Adapted for the Stage by
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Child Jack Bright
Young Jack Bright
The Little Street Heiden
Ghost of Christmas Past
Ghost of Christmas Present
Ghost of Christmas Future
A single pair of footsteps is heard crunching through the snow. Suddenly, there are many more footsteps, all in unison, some walking, some running. In the background, figures can be seen running to and fro, until all emerge as one around a lone figure lying in the snow, face down. The footsteps stop suddenly.
One boy steps out from the group and begins to sing.
GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN
LET NOTHING YOU DISMAY.
REMEMBER CHRIST, OUR SAVIOR,
WAS BORN ON CHRISTMAS DAY
TO SAVE US ALL FROM SATAN’S POWER
WHEN WE HAVE GONE ASTRAY.
OH, TIDINGS OF COMFORT AND JOY, COMFORT AND JOY,
OH, TIDINGS OF COMFORT AND JOY.
Two additional figures step out from the group.
Narrator 1: Mann was dead to begin with. Everett Mann was as dead as a very dead… man.
Boy continues to sing.
GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN
LET NOTHING YOU DISMAY …
Narrator 2: There is no doubt that Mann was dead. This must be very clearly understood, or nothing even remotely useful can come from this story.
All actors join in singing.
TO SAVE US ALL FROM SATAN’S POWER
WHEN WE HAVE GONE ASTRAY.
OH, TIDINGS OF COMFORT AND JOY, COMFORT AND JOY,
OH, TIDINGS OF COMFORT AND JOY.
JACK BRIGHT (MONKEY) enters. HE paces across the stage, itching his butt and grunting absent mindedly. Occasionally, he grows close to the edge of the stage and screams a monkey-scream at the audience. HE eventually approaches his desk, sits, and begins to shuffle through a mound of paperwork.
Narrator 1: Now, Bright was his sole executor, his sole superior, his sole friend and his sole mourner, in his own bizarre monkey-analogue way.
Narrator 3: He was, in short, a tight-fisted…
Bright: (Monkey screams)
ACTORS scuttle away from BRIGHT and huddle in the corner. BRIGHT returns to his paperwork, snorting and growling.
Narrator 4: …overworked…
Narrator 5: …understaffed…
Narrator 1: …long past his expiration date…
Narrator 2: …scraping…
Narrator 3: …clutching…
Narrator 4: …bastard of a site director!
Narrator 2: Literally dead inside.
Narrator 3: If he was able to feel the cold through the warmth of his monkey fur, he did not show it.
Narrator 4: Even as frost formed on his beady little eyes…
Narrator 5: …and snow caked on him like a whipped topping on monkey-cake…
ALL: …he shed not a single tear!
Bright: BAH! FUCK OFF.
Narrator 1: He kept the office temperature at near subzero temperatures. Of course, he couldn't feel the chill underneath his thick layer of ape-hair, but he didn't much care one way or another if his office mates did. His office was frigid in the summer, and not a degree warmer in the winter.
Narrator 2: Once upon a time - of all good days of the year, on Christmas Eve, old Jack Bright sat busy at his desk at Site-19. (Bright scratches on a pad of paper hurriedly with a pen) Bright had a space heater near his desk, but due to budgetary concerns, the one afforded to his assistant, Dr. Django Bridge, was so much smaller that the doctor was forced to warm each finger individually before returning to his work.
DJANGO BRIDGE is revealed at his comically small desk. A Canadian flag is seen protruding from it with no explanation.
Bridge: (To audience) Bu-but Django Bridge, the studious and dedicated assistant, couldn't find room in the budget for a slightly larger space heater, and tried to warm himself by the dim screen of a dying cell phone; but not being a man of strong imagination, he failed. (Shivers)
BRIDGE turns back to his work. BRIGHT'S nephew RALPH ROGET enters.
Roget: A merry Christmas to you, Uncle Bright! God bless you!
Bright: (Monkey screams) THERE IS NO GOD (Monkey screams) FUCK YOU.
Roget: Fuck me? On Christmas? Truly you don't mean that, I'm sure?
Bright: I do! Merry fucking Christmas. What right do you have to be merry about anything? You don't have a job, you don't have money!
Roget: Then what right do you have to be so dismal, uncle? You do have a job, and do have plenty of money.
