Welcome to the life and soul of Alice Tipton and her bogey man Eli... enjoy :)


ONE

I see dead people. That's a line I heard in a film once and it's true about me. Well, sort of. I have only actually seen a dead person once and, technically, he was un-dead.

I realized my life wasn't going to be like other people's when I was six years old. Most children imagine monsters in their room, behind their doors and under their beds. But I could actually see them.

For week I had been watching the dark in my wardrobe. The problem was, darkness stared back at me, or rather, two silver eyes watched me from behind my dresses and coats. Every night I shut my wardrobe door firmly and leaned my bedroom chair against it. And every time I woke in the early hours of the morning, the wardrobe door was wide open, my chair back at the desk and the eyes were watching me.

It was late January, when the nights are at their blackest and the moisture on my window freezes on the inside of my room. The eyes had been appearing since Christmas Eve. I had spent nearly a month sleeping with the lights on and with my head buried deep under the covers.

This particular night was identical to the others. I woke, my breathing shallow and panicky, at four in the morning. My lampshade was swinging nonexistent breeze, sending wild shadows highlights bouncing off my furniture. And there were the eyes. I scrambled out of bed, my legs shaking violently in my princess pyjamas. I was scared -terrified even but I was also angry. I was cranky and frankly a little crazy from sleep deprivation and I had cousins, so I knew how to punch.

Stepping towards the cupboard, I narrowed my eyes and clenched my fists.

"Who are you?" My voice shook a little more than I had intended.

I waited. No response, just the eyes blinking open and shut.

"I said: who are you and what the hell are you doing in my bedroom?" I knew that 'hell' was a word mummy and daddy used when they were super cross but couldn't shout at each other. It was a good word. Still there was silence.

Screwing up my face up like I'd eaten in really sour lemon, I frowned defiantly at the wardrobe and stuck up my bottom lip. After a few seconds the eyes disappeared leaving only solid shadow in their place. But I wasn't fooled; I'd played hide and seek.

And then I head butted the blackness exactly where the eyes had been. My head struck something solid -something hard and painful. I pulled back quickly rubbing my forehead with my fingers.

"Ouch." I felt dizzy and confused.

For a few seconds I didn't really understand what had fallen from my cupboard and was now unconscious on my bedroom floor. The body was human, well sort of. It was long and had your average number of limbs and only one head which was a good sign. The figure was face down on the carpet (yellow is a neutral colour suitable for a boy or girl, my parents and decided before I was born). But its human-ness ended there: it had green hair! Who has green hair?! Mine was dark blue and no-one's quite sure how that happened -the green hair? No. Grown ups sometimes get funny hair colours from a bottle, but this wasn't dye. The body had green skin as well!

As I knelt in front of my fallen adversary I realised that it wasn't that the skin was actually green; it had green veins all closely connected under pale, white skin. I had never understood why people were said to have white skin, mine is a weird peachy colour, like a hen's egg. But this skin was really pale, printed paper before is covered in ink. And it was a little bit see-through, like holding a tissue up to a strong light, which was why you could see all the blood vessels. It dawned on me that the colour of all these veins must mean that this person or person -like animal had green blood!

Recoiling in horror I scrambled over to my bed and dived under the covers. I huddled there covering my face with my teddy bear; Henry. My legs and arms hurt after a while of being all curled up so I finally risked peeking over the edge of the duvet.

The figure was moving, groaning slightly and trying to sit up. I froze in shock, not even daring to breathe. Pins and needles grew in my feet but I ignored the sensation. I was fascinated and terribly worried by what I saw.

The body pulled itself upright and glanced around the room anxiously. Oh my goodness! There was a man in my room! Now he was facing me I can see that that was what he was, a green man with silver eyes and white -green lips. I opened my mouth to cry out.

"No, don't! Don't scream! I won't hurt you, Alice." His voice was soft and calming.

I exhaled and moved an inch forward, toward the stranger. How did he know my name? Who and what was he? I voiced these questions quickly, anxiously and excitedly, my cheeks flushed and my toes curled in.

