SC: Okay, so I've only gotten one request for this, but I've actually started a plot chart for it, which means it must be done. That, and I know everyone is just dying to know what the 'spider incident' is, right? Don't lie, I know you all are.

So, basically, this is just the story of Aubrey's life before 'To Walk Among the Dead.' It tells how she got sent to the Towers, how she met Lock, Shock, and Barrel, Jack, and the rest of the Halloween Town gang. It doesn't really have much purpose or a real plot except to show how she and Lock started falling for each other, my version of the movie, which I promise I DID NOT screw up, I think, and, of course, the infamous 'spider incident', which is basically the big boss of the story, like Oogie Boogie or Raphael and Vanessa. You really don't even have to read this to get the other stories, honestly. It's just that, someone reviewed TWAtD and told me that they were a little confused, so… yeah, this is what comes out of requests. An entire freaking story.

If you're still reading this, you're obviously interested, so please continue to read. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Do you have any idea how sick I am of typing these things? Seriously, I now officially hate the word 'disclaimer.' This goes for this chapter and all chapters after this (unless I just feel like typing one up for the hell of it): SpontaneousCombustion does not own ANYTHING related to the most awesome movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Please duly note this fact and GET THE (insert explicit here) OFF MY BACK! SHEESH!

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Chapter 1

It Begins: The Towers

After Life, comes Death. Before Death, there is Life. There is no in between. Life and Death are defined by clear lines.

But what if the line between the Living and the Dead was blurred?

That, dear readers, is what we are here to find out. For the line was blurred one stormy Halloween with the birth of one girl.

Her name is Aubrey Peterson, later to be known as Aubrey Skellington, and in the distant future, as the ruler of Halloween Town, her name changing once more. But our story begins long before our Pumpkin Princess was royalty, when her heart still beat with every breath she took. This story begins while Aubrey still walks in the land of the living, when nightmares filled her sleep with terror and monsters taunted her from the shadows.

And so, it begins…

November 1, 2000; 11:31 p.m.

Rachel Peterson woke up to screams that had grown all too familiar over the past five years. "Mom, Aubrey's doing it again!" Her fourteen-year-old son Ryan yelled. Rachel threw her covers back and slipped out of her bed, her hand wrapping around a bottle of pills on her nightstand. She opened it as she ran down the hall, stopping at the door of her youngest daughter's bedroom.

Her oldest children were in there already, pinning a much smaller figure to the single bed.

This figure was their eight year old sister, Aubrey, who was thrashing in her older siblings' grip like she was having a seizure, her mouth screaming out incoherent words. The shattered remains of a lamp lay strewn across the opposite corner, a headless doll lying in the middle of the mess.

Rachel dumped two of the pills into her hand and forced them into Aubrey's mouth, covering it until she felt her daughter swallow.

A minute ticked by. The screams grew quieter and quieter until they were silent, and the violent thrashing gradually decreased into nothing. Aubrey was asleep again. Emily looked over at her mother, her blonde hair pulled back with the headband she slept in, a light perspiration dotting her forehead. Her soft features were worried. "Aubrey's going to be all right now, isn't she?"

Rachel nodded, hugging Emily and Ryan. "She's just sleeping now." She kissed the top of both her children's heads. "You two get back to sleep." They both nodded and walked off to their separate rooms. With a sigh, Rachel walked back to her room and sat down at her computer desk. Her finger hovered over the power switch before she pushed it in.

Once it was on, she opened her e-mail and began scanning the list. She double clicked on one whose subject read 'Aubrey'.

'Rachel,

I've been going over our sessions for hours and I still can't tell you why Aubrey is experiencing these nightmares. The hypnosis therapy still seems to be holding up, and she seems to be doing well at school and at home. I don't want to jump to conclusions, but we may need to have a serious talk later.

Jenny'

Rachel quickly looked at the time sent. 11:27 p.m. She moved the mouse over the 'reply' button and clicked. Quickly, she typed out a reply.

'Jenny,

She just had another one. The pills are working, but I think she's starting to build up a resistance. I've had to start using two instead of one. I'm starting to get really worried. What if the therapy is wearing thin?

Rachel'

She folded her hands nervously on her lap, staring at the screen. She looked up as a 'ping!' sounded from her speakers. She opened the e-mail, her hands shaking.

'I'll set up an appointment for tomorrow. We'll talk afterwards.'

Rachel shut off her computer and shoved her chair away from her desk. Lying down on her bed, she closed her eyes and tried to get to sleep. But alas, it eluded her. She was too worried about what was going to happen the next day. Talking to her daughter's psychiatrist, best friend or not, never brought good news.

November 2, 2000; 1:03 p.m.

Aubrey walked into Jenny's office, shutting the door behind her with a quiet 'click.' Jenny looked up from her laptop. "Hello Aubrey."

