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A Christmas Carol: Stave Four: The Last Of The Spirits

A Christmas Carol.
In Prose.
Being a Ghost Story of Reason.
OR
It's an Ayn Rand Christmas.



Stave Four
The Last Of The Spirits

Scrooge could have sworn he was awake. He thought his eyes were open. He raised his hands and felt his eyes to be open. He could blink. No matter what he did, though, he could see only blackness. He looked all round himself, trying to find any light, or any thing, to focus on; slowly, out of the corner of his eye, he saw an even deeper blackness coalesce into a hooded form. The blackness of the hooded form made the previous blackness seem like a sunny day at high noon.

Scrooge had had enough. "Let me guess," he said. "You're the Ghost of Things Yet To Come."

The spirit answered not, but pointed with its hand.

Although well used to ghostly company by this time, Scrooge raged at the silent shape so much that his legs trembled before him, and he found that he could hardly stand.

"I don't care to go anywhere with you or see anything you have to offer, Spirit!" said Scrooge. "I do not fear you, I only fear the time of mine you are sure to waste. You believe your purpose here is to do me good? The best good you could do me is to stop causing me concussions and letting me get a good night's sleep!"

The Spirit waved its arm at Scrooge and he saw a street scene. It was deathly cold out and snow was falling from a heavy sky. Two men were walking toward a bar when a street urchin ran toward them begging for money.

"Go away kid, ya bother me," said the first man.

"Oh, come on, Bill," said the second, grabbing his wallet and handing over a fiver. "Don't be such a Scrooge."

"Spirit!" said Scrooge, ignoring the rest of the scene. "I do not care what my legacy is, but if 'being a Scrooge' means not giving money to people who didn't earn it, than I, for one. am proud!"

The Spirit again waved its arm at Scrooge and the street scene changed to a hospital room. The room was crowded as two adults and four children stood vigil around a bed where a small child was hooked up to a heart monitor that had just gone from beeping to flat line.

"Tiny Tim!" screamed Mrs. Cratchit, squeezing her boy's hand.

Bob Cratchit silently cried and Tiny Tim's siblings held each other tightly.

Scrooge got a closer look at Tiny Tim and saw he was no older than when he had seen him at the Cratchit's house earlier in the evening.

"What of it?" said Scrooge to the Spirit. "Tiny Tim was getting the best medical care his family could afford. Of course the family is sad, but they'll get over it. People die all the time."

At this, the Spirit waved its arm at Scrooge yet again and the hospital room faded away as Scrooge's bed chamber came into focus.

"Finally!" said Scrooge. "Finally one of you Spectres takes me home!"

Scrooge was so pleased to be home, and so tired from his ghostly travels, that he jumped directly into bed without first changing into his night clothes or pulling back any of the bed curtains. The briefest moment later he jumped right back out so violently that he caused the bed curtains to fall from their poles before running up to the cloaked Spirit.

"How dare you!" said Scrooge, shaking his finger under the Spectre's hood. "How dare you!"

With the bed curtains fallen away, one could see Ebeneezer lying in bed alone, white as a, well, white as a ghost. If one looked carefully at his chest they would discern neither rise nor fall of whatsoever.

"My own death doesn't scare me, Spirit, despite the surprise of coming upon my own corpse in the bed I was ready to sleep in. Your cheap parlor tricks mean nothing. I care not what happens to me after I die for I will no longer be conscious to worry about it, and, before you try to show me what happens to all of my money, know that I care not about that either after I am dead. Money is simply a way to keep score while I am alive; when I am dead let my money go where it may! And before you take me to my graveside service where, I am absolutely sure, there are no mourners, know that I care not about that either! Now take me home!"

After the briefest of hesitations, the Spirit waved its hand at Scrooge a final time. The Spirit seemed to collapse into itself, then disappeared entirely.