"Whoa! Let me talk, Alice!" He laughed now and then winced as he felt his head injury twinge. "That's some hard head you have!"

"Sorry, but you wouldn't come out of the wardrobe -that was a bit silly, wasn't it?" I scowled at him meaningfully.

The green man smiled weakly and sat down heavily in the big soft chair in the corner of my room. He ran his hands through his grassy hair and then let them fall to his lap.

"Well Alice… How do I know your name? I was there when you were named, from the first moment you opened your eyes." He paused, smirked, and continued, "did you know that your parents nearly called you Geraldine?!"

I stared bug-eyed at him, awestruck at his knowledge and sort of horrified that I could have been given such a bad name.

"Geraldine???" My voice was unnaturally high.

He chuckled softly and nodded. It was alright for him, sitting there laughing at me -he knew everything about me! That I was no better informed than I had been 5 minutes ago. I had to find out more about this intruder that he seemed to foil all my questioning. How could I -? Suddenly I had an idea;

"If you don't tell me who you are: I will scream. Men aren't allowed in my bedroom and daddy will shoot you with his special gun!" And just to let him know I was serious, I opened my mouth really wide showing all my teeth and tongue and the wobbly bit at the back of your throat.

"Seriously Alice, you don't want to do that; no one but you can see me and even you shouldn't be able to... Unless... Wait a minute!" He broke off and began searching his clothes frantically, pulling at the folds on his black T shirt and jeans. Clearly dissatisfied with the search he turned back to me again.

"I guess if you can see me than I ought to tell you about myself. My name is Eli Hedge and I -why are you laughing?"

"Your name is stupid!" I giggled

"It's better than Geraldine!" Eli stuck out his jade tongue, eyes squeezed shut. I knew right then that I didn't have to be afraid anymore, he was going to be a friend.

"Sorry, I got off the point. He cleared his throat and looked faintly embarrassed, I am, well I'm sort of your Guardian."

"Like an angel?"

"Not exactly, but I am here to protect you."

"What from? And how can you keep me safe if you hide in my cupboard all night?"

"My goodness, Kiddo, don't you ever shut up?"

I guess I must have looked hurt because Eli got all worried looking and half stood up as if he was going to come over to me that wasn't sure if it was the right thing to do.

"Alice I'm sorry -I get carried away and forget how young you are. You can ask as many questions as you want, I swear!"

"Go on then!"

"What?"

"Answer my question, what are you protecting me from?"

Now Eli stood up and walked quickly over to the bed, with a sudden swift movement he reached down and plucked something from my duvet cover. He held the something up to me so that I could see it.

A small, blue slug- like creature squirmed in his fingers; it had no limbs or features except for a tiny, wide mouth filled with minute pin- thin teeth. The 'thing' gave up wriggling and just collapsed, sagging downwards. It was like someone had just stuck the pair of scissors into helium balloon.

"That is what I keep you safe from, Alice." He spoke perfectly seriously whilst letting the creature drop from his hands onto the carpet where it instantly vanished.

"What is it? What does it do?" I couldn't help but search the floor for the body even though I knew it was no longer visible.

"That, Kiddo, is a Sleetch! Nasty little bu- creatures. They, um, suck out children's souls." He winced as he spoke, clearly aware that his words would cause me alarm.

"That thing was going to eat my soul?!" I cried in horror, "why?"

The friendly green man in my bedroom went on to describe the Sleetch's role in his world; they gathered young souls for energy and took more than they needed for somebody called Soulless. He needed them to gain the power he needed to overthrow the Soul King who was Eli's boss.

A shocked silence followed his monologue, my mouth a perfect 'o' of confusion. My forehead was so deeply creased that I honestly thought I might spend the rest of my life frowning. Once again Eli had left me with more questions than he had answered. I tried desperately to make sense of the strange names and ideas he had filled my head with.

"I Think…" I muttered finally, "I think I need to go back to sleep. I don't know if this is real and it's very, very odd. Can I go to sleep Eli? Is that alright?"

