This story takes place between my last Troop fanfiction, Leaves of Evil, and The Next Stop: Lakewood.

Phantom of the Nightmare

Chapter 1

Hayley was awoken by an eerie scuttling sound from the shadows throughout her bedroom.

Snapping awake, she swiped the Circuitron she kept for emergencies out from under her pillow, and snapped up into a sitting position in bed, Circuitron raised, eyes scanning the darkest corners of her bedroom for the slightest movement from a monster.

The silver moonlight pouring into Hayley's room from her bedroom bathed her bed and most of the room in a sheet of silver, but there were many corners bathed in charcoal-blackness, perfect for a small enough monster to hide in.

Then realization struck Hayley as something blue, about the size of a dog, scuttled up from under her bed and onto the sheets at Hayley's feet, milky white eyes suddenly turning scarlet with hunger.

Hayley raised her Circuitron at the monster and left her heart leap as she recognized it.

Then, as though Hayley's realization had rung the dinner bell, the monster pounced across the bed from Hayley's face, jaws snapping and eyes glinting with insane hunger. The monster's glinting, silver mouthful of fangs was the last thing Hayley saw before, as though someone had hit an off switch for her brain, everything was gone.

Six hours later

Jake stood at the foot of Hayley's bed, dozens of horrifying thoughts he struggled to push away flowing through his mind at the sight of the lifeless figure sprawled across the pillows and bedsheets.

Felix was bent over Hayley's unmoving form, holding an eye open and shining a small torch at it in a manner which absurdly reminded Jake of something out of CSI.

Mr. Stockley, meanwhile, had his hands full trying to assure the Steeles outside in the hallway that Hayley was alright.

"Is she alright?" Jake cried out for the hundredth time.

"She's definitely in some kind of REM," Felix replied flatly, not raising his face or lowering the torch.

Then, as though on cue, Mr. Stockley pushed in through the doorway and glanced between Jake, Felix, and the lifeless Hayley.

"What we got?" Mr. Stockley demanded, but in a more concerned tone than usual.

"Definitely a Class 2 mind parasite," Felix reported, finally glancing up. "Could be a Soul Collector or a Dreamworm."

Finally lowering the torch from Hayley's eyes, Felix slipped his portable Troop Grid from his pocket and held it up above Hayley's body.

The moment the Troop Grid's spectrum showed the otherwise invisible, frog-like footprints leading across the pillows and bedsheets up Hayley's body, then vanishing before her open mouth, Felix knew at once what the monster was.

"It's a Dreamworm," he reported to no-one in particular.

"Which is?" Jake demanded.

"A monster which enters a human host, forces the host into a coma-like sleep, and causes the host to endure their deepest, darkest nightmares," Felix explained.

At that moment, as if on cue as well as Mr. Stockley's arrival, a faint beeping rang out from Felix's Troop Grid, and without thinking, he held it up to his face.

Almost as soon as Felix's eyes met the portable Troop Grid, they widened and glinted with excitement. "You're never gonna believe this!" he exclaimed. "An Electromancer just showed up at the power station!"

"What's an Electro…" Jake cried out, his blood boiling at how Felix could so suddenly think of something other than Hayley's safety! She could be dead for all they knew!

"Only one of the most elusive monsters ever known to the Troop!" Felix squealed like a child.

"It's an electrical monster which commonly uses its electric-based abilities to cause mass mischief and destruction," Mr. Stockley explained calmly as Felix continued to unleash his childish excitement.

"What about Hayley?" Jake exclaimed, not forgetting about her like Felix.

"We have some tech at Troop HQ which will allow other Troop members' minds to enter Hayley's, where they can defeat and extract the Dreamworm," Mr. Stockley replied.

"Then let's do it!" Jake cried out.

"The Troop from Yorkville will take care of that," Mr. Stockley replied. "You and Felix deal with the Electromancer."

At once, Jake felt a mixture of confusion and anger flood through him.

Mr. Stockley noticed this before Jake could burst out his fury, and explained, "I know you're upset Jake, but we need your skill and Felix's intelligence to capture the Electromancer. I'll call in the Yorkville Troop to take care of Hayley."

Jake opened his mouth to throw out a protest, but then he read the expression on the unmoving Mr. Stockley's face and saw at once that he wasn't going to change his mind.

"We better get going," Felix said, stepping up beside Jake. Without a single word, Jake stormed off, brushing past Mr. Stockley along the way, out the door and into the hallway, Felix following close behind.

As the two moved down the stairs, Jake said to Felix, "Think Hayley will be okay?"

"She has a Dreamworm in her mind forcing her through some of her deepest darkest nightmares, and the guys who are going to save her we don't know a thing about!" Felix replied. "But, hey, what could possibly go wrong?"

That's the first chapter. Sorry it was so short, and I'm afraid I won't be able to update the next chapter for a while.