Friday, 19 December 2008

The Trials Of Ebenezer Scrooge, Part 2

The clock struck eight, and Scrooge rubbed his hands together to try and gather warmth. With the fire burnt out, and the windows shattered from the mind-blowing sodomy, the cold of the night-time air whizzed through from one side of the room to the other, and chilled Scrooge to the very bone. His only option was to retreat to the warmth and safety of his old four-poster bed, the one he’d been in that fateful night last year when four ghosts had visited. As he trod the old floorboards they groaned under his burdened weight, and he fell heavily into the mass of quilts and blankets that made up his loyal bed.

The return of Jacob’s ghost had shook Scrooge to the very core, and his wellbeing was severely threatened by the unexpected nature of the visit. Surely Scrooge had already learnt his lesson and become a better man for it, so why did the spirits continue to vex him with their deathly pallor? As he climbed beneath the covers and pulled them tightly over his old shoulders, he shuddered at the thought of three more visitors arriving at his home later on in the night. He hoped the other ghouls would be more forgiving that Marley had been. There had to be some point to Marley’s actions, but Scrooge couldn’t think of but one reason for why he had done what he had. There was no point to it at all.

Never mind, he told himself. Tomorrow was Christmas, and he needed to get as much rest as he could in order to be all the brighter in the morning. Tiny Tim would be expecting him, and if he was to impress the boy with hope this year he would need to be in good spirits. The turkey, he dreamt, would be the largest the townsfolk had ever seen, and he’d carve it whilst giving a great speech to the Cratchit family about the wonderful benefits of sharing and being merry. Not that they would need it, of course! Everyone knew that they were the most content family in town.

From under his covers, Scrooge became suddenly aware of a bright light shining from the centre of the room, and he tentatively pulled down the covers from over his face, to find himself face to face with a ghost that was neither male or female, old or young, but with a glowing crown of light atop it’s head. It was the Ghost of Past Christmas. “Good evening, Ebenezer,” it squeaked merrily. “Come with me.”

Scrooge knew better than to challenge the orders he was given by this spirit, and he left his bed presently and came over to where it was stood, floating, in the centre of his room. It lifted a spectral hand to him and he took it, and as he did so the fireplace crackled back into life. With a snap of it’s fingers the ghost transported Scrooge away from his room and into a visionary image of his past. He was stood in the middle of a street, a street he vaguely recognised. He looked around, and found himself drawn to an alleyway round the back of an old theatre. With confusion, he turned to the ghost. “Where am I, spirit?”

“You are sixteen years old, and about to do something heroic, Scrooge.” The spirit pointed offwards towards a small figure huddled at the end of the dead end alleyway, wrapped loosely in rags and coughing with splenetic weakness. The child was sick, perhaps suffering from a venereal disease or seasonal flu. As Scrooge watched on the child, another boy – this one much older, perhaps a teenager - appeared behind him and walked with a cocky strut over to where the young boy was sat, and put his hands on his hips.

“What are you doing in my father’s town?” the boy asked, kicking the crouched infant as he smirked a victory.

“I’m just trying to find somewhere warm to rest myself until…”

“Until your fat momma dies and you can use her as a blanket?” the boy sneered, and Scrooge winced at the awesome burn. He recognised this situation, and knew now what was to come.

“Please, spirit,” he begged. “Don’t show me any more of this event.” But the spirit was tight-lipped, and continued watching as a third child appeared, this one clad with a jaunty hat and a long red scarf. It was the young Ebenezer, walking through the town he lived in as a boy.

“What are you doing?” he shouted, as he caught a glimpse of the other two boys in the alleyway. “Is this some sort of game?”

The teenage boy laughed, and kicked the coughing boy to the ground. “You could say that.”

Scrooge leant against the wall for security as he allowed the rest of the scene to unfurl. His younger self charged at the teenage boy, seeking to right the wrong here, but was promptly tripped and attacked, and received a bloody nose for his trouble. With one last laugh, the teenage boy ran off, away from Scrooge’s life forever. There was a black flash and suddenly everything was set in his humble bedroom again.

“What was the point of reminding me of this?” Scrooge asked The Ghost of Past Christmas, who looked stern for a second but quickly came to a conclusion.

“Get on your knees, Scrooge, and I’ll show you.”

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