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Sheriff Roger O’Connell saunters around his office looking for something new to read. Protecting the small city of Havettsville is usually boring uneventful work. Sure, they have the occasional fender bender or domestic violence case. But overall, things run smoothly in the town whose number of citizens is barely two thousand.

His small building contains a lobby, his office and a tiny cell that hasn't had a visitor since the day it was built. In fact, his office is the only room that’s used regularly. It contains his tired old desk, which is covered in scratches from unknown sources, his leather-backed chair and a small table that is smothered in magazines. Some of these he’s read several times, and if his life depended on it, he could probably recite a lot of the articles word for word.

Roger picks up a well read copy of “People.” The articles are boring fluff, but he thinks that some of the pictures are pleasing to look at.

As he starts to head back to his squeaky chair, the phone rings and Roger is so surprised he nearly jumps out of his skin. “Surely,” Roger thinks, “It cant be an emergency.”

But his hand seems to be shaking when he picks up the phone. It’s as if something strange is in the air that is trying to alert him to a new danger, and when the phone reaches his ear, he hears a noise so awful he nearly drops the phone. His eyes grow wide as he tries to make sense of what he's hearing. The screams grow louder for a moment, then as abruptly as this started, the phone goes quiet. Dead quiet. O'Connell slowly hangs up the phone, wiping sweat from his eyes. Shaking his he head, he picks up the phone and dials the operator.

Moments later, O'Connell is racing down the County Road, hooking a quick left heading towards the river bridge and the other side of town. His Ford Bronco nearly on two wheels. The ice on the road wasn't much trouble for the snow chains he had put on when the season started. They came in handy when he and Dan went hunting last weekend after too much Christmas cheer, and they were coming in handy now. He'd called Dan Matthews, his long time hunting buddy and part time deputy to meet him at the Sander's place. They were new in town. Miss Sanders was a widow and had two young boys, both of them nice as could be, and Miss Sanders sure turned the heads in town. Sheriff O'Connell had noticed her in town many times. He even had the pleasure of talking with her one Saturday afternoon at Jimmy's Hardware store. O'Connell caught a flash of light in his rear view mirror and Dan's voice over the radio gave him quite a start.

Nearly twenty minutes later Dan and Roger pulled into the front yard of Miss Sanders place. The porch light was on, but most of the house was dark. There was a light on in the living room. Something was moving inside, casting a shadow back and forth. At first, Roger thought it was someone walking in front of a light, maybe even pacing. Roger looked to Dan, who had followed his lead and pulled his gun.

They quickly and quietly made their way up to the house. Keeping down and out of site, Roger tried to get a look inside. He could barely see over the window ledge, but he saw one of the boys laying on the floor. He wasn't moving. The figure they had seen from the drive way was still pacing back and forth, as if waiting for them. They could hear faint movements from inside. Roger told Dan to go around back. A few seconds later Roger kicked in the front door. Quickly making sure the front hall was safe, he ran through and right into the living room where the light was on. Dan had just come in from the Kitchen. Roger nearly vomited and Dan's head went down as he looked away.

One of the young boys was laying face down in a puddle of blood. It looked like he'd been hit pretty hard. The Christmas tree was toppled over and lay across his back. Roger took a step back when he saw the second boy, hanging from a Christmas light that had been wrapped around his neck, and was now swinging back and forth in front of the lamp.

Dan finally gained some composure and went over to Roger. Dan and Roger got the young boy down from the lights. He was dead already. They checked the boy's pulse on the floor. Nothing. O'Connell couldn't help but think of what a shame this was. The oldest boy, who had been hanging when they arrived wasn't even thirteen yet. And his little brother was only eight years old. O'Connell tried to fight back tears, but he wasn't entirely successful. He couldn't imagine what kind of butcher would do this.

He heard a noise behind him, and spun with his gun raised. He nearly fired but at just the right moment realized it was Miss Sanders. O'Connell could see blood on her hands and dress, and she was carrying a knife. She was trembling and sobbing as she walked towards him. He told her to stop. To calm down so they could sort this out. O'Connell couldn't imagine she would have done this. Who could have done this to their own kids. He wondered if she had been the one that killed her husband. He tried to push the thought out of his mind. She dropped the knife and kept walking towards Roger. She fell to her knees, crying something terrible.

Roger told Dan to keep an eye out as he put his gun away and went to her side. He asked her to tell him what happened. As she told her story, Roger could only shake his head. There was no way. He just couldn't imagine it. He tried to hold her, and comfort her, but she kept pushing him away. Finally, she pushed him hard enough that he fell back, and she ran out the front door. She was just in a nightgown and would catch her death out there. Roger started to follow when Dan grabbed his arm. He pointed to Roger's holster, and told him his gun was gone. Roger bolted out the front door.

Roger yelled for her. She didn't answer. She was out in the front yard, on her knees, with the gun to her head. Roger and Dan stopped cold in their tracks, not wanting to push her any further over the edge. Dan just looked at Roger. He could imagine what he was thinking. Both of them would probably do the same thing if they were in her place. Roger couldn't imagine what kind of bad luck this woman had. First loosing her husband in a car accident, and now her kids in this bizarre twisted accident. When her oldest son had slipped off the step stool, he had gotten caught on the Christmas lights. His younger brother tried to help him, but his older brother was flailing about and knocked the tree over on him, cracking open his skull. His mother had gone to get the knife to cut him down and tried to call for help, but it was too late. Roger's eyes filled with tears. Please, he said to her. But the night ended with a bang.

Chrispian H. Burks
Lit.Org Owner / Founder
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The following comments are for "Write Off: Silent Night"
by Chrispian

Never saw it coming. Nice job!

( Posted by: Beckett Grey [Member] On: January 7, 2002 )

Me either
I never saw it coming either. I like commenting on stuff but am still uncomfortable with the rating deal. It's like, who am I to judge? Just something to get used to I guess. I liked the story Crowe. Good surprise ending...

( Posted by: The Hal [Member] On: January 7, 2002 )

awesome story crowe. the ending could have only been better on film. just because it would have happened so much faster.

( Posted by: Justin [Member] On: January 7, 2002 )

Some of those characters seem very familiar. :)

( Posted by: lidiagale [Member] On: January 10, 2002 )

re: interesting
This time, they shouldn't seem familiar. Honest.

Where's more of your writing! The fans wanna know!

( Posted by: Chrispian [Admin] On: January 10, 2002 )

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