Eli sighed, looking a little disappointed but he nodded, "One thing, Alice?"

"Yes?" My response came as I crawled under my bedding and suppressed a yawn.

"Would you mind if I sat on your chair instead of back in the wardrobe; my back is killing me!"

I'm not sure if I made my head nod or if I gave him verbal permission, I was already unable to keep my eyes open. My head was full of fluff and thoughts that I couldn't grab hold of or understand. I slept heavily, troubled by bizarre dreams of walking plants and giant worms with razor teeth. One in particular made my heart beat out of rhythm and my breathing uneven:

The bed is tilting. It's hanging over the edge of a cliff and I'm sliding towards the drop. I don't know what is below me but the thought of falling fills me with terror so my hands are gripping the bedstead as tight as possible. And it's then that I see why my bed is tilting; someone is pushing it over the precipice. The man is impossibly tall; shrouded from head to toe in thick, black fabric that shines faintly in the orange dream-light. I can't make out his face because it's too far above me. All I can see is this huge, great hole in his chest. Right where his heart should be.

My fingers aren't strong enough; I'm slipping fast. Without even the sense to scream, my life is going to be over and it was so pathetically short! But there's somebody else watching me. He's even taller; his shoulder's brushing imagined clouds and his hands are the size of row boats, reaching down from miles away and storeys above. Reaching down towards me.

There's a green figure sitting in the palm of the enormous hand. Eli. It's Eli. He jumps up and sprints down the fingers towards my tiny bed. Soon I can see his face and his breath rising in little orange puffs from the urgency in his running. Despair grips me, what can Eli do against my evil tormenter? Only one hand keeps me attached to the headboard now, the other flailing uselessly. My would-be rescuer reaches the heartless man and I wince in anxiety at the thought of tiny Eli being crushed by his immense feet or vast fist. One minute and it will all be over.

He doesn't fight the dark monster, to my surprise; he keeps running until he's in front of me. Suddenly Eli isn't as miniature; compared to me he is tall and strong and infinitely powerful. Without knowing what is happening, I am in his arms and he is running full pelt away from the scene on the cliff-top, pulling me close in to his chest. I glance back and see the second giant approaching the heartless one. His clothes are bright and golden; they emit light as though he has eaten the sun. The dark giant backs away, shielding his face from the powerful brightness. And he falls backwards off the cliff.

And I wake up. Separating myself from the dream is challenging; in my head I'm still watching the defeat of a heartless monster. I roll onto my side, rubbing my eyes to stop the 'just-woken-up-double-vision' I have. An alarm clock in the shape of a pink rabbit faces me. The time 6.32am flashes in little black lines on the rabbit's stomach. In thirteen minutes the bunny will sing: 'Run, rabbit, run, rabbit, run, run, run. Don't give the farmer his fun, fun, fun. He'll get by without his rabbit pie, So run, rabbit, run, rabbit, run, run, run.' And then it's time to get up and get ready for school.

What was real last night and what was a dream? I sit up and swing myself out of bed in one motion. My toes settle into the carpet and my eyes adjust to the gloom of a wintery morning. Disappointment sweeps over me. In the dim light from my nightlight I can see that the chair in the corner of my bedroom is empty. No Eli. I squeeze my eyes shut and wish that he is real. With my eyes still firmly closed, I make my way delicately across to my wardrobe. With my hands out in front of me I can feel the grain on the wooden door and avoid walking into it. I cautiously open the door- just a little bit- and open my eyes.

'Oh.' I let out a breath I didn't even know I'd been holding. The cupboard is full of clothes and utterly empty of my new friend. 'So you weren't real then.'

I sit on the floor until my alarm clock sings at me, one tear trickling down my cheek.


I hope you liked the first chapter! Please leave your reviews if you enjoyed it. Also I appologise for any grammar or spelling issues... I did use spell check and proof read but I'm dyslexic so things slip through! Tune in for the next chapter when Alice learns of the city of Cielo and why little girls aren't meant to be able to see green men!