WRITTEN BY LIN SILVER
No creature should have been stirring… but what was that creak and patter of footsteps they heard?
Tom was sound asleep, exhausted from pre-Christmas preparations.
Kim had barely dozed off, and shot bolt upright when she heard a faint sound downstairs.
“Wake up, I heard a click,” she whispered, prodding him in the back.
“Oh, Happy Christmas to you, too!” Tom said sleepily.
“Not yet, it isn’t,” Kim muttered. “But I heard a noise downstairs. We need to go down and check.”
“What sort of noise?” Tom asked, rubbing his eyes.
“Like the door opening,” she said.
“Go and have a look,” Tom said.
“You come with me!” Kim urged. “Better if both of us go, in case.”
Reluctantly, Tom got out of his nice, warm bed.
It’s probably nothing, just the draught blowing the pantry door, but if it makes you happy…
“Bring the torch!” Kim hissed. “But don’t put it on yet. If anyone is downstairs, we want to take them by surprise.”
“Yes, Guv’nor,” Tom chuckled. “Stop being so serious,” he added, ruffling her hair. “It’s nearly Christmas Day.”
He thought of the beautiful pendant he had hidden, ready to give her in the morning. They crept to the landing and heard another noise – that of the creaky floorboard in the dining room.
“Told you!” Kim said, triumphantly.
“And making for the presents,” Tom said, suddenly serious.
“We must be careful,” Kim whispered.
They tiptoed down the stairs, avoiding the ones that creaked. As they continued their stealthy descent, a shadow cast from the dining room flickered in the dim light from the lamp that stayed on permanently at night. A draught blowing through from the kitchen suggested the conservatory door was open, too.
“That was the click I heard!” Kim said.
“Devils, they are!” Tom hissed. “What do you suppose they intend to do? Open everything or just take a select few and hope no-one notices?”
“It depends how clever they are – or think they are,” Kim muttered. She reached for her mobile phone, left on the hall table. The landline in the dining room was answered on the first ring.
“Hello?” said a nervous, wobbly voice on the other end. Kim struggled to sound fierce and authoritative.
“This is the police,” she said sternly. “We have you in our sights and we know what you’re doing. Now you either put everything back at once and come out quietly with your hands up, or you stay where you are and face the consequences.”
There was a click followed by the sound of the handset being rather clumsily replaced. Two shadows moved into the dim beam of light and lengthened as the culprits neared the door. Kim and Tom stood at the bottom of the stairs, their arms folded and stern looks on their faces.
Seconds later seven-year-old Marcus and his younger sister Lucy emerged, both looking scared and extremely guilty.
Tom was trying not to laugh…
“Ok, I’ll go and check out the damage,” he said, rather enjoying playing detective. “You keep hold of these two till the wagon rolls up.”
“Are we going to prison?” Marcus asked in horror.
“You ought to,” Kim scolded, trying to keep strict. “You promised that if we let you sleep in the conservatory so you might spot Santa flying across to land his sleigh on the roof, you wouldn’t be naughty and come in and start opening your presents before we got up.
“But it’s Christmas Day now, so we’ll let you off this time.”
Tom reappeared from the dining room.
“Nothing’s been opened,” he announced. “I think they were just having a sort through to see if they could guess what was inside – is that it?”
Marcus and Lucy nodded sheepishly.
“I wanted to see if my tractor was there,” Marcus mumbled.
Kim began to laugh.
“Well, as it is Christmas Day now, I suppose it would be OK to open one present each before you go back to bed.”
“Yeah! Yeah!” shouted Marcus and Lucy, wildly excited as they rushed to choose something from the pile. Kim turned to Tom and smiled. The joy of Christmas had arrived.
“Just a minute,” Tom said, heading back upstairs. He came down with his present for Kim and handed it to her.
“You can open one, too, as you’ve been very good,” he said, solemnly. “Merry Christmas, darling.”
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