It was a dark and rainy Saturday morning when I crawled out of bed. The rain looked like the tears of God as I pulled a cigarette from the crumpled up pack beside my bed. Before I had a chance to light it, the phone rang. My skull felt like icepicks were being driven slowly inside of it. I removed the handset from the cradle.

"Hello?"

I was dressed and out the door in 20 minutes.

***

The rain beat down on my head, slicking my hair as I arrived at Widow Furbo's house. The dame was easy on the eyes but not in the league of a two bit gumshoe such as myself. She had called me in tears. Seems her Secret Santa gift had gone AWOL.

I asked her to describe the series of events that had led to this discovery. She began her tale of woe - after making breakfast for her two children, Biff and Willie, she had gone to the Christmas tree to open her present.

Detective Furby: The case of the missing present.S

The dame had gone to open her present....

Detective Furby: The case of the missing present.S

...but calamity was on the horizon.

I searched the immediate vicinity for clues but came up empty. There was no sign of a break in. No sign of struggle. Just an empty box and a weeping widow. Story of my life. I excused myself to the bathroom for a breather. I had to collect my thoughts.

Detective Furby: The case of the missing present.S

The bathroom

I sat on the toilet heavily. I sighed. Something was bothering me about this case. If no one from outside had taken the present....then who? Someone inside? Perhaps the widow's children had taken the present! I stood up and ran to the children's rooms. I decided to investigate the computer to see if baby Biff or Young Master Willy had perhaps left incriminating facebook status updates. If only my father could see me now. Snooping on 12 year olds.

Detective Furby: The case of the missing present.S

The bedroom "rig"

Unfortunately there was nothing on the computer. I decided to check out some of other rooms in the house. In the closet all I found were some old ketchup stains and a glass of chocolate milk. I gathered up the chocolate milk and returned it to the refrigerator.

Detective Furby: The case of the missing present.S

Hrmmm.....

It was at this point that I realized I hadn't heard from either of the two boys or the widow in a while. "Ms. Furbo?" I called.

She didn't respond. I walked over to the basement door and paused. I could just make out some whispering. One of them was the widow but I couldn't place or hear clearly the other person.

"Yes soon," I heard the widow say. She sounded strange. The way you'd talk if you were trying to hold a phone conversation while wrestling a tiger.

The second person said something unintelligible.

"I know, but it's not easy to get people over here these days...."

Again, I couldn't make out what the second person said.

"OK, OK, his rates are outrageous anyway," at this her voice raised in volume several magnitudes, "OH DETECTIVE FURBY!!" her voice was cheery. Like an Avon lady trying to sell you slippers. My detective's intuition told me something was very wrong here. My natural curiosity however overcame my good sense.

"Yes?" I replied.

"Would you please come down here a moment?"

"I'll be right there," I began to descend the stairs into the basement.

Detective Furby: The case of the missing present.S

The basement was surprisingly high up.

As soon as I stepped off the last step I felt a thud as something connected with the back of my head that felt like a mac truck. When I came to I realized my hands had been tied behind my back. The widow sat to my right, tears streaming down her face.

"I'm sorry!" She cried. "He's just so hungry"

It was then I began to realize I wasn't alone with the widow. In the shadows from the corner, a strange sound came. A rustling. Too small to be a person, too big to be a mouse was the shape that began to materialize. A chill of fear like a cloud across a sunny day struck my soul. Something was not right here. Not right at all. I knew I had to get out of there. I pushed with my feet trying to get away from the thing in the darkness.

Suddenly, bright, eerie lights beamed into existence, pale blue in hue. Eyes. Those eyes.

They were looking right at me. I thrashed wildly against my bonds. My wrists broke open in spots against the rope, coating them in my blood.

Whiirrrrrrrr whiiirrrrrrrr, EEEE EEE EEEE

The thing came closer and I could make out a reddish/blue striping to it. I pulled harder and my right hand which had by now been completely saturated with my blood pulled free.

I didn't know if it were to be enough. The widow stood shrieking making it hard to think.

Feed me.

It spoke. Again.

FEED ME.

I could see it clearly now. I thrashed out with my foot trying to kick it away. It grabbed my shoe in it's hideous beak and shook, tearing my shoe right off. By now my other hand was almost free, I was actively turning it against the ropes, using the friction to open new wounds. The blood flowed freely. I gave one last lunge and thankfully overbalanced. My hand popped free and I plopped to floor unceremoniously. My lack of grace rewarded by the feel of wind against my cheek as the creature lunged for my face.

It wheeled quickly, but I was quicker. I threw my coat at it, momentarily blinding it as I bolted for the stairs. I don't even remember the intervening seconds as I found myself stumbling across the stoop, throwing myself in my car and fumbling with my keys. No one ever showed at the front door.

2 days later the widow and her children were found dead. It was credited to an animal attack. No mention of a small furry beaked creature.

I have trouble sleeping these days.

***

Merry Christmas to all!

Apparently I did a pretty good job of hiding him, but Furby is present in all but the first two pictures.