A Christmassacre Carol
by Alex S. Johnson
(inspired by the album Slashing Through the Snow by Venus de Vilo and with apologies to Dickens)
Morley was dead. He had been tending this way for a long time, but now that winter snows swirled around his tombstone, the general report was that if he weren’t dead, he would be, at best, some kind of slavering, rotting ghoul to frighten little children already terrified by the advent of Christmassacre. Excepting, naturally, those fiendish tykes for whom the slaughter of their parents was a consummation devoutly to be wished and, indeed, prayed for.
Meanwhile, Urbangeezer Screwed was counting his money. Thanks to his miserly character, or so he believed, the money was more plentiful than ever in the year ________ in which our tale occurs. He had just dismissed his churlish assistant, Fob Crutchhead, who no doubt would waste Christmassacre in the foolish expenditure of glad tidings to all, yadda yadda. As far as Screwed was concerned, Christmassacre was a crumbug phonier than the holiday it had replaced.
“Bah,” said Screwed to the empty office, which echoed the word in a manner foreshadowing the specters that would shortly enter his life and change him forever.
“Whoo!” came a shivery voice from behind the curtains.
“Stop trying to scare me, Crutchhead. I’m not buying it and it won’t work. Go sell crazy elsewhere. And for the record, you can keep Christmassacre in your way, and I will keep it in mine, by ignoring its baneful existence and counting paper.”
“It is I, Morley,” the voice continued.
“Like hell it is. Come out, come out, wherever you are, and I’ll bite your bloody face off! I have no time for your foolish shenanigans.”
Screwed pulled his cap down over his bristly eyebrows and sighed. Every year it was the same nonsense, and if Crutchhead thought his silly annual prank would soften Screwed’s blackened old heart to the plight of Little Tomby, he had another thing coming. Plus, he suspected that Tomby wasn’t even Crutchhead’s real child, but an orphan he had plucked from the streets to earn sympathy.
“Seriously, mate, wake up and smell the moldy Christmassacre pudding!”
“All right, that’s it.” Screwed threw down his ledger and headed towards the window, which was fake and opened on nothing more than the sub-office where he kept the jewels and important papers.
“That’s the last mess you’ve made that I have to clean up!” shouted Screwed at the window. “Disrespecting the employer that’s kept you in geese for the past decade, defying my desire not to celebrate the worst idea for a holiday since the Yanks foisted Thanksgoony upon us, and…you are so freaking fired.”
Screwed pursed his lips in a refinement upon the fowl’s sphincter Crutchhead would not be enjoying this Christmassacre, or any to come.
Suddenly the air grew cold, and Screwed shivered, wondering at the sheer gall of his soon-to-be-ex-employee. “That tears it,” he roared. “Do you know how much hot air costs? Do you have any idea how much I have scrimped and saved and sweated over a hot ledger simply to sustain your reeking carcass, long may it burn in Hell?”
“I’m afraid you are late for that particular pity party,” said Morley.
The excrement was about to manifest in a most tangible way.
Screwed rubbed his eyes at the apparition that suddenly appeared before him, all clanking chains and a white sheet that Screwed was fairly sure had been stolen from his bed a fortnight ago.
“Are you taking the piss?” Screwed ejaculated. The ghost smirked at the author’s deliberately ambiguous use of an antique synonym for “quick verbal utterance.” And even supposing another meaning was intended, the ghost had no physical form and thus would be spared any bothersome stains upon his person.
“Seriously, though, it’s you, Crutchhead, innit.”
Morley removed his jaw and placed it on Screwed’s desk.
“Okay then, maybe you are a haunt come to address my so-called wrongdoings,” Screwed sputtered. “Well, get on with it. I don’t have all night.”
“I am the ghost of Christmassacre past, passing and to come,” said Morley.
“What, all three?”
“I thought you would appreciate the economy of it.”
“So…you’ve finally taken a cue from the old man. Ha ha, I get it. Very amusing. Well, do you have any other tricks up your sleeve?”
“I’m so glad you asked,” said Morley. “Fortunately for you, my sleeves are empty.” To demonstrate, Morley rolled the sheet past his skeletal forearms.
“And now to the meat of the thing. So to speak. First, I must warn you that anything you say in your own defense will be turned against you on the final Day of Reckoning.
“Second, you don’t want to traipse down the primrose path that led me to these”–Morley shook his chains–“and these”–he rattled his skull-faced manacles–and this“–but decorum forbids more explicit description of the latter horror lodged in Morley’s rear; or what might have been his posterior had he flesh.
Which he didn’t, being a ghost.
You get the idea.
“I’ll shorthand this. Change your wicked ways and stop being such an infernal ass hat, or you will suffer the same fate as me, only worse, because compared to you I’m a bloody angel. Excuse me.” Morley shrugged off the bedsheet; in its place was a pair of fiery wings.”
“Now that’s impressive. Not. Can you tell I’m being sarcastic?”
“Fine. Now hear this: if you maintain your attitude toward Christmassacre and all the joys it represents, you will spend eternity in Hades. Some blokes like to dub it Hell; I much prefer…”
“Pommes du terre frites?”
“Mmm-hmmm.” The ghost shook himself and pounded his skeletal hand against the wall in frustration. In life, he had enjoyed more than anything else this French delicacy. Now, he didn’t have the literal stomach for it.
“In conclusion, I present to you the most dreadful sight imaginable. Hold on.” Morley’s wings vanished. Suddenly he stood encased in a cube of gelatin.
“You’re a self-righteous, money-grubbing slimebag of the first water, and for your crimes you will be held prisoner in the jellied hooves of those nags you rode to death in life. And I am so out of here.”
With those words, the ghost disappeared.
“That’s it?” said Screwed. But even as he uttered these syllables, he felt the moist grip of death upon him.
“Wait…wait. Hold on a second.”
“You are Screwed, old man,” came Morley’s voice from the ceiling.
“Don’t I get another chance at redemption? I can change my ways any time. ‘Satan bless Christmassacre and Little Tomby, every one.'”
Morley sighed. He was duty bound to reward sincere contrition with a stern rap on the knuckles and a Get out of Hades Free card.
“Your repentance isn’t credible, but what do I know? I’m just a book-keeper.”
“Before I came into your employ, I spent some time as a magician’s assistant.” Crutchhead emerged from the closet, his hand extended. “No hard feelings?”
“Yeah, well, you had me going there,” said Screwed feebly. “I give up. Maybe Christmassacre is a good thing. I don’t know. You wouldn’t happen to have some gin on you, by any chance?”
“Would laudanum serve?” Crutchhead produced a test tube full of a brownish liquid.
“Oh Hades yeah. Let’s get polluted and view Stereopticon pictures of unclad damsels.”