Fred continued to run through the darkness that completely surrounded him. He had no idea where he was nor how he got there. All he knew was that he had to keep running, running, running. His heart pounded, his breath shortened, but he had to keep moving through the blackness. Then, it hit him: Someone--No, something-- was on his tail, chasing him. Fear stabbed him like a knife. He ran as fast as he could, giving it everything he got, but it was no use: The thing was still behind him, and he thought he heard it laugh. That laugh! It was filled with such malice and evil! For the first time in a long time, Fred was actually afraid for his life. He continued to move at a dead-sprint, but the thing from the blackness kept it's pace with him. Suddenly, Fred tripped and fell to the ground. He looked behind him to see something that made his blood run cold: A long, clawed hand had grabbed his ankle. Fred tried to fight back, but the creature that was attached to this hand was too strong; It began to pull him into the darkness. Panicking, Fred tried desperately to break free. As a last resort, he screamed out at the top of his lungs the first thing that entered his mind:
Daphne quickly sat up in her bed, awakened by the dream. Her heartbeat was elevated, her breath short. She put her face in her hands, nearly sobbing. What did this dream mean? This was the second time she had one. It seemed that with each dream, they were slowly getting worse. She tried to put it out of her mind, but it felt so real. Could Fred possibly be in some kind of trouble? She calmed herself down, telling herself "It's just a dream, it's just a dream." She turned to her nightstand, where her photo of Fred sat. She continued to stare at the photo, when suddenly, there was a knock on her bedroom door.
"Daphne? Sweetie, are you up yet? Today's your big day! You don't want to be late!" her mother said through her door. Daphne checked the time on her cell phone: 7:30, A.M.. Today was her first day as an anchor for the Crystal Cove News.
"I'm up, mom. Just let me get ready", she responded. She got up from her bed, showered, and got dressed. All the while, the image of Fred still lingered on her...
Brookberry farm, 7:30 A.M.. Scooby-Doo had been caught trying to escape again, and he was locked in the barn. He wanted to get away from this place so he could see his friends again, but Mr. Brookberry was always watching the farm; This place was more like a prison. Scooby reached into the hay pile that was his bed and pulled out a photo of him and the gang.
"RI'd rive anything ro re rith ry riends," he said to the cow that was in the barn stall with him.
"Rhat rould rou ro?" he asked it. The cow only stared at him silently, slowly chewing hay. Scooby lowered his ears, realizing he has no one to talk to. Just then, he heard a car pull up onto the farm. Scooby's ears perked up. He looked through a crack in the wooden walls of the barn to see who it was. He saw a limo drive up to the farmhouse, but other than that, he could not see much. He moved to a spot with a better view. He saw Mr. Brookberry walk up to the limo. The limo's cab door opened, and he saw the mayor get out to talk to Mr. Brookberry. What was the mayor doing here? After talking to the mayor, Mr. Brookberry started to walk to the barn. Scooby quickly moved to his hay pile so as not to look suspicious. Mr. Brookberry opened the barn doors.
"Okay, dog," Brookberry said in his rugged southern accent, "Looks like you're gettin' off early today. The mayor has asked for you, though I have no idea what he wants from a dog." Brookberry stood at the side, holding the barn door open. Scooby got up, slowly exited the barn, and walked up to the mayor. Mayor Jones had a rather condescending and apologetic look on his face.
"Hello, Scoobert-Doo. How are you holding up?" the mayor said.
"RI riss ry riends, rister rayor," Scooby responded.
"Don't worry about that. I have a special surprise for you and all of them."
And with that said, the mayor opened the cab door, and there was Shaggy, dressed in a military uniform.
"RHAGGY!!!", Scooby barked, and he jumped into Shaggy's arms.
"Hey, Scoob!" Shaggy said, "Like, I missed you so much, old buddy, old pal, old friend! Can you believe it? The mayor lifted the restraining order!"
"Unfortunately", said the mayor, "It's only temporary. Let's get going, we still have others to find."
