Sandy and her eight-year-old son, Cyclone, collaborate on this cyberspace version of the old Christmas classic. Part one of two.
“Oh go away,” Jane S. Cruge grumbled as she left the grocery store. A man had been there, asking for money for Teen Challenge, a Christian organization that helped youths to make a new start in life.
As if. Her former partner, Harle, had ignored all those Christmas Beggars with a panache that Jane envied. All she herself could do was lift one brow at the presumptuous solicitor and go her way. Why should she fork over any of her hard-earned cash for a waste of breath like a troubled teenager?
It was Christmas Eve, the man reminded her. She looked away. “Chrismas, bah! Humbug!”
Logging on to the Internet to check her investments, she turned on her instant message system, in case her cousin, Meg Crachitt, was online. Meg was the only person Jane ever IM’d with. Jane was thirty-six years old and a very mean woman. More eggnog. No Meg. Investments looking splendid. Jane checked her email to see yet more scams asking for her money and ah! An email from Meg. Jane clicked on it and made a disgusted sound under her breath. “The true meaning of Christmas. Yeah, right, Meg. You just hang on to your delusions.”
While she was drinking a second cup of eggnog, something came up! It was a message box on her instant message system. Harley: “Hi. It’s me, Harley.” Scrooge (for that was Jane’s screen name, and she liked the literary reference): “Harley? Hey, my partner was named Harley. And he gave me enough money to half fill a vault I have.”
Harley: Well, Scrooge, long time, no see.
Scrooge: Harley! What a coincidence.
Harley: It’s not a coincidence, Scrooge. I AM your old partner.
Scrooge: Ha ha, very funny. Meg, is that you? Quit messing with my head.
Harley: Never mind that. I am here to tell you that you’re wasting your life, Scrooge. You’ll learn that soon enough, I guess, but anyway. Here’s the deal.
Scrooge: Oh, I get it. You’re someone ELSE who wants my money!
Harley: No! No! I just have to tell you. You’re going to see a few folks this evening. Before Christmas. I just wanted to pass on a little friendly advice, Scrooge. Listen to these people, okay?
Scrooge: Yeah, right. Fine. Do I have to block you, now?
Harley: No, no. I’m going away. Just remember what I said.
Scrooge: Go away!
With one click...Harley was blocked. Jane was closing her browser windows when another IM came on. The screen name was Christmas Past. Suddenly, a bright light knocked her backwards to the floor with a THUD!
Jane dreamed that she was a little girl again. She was in her fifth grade classroom, alone, sitting on a hard plastic chair. She hated those chairs. The math was too hard for her, but she was trying to finish so that she could go home. Her brother, Anthony, knocked on the doorframe. At twelve years, Anthony was older and she thought he was the smartest person in the world. “Ready to come home?” he asked her, his voice kind.
“Yes!” she didn’t quite shout. “I hate math!” He chuckled and waited for her to get her books so they could go home.
Startled, Jane gasped and woke up. “But, he’s dead,” she whispered, tasting the eggnog on her tongue still. “Where am I?” she groused, sitting up on the floor. Her head was pulsing with pain from where she’d fallen. “Did they put something in this eggnog? No, wait, it was that flash of light on the computer!”
Weirded out, Jane climbed back into her ergonomically correct chair and examined her computerscreen. The browser was dormant; the instant message system had gone to IDLE. “Just a stupid dream,” Jane said, getting up and starting to put her computer to sleep. “Just a stupid – What?”
Another IM box, this time from Christmas Present! “Oh, get a grip!” she shouted to herself. “You’re stuck here in the middle of A Christmas Carol!”
End of Part One...to be concluded next week!