Bright: Oh fuck off with that Ralph. What's Christmas to you but a time to be paying bills and buying gifts with money you don't have, and spending time with your family away from a job you also don't have. If I had it my way, every son of a bitch who walks around here talking all this "Merry Christmas" shit would literally be stuffed in his own goddamn turkey and fed to the Lizard.
Bright: (Mockingly) Nephew! Do whatever you want with your Christmas, and let me do whatever I want with mine.
Roget: Do what you want? But you don't do anything!
Bright: Let me fuck it right out, then.
Roget: I've always thought of Christmas as a good time, a happy, drunken, blacked-out-on-holiday-wine kind of time. It's the only time of year where men and women seem to open their shut up hearts - and legs - freely! God bless it!
BRIDGE breaks into applause. He wipes a single tear from his face.
Narrator 1: Django Bridge had involuntarily applauded, a privilege afforded to exactly zero people under Bright's employ and, realizing this, he turned back to poke at his tiny space heater which, due in no small part to the uncaring nature of the universe, shorted and died.
Bright: Let me hear another fucking sound out of you, Bridge, and I'll rip a hole in your ass big enough to stick my head into and make sure every gaping inch of it is fired before the end of the afternoon. (To ROGET.) You've got a silk tongue, boy. Wonder why you don't apply for upper management.
Roget: Don't be angry, Uncle Bright! Come on now, dine with us tomorrow! We're going out for pad thai!
Bright: I'd rather be cooked with the pad thai.
Roget: But why, Uncle?
Bright: Why? Why in the hell did you get married?
Roget: Well, because I fell in love!
Bright: (Mockingly) Because you fell in love.
Narrator 2: Bright barked out the word "love" like it was the only thing in the world more ridiculous than "Merry Christmas".
Roget: Aw, come on, Bright. You never came to visit with me before, why give this reason now all of a sudden?
Bright: Get out of my office.
Roget: I've only ever just wanted to be your friend, Uncle Bright.
Bright: Get out… of my office.
Roget: I'm so sorry you feel the way you do, but I'll keep my high spirits! So Merry Christmas to you, Uncle!
ROGET opens the door.
Bright: I said get the fuck out of my office.
ROGET exits, laughing.
Narrator 3: When Ralph Roget went out, two other men came in.
MANNA CHARITABLE FELLOW 1 knocks on the door. The door swings open, and two men enter.
Narrator 2: They were slender gentlemen, cheeks rosy from the outside chill and faces full of goodwill, and now stood before the chimp-director of Site-19.
Manna Charitable Fellow 1: (To BRIDGE) Ah, Site-19, is it? Directors Bright and Mann? Do I have the pleasure of speaking to Dr. Bright, or Dr. Mann?
BRIDGE points to BRIGHT.
Bright: Mann has been dead for seven years. Died seven years ago, this very night. Probably the cocaine, frankly.
Manna Charitable Fellow 2: I'm very sorry to hear, Dr. Bright. But… at this most festive and joyful time of year, it is customary and fine to extend the soft and warm hand of generosity towards though less fortunate than we, those who suffer greatly.
Bright: (Idly, to DJANGO) Are we at capacity for D-Class?
All ACTORS, who are standing all around the stage, moan openly. The MANNA CHARITABLE FELLOWS exchange a nervous glance.
Bridge: Uh, oh… um… well, no sir, we could always use more…
Bright: And our amnestics? Do they still operate properly?
ACTORS moan a little louder.
Manna Charitable Fellow 1: They do, though I wish I could say they were unnecessary, bec—
Bright: I support rounding up the unfortunate for testing, and erasing the memories of those whose lives we devastate in pursuit of our goal. If the poor truly need assistance badly enough, they can seek refuge there.
The loudest moan yet.
Narrator 2: Oh goddammit, Bright.
Manna Charitable Fellow 1: Testing or amnestics? Many would rather die.
Bright: If they would rather die, then by all means, have at it. Fewer people for us to protect. Now, good afternoon, gentlemen.
Narrator 3: Sensing that it would be useless and potentially hazardous to poke the ape any further, the Manna Charitable Fellows withdrew.
They exit. All ACTORS watch them as they leave. BRIDGE reaches a hand out briefly, but retracts and withers under the stare of BRIGHT.
Narrator 1: After some time passed, it was quitting time at Site-19. Django Bridge quickly gathered his things into his bag and grabbed his thin coat.
Bright: I suppose you'll want the entire day tomorrow, then?