"Hi." Aubrey walked over and sat down on the cushioned, wooden chair in front of Jenny's desk.

Jenny smiled at her, flashing a bright, slightly crooked smile. "I'll be done in just a second. Too much paperwork." Aubrey nodded and sat back in her chair, studying the face of the woman in front of her. Jenny had a cute, cherub-like face framed by dark, wavy amber hair falling from the cute, high resting ponytail on the top of her head. Wide, violet-blue eyes sat above a small, cute nose and cute, pouty lips. All in all, Jenny had a cute face with the body of a pro-athlete.

But she was a therapist. Why? Because it paid better, and caused less sweating.

"So," Aubrey blinked, realizing that her session had started, and started to pay attention, "How is everyone?"

Aubrey shifted in her chair. "Ryan made three touchdowns in his last football game."

"That's nice. And Emily?"

"I... I think she has a violin recital in a couple of weeks. I've been hearing her practice for at least a month."

Jenny smiled at her. "You must be excited about that."

Aubrey nodded. "I like hearing Emily play. She's really good."

Jenny folded her hands and rested her chin on them. "And what about you, Aubrey? Have you done any more drawings?"

Aubrey's gaze drifted to the floor. Jenny put her hand down on her desk and leant across it slightly. "Aubrey, I asked you a question. I'd like an answer." A mumbled reply. "Eye contact, please."

Aubrey raised her eyes from the floor and back to Jenny's face. "My mom took my sketchbook away. She said my pictures were 'disturbing'."

"I'll see what I can do about getting it back. How about you go get something to eat from the cafeteria while I talk to your mom?"

"Nn'kay." Aubrey slid out of her chair and walked out the door. "Mom, can I have a couple of dollars?" Rachel nodded and pulled three dollars out of her purse. Aubrey took them with quick thanks, and her mother walked into Jenny's office.

"So?" Rachel asked, sitting down.

"Well, for one thing, you shouldn't have taken Aubrey's sketchbook away."

Rachel reached into her purse and pulled out a drawing pad with a black cover, 'Aubrey's Sketchbook' written across the front in surprisingly neat handwriting. "Have you seen what she draws, Jenny?"

Jenny reached over and took the book from her. "Yes. They're almost professional quality." She began flipping through the pages, stopping on the last one.

"I realize that, but they terrify me! And has she told you about the doll?"

Jenny arched an eyebrow curiously. "The doll?"

Rachel buried her face in her hands. "I bought her a new doll for her birthday. Yesterday morning, she cut its head off. She said it was for the monster under her bed. She's sleeping with a headless doll, Jenny!"

"Did you take if from her?"

Rachel looked across the desk at her best friend from between her fingers. "No. It was gone this morning. She said the monster wanted the rest."

Jenny closed Aubrey's sketchbook with a sigh. "Rachel… look, I don't know any other way to say this. I believe Aubrey has a mental illness called psychosis dementia."

Rachel took her head out of her hands. "You think she's insane?"

"I think that it would be best for everyone if you had her… institutionalized."

Rachel stared at her, shocked. "You want me to send my daughter, my eight-year-old daughter, in an asylum?!"

"There are children's hospitals that can help with these things, Rachel. If you don't commit Aubrey now, it may get worse when she's older. There may be no way to cure it. Catching it early is the best way."

Rachel bit her lip, tears coming to her eyes. "God… Jenny, I can't…"

"Rachel, I know a good place. They've got the some of the best doctors around. They'll take good care of Aubrey, I promise."

"How am I going to afford it?"

"I can sponsor her. And…" Jenny bit her lip. "And if, after they examine her, they declare her clinically insane, then no one will have to pay for it."

Rachel grabbed a tissue and blew her nose. After a moment, she looked up. "I… alright. Alright, I'll do it. What do I have to do?"

Jenny smiled at Rachel sympathetically and grabbed three papers off of her desk, handing them over the desk. "Just fill these out. I have to make a phone call."

November 5, 2000; 8:57 a.m.

"Mom, why are we here?" Emily asked, tugging on Rachel's shirt as they climbed out of the car.

Ryan smirked at her. "It's a nuthouse."

Rachel shushed him. "Ryan!" She looked down at Aubrey, who was clutching her sketchbook to her chest. "Come on sweetie." She offered Aubrey her hand. Aubrey looked at it like it was going to bite her. "Emily, could you…?"

Emily walked over and took Aubrey's hand. Rachel sighed, walking toward the clear doors at the building's entrance.

Emily held Aubrey's hand tighter as Rachel walked over to the desk at the front. "I'm here to see Dr. McIntire."

The receptionist looked up. "Do you have an appointment?"

"Yes, it should be under Rachel Peterson."