The violet limo that was the Blake's family vehicle parked outside the Crystal Cove News-station. Daphne sat in the seat between her parents, who were reveling in her glory of becoming an anchorwoman. Daphne was half-fixated on her dream; Could it possibly mean something? Could Fred be in danger? Her father put his hand on her shoulder, bringing her to reality.
"Your mother and I are so proud of you, Daphne," Mr. Blake said, "I don't think any of the Blake children have been news anchors before!"
"Mom, Dad," Daphne said quietly, "I don't know if I'm cut out to be an anchor."
Mrs. Blake leaned closer to her youngest daughter.
"Oh, Daphne, don't you worry," her mother said reassuringly, "If anything does happen, you can always try other things. However, 'mystery-solving' is not one of them."
the image penetrated Daphne's mind again: Fred, his face full of fear, the claws...
"Your mother and I are sure you will do fine, Daphne," her father said, shattering her moment of silence.
"Now get in that news room and show 'em what a Blake is made of, sweetie!" added her mother. Mr. Blake opened his limo door, allowing Daphne to get out. She stepped out of the limo and entered the building. The limo slowly drove off to park somewhere in the news-station parking lot.
Velma sat in her small bookshop, bored out of her mind. She missed the thrill of a good mystery, but most of all, she missed her friends. The bookshop she ran was devoid of customers.
"...Boring," she said out loud, "Boring, boring, boring. Why can't some guy in a costume just try to rob this place? At least make my day somewhat eventful. If some big change comes along, I swear I will faint with relief!"
Just as she finished talking, the door to her shop opened. The mayor stepped inside.
"Good morning, Ms. Dinkley," The mayor said politely.
"Hello, Mr. Mayor. Torn apart any good families this morning?" Velma hissed.
"Quite the opposite," Mayor Jones responded calmly, "I think you want to look outside."
Velma was starting to get suspicious. She slowly exited her space behind the counter and looked through the open doorway. What she saw took her by surprise: It was Shaggy and Scooby, waving at her.
"Rello, Relma!" Scooby said, waving his paw.
Velma stared at the two blankly, then fell back, fainted.
"Zoinks! Like, she never did that before!" Shaggy exclaimed.
"Let's get her up," said the mayor.
Daphne sat in the news room with main anchor Lee Mitchell. The news-station was quite alive; People were walking everywhere, some were checking the cameras, some were adjusting the lighting, and the rest were testing graphics and such. Lee Mitchell turned to her.
"So," he said heartily, "You're the new anchor for CCN. Feeling nervous?"
"To be honest, yes, I am," Daphne replied.
"Don't worry, that's natural for rookies."
Lee quickly looked around himself, then teased "Just don't try to get kidnapped, 'Danger-Prone'."
Daphne turned to Lee, offended by his harsh words. Lee cracked a sleazy smile. Daphne was about to retort when the manager signaled the two to get ready. The cameras were ready to roll. The announcements were made, and the cameras turned to Daphne and Lee.
"Good morning, Crystal Cove, the 'most hauntedest place on earth'!" Lee announced, "I'm Lee Marshall, and this is channel nine news-station, ready to serve you some fresh news! Today is a special day, because we are welcoming our newest member to the news team, one Ms. Daphne Blake!"
One of the cameras panned to her. She waved, saying "Good morning, Crystal Cove!" The camera panned back to Lee.
"And now, let's get to our news coverage," Said Lee.
Out in the lobby, the news was being played out on television. Mr. and Mrs. Blake watched her daughter on the T.V., looking ever proud of their youngest daughter. Mrs. Blake turned to another person watching the same television.
"That's my daughter on there!" she boasted. The person nodded silently.
After a few minutes of being on the air, the reports began to wrap up. Lee turned to Daphne.
"Before we go to commercial, would you like top say anything, Ms. Blake?" Lee said, his happy tone masking the sleazy bully he really was. Daphne leaned forward.
"I want to give a quick shout-out to my friends Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby," she said compassionately, "Guys, if you're watching, just hang in there gang. Things will get better. And Fred..."
