Stave 5: The End of It

“They are not torn down!” cried Scrooge, folding one of his bed-curtains in his arms, “they are not torn down, rings and all.  They are here — I am here — the shadows of the things that would have been, may be dispelled.  They will be!  I know they will.”

“I don’t know what to do!” cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoon of himself with his stockings.  “I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy.  I am as giddy as a drunken man.”

He had frisked into the sitting-room, and was now standing there: perfectly winded and stark naked.

“There’s the saucepan that the gruel was in!” cried Scrooge, starting off again, and frisking round the fireplace.  “There’s the door, by which the Ghost of Jacob Marley entered.  There’s the window where I saw the wandering Spirits.  It’s all right, it’s all true, it all happened.  Ha ha ha!”

Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh.  The father of a long, long line of brilliant laughs.

“I don’t know what day of the month it is,” said Scrooge.  “I don’t know how long I’ve been among the Spirits.  I don’t know anything.  I’m quite a baby.  Never mind.  I don’t care.  I’d rather be a baby.  Hallo!  Whoop!  Hallo here!”

Running to the window, he opened it, and put out his head.  No fog, no mist; clear, bright, jovial, stirring, cold; cold, piping for the blood to dance to; Golden sunlight; Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells.  Oh, glorious.  Glorious!

“What’s to-day?” cried Scrooge, calling downward to a boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered in to look about him.

“Eh?” returned the boy, with all his might of wonder.

“What’s to-day, my fine fellow?” said Scrooge.

“To-day?” replied the boy.  “Why, it’s Doomsday.”

“Doomsday!” said Scrooge to himself.  “I haven’t missed it.  The Spirits have done it all in one night. They can do anything they like.  Of course they can.  Of course they can.  Hallo, my fine fellow!”

“Hallo!” returned the boy.

“Do you know the Butcher’s, in the next street but one, at the corner?” Scrooge inquired.

“I should hope I did,” replied the lad.

“An intelligent boy!” said Scrooge.  “A remarkable boy! Do you know whether they’ve sold the prize Hamloaf that was hanging up there — Not the little prize Hamloaf: the big one?”

“What, the one as big as me?” returned the boy.

“What a delightful boy!” said Scrooge.  “It’s a pleasure to talk to him.  Yes, my buck.”

“It’s hanging there now,” replied the boy.

“Is it?” said Scrooge.  “Go and buy it.”

“Piss off!” exclaimed the boy.

“No, no,” said Scrooge, “I am in earnest.  Go and buy it, and tell them to bring it here, that I may give them the direction where to take it.  Come back with the man, and I’ll give you a shilling.  Come back with him in less than five minutes and I’ll give you half-a-crown.”

The boy was off like a shot.  He must have had a steady hand at a trigger who could have got a shot off half so fast.

“I’ll send it to Bob Cratchit’s!” whispered Scrooge, rubbing his hands, and splitting with a laugh, by now the sinister, scheming tone in his voice was no more than habit.  “He shan’t know who sends it.  It’s twice the size of Tiny Tim.”

The hand in which he wrote the address was not a steady one, but write it he did, somehow, and went down-stairs to open the street door, ready for the coming of the butcher’s man.  As he stood there, waiting his arrival, the knocker caught his eye.

“I shall love it, as long as I live!” cried Scrooge, patting it with his hand.  “I scarcely ever looked at it before.  What an honest expression it has in its face.  It’s a wonderful knocker.”

In that moment Scrooge knew what it truly meant to be in love. He cozied up to the knocker, stroked it with one hand, all while whispering sweet nothings into the ear of the innocent, inanimate object. So caught up in his newfound love he failed to notice the butcher’s man approaching down the lane. “and then I’d like to rub my tongue all over your bolts and rust and —Here’s the Hamloaf.  Hallo!  Whoop!  How are you?”

It was a Hamloaf!  A hamloaf large enough to have come from a whole family of fattened pigs, all shoved into a meat grinder, still living. Together they would all squeal, but they would all squeal together, as a family.

“Why, it’s impossible to carry that to Camden Town,” said Scrooge.  “You must have a cab.”

The chuckle with which he said this, and the chuckle with which he paid for the Turkey, and the chuckle with which he paid for the cab, and the chuckle with which he recompensed the boy, were only to be exceeded by the chuckle with which he sat down breathless in his chair again, and chuckled till he cried.

Scrooged cried in his chair. Scrooge cried on the floor. Scrooge even ventured to cry in the door. There he sat weeping for the mistakes he had made and for the mistakes he would be sure to make if he didn’t make the most of the day. The last day.

Scrooge popped a Xanax and like the Hamloaf Boy before him, was off like a shot! He dressed himself all in his best, and at last got out into the streets.  The people were by this time pouring forth, as he had been shown by the spirit on the night of December Twentieth; and walking with his hands behind him, Scrooge regarded every one with a delighted smile.  He looked so irresistibly pleasant, in a word, that three or four good-humoured fellows said, “Good morning, sir.  You seem quite chipper considering the circumstances.” And Scrooge said often afterwards, that of all the blithe sounds he had ever heard, those were the blithest in his ears.