Bridge: If you wouldn't mind, Dr. Bright.
Bright: I absolutely mind.
Bridge: (To the audience.) Django observed to the doctor that it was only once a year.
Bright: A shitty excuse for wasting valuable department money every twenty-fifth of December, Bridge. But I suppose you'll need to take the whole day. Be here all the earlier the day after, then.
Narrator 2: The assistant promised he would, and Bright walked out with a grunt and a growl.
BRIGHT exits Site-19 and walks out into the courtyard between the administrative offices and the staff dormitories. The wind is loud, and snow whips up around him.
Narrator 5: Bright took his meager dinner of bananas and whiskey at one of the more depressing staff taverns… (BRIGHT leaves the tavern and tries to cross the courtyard. As he does, a large crowd of young staff members, all laughing and talking loudly, swallow him up.) …and then he went home.
BRIGHT stumbles out of the crowd, dazed. He stops to collect himself, and then peers around cautiously. The crowd is absent. Pleased, he attempts to take another step, and the crowd reappears. BRIGHT is jostled and tossed to and fro within the crowd.
BRIGHT disappears into the darkness of the courtyard as the lights move towards a group of CAROLERS singing: "THE CAROL OF THE BELLS".
HARK HOW THE BELLS,
SWEET SILVER BELLS,
ALL SEEM TO SAY,
THROW CARES AWAY
CHRISTMAS IS HERE,
BRINGING GOOD CHEER,
TO YOUNG AND OLD,
MEEK AND THE BOLD,
DING DONG DING DONG
THAT IS THEIR SONG
WITH JOYFUL RING
ONE SEEMS TO HEAR
WORDS OF GOOD CHEER
FILLING THE AIR
OH HOW THEY POUND,
RAISING THE SOUND,
O’ER HILL AND DALE,
TELLING THEIR TALE,
GAILY THEY RING
WHILE PEOPLE SING
SONGS OF GOOD CHEER,
CHRISTMAS IS HERE,
MERRY, MERRY, MERRY, MERRY CHRISTMAS,
MERRY, MERRY, MERRY, MERRY CHRISTMAS,
ON ON THEY SEND,
ON WITHOUT END,
THEIR JOYFUL TONE
TO EVERY HOME
DING DONG DING DONG … DONG!
Music fades out. CAROLERS disappear into the shadows. BRIGHT appears and stumbles drunkenly towards the door of his abode.
Narrator 5: Arriving home, Bright approached the door to his home.
Narrator 4: There was nothing out of the ordinary about the door, except that it was very large…
Narrator 3: And, of course, it had a door knocker…
The face of EVERETT MANN appears on the door.
Bright: Holy shit, Mann?! (BRIGHT turns around and smacks himself, trying to gather his senses. Sufficiently sobered, he turns back to the door, where the face of MANN has disappeared.) Fuck… I need to lay off the drink.
Narrator 1: Bright went inside and stumbled up to his room.
Narrator 5: As he disrobed and climbed into his monkey-bed…
Narrator 3: …strange sounds began to fill his abode.
BRIGHT throws on a nightshirt and puts on a pair of reading glasses. Howling wind and moaning sounds are heard outside. Somewhere, chains are shaking.
Narrator 2: Jaaaaaaaack…
Narrator 3: Briiiiiiiiiiiiight….
Narrator 5: Youuuuuuuuuuuu…
Narrator 1: Fuuuuuuckiiiiiiing….
Narrator 4: Asssssssssssssssssssssss…
Narrator 3: Hooooooooooooooole…
Narrator 4: Jaaaaaaackkkkkkkk…
Narrator 3: BRIGHT!
Bright: Oh my god shut up, Jesus fucking Christ.
Dragging chains are heard. MANN appears from the shadows.
Bright: Ohhhhhh no. Not this again. It's just the drink, I won't believe it!
Narrator 3: It was the ghost of Everett Mann! His body completely transparent, his mind no worse for wear.
Narrator 1: All things considered, Mann probably figured this was an upgrade.
Bright: What do you want with me?
Bright: Who are you?
Mann: Ask me who I was.
Bright: I— uh, alright. Who were you?
Mann: IN LIFE, I WAS MANN THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE, your partner and fellow director of this Site-19.
Bright: Ah, shit, it really is you. Alright, let's get this over with. Can you sit down?
Mann: I can.
Bright: Do it, then.
