could in her aunt’s arms and pointed to the opposite end of the aisle. “It was that boy that did it.”
“What boy Lill?” Katie asked, frowning slightly.
“The boy that was in here right before all the boxes fell. He did it,” Lilly replied, her voice not at all wavering.
“Lilly, dear,” Miss Bonnie interrupted, “I don’t remember seeing any other kids in here, except you. Are you sure you saw someone?” Lilly quickly nodded, before returning her head to her Katie’s shoulder.
“Another accident involving the mystery boy,” Mrs. Jenkins commented as Katie walked by her. “That’s the fourth one in the last three weeks.” She took out her ever-present notepad and asked Lilly, “What did the boy look like?”
“Mrs. Jenkins,” Katie said rather firmly, “I’m going to take Lilly home. There’s no need to make this a story. Lill’s fine. It was just an accident. Miss Bonnie, we’ll see you later.” With that, she walked out the front door of the toy store.
“Well,” Mrs. Jenkins huffed to Miss Bonnie. “She didn’t have to be rude about it.” Sadie was still watching the girls leave and missed Miss Bonnie rolling her eyes.
Dean Winchester was bored. He’d tried everything to hurry his brother along, bouncing his leg, sighing loudly, even tapping his fingers on the scarred surface of the table in the diver, but nothing was working. Sam was blissfully unaware, patiently working on his computer, a slight frown on his face as he read. Dean had already had three cups of coffee while they had been in the restaurant and was ready to hit the road again, but Sam didn’t want to leave the free wireless internet that had drawn them into Thelma’s Diner. Just as Dean was about to grab the car keys and leave his little brother, Sam grunted.
“What?” Dean asked. “Please tell me you got something, cause I’m about to go friggin’ crazy sitting here waiting on you.”
“Really?” Sam replied with a fake smile on his face as he glanced at his brother, “I hadn’t noticed.”
“Dude, you’ve got to be kidding me. Don’t tell me that you’ve been doing this on purpose,” Dean countered.
Sam continued reading his computer. “Now why would I do that? You’re such a joy to be around,” he responded dryly.
Dean rolled his eyes in response. “Whatever. Did you find us a job?”
Sam nodded before staring. “I think so. A small town in Georgia has reported four ‘attacks’ on children in the last month.”
“Okay, so,” Dean asked, draining the last of this coffee, “how is this 'our type of thing?'”
“Well, each kid has reported seeing a mysterious little boy right before they attacked. All four children gave the exact same description. A boy, around 10 years old that they don’t recognize and no one else ever sees him.” Sam turned the computer around so that the screen was facing Dean. “The kids range in age from 7 to 10, the latest was a 9-year old girl, Lilly Prescott. Boxes fell on her while she was in the local toy store, but it looked like the metal shelf that fell right after she was moved was the actual weapon of choice, which could have done some serious damage.”
Dean read more of the story before questioning, “So, I don’t get it. Why haven’t they just found this kid and kicked his sorry little ass?”
Sam had an answer for this. “Because, no one knows who the kid is. Not one person in town thinks the kid sounds familiar. And this is a small town, about 4,500 people. I’m guessing everyone knows everyone. And like the story says, the boy always disappears after the attack, and only the victim sees him.”
The older brother continued reading. After a short pause, Dean commented, “It looks like it’s getting worse each time. The first couple were just bumps and bruises. Then a broken arm. And it looks like the last one could have been bad. You think it’s a vengeful spirit? Some little kid that bought it in the town and is out for revenge?”
Sam shrugged. “Could be. Sounds like the attacks are escalating. And it’s a hell of a lot more ‘our kind of thing’ than the wild werewolf chase you brought us here for,” he answered, his voice heavy with sarcasm.
“Hey,” Dean frowned in response, “how was I supposed to know the guy was just trying to keep people away his meth lab?”
This time it was Sam’s turn to roll his eyes. “Anyway, Commerce is only four hours away from here.”
“Great,” Dean stated as he shut the laptop and jumped out of the seat. “Let’s get out of here.”
Sam shoved his computer into this bag and quickly followed him out the door, after throwing a few dollars down on the table. “What’s your big hurry?”
Dean tossed the keys to the Impala in the air as he approached the car. “Are you kidding?” he tossed his brother a smirk as he opened the door. “I’m ready to see some Georgia peaches!”