Mr Evil's Christmas Carol
Act IV: The Final Spirit
It was only a whisper, yet between Mr Evil's ears it was a thundering, deafening wail. He shivered. He had to clasp both hands to his head at once. The voice's iciness lashed through the flames like the sheer edge of a blade, and – even amidst the licking tongues of the roaring fire – froze Mr Evil to the bones. 'I am afraid you still have one final stop on your tour,' it said.
Mr Evil screamed as he was plucked, by what seemed to be a ghostly hand, from the burning building. Once more, he was whipped at great, hurtling speed through the sky's bitter chill in this, the dead of night. He continued to scream. It seemed to take longer this time to come to a stop at his third – and, he prayed, final – destination. The hand seemed to be carrying him far out of the city, and deep into the snowy fields beyond.
Finally, he was dropped, unceremoniously, into the snow, where he lay face-down – but not for long. The hand hoisted him up once again, more gently this time, and lifted him to his feet. Without even a mumble of thanks, Mr Evil spat the snow from between his lips, and looked around suspiciously at his surroundings. It was nowhere he recognised, that was for sure.
'Take a look around,' whispered the same, icy voice. 'What do you see?'
The voice came from behind Mr Evil's shoulder. He spun around sharply, finding himself staring aghast at the hem of a black, yet almost translucent robe. It swirled softly, an inch above the snow, and shimmered like smoke on the wintry breeze. Mr Evil cast his gaze upwards, eyes following the black robe until it joined to meet the hem of a second, bone-white one, opaquer than the last as it floated lightly around the monster's hip, high above Mr Evil's head. As his eyes continued upwards, the director's insides lurched and turned to mush as he saw the most sickening of sights. At the monster's chest, the white robe was now solid. It had become an armour-like ribcage around the dark, empty void of its insides, and yet – inside this – something evil, and black, beat as if it was a heavy, pulsating heart.
Mr Evil felt sick, and very weak. He dared not look any further. He had seen this creature before, he knew it – though only inside the illustrations of his books, as a child.
People took care not to speak its name.
He covered his eyes with his hands. Please, he thought to himself, let this nightmare end. He was still safe and sound in his bed. If he woke up now, then this would all be over.
There was a sudden rush in the air before him, and Mr Evil's eyes snapped involuntarily open once more. He gasped out loud. The monster had stooped low before him. It stared down at him with mild curiosity, through a pair of hollow, lidless eyes – great cavities inside the tremendous white skull that was its head. Purple, gaseous orbs shimmered inside them, flickering weakly as it surveyed the shivering, spluttering Mr Evil.
'Look around you,' it said again. 'Do you know what this is?'
Mr Evil turned as instructed and looked around at the snowy field in which he was standing. There was not, however, much to be seen. A few stones and statues lay beneath blankets of snow. A murder of crows cawed in the darkness as they flapped their great wings, fluttering from one dead tree to the next. A distant bell at the field's end clanged softly in the brisk winds. What was this? A cemetery? He turned back around, bravely facing the phantom beast again.
The purple orbs inside the sockets of its eyes shimmered more brightly than they had done before. It watched him, its breath baited, as if it could see the cogs ticking away inside his head. It waited for his answer.
'Let me guess,' Mr Evil said slowly, and finally. 'You must be the …'
'The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come,' the monster whispered. 'Yes, that is I. But I am sure that you must know me by another name. There are only a few who do not fear it.'
'C-Corpsegari,' Mr Evil said blankly. 'B-but – but why you?'
Corpsegari turned ninety degrees. He did not move the great skeletal jaw to answer the question. Instead, he pointed into the snow somewhere beside them with an enormous, spectral finger. Mr Evil turned also, but at first, he could not see it. It came slowly into focus as he squinted in the darkness. Two small figures were digging fast into the earth with spades, behind a tiny, lonely-looking headstone. He recognised those figures.
'Oi!' Mr Evil bellowed, striding towards them. 'Stop them! Those two were the ones who burned down my shop! What – w-what are they doing now?'
'Looting,' whispered Corpsegari. 'It is a terribly disrespectful thing, yet there are those who do not deserve respect in death. Well, why do you not confront them about your shop?'
'I will!' stormed Mr Evil. Furiously, he stomped on over to the two thieves – the snow crunching loudly beneath his feet – and waved his tiny arms in the icy air. 'Oi! You two!'
Even as he came to stop at their side, the two thieves did not look up. Both continued to dig in silence, as if they had not heard him.
'You there!' he shouted, tapping Checkers on the shoulder. 'You burned down my shop!'
But still neither Checkers nor Draughts gave any indication that they might have heard him. Nor did they seem to feel his touch as he turned frantically from one thief to the other.
'C-Corpsegari!' he spluttered. 'Why are they ignoring me?'
The purple orbs inside Corpsegari's dead, hollow eyes shined more brightly once again. He looked down at Mr Evil with something that looked almost like glee.
'Perhaps …' he whispered, 'you should take a closer look at the headstone before you …'
Mr Evil gulped, swallowing in vain at the lump that had appeared in his throat, and turned on the spot to look down at the tiny, cheap-looking headstone. It said only two words:
'It – cannot be!' stammered Mr Evil. 'I – I cannot be dead!'
