Prosecutor Justin Warburton labored his way down the stairs. His wife and daughter were waiting for him in the living room. As he adjusted to the early morning, he felt the relief of finally getting a break from work. He had spent the last four months putting away a local crime boss and a bunch of his henchmen. It had been a difficult time with the media scrutiny and then the death threats. But, it was all over. Now he could go back to being a husband and a father for awhile.
“Merry Christmas,” his wife and daughter shouted in unison as he entered the living room.
“Merry Christmas,” he said, noticing his daughter, Monique, had already picked out the largest present and placed it before her. “That looks amazing, some gift you got there. Just let me set-up my phone so I can record.”
Monique nodded, as her fingers moved like spiders up side of the gift, towards the large bow in the ribbon.
Justin looked towards his wife, Sarah, while selecting the record option on his phone. He crooked his nose, seeking a clue as to what the gift was. They had decided to buy all the large gifts together, but he figured his wife had gotten too caught up in all the excitement to remember their deal.
Sarah shrugged her shoulders.
Monique tapped on top of the gift. “Okay, okay, can I open it now?”
Justin looked towards the tree. There seemed to be more presents than what he could recall placing the previous evening. A red flag shot up in the fore of his mind, and he launched himself off the sofa. He grabbed the present away from his daughter, who looked up at him with eyes wide in disbelief. Justin heard his wife ask him what he was doing. But he didn’t respond. He darted out the front door and made his way to the refuse bin near the front of the driveway.
Carefully inspecting the box, he realized just how light it felt. Justin tried to remain, considering the possibility that he was overreacting. Family member s or friends who had visited the past week could have left the gift as surprise, especially his mother. He swallowed his fear and better judgment and pulled the ribbon off. Justin opened the box. There was a teddy bear inside.
Except, this bear looked like it had been around for ages and through both world wars. It was tattered, dirty, and was missing both its eyes. Justin saw a card beneath it. He took it out and started reading.
You took away my life, now I will take away yours.
The screeching of tires drew Justin’s attention to the road. A black SUV was speeding away. Feeling the fear spike in his veins, he was bout to turn back to the home, when a loud boom rocked his world. Waves of heat lifted him off the ground, propelling him forward. Justin turned to his home, ignoring the stinging pain that had erupted all over his back.
His house was in flames. The living room window had been blown out. A plume of charcoal-colored smoke rose high into the early Christmas morning sky.
There were no screams.