Mr Evil's Christmas Carol

Act II: The First Spirit

Mr Evil slept peacefully, but not for long – for, after what must have been only a few precious minutes, he was awoken by the sound of rummaging in the cabinets at the foot of his bed. A candle had been lit. He sat bolt upright, alarmed, and looked about blearily for the source of the what he assumed was Sir Luftwaffe.

'Oh, howdy!' said a voice. 'You're awake!'

Mr Evil recognised the intruder at once. It was of course Hoppers the kuparkuke, bane of his professional life. This yellow kuparkuke had taken it upon himself to be a hero to the world, and heroes were bad for business! Mr Evil scowled at him with hatred and revulsion.

'What are you doing in my house?' he spat.

Hoppers smiled and turned back to the cabinet. He picked out something heavy, and held it up, inspecting it curiously in the flickering candlelight. He tapped it three times on the hard edge of the cabinet and held it back up to his ear to listen. Mr Evil heard detached springs rolling around inside.

'What do you think you're doing?!' Mr Evil roared. 'That's a very valuable antique clock! Put it back immediately! It'd better not be broken!!'

'I was just having a look,' smiled Hoppers. 'You've got a lot of nice things here, don't you? Business at the shop must be very good.'

'Never mind that! What are you doing in my house?' Mr Evil barked again.

'Why, I'm the Ghost of Christmas Past!' Hoppers said, beaming widely. 'Didn't you know? I'm supposed to help with showing you the error of your ways.' He continued inspecting the other valuable objects on Mr Evil's mantlepiece, carelessly brushing the dust off his semi-automatic. He turned once more to face Mr Evil, the handgun raised in his two hands. Mr Evil's eyes widened as he took notice of the gun. He pulled the bed sheets up so tightly around his cheeks that only his eyes now showed.

'Please don't shoot!' he roared, his voice muffled beneath the covers.

Hoppers looked down, horrified, at the weapon in his hands. 'Oh, no Mr Evil! I don't mean any harm,' he insisted. Gently, he placed the gun back down on the shelf. Mr Evil's chest puffed heavily with relief, up and down, but he still eyed the kuparkuke suspiciously.

'What do you want with me then?' he hissed. 'I'm trying to get some sleep!'

'I already told you,' grinned Hoppers. 'I'm the Ghost of Christmas Past, remember? So that means you've got to come with me on a journey around the town. We're going to step back into your past and revisit the Mr Evil of old.'

'Well I'm not interested! Get out of my house!' Mr Evil barked.

The kuparkuke wasn't listening. Instead, he strode merrily over to the window and parted the curtains. The immodest Mr Evil scrambled for the bedsheets once more – what would the neighbours make of it, to see him in his nightgown and cap?! Before he could protest, Hoppers was already pulling open the great glass window too. At once the icy midnight chill came in whistling, whirling all around as Mr Evil shivered beneath his duvet.

'What are you doing?!' he asked, teeth chattering in his mouth.

Hoppers turned around, his yellow ears now billowing in the breeze, and smiled briskly. 'You have to come with me, Mr Evil. Your first stop's only a short flight from here!'

Immediately, Hoppers took flight and zipped up beside Mr Evil's four-poster. He yanked back the covers before Mr Evil could hang on to them and took one fluffy white hand inside his own. Almost effortlessly, he tugged the tiny director up from the bed and whipped him up to the room's ceiling, before aiming with a dive at the open window.

'This is outrageous!' Mr Evil was screaming. 'Can I not at least change, first?!'

'No time,' shouted Hoppers. 'Now stop screaming, you'll wake your neighbours!'

Together, Mr Evil and Hoppers whipped through the wintry sky and over the tops of the quiet houses, inside which the townspeople must now have been sleeping soundly. The kuparkuke said nothing more until at last he came to a sudden stop in the air. He allowed himself to drift slowly back down to the ground. He dropped Mr Evil gently to his feet beside him. The director stopped screaming as he came to recognise the place in which they now stood.

'So, you recognise this place?' smiled Hoppers.

'O-of course I recognise it,' said Mr Evil. 'This is my pub!'

'Is it?' said Hoppers. He pointed up at the sign above the door, which should have said Evil's Bar and Winehouse – except that, instead, it said something else.

'Fezziwig's?' said Mr Evil. 'But Mr Fezziwig sold this pub to me years ago.'

Cautiously, Mr Evil approached the pub's frosty window. He cleared the pane somewhat with the sleeve of his gown and peered into the brightly-lit room beyond.