Corpsegari said nothing. Silvery tears were welling up fast now in the corners of Mr Evil's glazed eyes. He kept opening his mouth to speak, before closing it without a word. He threw himself down into the snow at the foot of the headstone, brushing at it desperately with his hand.
'This cannot be all it says!' he was saying. 'There must be more!'
Corpsegari bent low again, peering into Mr Evil's face with interest.
'And why should there be?' he whispered coldly. 'Who would write an epitaph for somebody as mean-spirited as you? Who should have anything nice to say about you, miserly old Mr Evil?'
'P-Perkins!' cried Mr Evil. 'Perkins would write me an epitaph, I am sure of it!'
'Oh, you are sure of that?' whispered Corpsegari. 'I think not …'
He pointed again, and Mr Evil wheeled on the spot to follow his phantom finger. There were more figures at the cemetery's distant end, just past the old church. He walked slowly towards them, afraid of what he might see. Corpsegari followed almost lazily behind him. Mr Evil could just about make out the shape of the thin, familiar man as he came gradually into focus, and the shape of his wife beside him, sobbing on his shoulder. Two young girls knelt at a little headstone before them. One was gently laying a teddy bear down in the snow, its back to the stone.
'Corpsegari, what is this …?' he asked, already knowing the answer.
'This is the grave of Mr Perkins' young son, Tiny Tim,' whispered Corpsegari. Mr Evil watched as his recently-terminated bookkeeper, Perkins, wiped a stately, dignified tear from his eye, and stroked his wife's hair as she too wept.
'Why this? Have I not suffered enough?' said Mr Evil.
Corpsegari's eyes dimmed. He looked into Mr Evil's guilty face. 'So you think you have suffered. What of this poor family?' he whispered. 'They have suffered more than you could ever imagine. If you keep up with your miserly, tight-fisted ways, then this may be the future that awaits them.'
'How is it my fault that Tiny Tim got sick?' snarled Mr Evil. 'This isn't my doing! If anybody can put a stop to this, it's you! You're supposed to be the Lord of Death, aren't you?!'
'Fate is not my domain,' whispered Corpsegari. 'Yet no higher power truly determines fate, in the end. What happens to this family – indeed, to Tiny Tim – will come down to you.'
'W-what am I to do, then?' said Mr Evil.
'With Tiny Tim's medical expenses, the Perkins family have fallen upon hard times. Mr Perkins did not ask you for a Christmas bonus,' said Corpsegari, 'because he was afraid of how you might react – and in the end, you fired him anyway. Heartless to the last.'
Mr Evil's eyes lit up at once. He knew what he had to do.
'Then I'll give him a bonus and I'll double – no, treble – his pay! I'll make him a partner of my business, and he'll have so much gold he won't know what to do with it!' Mr Evil was jumping up and down excitedly as he went on. 'I can see it now, Corpsegari. Evil & Perkins we'll be – and when Tiny Tim's old enough, he'll take over the business, and he'll have lots of gold too! I'll – I'll be a grandfather figure to the boy – t-to all of the Perkins children!'
He looked hopefully up at Corpsegari.
'P-please, Corpsegari. I have seen the errors of my ways,' he insisted. 'If you just give me one more chance, I promise I'll be a different man. The Mr Evil of before is dead and buried in this cemetery. Give me one more chance, and I'll be kind, and humble, and generous!'
'So you are a liar, too,' whispered Corpsegari.
'I – I will!' stammered Mr Evil. 'I promise it! Just one more chance to make things right is all I ask. Let me make it up to Perkins and his family. Will you do it for them, if not me?!'
'I see through your false promises. You will never change,' said Corpsegari. 'And now it is time to bring your journey to an end. This is your final stop.'
As if by magic, they were standing once more at the site of Mr Evil's own grave. Checkers and Draughts had finished digging. Having taken what they came for, they had already disappeared, leaving the open grave behind them. Mr Evil knelt and peered over the grave's edge. He saw the tiny wooden coffin in the earth. There were no flowers; no plaque bearing his name.
'And now, it is time to get in,' whispered the Lord of Death.
Mr Evil clawed madly at the crumbling earth, scrambling desperately for a safe and even footing. The ground beneath him had started to slide, and he was falling. Falling into the open grave which seemed to be getting closer and closer. Mr Evil clung hungrily onto the earth, and to life, but he was sliding fast. He kicked frantically at the dirt, hoping to dig his feet in and secure himself – but it was all in vain, and his feet only slipped.
He could hear Corpsegari's dreadful laughter above him, as the Lord of Death gazed into the grave and down at the pathetic sight of Mr Evil hanging deliriously onto his life. Beneath him, the roof of the coffin creaked open. Mr Evil could feel the flames now licking at his back, pulling him in closer like more phantom hands. Corpsegari was still laughing, higher and shriller than ever. Mr Evil shouted and screamed, pleading and begging all the while, until finally his tiny hands slipped, and he fell – fell a thousand miles into the coffin below, and his own untimely death …