Here’s a festive story with a difference. I hope you enjoy…
The shifty-looking man wandered down the street, his eyes darting to the shadows, looking out for imminent danger. He felt more safe amongst the crowded shoppers, just three days before Christmas. He pulled the hood of his coat up to shelter from the cold, and paused outside Waterstones. Just as he was about to enter the store, his face exploded in a shower of blood and flesh, and he fell lifeless to the ground, surrounded by his own blood and the screams of terrified shoppers. On the roof across the street, a sniper rifle was dismantled in the shadows, and on a piece of paper, the name ‘Adrian’ was crossed out with a pen by a gloved hand.
Gabrielle tried again to start the car. Finally, third time lucky, the Ford Fiesta coughed into life and she reversed off the driveway. Life was proving harder than she thought since the loss of her husband – money was tight, finding childcare was hard, and work was a constant pain in the ass. The sleepless nights were now a thing of the past, at least. Rather than sleep alone, she let Cristian sleep next to her, even if his seven-year-old legs did usually find their way into her back and stomach during the night. Six months after Josh’s murder at the hands of a youth gang, the emptiness was still very much there.
Cristian was dropped off at Josh’s mum’s and Gabrielle headed off to work. Looking after old folks meant that old age, decay and death were almost an everyday part of her life, but nothing could ever have prepared her for having the love of her life torn out of her life for the sake of fifty pounds and a mobile phone.
After a hard shift, Gabrielle wished her colleagues and residents a Merry Christmas, and headed home. She pulled up onto the drive and turned the engine off, before cursing loudly. She slammed her hands on the steering wheel, and restarted the car, and drove off down the street.
Mat was sitting in his living room watching a Christmas movie with his girlfriend. As they snuggled up together on the sofa, a car pulled up outside and stopped on the opposite side of the road. A window rolled down and the barrel of a sniper rifle poked out, pointing at a spot above Mat’s ear. In a flash, a pane of glass in the living room window shattered and Mat slumped over, a hole in his head. As the house was filled with screams and yells, the rifle disappeared and the car drove slowly away into the foggy night.
Gabrielle spent her first Christmas without Josh with Cristian at her mother-in-law’s. It was a subdued affair, both being widows, but they put on a brave face for Cristian. They watched him open his presents, an increasing look of joy on his face after each present was ripped from the glossy Christmas wrapping paper, and he smothered them both with hugs and kisses. Rather than an overblown festive meal, they settled for a normal beef roast, although tradition dictated that Josh’s mum bought a Christmas pudding from the Supermarket. After the food was eaten, and the dishes washed, Cristian finally succumbed to tiredness and even Josh’s mum nodded off in front of the television. Gabrielle put her son to bed and, after checking her mother-in-law was also out for the count, she crept out.
Dan was not happy. Having to visit the Police Station on Christmas Day to have his tag fitted was the ultimate embarrassment. He left the station and was just walking towards his dad’s car waiting in the car park when he felt a searing pain in his head. He put his hand to the back of his head, and brought it back round. His fingers glistened with blood, and he watched, fascinated, the dripping pattern of red that was beginning to form on the frosted tarmac. Fascination turned to confusion, and then the world started to fade and he was enveloped in blackness. Dan’s dad watched, horrified, as his son collapsed to the ground in a billowing puddle of blood. So severe was his shock, that he failed to notice the Ford Fiesta move slowly away, pausing briefly, before disappearing into the frosty night.
Cristian woke in a panic, crying out automatically for his mother. Gabrielle reached out and stroked his head. With a soft whimper, he looked bleary-eyed to check his mum was there and closed his eyes again. As she watched her son sleep, Gabrielle felt a little satisfaction at a job well done. She resolved to make sure the box in the boot of her car was disposed of properly in the morning. She turned over to go to sleep, and as she nodded off, the piece of paper clutched in her hand dropped to the floor. Her mother-in-law came in to check on them, and picked up the paper. She unfurled it and, seeing no significance in three names crossed out, took it and put it through the paper shredder with all the other unwanted post.