He had not gone far, when coming on towards him he beheld the portly gentleman, who had walked into his counting-house the day before, and said, “Scrooge and Marley’s, I believe.” It sent a pang across his heart to think how this old gentleman would look upon him when they met; but he knew what path lay straight before him, and he took it.

“My dear sir,” said Scrooge, quickening his pace, and taking the old gentleman by both his hands.  “How do you do.  I hope you succeeded yesterday.  It was very kind of you.”

“Mr Scrooge?”

“Yes,” said Scrooge.  “That is my name, and I fear it may not be pleasant to you.  Allow me to ask your pardon.  And will you have the goodness” — here Scrooge whispered in his ear.

“Lord bless me!” cried the gentleman, as if his breath were taken away.  “My dear Mr Scrooge, are you serious?”

“If you please,” said Scrooge.  “Not a farthing less.  My entire fortune shall do me no good on this day or any other to come, as no more shall come! Now it is yours and your responsibility alone to ensure that some earthly good is done with it before we are turned to ash by the coming hellfire!”

Scrooge reached into his pockets and began to empty them of every farthing. Pelting the poor man with coins and tossing them into the air as if they had no true value on this plane of existence. He did not cease until the man was buried to his neck by every cent Scrooge had to his name. Scrooge enjoyed pelting the poor man with such nihilistic glee that those who witnessed the horrid event did nothing to stop him, a few bystanders even joined Scrooge.

—-

Over in Camden Town, The Cratchit’s were huddled around their last meal, the Hamloaf.

“Now Bob, why would someone send us a Hamloaf to-night?” asked Mrs. Cratchit, taken back by this mysterious act of kindness. “I looked out the window just as you were boarding it up and saw the marauders and lunatics lurking on the horizon. Are we to act as if they won’t come bursting through the door at any moment, taking our dinner and children with them!?”

“My dear, it’s Doomsday. Let us forget the looters and enjoy each others company for the la—” Bob found himself interrupted by a loud banging at the door.

“Well that settles it! Children, hurry into the cellar, your father and I will join you shortly.”

Mrs. Cratchit quickly escorted her family towards the cellar door, but as she rushed Mrs. Cratchit forgot about Tiny Tim who was hobbling to the front door.

“What if they’re cold and hungry?” Tim asked allowed “Or perhaps they can’t walk! They could use my crutch, I certainly won’t need it when the Earth’s core splits in two!” Tim reached up opened the door allowing Ebenezer Scrooge to waltz right in.

“CRATCHIT!” cried Scrooge.

“Mr. Scrooge!?” an entire chorus of Cratchit’s exclaimed.

“Cratchit! What’s the meaning of allowing your son to open the door on a night like tonight. You of all people should know that a boy of his size and stature would fetch top dollar amongst survivors, even with his gimpy leg.”

“Yes sir. I’m well aware sir. It won’t happen again sir.” Bob Cratchit groveled, before his wife stuck up for him in a way he had silently fantasized about for the past seven years

“Mr. Scrooge! What is the meaning of this? You couldn’t just let the world end? You had to come into our home and harass our family one last time? Make sure The Cratchit’s leave this world low on income and self-esteem? Well, I won’t stand for it Mr. Scrooge—”

“Please, Mrs. Cratchit, call me Ebony.”

A stunned silence fell across the household.

“I know it must seem strange to you, but that is what I prefer you call me. It is lighter and more welcoming than ‘crusty old Mr. Scrooge.’ I am a new man, reborn by the visions of the end of the world to come.”

“Ebony, I don’t know what to say…” Bob Cratchit felt a warmth in his heart, a warmth that was there the whole story because that’s just the man Bob Cratchit was.

“Well Bob, you can start by calling me Mr. Scrooge, I am still your boss, at least for the next fifteen minutes and will be treated as such… that is to say the lovely, beautiful, stunning, vision of perfection that is your wife can’t call me Ebony. In fact she may call me anything she likes.” Ebony let out a wink. “You may all call me whatever you wish!” he exclaimed “With the exception of you Bob, no hard feelings?”

“None sir. Thank you sir!”

“Now, where’s that Hamloaf!?”

Searching the room, the Hamloaf was nowhere to be found. It was left on the table, last anyone had seen it. Perhaps a cheeky looter had snuck in behind Scrooge only to make his way out, one Hamloaf richer. This was Mrs. Cratchit’s belief who felt the looter may be in cahoots with Scrooge in an attempt to beat down their family to a pulp in the most metaphorical of senses.

“Here it is Ebony!” Tiny Tim hobbled into the room, having molded the Hamloaf into a new wheelchair, the first of it’s kind. Relieved to find it was not stolen, they all laughed.

“Come now Cratchits,” Ebony said with a smile “a feast is a feast, no matter what handi-capable accessory it may be shaped as. Lets gather round as one and enjoy our final moments together before the skies open and fire rains from on high. Before the seas start to boil, the earth starts to quake, and our toes secrete mysterious slime.”

The Cratchits, along with their newfound friend enjoyed their last meal. That night they would sleep peacefully as the world outside plunged into chaos. Camden Town was left a pile of ash, but every single Cratchit awoke the next morning, the sole survivors of the apocalypse. From that day forth they would rebuild society a friendlier and nicer place, where good was seen in all men regardless of their ability to walk. And so, as Tiny Tim observed:

“Quetzalcoatl bless us, everyone.”

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