A blood-covered face from the far end turned towards him. The Dad stepped backward in fear. A big man unfolded himself, staring straight at him. His hair was matted with blood. His white trousers were stained from what looked like a bullet hole.
“You know you’re dead, right?” The big man said to the Dad. His eyes were dead and emotionless. He flicked open a knife.
From behind the big man, a nasal voice said. “Hold up, Bro. He’s harmless.” There was another guy there. Small, slim with a hungry, thin face and restless eyes. He stood up and limped towards the Dad.
“What’s your name, boss”, he said.
The Dad trembled as he replied. “Tom”.
The thin man snickered. “You look like a Tom. What a nice Christmas sweater you have there. Now, I’ll warn you – you do anything odd, and you’re dead. Just be still, we’ll be your guests for the next hour or two, then we leave here in peace. Nobody needs to get hurt”.
Tom swallowed hard and nodded. In the distance, he could hear the wailing of police cars. Maybe looking for these guys? Then he made a mistake. He glanced without thinking down at the basket. The big man’s eyes followed his.
Big man called out, “Yo, J, this man don’t live here alone. Those are female clothes”.
Tom startled, paused, and started sobbing. “Please leave them alone. I’ll just stay here with you, my family does not need to know about this. You can leave in peace.”
But it was too late, Big man and the thin guy opened the garage door, and pushed Tom through the basement up into the living room.
As they burst in, Tom’s family started screaming.
Big man stood there, looking at them in silence. At least 10 kids, tied to various parts of the house. Matted hair, torn dresses, wild eyes. All of them were wearing distorted make-up. Running on the TV was a horror movie, and the smallest of the children was screaming and trying to cover her eyes, but her arms were tied.
The thin guy suddenly pushed Tom to the middle of the room and brought out a gun. He shot him in the chest, and told Big man – “Call the cops”.
Big man silently brought out a phone and dialed 911.