The sound of clicking filled the room for a minute. "Ah, yes. Dr. McIntire is expecting you. His office is just around the corner."

"Thank you." Rachel walked off, leaving Ryan, Emily, and Aubrey to follow her. "Dr. McIntire?" She asked, stepping into his office. The man at the desk was around thirty years old, with black hair that was pulled back into a ponytail that rested against the nape of his neck. Muscles that showed that he clearly worked out, and often, covered his arms, showing through his coat. He had a square jaw and statuesque features.

"Ah, you must be Rachel Peterson." He stood up, offering her his hand. He was at least six four, maybe six five. "Welcome to The Towers."

Rachel nodded. "Thank you." She shook his hand, up to her wrist disappearing in his grip.

He released her hand and turned to the three kids. "And you must be Aubrey." He smiled at her. She shrunk away, behind Emily. He laughed. "Don't worry, I don't bite."

Aubrey smiled a little, and her eyes drifted to a shadowed corner. Her expression turned to one of fear and she slid a little farther behind Emily.

Dr. McIntire raised an eyebrow and straightened back up. "Why don't I give you the tour?"

Rachel nodded. "That would be nice." They walked out of the office and turned down the hall, heading away from the receptionist's desk.

"Aubrey will be staying on the second floor with one of my other patients, Sandra Williams." Dr. McIntire told them. "The first floor is where the staff offices are, and the patients who require twenty-four hour care or who have greater needs." He nodded to a thin boy being pushed around in a wheelchair by a woman in a nurse's uniform. His legs were missing from the knee down and an eye patch covered his left eye.

The boy smiled at him. Dr. McIntire smiled back. "Hello Bobby. Are you going to the dayroom?" The boy nodded enthusiastically, and the nurse wheeled him away.

"That poor boy…" Emily murmured.

"Bobby was trapped in a blizzard. Frostbite took both his legs, and his eye and tongue had to be cut out. He can't speak." Emily and Ryan both winced and looked down at Aubrey. They lagged behind their mother and Dr. McIntire as they talked.

"Ryan, I don't want to leave Aubrey here." Emily whispered.

Ryan glanced down at Aubrey. She was watching the back of the nurse who had wheeled Bobby away. Looking back up at Emily, he said, "What choice do we have? If we don't send her now, it's just gonna get worse. Mom can't keep forcing those dream suppressants down her throat. No one knows if they'll have any side effects, and they're just too expensive. The only thing we can do is get her some professional help."

Emily pouted and turned away from her brother. "That doesn't mean I have to like it." She looked down as Aubrey stopped walking. "Aubrey, what's wrong?"

Aubrey shrank away from the door they were walking by. "It's here." She whispered.

Rachel turned around to see Emily kneeling down next to Aubrey. Dr. McIntire did as well. "Emily, what are you doing?"

Emily looked from her sister to her mom, and then let go of Aubrey's hand. The little girl didn't move, just continued to look at the closed door. "She won't go past that door. She thinks something's in there."

Dr. McIntire frowned. "One of our critical patients was in there a few days ago. He died two days ago." He walked over to Aubrey and knelt down next to her. "Aubrey, what do you think is in there?"

Aubrey looked over at him, her red eyes scared. "It."

"What's it?"

"The thing that killed my dad."

He nodded. "I see." He walked over to the door and unlocked it. Pushing it open, he said, "See, Aubrey? Nothing." She didn't say anything, just walked over to Emily and took her hand again.

After Dr. McIntire had shown them around, all five walked back to the entrance. Rachel knelt down and kissed Aubrey's cheek before walking out. Emily and Ryan followed her, the prior giving her one last look over her shoulder before climbing in the backseat. Dr. McIntire put a hand on Aubrey's shoulder. "Why don't I show you your new room? All your things have already been brought up."

"Sure." Aubrey replied, following him up to the second floor. They stopped in front of a door with the number '319' written on it.

"Here we are." He knocked on the door. "Sandy, I'm coming in." Pushing it open, he nudged Aubrey forward. She stumbled into the room, looking around. The room was painted a dull, off-white, with gray tiled floor. The fluorescent lights on the ceiling had cages around their covers, and thick bars were bolted onto the windows. There were two hospital beds in the room. One was neatly made up, obviously Aubrey's, and the other had a figure sitting on it.

She was only about four seven, and didn't look very old. Deeply tanned skin was stretched just a little too tight over her frame, and dark black hair was cut to her shoulders, framing a slightly-round face. Dark emerald eyes framed by thick lashes studied both of the people who entered the room. A slightly large, rounded nose sat above thin, pink lips. "Is she my new roommate?" Her voice held a slight Spanish accent.

Dr. McIntire nodded. "Sandy, this is Aubrey. She'll be staying with you." He patted Aubrey's shoulder and walked out, shutting the door behind him.