She paused a moment, and the image again flashed through her mind again. She broke through the image to speak again.
"...Please, wherever you are, come home. We miss you. I miss you."
Lee's eyes double-taked between Daphne and the camera.
"...From the Crystal Cove News-station," Lee said, breaking the silence, "I'm Lee Mitchell..."
"And I'm Daphne Blake," Daphne added.
"And you are watching Channel nine news. Stay Spooky, Crystal Cove."
The cameras powered down, and the lights dimmed. the manager said, "We're clear!" and that was it. Daphne relaxed, letting out a sigh. Lee adjusted his tie. He was rather impressed of Daphne; He expected her to mess up, but she was spot on. He turned to her. Daphne showed a faint smile of triumph.
"How was I?, she said.
"Okay, I was wrong about you. Maybe you will fit in around here," Lee admitted. He looked up to see mayor Jones walk up to them.
"Mister mayor, sir!" Lee said warmly, "What are you doing here? Come to give one of us an award for best performance?"
Daphne looked at the mayor, the man who kept secrets from Fred, the man who wasn't his father.
"I've come to ask for Ms. Blake, if you don't mind," Mayor Jones responded. Daphne turned to the mayor. Lee moved his hand in a "go ahead" motion.
"Thank you Mr. Mitchell," the mayor said politely, "Ms. Blake, could you please follow me?"
"Okay," Daphne replied slowly. She did not know if she could trust the mayor; After all, he was masquerading as a Crystal Cove legend known as "The Freak".
"May I ask where we are going?" Daphne asked.
"To the lobby."
"You'll see. C'mon now."
Daphne followed the mayor through the hallway towards the lobby, but she kept her distance. The mayor stopped at the door, ready to open it. He waited for Daphne to catch up. She paused at the door, and the mayor opened it. What Daphne saw nearly brought tears to her eyes: She saw Scooby, Shaggy and Velma, with hers and their parents. Sheriff Stone was there too.
"Guys! You're here!" Daphne yelled ecstatically, and she quickly ran to them, wrapping her arms around her friends.
"Rey, Raphne!" Scooby barked.
"I missed you guys so much!" Daphne said, her voice nearly breaking from tears of joy.
"We missed you too!" Velma replied happily.
"I do have to tell you," the mayor warned, "I did lift the restraining order, but it's only for today. I thought you kids needed a break from this, so go on ahead, get re-connected."
Daphne turned around to the mayor.
"Thank you so much, Mr. Jones!" Daphne said, shaking the mayor's hand.
"it was my pleasure, Ms. Blake," the mayor responded.
"I did want to ask you something, Mr. Jones..."
As Daphne spoke, another person entered the lobby. Nobody payed any attention to him.
"Did you talk to Fred at all by any chance?"
The mayor lowered his head with sadness.
"I'm sorry, Ms. Blake. I tried calling him on his cell phone, but he wouldn't answer. The poor kid is still angry about his real parents. I'm sorry, but I don't know where he is."
The young man had not moved from his spot at the doorway.
"So the news hasn't reached here yet," he spoke in a low and aggressive tone, "Bummer. Now I gotta break it to you guys."
Everyone turned to the young man. He was a tall and intimidating figure. His long, black hair was held back by a hairband. His eyes were masked by a pair of pilot shades. His unbuttoned shirt draped across his broad shoulders, his athletic build somewhat showing off through his wife-beater undershirt. A necklace of some strange symbol hung around his neck. He casually held a police file in his calloused hands. The sleeves of his shirt were rolled up, exposing a black tattoo that ran up his left forearm and from what Velma could see, it ended at his chest. He wore jeans that were well worn; There were tears that ran across the knees, the dark blue color faded.
"May I ask who you are, and why you are here?" the Mayor said, breaking the silence.
The young man pulled out a badge that looked like a police badge, but was not. He showed it to the mayor and the gang.
"My name is Tobias Carter", the young man announced, "A member of the paranormal-research-and-extermination-group known as Night-Terrors. I have some bad news."
To be continued...