A soggy, rainy evening in Châlons-sur-Marne, a small town in northeastern France. Sophie Mouchabiere pulled over next to a small, run-down house in the worst part of the town and stepped out of her car. She was a small-dark skinned woman wearing a dripping wet waterproof jacket with piercing blue eyes in her sharp face.
The reason she was there on the night that would sonn prove to be fateful was that she was a social worker, helping a woman recover from years of drug abuse, losing her husband and her children. She was never one to lose hope, and she had clung on to this woman after her colleagues had declared her a hopeless case... and it seemed like there was some progress being made after all. Antoniette appeared to be finally taking a grasp on her own life.
Sophie walked over to the door and knocked. There was no answer. That was worrying. Had Antoniette been doing drugs or cheap alcohol again and got so inebriated she didn't pay attention? Then she noticed that the door had opened slightly when she knocked. That was also worrying. In this part of the town, not locking your doors at night was begging to be robbed. After a moment's consideration, she stepped inside. Damn the consequences; she had to make sure Antoinette hadn't done something stupid after all the progress she had made.
The inside of the house was grubby and poor, but clean - Sophie had managed to talk Antoinette into regular cleaning up. It had a small corridor, a kitchen, a living room, a bathroom and a tiny bedroom. Sophie methodically checked each room, looking for any signs of anything suspicious. There was nothing. Finally, she entered the bedroom and froze.
She saw Antoinette - a woman in her mid-thirties, worn out by years of drug abuse, wearing a night gown, lying down in her bed. Right next to her was... something that looked like a man. It pressed its hands to her forehead and they glowed in faint white light - it seemed to be diminishing Antoinette with each second. Sophie stood there, terrified and paralyzed... and then the world begin to glow white until she couldn't see anything and she heard a voice, similar to her own:
YOU'RE HERE TO HELP. ONLY YOU CAN HELP.
She suddenly could see again, and the creature above Antoinette - which looked like an emaciated young man with pointed ears - stared at Sophie, as if amazed she could see it, but still draining the poor ex-junkie. Without thinking, she yelled:
What happened next defied all expectations - the creature tore itself away from its victim as if forced to do so by Sophie's voice somehow. It looked at her with terror feeling its eyes and leapt through the open window into the night, whimpering and moaning. Sophie ran to the window, but could only see the thin figure disappear into an alley. She had no time to pursue - she had to make sure Antoinette was alright. As it turned out, she ran a bad fever and showed signs of malnourishment. Seeing everything as through a soft fog, she called the ambulance and when it arrived, she told them she'd found Antoinette sleeping and that she had apparently neglected herself badly, perhaps in a bout of serious depression. The doctors took her away without a word. Sophie went back home, almost causing an accident since she was only half concentrating on the road, and sat down on her bed, staring at the wall.
What the hell had happened?
Had she really seen some... some sort of elf draining life or - she didn't really know how she knew that - dreams from Antoinette? Or was she simply going insane and the elf was just a hallucination cooked up by her diseased mind when seeing Antoinette in a bad state? The latter was a much more likely explanation, especially with that voice. But then, how to explain the open window and the door? And she felt different. As if touched by something great... or maybe just different. Of coure, that might have been a symptom of her madness as well. She didn't even notice when she slipped into a nightmare-filled sleep. She had no idea that she had just stepped into a world she'd never suspect existed... and that her troubles had only just begun.