Sandy walked over to Aubrey. She was about six inches taller than her. She bent down a little so she could look Aubrey in the eye. Sandy smiled. "Hi, I'm Sandy. What's your name?"

"Aubrey." She answered hesitantly.

"You really don't have to be scared." Sandy told her. "The people here might be crazy, but they're harmless." She walked over and sat back down on her bed, patting the spot next to her. Aubrey walked over slowly, hopping up next to her. "Can I see your wrists?" Sandy asked.

Aubrey blinked, startled, but set her sketchbook in her lap and held out her wrists. "Well, you're not a cutter. That's good; we probably don't need two in one room." Aubrey noticed the pale scars on the bottom of Sandy's forearms. Sandy looked at her neck. "And you didn't try to hang yourself. What am I saying, of course you didn't. You're only, what, seven? Eight?"

"I turned eight six days ago." Aubrey told her quietly.

"So your birthday's on Halloween, huh?" Sandy smiled. "I bet you like all kinds of spooky stuff, huh?" Aubrey nodded. Sandy put a hand under her chin, looking in her eyes. "Well, you obviously don't abuse drugs." She dropped her hand and looked at Aubrey. "So why are you in here?"

"I… I have nightmares. And I see things."

Sandy nodded. "Hallucinations? Huh, I haven't seen a case that didn't involve drugs before. You don't have an eating disorder or something do you? I mean, you eat all your food at meals and stuff, right?" Aubrey nodded. "Just making sure. You're pretty skinny."

"My mom said I have a fast metabolism. It means that my body processes the food to fast and I can't get fat."

Sandy blinked. "You're pretty smart for an eight year old." She looked at the sketchbook in Aubrey's lap. "Can I see that?"

Aubrey handed it to her warily. "You probably won't like it. Everyone else thinks my drawings are disturbing."

Sandy flipped through the pages, looking at the pictures. The first was a car, driving on a deserted road. The next was of a shadow with a pair of leering eyes and a wide mouth. The next was of the car flying off of a cliff. Then of the car's crash at the bottom. The driver's face had been burned off, leaving just the skull. "What is this?"

"How my dad died, I think. He crashed off a cliff."

Sandy pointed at the burning skull. "So, that's him?" Aubrey nodded. Sandy flipped the pages. The next was of a pair of glowing red eyes sitting above a mouth full of crooked fangs. "What's this?"

"The monster under my bed. He let me see him because I gave him my doll. He likes to eat dolls. But I couldn't see anything other than his eyes and mouth." Sandy looked at the next pages. They all featured monsters and such. She stopped on the last page. The drawing consisted of a large room, with glowing neon lights in every corner. Bats consisting of glowing yellow bones hung upside-down from chains across the top. There were skeletons held in chains and in between huge clamps. The center was blank, though, the edges of the picture ending abruptly.

"That's a room from my nightmares. I've never seen that part." She pointed to the blank spot.

Sandy paused for a moment. "Wait… if that's a place from your nightmares, then… you've actually seen all these things?"

Aubrey nodded. "Except my dad's crash. That's just what I think happened."

Sandy handed her the book back. "This thing… these are amazing. I mean, I haven't met anyone who could draw so well. Not even the professional stuff that the doctors have hanging in their offices…"

"Yeah, everyone in my family seems to be talented. My older brother Ryan, he's fourteen, can play just about any sport you throw at him. He's been MVP on almost every team he's ever played on, and of course he's been on the varsity since he got into High School. He's, like, the only freshman. And my sister Emily, she's thirteen, can play the violin, piano, flute, clarinet, trumpet, and drums. And she's learning saxophone and trombone."

Sandy touched Aubrey's hand. "What about you?"

Aubrey bit her lip. "I can draw and sing."

Sandy smirked. "Hey, that's better than me. I can doodle stick figures and I'm completely tone deaf." Aubrey smiled at her sadly. "What's wrong?"

Aubrey shook her head, tears coming to her eyes. "I don't wanna stay away from my mom."

Sandy hugged her, and Aubrey cried into her shoulder. "Shh… it's okay…" She soothed, rocking the younger girl back and forth. "Everything's going to be okay. You'll like it here." She smiled, stroking Aubrey's hair in an almost motherly way. "I'll take care of you whenever you need me."

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SC: And so, Sandy's surrogate mothering begins. Okay, this has been a somewhat difficult chapter to write. I didn't plan on doing such a big interaction between Aubrey and Sandy in the first chapter, but it was just too cute to pass up. And I need to redo the first chapter of TWAtD again, because Sandy's only supposed to be three years older than Aubrey, not five. Ah well. That won't take too long.

Read and Review please!

Ja ne
SC

PS: If anyone has any title ideas, I'd be REALLY grateful to hear them!