Zachariah stirred. His eyes slowly opened, greeted to a blue-hued television screen. “The movie’s over? Shame,” Scrooge yawned as he shifted into a sitting position, palms rubbing over his eyes, attempting to massage the blurriness away. As he rubbed, he felt a cold breeze move in front of him. His heart pounded steadily as he realized that this was it; the final Spirit. Slowly, slowly, he removed his hands from his eyes to confront his last visitor of the night.
The spirit that stood before him was unlike the other two who had made their presence known throughout the night. An aura of dread clung to this figure. His outfit was plain: a simple pair of black pants; a long-sleeve white shirt with red horizontal stripes going across the entire fabric; a pair of black suspenders; and finally a simple black beret that was held atop a head with a face painted all in white. This spirit greeted Scrooge not with kindness, but with a silent stare, as if he was seeing straight into Scrooge’s soul.
Zachariah sat in awe of this spirit. Cautiously, he moved to his feet, his hands pressing together, moving toward his chest, as if he was about to go into prayer. “I know you to be the last Spirit. The Spirit of Comedy Yet to Come.”
The silent spectre did not respond. He continued his dead-eye stare, body not moving. Scrooge threw his hands down in surrender. He opened his mouth to yell, but the eerie visage of the Spirit rendered him meek.
“Please, Spirit, if you be a kind one, show me what you must.”
The black-panted figure moved toward Scrooge. His limbs contorted as he walked, as if he was attempting to walk into an oncoming windstorm. Zachariah found this odd, until he began to feel a strong wind whipping against his back. He turned around, his eyes instantly becoming filled with tears as the icy gale dug into skin. Scrooge shut his eyes on instinct, in an act of preservation.
The wind ceased the second his eyes shut. Scrooge opened his left eye apprehensively, then his right. Like the previous spirits, this Spirit had whisked him to a familiar location. He found himself standing in the middle of the office he shared with Grant. He looked around, confused.
“Spirit?” Zachariah said, “Why have you brought me to the office?”
The beret-wearing Spirit raised his left hand, his fingers curling down until his bony index digit pointed behind the miser. Scrooge turned around, following the Spirit’s guidance. He came face to face with his work area. It was not the work area he had left a mere four hours before. No, this work area was cleared completely, the only item on the desk a fine covering of dust. Scrooge spun back around to face the Spirit. “What is this?” He demanded. “Are you informing me that if I don’t shape up, my office will be burgled? Is that what this entire night of eerie visitors and traveling through space and time has brought me to?”
The Spirit replied only by turning his hand toward the entrance. Once again Scrooge followed the direction, and saw Grant entering the office, with Stacey following shortly after, her arms filled with a bundle of blue blankets. Scrooge could hear the soft yawn of a newborn coming from the swaddle. His eyes widened in surprise.
“Spirit, they…they had a son?” He turned to face his guide. “Is it healthy? What is his name?” The Spirit gazed at Scrooge with a look lacking in judgment. Growing angry, Scrooge raised his voice. “Damn it, Spirit, answer me!”
“Ready to say goodbye?”
Stacey’s voice brought Zachariah attention away from his mute guide. She was standing next to Aaron, who had moved over to his work area. Aaron smiled at her, sliding an arm around her waist, pulling her close.
“I am. It wouldn’t feel right to stay here. Not after…” Aaron trailed off, his eyes moving to Scrooge. Zachariah stood in the spot, frozen. Could Grant see him? Was he somehow able to transcend the restrictions placed by the previous two spirits? Scrooge’s heart leapt as Aaron approached him. Never in his life had he been so happy to be seen!
This apex of joy was brought crashing to its nadir as Aaron moved past Scrooge himself, instead moving to Scrooge’s desk. He placed a hand gently against the surface, dispersing some of the dust. Stacey moved behind him, an empathetic gaze toward him.
“Yeah, I miss him too,” She said softly.
Scrooge turned to face his guide. “What does she mean, Spirit?”
Aaron laughed gently, shaking his head in a combination of sympathy and disappointment. “In attempting to bring comedy to people, he never allowed a joyful moment for himself.”
Zachariah’s body began to shake with emotion, things becoming clear. “No, Spirit, no…”
“I think he would’ve liked our kid, Stacey.”
“Oh, totally. How can you not like the little man?”
“Spirit, tell me this is not actuality!”
“All right, let’s get out of here.” Aaron removed his hand from Scrooge’s desk, walking toward the door with Stacey. Zachariah pursued them, even though he knew it was useless.
“Come back! Please, get back here, Grant! I promise I’ll change. I’ll find the joy in myself which will in turn bring joy to others! Grant!”
Scrooge’s pleas were met by the shutting of the office door for the final time. He turned around, rushing toward the Spirit.
“Spirit, tell me this is not actuality! I realize that if I continue on my current path, this is the consequence I’ll deserve but I don’t WANT to deserve it, Spirit! Tell me that it’s not too late for me to change! Tell me!”
Scrooge shot up out of bed. His sheets drenched with sweat, his brow glistening. He ran out into the living room, throwing back his curtains. The morning sun was just creeping over the horizon.
“Morning! A brand new morning!” He shouted earnestly to no one in particular. His eyes went even wider as he turned away, seeing his cell phone sitting on the kitchen counter. With a bounce in his step that defied his size, he bounded across the room in two steps, hurriedly dialing Grant’s number.
“Hello?” Grant answered sleepily.
“Aaron! Zachariah! What day is it?”
“What day is it?!”
Scrooge moved the phone away from his ear in shock. “December 29th?” He yelled into the receiver.
“Dude, not so loud, Stacey’s sleeping. Yeah. I figured that you came to your senses, decided to take a vacation.”
Zachariah couldn’t help but laugh. “You are correct, my friend. I have come to my senses, but it wasn’t a vacation, so much as a journey.”
“Well hey man, that’s great!” Aaron said brightly.
“Indeed! Listen, what are you doing for breakfast?” Scrooge moved into his bedroom, hastily picking out clothes for the day.
“Breakfast? Don’t know, cereal I guess.”
“Nonsense!” Zachariah exclaimed. “I’m taking you and Stacey out to breakfast! How about Bob Evans? Or maybe Cracker Barrel? Any place you want!”
“…Okay, how about Bob Evans, around 8?”
“8 it is!”
“Okay, great!” Aaron shook his head in amazement.
“Fantastic!” Zachariah concurred excitedly. He reached into his closet to pull out a pair of jeans, sneezing when some dust from the shelf fell onto his face.
“Gesundheit, man.” Aaron said.
Zachariah laughed as he walked toward the shower.