A Christmas Nightmare – Part One

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Photo via wikimedia under the Creative Commons Licence

Olivia, Senior staff writer

It was the night before Christmas, Audrey and Dean were lying by the roaring fire and tenderly stroking Audrey’s baby bump. Happily together since their first year in high school, they were known as the most loving couple in the neighbourhood and now that the two were pregnant, their love would continue to expand into a family of their own.

            “Dean, right now, in this instant, I am the happiest I have ever been in my entire life. Promise me that whatever happens in the future, we will always have this moment to look back at and remember how happy we were?” Audrey glanced up at Dean to find him beaming.

            “Audrey dear, I am the happiest I have ever been too. Which is why I want to make sure we never forget this day.” He slowly lifted his girlfriend’s head off of his lap and calmly got up onto his right knee. Audrey’s jaw dropped. “Will you, Audrey Miller, make me luckiest man in the world by accepting my hand in marriage?” For a split second Dean doubted himself. He’d been in love with this girl since the first day he’d laid eyes on her and this ring had been in his sock draw for over a year. He’d rehearsed every possible way the proposal could have gone and if she, for any reason, were to say no: his whole world would come crashing down.

            Alas, the second was over and Audrey exclaimed “Of course silly! I love you so much and I couldn’t think of anyone else I’d rather be married to.” The ring was placed onto her finger and the two embraced. But little did they know what was waiting for them right around the corner.

            Sprinkled all over the little town of Breckenridge was a soft blanket of snow. The pale winter Sun was slowly rising in the sky and though it was the dawn of Christmas day, an eerie silence filled the empty streets of the local neighbourhood. Perhaps it was because children were still sound asleep in their beds, or because it was the coldest winter they’d had in decades and it was too unbearable for snowball fights or even snowman building. Whatever it was, it was unusual for a regularly loud town like Breckenridge to be so quiet.

            Audrey woke with a start; she’d never been a deep sleeper and even the weak daylight coming from her petite French window was enough to wake her up. She lay staring at the ceiling for a short while, taking in her last days of freedom before she became a mother. She was probably the biggest fan of Christmas and when her doctor first told her that her due date would probably fall around this very holiday, she was ecstatic for weeks. Her trail of thought came to an abrupt end when the next-door neighbour’s child ran out into the street and started shouting at the top of his lungs “Hallelujah it’s finally Christmas day! Merry Christmas everybody, Merry Christmas-“ his little declaration was then silenced when his mother rushed outside and hastily grabbed him by the hand before dragging him back inside and slamming the front door shut.

            Rolling over onto her side, Audrey delicately whispered “Honey, will you-“ her heart dropped into her stomach. All this time, she’d presumed that her husband was softly snoring away next to her but all there was, was an empty patch and a crumpled bed cover. She hadn’t heard him get up, which was odd. Confused and a little tense, she wrapped herself in her silk dressing gown, slipped into her furry slippers and padded swiftly down the staircase to the living room. Her thoughts were racing. Where is he? Why didn’t he wake me? Did he leave a message? Maybe he left a message. No, he didn’t leave a message. I’ll call his cell. Wait; is that his ringtone I hear? Oh my god stop overreacting, he probably went to the shop to get something. No. It’s Christmas day and the shops are closed. Why is the window open?

For some reason the front door was no longer locked and the windows into their living room were blown wide open. An icy cold December wind was breathing in and goose bumps started to cover Audrey’s bare arms as she paced closer and closer to the fireplace. This was the last place she had seen him, as she had fallen asleep on Dean’s lap soon after the proposal, unaware of her surroundings until she woke the next morning.

Something out of the corner of her vision caught her eye. Something shiny. She looked more closely at the stockings hanging upon the fireplace and saw that inside of one of them was a sparkly-paper wrapped gift box that she had never seen before in her life. She crept towards the stocking. With her heart in her stomach, she nervously took the box out and written before her were the words

WE HAVE YOUR HUSBAND. GIVE US ALL THE FORTUNES YOU OWN OR POOR LITTLE JENNY WILL BE NEXT…

            Audrey started shaking. She sat down on the armchair closest to her and took a deep breath. What the hell was she going to do?

 

  To be continued…