If the citizens of the East would have known what they were getting for Christmas that year, they would have been running for cover a week before the present was wrapped with a big red bow and stuck under the proverbial holiday tree. On the evening of December 18, they all slept, some tossing and turning in their nightmares and some as motionless as the corpses of their ancestors who were also getting some shuteye in the old Eastern Cemetary out on Harlow Road. Not everyone was fast asleep however. Take for example, Joseph and Mary Valento, who were dancing in the shadows of their bedroom on the fourth floor, dripping sweat. The outcome would have been twenty one years old this July. As the clock struck midnight at the Eastern Correctional Facility, Billy Westwood quickly threw the switch on Arnold Armstrong, who was wrongly convicted of the murder of his wife last fall. Armstrong kicked and screamed as his brain was liquified by the charge of what the old timers had dubbed "riding the lightning." He was pronounced dead at 12:01am on December 19 by Dr. Millard Rouach.
On the contrary however, James Bauer stepped foot on Eastern soil for the first time in thirty-six years the next morning. He had served his time for child molestation and was now free to go about his lusts in life while cell block four all sat like Buddha on drug charges. In the papers that morning read the growing approval rating of East's mayor after his re-election the month before, but also spoke of hundreds of thousands gathered across the ocean raising banners and speaking out against the injustices of the West. Mayor Johanson passed a thirty-seven year old man named Ed on his way into the office that morning who asked him for a dollar so he could get a loaf of bread at the grocery store. The Mayor pretended he didn't hear Ed, but stopped on the steps of City Hall and checked his watch in the rain. That afternoon, he signed a paper that came across his desk that would put nearly seven hundred people out of work the following month at the tire plant. "Merry fucking Christmas," they would have said as they opened up the mail the following Monday. Had he paid attention in those economics classes that he skipped out on in his freshman year of college, he would have known that the people behind the initiative would be gaining a net total of around two million dollars by laying them all off. He would receive nothing, until the next election year came up.
At Eastern Elementary School, Mrs.Brown's fourth graders were all sitting down in their chairs for music. Across town, Jacky Swick was ditching out on class for the day so that he could see a picture at the Main Street Theatre that he had heard so much about. He sat through the entire movie eating a box of popcorn and thinking about two things: how he really should be in his English class right now and how the critics were so wrong about what he was watching. He tried denying this at first, but as the picture went on and the actors became so disgusting to him, he accepted defeat and left the theatre and returned to school for the last class of the day, history.
On Christmas day, December 25, at 1:15PM Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Hatheway welcomed Patrick Junior, a son, into the town of East and three hours later Western forces dropped twenty tons of weaponry on the small city and leveled every building, killed every citizen and left a thick cloud hovering over East that didn't go away for five and a half months. There is a monument there now, with a memorial quote that says something superfluous.