‘Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house. Not a creature was stirring….
“Ok, time for bed. You need to go to sleep so Santa will come.” Nick said. “One more story please!” Heather begged him. He looked down at the little girl nestled in her bed, big brown eyes pleading to him in the way only a young daughter’s could. “Ok, one more, then it’s lights out.” He said. He picked up another book from her stack on the floor, he read a couple paragraphs and looked over to her sound asleep. He kissed her forehead and turned out the light. He closed the door as quietly as he could. “Is she asleep?” Julie asked. She was in the kitchen washing the dishes. “Yep.” He said and hugged her from behind. “Let me finish these and then we’ll put the presents out.” She said. He opened the fridge and pulled out a can of beer. They put the presents from Santa under the tree and then sat on the couch to watch a movie. They both fell asleep halfway through the movie. The Christmas tree lights illuminated the small living room, shadows moved along the walls. Julie woke up, feverishly looking around the room and waking Nick. “Did you hear that?” She whispered. “Hear what?” “The bells.” “Church bells.” He said, rubbing his eyes and then reaching his arms above his head to stretch. “No, it was coming from inside the house.” She said, still looking around the room, but everything seemed to be in place. “It was probably on the tv. Let’s go to bed.” He said and held his hand out to her. “Yeah, probably.” She took his hand and stood up from the couch. “Oh the cookies and milk.” She said. He took a big gulp from the glass of milk and took a bite out of one of the cookies. She smiled at him and they went to bed. Julie was awoken again by the sound of bells. “Nick, Nick, wake up.” She said, pushing on his shoulder. He grumbled and rolled over. “Fine, I’ll check myself then.” She got out of bed and creeped into the hallway. She heard the bells ringing and with them what sounded like small footsteps running through the living room. She opened Heather’s door and saw that she was still fast asleep. A shadow in the living room caught her eye and she stared into the living room from the hallway. She watched the shadow move quickly from wall to wall. Her heart started to pound in her chest. She rushed back to the bedroom and shook Nick awake. “What? What’s going on?” He said. “There’s someone in the living room.” She said and nodded her head towards the door. He got up and slowly walked to the living room. He didn’t hear anything coming from the living room, he flicked the light on and looked around. Everything was just as they left it. He switched the light off and turned to go back down the hallway. A bell rang softly from the living room, stopping him in his tracks. He crept back and reached for the light again. He heard small footsteps and rustling near the tree. He crept towards the lit up tree. The tree shook and ornaments fell to the floor. “What the hell?” He said. The tree stopped shaking and a circular bell fell down from the branches and rolled across the floor, stopping at his feet. He reached down and picked up the small silver bell. He gave it a shake and it gently rang. Footsteps clamored around him, he spun around and felt sharp pain at his ankle. He yelled out and reached down to touch his ankle. Blood covered his hand. He dropped the bell and limped to the bathroom. He empty the cabinet looking for the bandaids and sat down on the toilet to put on the cut on his ankle. He heard scratching at the bathroom door and stumbled to lock the door. The doorknob twisted and jiggled. He scooted himself back against the wall. The scratching stopped and he heard the footsteps run down the hall. A scream came from their bedroom. He stood up and rushed into the bedroom. Julie was laying on the floor, scratches and cuts were all over her body. Nick gasped for air and fell to his knees. He felt something scratch his back and pull at his skin. He screamed and flung his hands around trying to hit whatever it was that was attacking him. He was able to get to his feet and he ran to the front door. He yelled for help and then was pulled down and dragged back into the house. A neighbor heard the screaming and called the police.
The police arrived at the house, no one answered when they knocked on the door. They walked through the house and found Heather sound asleep in her bed still. In the master bedroom they found Nick and Julie, in bed. They were both covered in cuts and scratches, the bed was soaked with blood. They woke up Heather and took her down to the station. She sat on a couch cuddled in a blanket while they waited for child services. “Chief, no sign of breaking and entering. No weapons were found. This was all we could find.” The forensic tech handed him a piece of paper in a sealed plastic bag.
My name is Ashley, they call me Heather, but I know that’s not my name. My hair used to be long and blonde, but they make me keep it short and they dye it brown. I saw myself on the news the other day, on the tv at a gas station. My real family is still looking for me. I need help. Can you help me please?
He looked over at the little girl, she held a small silver bell in her hands and smiled at it. “Thank you Santa.” She whispered.