1. Prologue: Concerning Fred
Her parents discovered rather early on that she was an odd child.
She was odd in a way that was rather difficult to explain. She was free of all
the habits that made some children intolerable, being neither excessively
fidgety nor prone to temper tantrums when she was refused her way. While she
was as energetic as any six-year-old child, she was not hyperactive and did not
require being the centre of attraction. In some respects, her parents were
actually quite grateful to have a child they could leave in her room for a
length of time and be certain that when they returned, they would find her
exactly where they had left her. Usually sprawled across the floor, fastidiously
colouring in her Thomas the tank engine colouring book with her crayons or if
she were in one of her greyer moods, her Harry Potter.
She tended to favour the beloved train instead of the wizard.
If she were odd, it was because she preferred to be alone rather than
associating with children her own age
When she was taken to class at the Caerau Infant School, it was noticed
immediately that she had difficulty making friends. This had come as no
surprise to her parents who had discovered this quirk after numerous failed
attempts at forcing the child to socialise at playgrounds or the community
playgroups in the park. At family gatherings, she would be the child alone in
the corner of the room, amusing herself with her colouring books or whatever
Pingo the Penguin was up to on the television.
There actually came a point in time when her parents wondered if she were
suffering some latent mental deficiency or worse yet, possessed some anti-social
disorder that would turn harm her later in life. Fortunately, the psychiatrist
they consulted allayed their fears because he found the girl to be very
intelligent, if not just a little quiet. There was nothing in her detached
manner that seemed to indicate any serious mental problems and explained her
behaviour as being nothing more than natural shyness.
Not every child was born an extrovert, he has said reassuringly.
It was easy to accept that as an explanation because while the child was rather
detached around strangers, her parents garnered an altogether different
response. Rather than going to school, she preferred to accompany her mother to
the markets at Riverside, while her father went to his civil servant job at the
local council. Although her mother would not be swayed in allowing her to miss
school during the week, on weekends she was allowed to come. Every Saturday,
the locals who volunteered their services at the Riverside markets were
delighted to see a moppet with mesmerizing blue eyes and a thick mane of dark
brown hair, enjoying herself immensely at her mum’s side.
There was nothing to distinguish her from any other child when she was born in
the summer of 1996. Christened a few weeks later as Frederica Lindsey Bailey at
the local church in the community of Riverside in Cardiff, she was called Fred
for short and had been a reasonably behaved baby that spared her parents the
nightmares associated with caring for a newborn infant. If it were not for the
distant look in her eyes that seemed for a moment, so much older than her years,
there would have been no reason to worry at all.
As time passed, they became comfortable with the fact that their daughter was
different but not in a bad way. There was a quiet strength residing beneath
seemingly fragile porcelain beauty of her face. As a child it was difficult to
see but it was there undoubtedly. She would always be a serious child and such
children though a little unconventional, would never cause their parents too
Still, if either Mr or Mrs Bailey had ever bothered to ask, the one thing
parents never thought to do with their children, they would have been surprised
by the answer and possibly find that they were ill equipped to make any sense of
it. Despite her intelligence, Fred was still a child lacking the experience
needed to articulate the reason for her behaviour in a manner either of her
parents would have been able to understand. She still remembered their surprise
when she had asked them to turn off the lights in her bedroom at night. Her
father had ruffled her hair and smiled proudly at his brave little girl since
most children preferred the opposite. He never suspected for a moment that
something else greater than the dark frightened his child. For Fred, it was very
The shadows hid her at night. The lights did not.
For as long as she could remember, Fred knew she had to be careful. This
knowledge was ingrained from the first moment her infant mind began to assert
itself into true consciousness. When she was a baby it instilled itself upon
her as simple feeling of uneasiness. Thus as an infant, she did the only thing
she could do. She remained silent so that she would not draw its attention. When
she grew a little older, she distinguished who could be trusted and who could
not. Her parents were safe. Strangers were not. The sensation told her that
strangers were to be approached with deliberation and with each passing day, the
threat in her mind grew just a little more.
By the time she was four years old, it had become a constant companion. She
could feel it at the edge of her consciousness, tugging gently at her mind even
during the moments when she experienced happiness. It marred every joyful
emotion in her life with its presence; blight upon her existence she did not
know how she had acquired but was certain would follow her forever. It loomed
over her life like a storm cloud waiting to ruin an otherwise perfect sunny day.
Despite her happy childhood with parents who loved her dearly, Fred was gripped
with the fear that all this was fleeting.
