AN ALTERNATIVE CHRISTMAS CAROL (pt.5) by Robert Cubitt

January 1, 2015

Continued from Part 4

After the two spectral visits Smooge couldn’t bring himself to go to sleep again. Instead he pondered on what he had been shown. The visions were worrying. He wondered if he might be developing a conscience and, if he did, whether it might mean the end of his banking career. After all, who had ever heard of a banker with a conscience?

The clock chimed three and Smooge sat up expectantly. Nothing happened. Nothing continued to happen as the clock struck the quarter hour. After another five minutes a figure slouched through the wall and into the bedroom. Smooge noticed that it was female. Her long raven black hair was streaked with bright blue. Strange wires sprang from her ears and connected them to a small device to which it was paying close attention. The girl’s thumb rubbed over the device in strange, jerky motions. Her mouth moved in a rhythmic chewing motion, reminiscent of cattle at rest.

“You’re late.” snapped Smooge.

“Whatever.” The girl said without looking up.

“Well, don’t you have some sort of message for me?”

The girl gave a long, all suffering sigh and reluctantly slipped the small device into the pocket of her baggy cardigan. She fished out a card and read it, her lips moving slowly as she did so. Satisfied that she had memorised the contents of the card she thrust her hands into her cardigan pocket and spoke somewhat petulantly.

“I am the ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. I bring you a warning of your fate should you not mend you ways.”

The message delivered the girl drew out the small device and recommenced her fiddling with it. She giggled at something and then started moving her thumb more rapidly.

Smooge examined the girl more closely. Apart from the baggy cardigan she wore some sort of tight shirt, above which an expanse of chest sparkled with gold glitter and below which her belly button was exposed, showing a gold ring pierced through it. Her skirt was a strip of denim that stopped in a ragged fringe well above her knee. Her legs were encased in pink and green striped nylon leggings that had holes torn in them in a number of places. She wore shoes that went to a point at the toes but also had a heel that was at least six inches high. Were she solid Smooge guessed that the heels would make small holes in his hard wood floors. Smooge’s bunions started to throb in sympathy.

“Wat you lookin’ at, you pervert?” The girl realised she was being examined.

“Your clothing. I have never seen such strange garments on a female.”

“I don’t follow no fashions. No one tells me how to dress.” The girl stated angrily. “I’m an individual. So are all my friends. We all dress like this. Wat are you, my Mum or somefing?”

Smooge wisely decided not to pursue the matter. “I suppose you have somewhere to take me?”

“I do, but you’ll have to make your own way. My Dad will have to give me a lift and if he sees you with me he’ll think you’re some sort of Paedo out to groom me.”

The girl waved her hand and Smooge found himself flying over the town once more. He had to admit it was a very convenient way to travel. After a while he started to descend and was deposited in a field. There was nothing in sight in any direction.

The girl appeared beside him. “Sorry ‘bout this. We’ve got a bit of a walk from here. They used Ryajet for this trip so we couldn’t get no closer. I hope you only had hand luggage otherwise you’ll get a bill for the excess.”

Smooge looked down at his empty hands, wondering what the girl was talking about. She turned and floated across the field leaving Smooge to struggle through the snow behind her. For some reason he was feeling the bitter cold this time. He wished he had dressed for the weather as his silk pyjamas and slippers weren’t up to the job. At last they arrived once more at Bob Scratchit’s house.

The house was dark and Smooge noticed a black wreath hanging on the door. “Who is this for?” He asked, already knowing in his heart. The girl didn’t answer, but waved her hand and the door swung open.

In the tiny parlour the family were gathered. Bob Scratchit sobbed quietly and the children whispered together, casting occasional glances at their father.

Smooge counted the children and only managed to get as far as eleven. He searched the faces to identify the missing child.

“Tiny Tim.” He exclaimed. “Where is Tiny Tim?”

“He is the one the wreath is for.” The ghost explained.

“And Elisa?”

“Oh Elisa.” Scratchit wailed. “Elisa why have you abandoned me?”

“Run off with the man who provided her with curtain material.” Explained the ghost.

“Before or after Tiny Tim’s death?”

“About five minutes ago.”

The scene faded and Smooge found himself in a windblown graveyard. Beside an open grave stood the solitary figure of a Clergyman holding an open prayer book. As he muttered prayers he took occasional glances towards the gate of the graveyard, hoping that someone would come to mourn the grave’s occupant.

“Whose grave is this?” Smooge asked the ghost.

“Yours.”

“Will no one come to mourn my passing?”

“Wait.” The ghostly girl  commanded.

Smooge heard a murmur and turned his own head towards the gate. There he saw a sight that filled his heart with joy.

“People are coming to pay their respects.” He said as he watched the growing crowd. So many people. It looked as though the whole town had turned out for him.

“As if.” was all the ghost said by way of reply.

The crowd gathered round the open grave. Smooge saw Bob Scratchit step forward to speak to the Vicar.

“You better get the grave filled in, Vicar.” He said.

“Why, my son. What is the need for haste?” The Vicar replied.

“Well, we can’t start dancing on it until it’s been filled in, can we?”

For Smooge the world went black.

To be continued…

****************************

Robert has always been keen on writing and has tried his hand at various projects over the years, but the need to earn a crust had always interfered with his desire to be more creative. After serving with the RAF, working as a logistics planner for Royal Mail and as a Civil Servant with the Ministry of Defence, Robert took up writing full time writing in 2012 and produced two works of fiction in rapid succession. In truth these had been “works in progress” while he had still been in full-time employment and just needed finishing off. Since publishing these books on Amazon he has focused on a new book. The Girl I Left Behind Me which will be published by Ex-L-Ence Publishing Ltd in December 2014, to be followed in the Spring of 2015 by a sequel.

In his spare time Robert enjoys playing golf, is a member of a pub skittles team and is trying, unsuccessfully, to learn to play the ukulele. To find out more about Robert Cubitt and his books or to read his weekly blog please visit his website robertcubitt.com or ‘like’ his Facebook Page. He can be contacted at robert.cubitt@robertcubitt.com

Tags:

Comments are closed.

Editor’s Ramblings

New Look, Same Magazine

In the immortal words of the Brady kids:

When it's time to change, then it’s time to change
Don't fight the tide, come along for the ride, don't you see
When it's time to change, you've got to rearrange
Who you are into what you're gonna be

With the help of writer and webmaster Ian Shane, we have given ourselves a makeover. It was surprisingly easy and relatively painless. On the inside, we are still the same magazine. On the outside, we are slightly more fabulous.

Praxis takes pride in featuring established and up-and-coming writers. We are always looking for new material and fresh voices. Check out our submission guidelines to get an idea of the kind of work we are looking for, and peruse our stories to get a feel for what we like.

We update our content regularly, so read voraciously and check back often.

Cheers!

Andie Ryan
Editor