Narrator 4: See, Bright asked the question both because he was curious as to whether a ghost so transparent could sit at all, and to test whether Dr. Mann's aversion to chairs persisted into the afterlife.
Mann: So. What do you think?
Bright: You've looked better.
Mann: See, that's what I thought. But then I realized I can more or less poke into anywhere I want. Imagine getting up close to that damned statue, or watch the Hanged King's Tragedy, with no threat of consequence. (MANN inhales deeply.) The freedom is liberating, Jack.
Bright: I don't believe you're real.
Mann: Why would you doubt your senses?
Bright: To be fair, monkey-sense is less prone to trickery. But the senses are so… sensitive. Easily manipulated. Stomachache, headache, accidental amnestic treatment, the handle and a half I finished at the bar literally a half hour ago. Who knows.
Narrator 5: At the mention of the alcohol he most assuredly had a strong postmortem desire for, the Spirit raised a frightful cry, shaking its chains and raising such a clatter that the spooked Bright fell backwards out of his chair.
MANN screams in immaterial fury.
Bright: Jesus Christ, Mann! Seriously! What the hell do you even want?
Mann: It is required of us all to walk our path through life arm in arm with our brothers, Bright. If our spirits do not walk with them in life, then they are condemned to do so in death!
Bright: …is this something we should be containing, or…?
Mann: Oooooooooh… wooooooooooe—
ALL ACTORS join in the "woe" and add to the volume.
Mann: —is me!
MANN shakes the chains hanging from his body.
Bright: Speaking of which, what's with the chains?
Mann: These chains I wear, Jack Bright, these chains that I forged in my own life. Link by damned link and yard by damned yard, I gathered them on my own free will and of my own free will I wore it. Is the pattern strange to you, Jack? Can you feel the weight and length of the chain you wear yourself? Yours was like mine, seven Christmas Eves ago. It is a ponderous chain, and imagine how it may have grown these long years!
Bright: Everett, please. Speak comfort to me.
Mann: I have none to give, Jack. I have nothing but the chain.
Bright: But you were such a good site director, Everett, the best at your business—
ALL ACTORS and BRIGHT recoil away from MANN. A bright red light shines on him.
Mann: Mankind was my business, Jack. Goodwill to all men, benevolence, protecting the poorest and weakest of us, they were my business! And I forsook them all! (He pauses, as if to listen.) Listen to me, Bright. My time with you is nearly over. I am a warning to you, as I wish I had been warned all those years ago, that you have yet a chance to escape the fate to which I am condemned.
Bright: You… you were always a good partner and friend, Everett…
Mann: You will be haunted by three Spirits.
Bright: Sp— spirits? Is this the chance that you mentioned?
Mann: Aye, it is.
Bright: (Pauses, pondering.) Then… uh, I'd rather not.
Mann: Expect the first on the morrow, Jack, just past the first hour of the morning!
Bright: So we're really doing this, then? Can't I just have them here all at once and get it over with?
Mann: The second will come the next night, at the same hour. The third on the day past that, before the the last stroke of midnight has ceased to ring.
MANN begins to fade into the darkness.
Narrator 1: When the Ghost of Mann had said these words, he was overtaken by the darkness.
Narrator 2: Bright moved to come close to him.
Narrator 3: But Mann held out his hand, as if to tell him to come no further.
MANN is almost completely gone.
Mann: Beware, Jack of Site-19! (He disappears, only his lingering echo remains.) Beware!
Bright: Bah… I really need to lay off the drink, though. That is not a joke, this is legitimately becoming a problem.
Narrator 2: Bright returned to his bed, and fell asleep instantly.
Light fades on BRIGHT. Outside, a LAMPMAN walks down the street lighting lamps. As he walks, he sings quietly.
O HOLY NIGHT, THE STARS ARE BRIGHTLY SHINING,
IT IS THE NIGHT OF THE DEAR SAVIOUR’S BIRTH.
LONG LAY THE WORLD IN SIN AND ERROR PINING
TILL HE APPEARED AND THE SOUL FELT HIS WORTH.
A THRILL OF HOPE, THE WEARY WORLD REJOICES,
FOR YONDER BEAMS A NEW AND GLORIOUS MOURN.
FALL ON YOUR KNEES!
OH, HEAR THE ANGEL VOICES!
O NIGHT DIVINE!
O NIGHT WHEN CHRIST WAS BORN!