'It hasn't looked this this in decades,' said Mr Evil. 'There's supposed to be a boxing ring in the middle of this room, and it's been a very long time since I threw out that old piano!'

He turned back to look at Hoppers, eyes blazing.

'What is this?' he demanded. 'What have you done to my pub?!'

'I keep telling you, I'm the Ghost of Christmas Past. This is your past, Mr Evil,' said Hoppers, 'and this is Fezziwig's, as you remember it from your youth. You used to work here, didn't you?'

Mr Evil didn't ask how Hoppers knew it. He was already sick of hearing the words 'the Ghost of Christmas Past'. 'Yes, that's right,' he said. He looked in longingly at the crackling fire, for it was so very cold outside.

'Why don't we step on in?' smiled Hoppers.

Together, they walked in through the door and into the homely warmth of the pub. Not one person looked up at them as they entered. All were engrossed in the friendly merriment, drinking happily and playing card games at the tables. Somebody was tinkering away at the ivory of the old piano, playing Christmas songs to the amusement of an old, large creature in toupee. He stood cleaning a glass tumbler with a cloth, humming along and tapping his feet.

'I don't believe it!' said Mr Evil. 'That's Mr Fezziwig himself.'

'Recognise anybody else?' chuckled Hoppers.

'Wait a minute!' snapped Mr Evil suddenly. 'Goodness gracious, boy, that's – that's me over there. I'm coming over to speak with Mr Fezziwig!'

Both Hoppers and Mr Evil watched as a young, fat boy marched on over to Mr Fezziwig, a stack of tumblers in his hand. From the look of his outfit, he worked here at the pub. He had a cheery smile on his puffy white face, and he stopped beside Mr Fezziwig, who was much taller than he was.

'Merry Christmas, by the way, Mr Fezziwig!' he grinned.

'Ah, Evil – a very merry Christmas to you, too!' the large man beamed. 'And in fact, that's just reminded me. I have a little something for you here, to thank you for all your hard work and support this year! It's been a pleasure!'

He turned around to face the bar and rummaged blindly as Hoppers and the two Mr Evils watched. Finally, he heaved a heavy brown sack into the air that jingled and clinked as he turned back with it to face the boy.

'Your Christmas bonus,' he smiled, handing the sack to the younger Mr Evil.

'Wow!' spluttered the boy. 'Thank you so much, Mr Fezziwig!'

'Ah, don't mention it, boy,' said Mr Fezziwig, waving a large hand. 'You earned every penny of this, I can assure you!'

'He was a good employer to you, Mr Fezziwig,' Hoppers said to the older of the two Mr Evils. 'So why must you treat Mr Perkins so cruelly, I wonder? But it is not my job to question how you conduct yourself in the present. Do you remember what else happened this night?'

'It looks like I'm going to speak with somebody else!' said Mr Evil. 'Would you look at that, eh? I always was a popular boy!'

He pointed excitedly over at the young Mr Evil, who was now speaking with a girl at the room's edge – until, that is, it dawned on him just who the girl in question was.

Mr Evil groaned. 'Oh, not her…'

'Oh, you remember her, don't you?' laughed Hoppers. 'I wonder what you're talking about. Why don't we listen in? It's not as if you'll mind!'

Like ghosts, the older Mr Evil and Hoppers approached the young Mr Evil and the girl unseen. They heard them speak as they drew nearer, and the girl was blushing gently as the boy, at first, spoke to her softly, with the air of a boy infatuated.

'You look very sweet in that waistcoat,' the girl said. She hiccoughed and smiled. 'But I bet you look even sweeter out of it.'

'Yeah, I suppose I do,' smirked the boy. 'And you don't scrub up half bad yourself.' He was not really looking at her; rather rummaging around inside the sack of gold as he spoke.

'So, aren't you going to buy me another drink, then?' the girl smiled sweetly.

'Aren't I going to – pah! You just saw me get that Christmas bonus from Mr Fezziwig, didn't you?' the boy spluttered, his tone changing fast as he withdrew his hand sharply from the sack. 'Why, you're no better than everybody else, with your greedy designs on my hard-earned money! I say you can ruddy well buy your own drink!'

The young Mr Evil's voice had turned many heads, Mr Fezziwig's amongst them.

'Now then, now then,' said Mr Fezziwig, striding over. 'Let's not argue, eh? It's Christmas for Galaxy's sake! Both your drinks are on the house tonight!'

