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The Teddy Bear
The telephone and the doorbell rang at the same time.
'Honey! Honey, will you please get the phone? I'm right by the door.'
'Yeah, mom,' Brooke called down the stairs.
Mrs. Forester smoothed her hair and twisted the doorknob, welcoming in her friends.
'Josie! How great to see you! Oh, the little ones have grown so much! Yes, Jack, Brooke's here; she's just answering the phone upstairs''
Brooke clutched the phone, her heart pounding wildly in her chest as her father's voice came through the receiver.
'Brooke, do you hear me? Get the Worthington family out of there now! I don't know how much time you have. I know you can do it.'
'Yes, dad,' whispered the girl, shaking.
She slammed down the phone and ran downstairs.
'Miss Josie, Miss Josie! You need to leave now. Some men with guns came to my dad's work looking for you and the kids. He said he would call the police because they were probably tracking your phone. Take it outside and hide it somewhere.'
Josie Worthington straightened her jaw and shooed her little ones out the door, Bethany Forester following.
'Honey, we'll take our van so they'll think she's still here.'
'Are we gonna be hurted by the bad men?' whispered little Leah, clutching her favorite teddy bear.
Jack looked his friend in the eye: 'Are you serious? Are they carrying guns to look for us?'
'That's what my dad said. Come on- grab your cell phone, and we'll hide out at the park until its safe- it's no good for all of you guys to be in one place.'
Jack glanced out the door window at his mother and younger siblings getting in the car.
'We'll make it,' Brooke whispered.
They dashed out the back door and ran down a few tangled streets and between a little patch of trees to the bottom of a little, steep hill, below the major road. At the bottom of the little hill was a playground.
'Halt!' a voice barked behind them.
The two teenagers whirled around to see a tall man, dressed thoroughly in black, standing erect behind them. He held a long gun, poised, in his menacing right arm.
'What are your names,' he demanded.
'Uh, My name is, is Elizabeth- Elizabeth Jackson,' stuttered Brooke.
Jack shot her a sideways glance and answered: 'Yes, and I'm Daniel Wilson' but everyone calls me''
'I don't need to know what everyone calls you. I'm in a big hurry, so straighten up and tell me if you know a Josie Worthington.'
'No- no. Actually I'm visiting from Texas,' Jack continued, 'I'm just visiting Lizzie.'
Brooke nodded. 'Yeah, I don't know any Worthingtons, either.'
The man eyed them hard, then turned and ran full-speed away.
Brooke faced Jack and eyed him down hard.
'Lizzie?! Lizzie?! You couldn't come up with anything better than Lizzie?!'
'Sorry! But what are we going to do about' this!'
'Oh my gosh! And Jesse was supposed to meet us at my house- they're gonna find him! I know. We'll go back, and I'll unlock my garage with the special keypad-thing. Then we can grab the bikes and make for my friend's house, around the pond.'
'Sounds good. Come on.'
They ran back, past the trees, through the few streets, and to the back of Brooke's house, where Jack called Jesse.
A few moments later, the garage was unlocked and the bikes pulled out, and Jesse showed up.
'What?' he hissed, after they had explained the situation, 'You're making me use your little sister's tricycle?!'
'Shut up and get on,' Brooke hissed.
'Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy!' a little voice called from the backseat of the Foresters' van.
'Yes, sweetheart?' Josie asked her daughter.
'Teddy Maria is making funny beeping noises,' she giggled.
'Is that her teddy bear?'
'Yes. I'm sure it's just her wild imagination.'
A precise call came from the back of the huge gray van.
'Have you found something?' asked the worried Lieutenant.
'Right here- on the highway. It's right here! We only have six minutes and counting!'
The tall man in black made straight for the little red dot on the laptop screen.
The three kids turned into the neatly paved driveway, leaped- or stumbled- off their bikes, and ran up the steps to the townhouse.
The door opened as soon as Brooke knocked.
'You have to see what's on TV, Brooke! Hurry!'
'I think that gray van is following us,' Bethany Forester whispered.
Josie's big eyes grew bigger.
'God, save us,' she mumbled.
The image on TV made the three kids shake.
'We're following a bomb,' said a blurred-out face on the TV, 'The bomb has been placed in a Cuddles brand teddy bear by terrorists. We are now tracking it down the highway. The bear belongs to a little girl. Everyone, pray we can reach them in time.'
The blurred face vanished.
'We have to call my mom's cell!'
'No, Jack, she left it underneath the bush in my front yard. I told her to hide it there- it's my entire fault!'
The big van pulled up beside the smaller, red one and rolled down its windows.
'Your daughter's teddy bear!' screamed the lieutenant, 'It has a bomb!'
Josie's eyes widened in horror.
'Lieutenant! We have only eighty seconds!'
'Hand it to me, sweetheart. Hand me Teddy Maria.'
The little girl pouted and stuck out her bottom lip, handing over the bear very slowly.
Her mother snatched it and handed it to the lieutenant, who had pulled close to the red van.
'It's your sister?' gasped Jessica, Brooke's friend, 'Oh my gosh.'
Brooke got down on her knees, crying: 'And my mom,' she whispered.
'That big ditch! In the field there!' screamed the lieutenant, pointing.
He lifted up his powerful arm.
'God, put wings on this bear,' he whispered.
The beeping grew faster.
'Carry this bomb.'
He extended his fingers like he had in college football; the bear, with its little stitched smile, sailed through the air; and suddenly, or so the lieutenant and his team report, it kept going up and never came down, until it exploded brilliantly into a simple black cloud.
The blurred face appeared on the TV again a while later.
'I am shocked to report,' it said, 'that we have been granted a miracle.'