O NIGHT DIVINE!
O NIGHT, O NIGHT DIVINE!
All lights extinguish. There is silence. BRIGHT snores loudly.
The First of Three Spectres
Narrator 4: When Bright awoke, it was so dark that for a moment he feared he had gone blind.
BRIGHT snorts and awakens suddenly.
Bright: Ah! I fear I have gone blind!
Narrator 4: I just said that.
Bright: (To Narrator 4) Oh. Sorry.
Narrator 4: Your eyes are fine.
Bright: Yeah, I see that now.
Narrator 4: It's just really dark.
Bright: Really should keep the bathroom light on or something.
Narrator 4: It would help.
Narrator 1: Suddenly, a bell sounded.
All of the WOMEN in the ENSEMBLE.
All of the MEN in the ENSEMBLE.
Narrator 5: There was a flash of light in his room, and then before Bright stood a strange figure.
DR GEARS, THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST appears. HE seems soft and gentle, with a warm smile and cheerful eyes. He wears a white robe and glows softly.
Narrator 3: It was a figure— like a child, yet not… really a child, since it was a full grown man, who… was also like a ghost, but you got the feeling it was a child, or… yeah.
Gears: Hey Bright.
Bright: Are you the Spirit who Mann warned me about?
Gears: In the flesh.
BRIGHT raises an eyebrow.
Gears: It's a figure of speech, Jack.
Bright: What are you?
Gears: I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.
Bright: Long past?
Gears: No, your past.
Bright: …so, long past, then.
Narrator 4: The Spirit put a hand on Bright's shoulder as it spoke and gently squeezed it.
GEARS squeezes BRIGHT'S arm a little too hard.
Bright: (Monkey screams) Ouch! Fuck, what was that for?
Gears: Rise, Jack. Ride with me.
Bright: Ride? Ride what? Can't we just walk?
Suddenly a splendid and majestic DEADLY MOOSE appears from the ethereal plane. GEARS climbs onto a saddle, and motions for BRIGHT to do the same.
Bright: Is this faster?
Gears: Can you walk through time?
Gears: Then yes. Hop on.
There is a mighty gust of wind, and the DEADLY MOOSE takes flight. BRIGHT struggles to hold on, while GEARS stares straight ahead into the night. Snow swirls around them.
Narrator 2: As quickly as they did rise into the night sky, so did they descend before a long, dirt road surrounded by trees. The darkness of Bright's home had vanished, and was replaced with the light of a cold, clear winter day, with fresh snow upon the ground.
Bright: I… wait! I know where this is! This is the road through the country to Site-17! This is where my first assignment was, where— how long ago was it? I would've just been a kid.
Narrator 1: Bright was immediately overwhelmed with a veritable cacophony of familiar smells and sounds, all connected to thousands of happy thoughts and joys, long since forgotten.
Gears: Is there something in your eye, Jack?
Bright: What? Oh, no, no, I just… it's nothing. Just the cold.
Gears: Do you remember the way?
Bright: Remember it? I could walk it blindfolded!
BRIGHT takes a few steps before stopping and taking a deep breath.
Gears: Strange to have forgotten it for so many years. Let us go.
They approach the entrance to Site-17. Around them swarm young doctors in coats, MTF agents in riot gear, workers moving boxes of files, and so on.
Narrator 3: The site was filled with activity.
Narrator 4: Young researchers with the world in their eyes.
Narrator 5: Agents fresh out of the Academy…
Actors 5: …or back from assignment in the field…
Narrator 2: …all returning to the only home they ever knew…
Narrator 3: …the place where they felt most comfortable…
Narrator 4: …at old Site-17.
Gears: Ah, but these are only shadows of the things that have been.
BRIGHT is caught up in the activity and festive mood of the place. He begins to greet people, though they do not notice.
Bright: Hey, Anderson! (Pause.) Dr. Livingston, long time no see! (Pause.) Karlyle, wow, it's like you haven't—
Gears: They have no consciousness of us, Jack. They are only projections.
The CROWD clears revealing a CHILD JACK BRIGHT. Beside him is his father, ADAM BRIGHT, scolding him. CHILD BRIGHT looks despondent.
Bright: Tha- that's me! And my… my body, I was just a boy… before… and my father, he—
Gears: This was only the beginning, yes? An eternity of trials await, but this boy knows only the scorn and disdain of his father.
CHILD BRIGHT sighs.