The older Mr Evil and Hoppers beside him both watched as Mr Evil's younger counterpart glowered at the female he supposedly loved. For the next few minutes the boy and the girl stood beside one another, the boy beside himself with fury, and the girl afraid to speak. The older Mr Evil felt quite pleased with himself. Even as a boy, he'd had that famous business acumen that had made him so successful in his adulthood. Nobody ever got far by being 'generous'.

'Nobody ever could come between you and your gold, could they?' said Hoppers.

'I married her, didn't I?' spat the director, turning to look at him.

'And I suppose you remember how that turned out,' said Hoppers, 'but, just to remind you, why don't we take a trip down another little corner of memory lane?'

Before Mr Evil had had a chance to refuse it, Hoppers had swept him off his feet once more, and they were flying out through the door and back out into the street. Mr Evil didn't bother screaming. His cruel mind filled with all the things he'd like to do to the kuparkuke, next time he had a chance. The Ghost of Christmas Past! What rubbish!

He didn't have to wait long to find out where they were headed next. Hoppers dropped him on the other side of the road, and both now stood facing the pub. A few years had passed, and the sign above the door had changed. It now said Evil's Bar and Winehouse, as it did to this day. Mr Evil crossed his arms, waiting impatiently for whatever would come next – then he noticed that they were joined, this time, by a female figure. It was his ex-wife.

'Henrietta?' he said.

'She can't hear you,' said Hoppers. 'This is only a memory, though I'm sure you'll remember what happened here in just a moment or two.'

Mr Evil looked around for clues, but after just a moment the door of the bar swung wide open. The younger Mr Evil – a few years older now, and a few pounds heavier too – staggered out into the street, singing cheerily as he waltzed out into the road. Beside the older Mr Evil, his ex-wife Henrietta straightened herself up and walked out into the street to confront him.

'Oh, so this is where you've been, is it?' she said, her voice timid and wavering.

'Oh, for the love of Galaxy! Spying on me now, are you?!' spat Mr Evil. 'You are my wife, not my master! You don't get to have any say in how I choose to spend my evenings! Get out of my face!'

'Working, you told me!' she said, her voice beginning to rise. 'You left me at home to look after your sons, while you spent the night drinking as usual. I thought that – for Christmas, at least – things might be different!'

'Get off my back! Honestly, I've had about as much as I can take of your prattling,' Mr Evil yelled. 'I work hard, and I just need some time to myself occasionally!'

'I could understand that if we ever saw you,' sobbed Henrietta. 'Your own children barely even know your face. You only ever come home to us when you want something! I think – sometimes I think you don't love us anymore. Don't … love me anymore.'

'Penny's dropped, has it?' Mr Evil muttered darkly.

Henrietta wailed. 'Oh, I cannot live like this anymore! Perhaps you would be happier if we left you to your business and your gold, is that it? Perhaps we should go!'

'Ah, then go!' yelled Mr Evil. 'At least then I'll be able to sleep in my own house without you watching my every move! Yeah, that's it. Do me a favour and go!'

'Fine,' she shouted. 'Then I shall take the boys to my mother. When you get your priorities straight, you'll know where to find me!' She sobbed loudly and turned away.

'Henrietta,' Mr Evil said.

Mrs Evil looked back at him over her shoulder, sniffing. 'Hm?'

'If you're going, then you can ruddy well give your wedding ring back to me,' snarled Mr Evil. 'It wasn't cheap, you know! There's an ounce and a half of gold on that.'

The older Mr Evil watched as his ex-wife Henrietta pulled the gleaming golden ring from her finger. She threw it into the snow at her feet before storming off into the dark. The young Mr Evil dropped to the ground to scramble hungrily for the ring. He still had that ring in a drawer somewhere.

'I am sure you loved her, in your own way,' Hoppers said sadly. 'But in the end, you decided that there were things that mattered more. She left you that night, do you remember? And you never saw her, nor any of your sons, again.'

'Yes, yes, I remember!' snapped Mr Evil. 'But why are you showing me this?'

'Because your bitterness and greed took you down another path,' said Hoppers. 'But that is where my part in this tale ends, and where your next chapter begins. Good luck!'

'I – now hang on a minute!' roared Mr Evil.

He whipped around to face the kuparkuke, but Hoppers had already vanished. The icy winds whistled in the spot where he had stood speaking only a moment before.