Something was waiting for her in the dark, something that watched and waited for
her in secret. Sometimes, she could feel its closeness so strongly that it was
difficult to breathe and all she wanted to do was run and hide so that it would
never find her. Unfortunately, she also knew that while she breathed, she would
never truly escape it. The danger existed because she existed. Fred could
articulate this to no one and so she kept it to herself, aware that sometimes
her parents looked at her oddly and she did not at all like how that felt.
As much as Fred loved her parents, she was struck with this terrible foreboding
that their presence in her life was temporary and so she clung to them,
desperate to alert them of the danger when it came, even though she had no idea
what form it would take. There were moments when her mother could almost see the
terror in her eyes but the concept that her child could be so afraid was
unimaginable so she was never able to make the leap to inquire its cause. As
Fred grew older, she began to feel the walls of her life closing in on her, as
if her happy childhood was sands in an upturned hourglass, dwindling in greater
quantity with each passing day.
Shortly after her sixth birthday, the dreams began.
Dark and terrible, they were dreams no child should ever have to endure. The
first time she had them, Fred had awakened screaming hysterically, body covered
in perspiration and her eyes wide with terror. It took almost five minutes
before her frightened parents were able to discern that she was not suffering a
fit of some kind and she had been awakened rudely by a nightmare. Even when they
had convinced her she was awake and that everything was alright, she was shaking
so badly that her mother considered taking her to the hospital, fearing she was
suffering a seizure of some sort.
When finally she was calm enough to speak coherently or to recognise her
surroundings, the mere suggestion that she should return to sleep was met with
more blind panic and tears. In the between her near hysterical tears and her
incomprehensible stutters, they discern that she was frightened out of her mind
at what she had seen in the dreamscape and if she should sleep, the monster
would come for again. In the end, the only way that Fred could even consent to
closing her eyes was if she was allowed to sleep in her parent’s room for the
rest of the night.
Unfortunately, the incident was not an isolated event. Seven days later, she
experienced another harrowing night and after that, the dreams continued until
Fred was waking in terror almost three times a week, leaving her parents at a
loss over what to do. It was becoming so bad that Fred was dreading going to
sleep at night and often had to be convinced that it was time to sleep. However,
the nightmares would be awaiting for her as soon as she closed her eyes and each
time, she would be unable to recount what she had seen, knowing only that it was
real and it was coming for her.
Frantically, her parents believing that this time they had reason for concern,
returned her to the ministrations of the psychiatrist who agreed that Fred
should begin therapy, if for the child’s sake then for her parents. However, for
most part, the man dismissed the incidents as just another childhood ill that
would eventually fade away with time. The suggestion of a nightlight convinced
Mr and Mrs Bailey that the doctor had no idea what was wrong with their
daughter. Unfortunately, it appeared no one else did either. A battery of
tests concluded that Fred suffered no illness or condition that could explain
why she awoke in cold sweat in the middle of the night, screaming.
Her behaviour also took a marked changed from seriousness to utter paranoia.
Suddenly their daughter did not want to go to school at all and the insistence
to remain close to either one of them at all times was becoming more than either
parent could bear. They knew something was wrong with their child but no agency
they enlisted from doctors, teachers and psychiatrists could prove it. One day,
Mrs Bailey had walked into the house after spending the afternoon gardening and
discovered someone had rummaged through her jewellery box and stolen all her
She was on her way to telephone the police to report the burglary when a chance
glance in the direction of the parlour solved the disappearance but not the
mystery. Her wedding ring which she took off when she worked in the garden and
other rings of similar significance had been cast into the fireplace. She had
found Fred sitting in front of the fireplace, watching the flames turn her
wedding ring into a molten pool of gold. When questioned why she would do such
a thing, Fred would look at her mother as if there was something she wanted
desperately to say but when finally spoken, was nothing more than an enigmatic
“They might speak.”
She had began her counselling the very next day and returned from her first
session with a diagnosis from the psychiatrist that she was suffering
unspecified feelings of persecution, a rather peculiar diagnosis for one as
young as she. Were they being too hard on her with discipline? The Bailey’s
endured the probing questions into their capacity as parents and while they were
being subjected to this invasion, Fred’s nightmares continued.
Fred did not lie when she told her parents that she could not remember her
The truth was she really did not. However, when she awoke, it was with the
sensation that the dreams were somehow allowing her mysterious nemesis a window
into her life and in turn, Fred was able to look back and see the terrible,
terrible things it had planned for her. Despite knowing very little about this
enemy, there was one thing of which Fred was absolutely certain. Its hatred.
In the aftermath of the nightmares she could never quite remember or knew how to
express, Fred could sense the potency of its terrible black rage as if it were a
living thing in itself. She could sense its heart beating, driven with
single-minded purposes in unity with its master to find her and destroy her.
The walls were beginning to close, Fred could feel it. It would not be long now.
It was coming for her.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.