Bright: I… I remember this. Like something out a dream, it seems so long ago, and yet… (BRIGHT and GEARS move on. CHILD BRIGHT and ADAM BRIGHT disappear into the darkness.) I wish… ah, but it's too late now.
Gears: What is it?
Bright: There was someone singing a Christmas carol outside of my office last night. The child of some young researcher, no doubt. I… I should have like to have given him something. That's all.
Narrator 2: Gears smiled knowingly.
Gears: Come, Jack. Let us see another Christmas.
They open a door and walk into a laboratory. Sitting in the middle, alone, is YOUNG JACK BRIGHT. His body has changed, he is no longer the man he once was. Now he is someone else, and as he stares at his hands, he takes in the gravity of what has happened to him. Around his neck hangs a shining red and gold amulet.
A door open behind them, and in rushes SOPHIA LIGHT. Her hair is blonde and pulled tight into a bun behind her head, and her eyes are wide behind her glasses.
BRIGHT extends his arms to embrace her, but she runs past him to YOUNG BRIGHT.
Bright: Sophia! She's here! Alive again!
Light: Jack, you're alright! You… you are alright, aren't you?
Young Bright: I… I think I am… this— (Points to amulet.) …I think this saved me.
Light: That's SCP-963, isn't it? (She reaches for it.) Let me see—
Young Bright: No! (He pulls back.) No, it… it might do to you what it did to… he—
Light: (Embraces Bright nonetheless.) Oh, nevermind that. I'm so glad you're alive, Dr. Bright. I thought we had lost you.
Young Bright: (Smiles.) Thank you, Sophia. I'm glad to still be here.
The darkness encompasses them.
Gears: A fine doctor, Sophia. Truly the best of us.
Bright: So she was. You're right.
Gears: She died years later and had, I think, children.
Bright: One child. She died protecting him during a containment breach.
Gears: Your adopted nephew.
They pause for a moment, and then move through another door.
Narrator 4: The ghost moved to another office, more festive than any of the previous, and asked Bright if he knew of it.
Bright: Knew of it? This was my first assistant director position! (AGATHA RIGHTS enters. She is a tall, full woman, carrying wrapped gifts and bottles of wine.) That's Director Rights! Holy shit, it's Rights, alive again!
Rights: Ho there! Jack! Alto!
(YOUNG BRIGHT and ALTO CLEF enter.)
Clef: Here we are, Director!
Bright: My eyes deceive me! Alto Clef, in the flesh. We were comrades, him and I, spent years together here.
Rights: Come, my boys! No more work today. Containment can wait until tomorrow. It's Christmas Eve, Alto! Christmas, Jack! Finish with that paperwork and let's have ourselves out of here!
YOUNG BRIGHT and ALTO CLEF begin to file paperwork.
Clef: Jack, I had a dream the other night.
Young Bright: What's that, Alto?
Clef: One day… some Christmas Day I hope that I can hold as great a party as Director Rights.
Young Bright: As great as Rights'?! Impossible! But… I have dreamt the same myself, friend. What a party that would be!
Clef: Then we'll hold our parties together, at Site-19, and invite all of our friends—
Bright: (Sadly.) …friends long since forgotten…
Clef: —and we'll have food-
Young Bright: —and drink!
Clef: Yes! And so much drink! And gifts for the whole staff!
Young Bright: And you and I will be hailed as the greatest and kindest site directors of all time!
Clef: And everyone will love us!
(DOCTOR TIMOTHY BURNS enters. He is as jolly and cheerful as his wife.)
Burns: Say, who's loving who?
Clef: Oh, come off it, Burns.
Young Bright: Good evening, Dr. Burns!
Burns: Let's go, boys! Tonight is gonna be great night! Now, let's go find the wife and get this show started!
Rights: Ah! There's my darling husband. (RIGHTS and BURNS hug.) Clear back here, lads! We've got a night's worth of dancing ahead of us!
Burns: You bet your sweet ass we do!
Rights: And who better to have as a dance partner than my own husband?
Burns: Oho! You're assuming I'll accept your proposal?
Rights: For thirty-years you've been accepting my proposal, and you're no prettier now than you were then! I see no reason why you'd stop now!
(They laugh. ACTORS rush in from all sides, wildly stripping off their lab coats and goggles in exchange for festive Christmas garb. As the music starts, they all begin to dance.)
