Heather's father tells her a story. (She's about 15 or so.) Spoils the entire first game.
Sometimes he told her fairytales -- dragons and princesses and their knights in shining armor (and sometimes the princesses saved the knights); sometimes he told her funny stories, sometimes he told her sad stories, and every once in awhile he told another Mom story. But there was one story, one sad, scary story, that he only told once.
It was late at night. Heather was late in getting home, which was entirely Richie's fault and he was lucky if she ever spoke to him again, never mind kiss him. Dad was sitting in his favorite chair, a half-full glass in his hand, the TV on mute. She stood a little bit behind him, biting her lip.
"Um, Dad... I'm sorry I'm late, I--"
"It's all right." He sounded tired. Heather walked over and peaked around the chair. He smiled at her; she smiled back. "I was worried."
"I meant to call--"
He shook his head. "Listen. I want to tell you a story."
Heather laughed a little, uncertain. "Dad, it's really late--"
She raised an eyebrow, but she sat on the floor in front of him, next to the TV. Her back was to the wall.
"There was once a man," he started. "He had a beautiful wife, and a beautiful daughter. His wife became sick, and she died; he was sad for a long time, but he still had his daughter, so he was all right.
"One day, his daughter insisted that they go on a trip. She wanted to go to a town called... called Quiet Mountain."
Heather laughed. "That's a stupid name for a town, Dad."
He smiled. "I know.
"His daughter insisted that they go to this town. The three of them had gone there once, before his wife had died. He thought that, perhaps, his daughter was remembering how happy the three of them had been. He, too, remembered, and he wanted to create more happy memories for his daughter, so he agreed.
"It was late at night. They were close to town, less than a mile out, when they had an accident. A woman stepped out into the road in front of them. The father swerved to avoid her, and his jeep went crashing down a hill and through a fence."
"What color was it?" Heather asked.
"Okay," Heather said.
"When the father woke up," Dad continued, "his daughter was gone from the car. He chased after her; for some reason, she was running from him -- or maybe she was running after something.
"He followed her, but he lost track of her, somehow. Strange things began to happen to him, to the town -- strange, unexplainable, horrible things. There was a cult after his little girl. They wanted to use her to birth their god. They believed their god would bring about Paradise. A sort of Garden of Eden, but run by demons who killed everyone."
"Not much of a paradise," Heather murmured.
"No," her father agreed. He continued on, telling Heather about a cop and a doctor and a nurse, a crazy cult woman and a sad girl who had wanted nothing more than her mother's love. He told her how the man watched all of them die, unable to help them, unable to stop the evil from hurting them.
"The man chased through Hell, trying to find his daughter. He didn't care what the cult wanted or what sort of powers she had; she was his special little girl, and he loved her. He had to protect her, to save her. She was all he had in the whole damn world, and he couldn't lose her. He couldn't bear it."
Dad emptied his glass. Heather shifted. "Did he save her?"
Dad smiled. "Yes. He saved her. He went to Hell to get her back, and he did. He saw people die, and he saw horrible demons that tried to kill him, but he pulled through it all, and he saved her." Dad looked down at her. "It's funny, the things a person can do for love. Things they didn't think they were capable of."
Heather smiled, but she felt uneasy. "That's a weird story, Dad."
"Well," he gestured with his glass. "That's why you should never drink, Heather. It makes you tell funny stories."
Heather rolled her eyes. "Of course, Daddy." She stood up, stretched, kissed her father on the cheek. "I'm going to bed."
"All right. I love you."
"I love you too, Dad."