Christmas Eve. The house is dark, the only lights those on the lawn decorations.
“Hssst, Jake,” Sam whispered. “Looks like we can get in here! I tried this basement window, and it isn’t locked.” He turns to Jake and grins. “Good luck for us, our Christmas present. Probably lots of good stuff here. Maybe even some good jewellery.”
Jake grinned back as Sam opened the window and slid carefully through, then followed. They turned on their flashlights, being careful to shelter them so the light wouldn’t attract unwanted attention.
“Wow!” Jake whispered as he moved the light around. “Look, a computer! Looks like one of the best, too, with really expensive equipment. Sure can get a good buck fencing that!”
Quickly and quietly, they set to work, and less than half an hour later the computer, printer and all were securely packed in the van in the alley.
They went up to the main floor, and set to work. About three quarters of an hour later they had a large sack filled with a lovely silver tea and coffee set, cutlery, and other silver and gold items. They also had some beautiful ceramic ornaments, very expensive, wrapped carefully and stowed on top.
“Ok, Jake, you wait down here. I’m going to go up and see if I can find the jewellery. Must be some great stuff in a place like this.” Sam started quietly up the stairs.
“Fine,” Jake said. “Be careful, don’t wake anyone!” He settled down at the foot of the stairs to wait.
Sam ghosted up the stairs carrying a smaller bag stuffed with things to wrap his finds in. He turned at the top toward the master bedroom.
“Hi!” a young voice said behind him. “Who are you? Are you one of Santa’s helpers?”
Sam froze, then slowly turned. Facing him, just beyond the head of the stairs, was a little boy. He was about three feet tall, wearing bright red Pjs patterned in Christmasy things, and a big, happy smile. His blonde hair was tousled from sleep, and he was clearly excited. Oh, God, now what? For a moment, Sam stood, staring at the kid.
“Ah...um...yes! I’m Santa’s helper, checking to be sure you kids are all asleep. Why aren’t you in bed?” Sam managed to control his voice and sound normal, though he was shaking inside.
“I need a drink of water,” the kid said.
“Well, ok. Go get one, and then right back to bed, you hear?”
The kid looked at him for a long moment, then nodded and got his drink. He ran back to the room at the end of the hall, and as he went in, he shouted “Billy! Santa’s helper is here, in the hall!”
Hearing Billy mumbling while the little tyke rattled on, Sam turned and ran down the stair, almost bowling Jake over in his rush. Just as he reached the ground floor, they heard sirens. They headed for the basement at full speed. Who could have called the cops? Even if Billy had a cell phone, they would not have responded that fast.
Jake was already out the window, and Sam quickly followed - right into the arms of a uniformed officer.
“Hi, Sam. Merry Christmas!” the cop grinned as he pulled out his cuffs.
“How did you get here so fast?” Sam just had to ask, he was so stunned.
“Neighbour with insomnia. He saw you and Jake loading the computer into the van, and being a good citizen, he called us. We just waited for you to come out. The cop herded Sam out the back gate to the squad car.
As they left the yard, Sam heard a sound from overhead. He looked up to see a sad little face staring down. A bigger boy stood behind, arm around the little guys shoulders. Billy was obviously explaining who “Santa’s Helpers” really were. Sam’s shoulders sagged. What a rotten Christmas gift this was!