Narrator 3: Beautiful young women—
Narrator 1: —and handsome young men.
Narrator 2: Doctors, researchers, agents, janitors and all!
Narrator 4: Rights and Burns saw no class structure. They saw no prestige or wealth. Within the confines of Site-18, they saw only good hearts and good souls.
The ACTORS begin to sing "DECK THE HALLS". As they all begin to dance, BRIGHT is swept up in the activity and himself begins to dance, weaving in and out of the group.
DECK THE HALLS WITH BOUGHS OF HOLLY
FA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA!
‘TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY
FA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA
DON WE NOW OUR GAY APPAREL
GEARS holds up a hand and the room is suddenly silent. BRIGHT continues to dance for a moment before realizing they are dancing without music.
Gears: They made people so happy, so full of gratitude. A small matter, nothing more.
Gears: Why? You think it not? Director Rights spent but pocket change on this party. Fifteen, twenty dollars? Is such a small sacrifice deserving of this much praise?
GEARS claps and the ACTORS finish the song.
TROLL THE ANCIENT YULETIDE CAROL
FA LA LA LA LA LA LA!
The ACTORS divide into couples and rush off in all directions into the darkness.
Bright: Gears! She had the power to make us happy or unhappy, to make our work light or burdensome, a pleasure or punishment. With how happy she made us, she may as well have spent a fortune.
Narrator 1: Bright paused, as if in thought.
Gears: What is it?
Bright: I… I would like to say something to my assistant just now. That's all.
GEARS smiles again.
Gears: Come, Jack. My time grows short. See here.
They mount the DEADLY MOOSE again, this time gliding down in a snowy courtyard. A light shines down on YOUNG BRIGHT talking to his fiance, ROSE LABELLE.
Young Bright: Come now, Rose. Don't be ridiculous.
Labelle: Jack, I'm not being ridiculous! And even if I were, isn't it natural to be ridiculous when you're in love?
Young Bright: I don't have time to be ridiculous, Rose. I'm the director now, I have a career to think about!
Labelle: Do you have time to be in love?
Young Bright: Love? Love… is for fools.
Labelle: Then I am a fool, Jack. A fool for loving a man who does not love me. I matter very little to you, don't I? Another has replaced me in your heart… if it can make you happy and comfort you, as I would have tried to do, I have no cause to grieve.
Young Bright: Replaced you? What has replaced you?
Labelle: Your work.
Young Bright: Well that's just the way it fucking is, Rose! There is nothing, nothing more important than the cause…
Bright scrambles over to them, desperately trying to stop the young shadow of himself from speaking.
Bright: No, no, you idiot, please. Don't go on…
Young Bright: …and those who stand in opposition to the cause are just as foolish and dangerous as those we seek to contain!
Labelle: You fear the world too much, Jack. All your hopes have merged into the hope of being beyond the reach of the inevitable, even after everything you have experienced.
Young Bright: I am not changed towards you.
Labelle: You have changed. When you made your promise to me, you were another man. Before you wore that goddamned amulet, you were different.
Young Bright: I was a boy! I knew nothing. This amulet saved me, pulled me out of the darkness and has given me perspective, Rose. If I do nothing to stop the calamity that may befall us, then everything we have experienced will be without worth. I do everything I do for us, for you.
Bright: No, no no no, please—
Labelle: For me?
Young Bright: Safety is the key to all things.
Labelle: No, Jack. Love is the key. Companionship, togetherness. How have you lost this?
Young Bright: Rose, I do love you. But I cannot afford to live ignorantly of what I know I must do. It is not fair to you or myself.
Labelle: Our contract is an old one. When we made it, we were both poor and ignorant and happy, and content to be so.
Bright: No more, please… please, no…
Labelle: You know in your heart, whatever of it remains, that you are not who you were. You say you love me, but your obsession with your work supersedes me.
Young Bright: Rose, do we really need to do this?
Labelle: We were one heart once, you and I. But no longer.
Bright: No, Rose, we are still one, we could be…
Labelle: I release you from any promises you made to me, Jack Bright.
Young Bright: I am not asking for any releases.
Labelle: In words, no.
Young Bright: Then in what?
Labelle: Tell me, Jack, would you try to win me over again now, knowing what you know?
Young Bright: I must think of my work, of my—
Labelle: Would you seek me out now?
YOUNG BRIGHT does not answer.
Bright: Answer her, you idiot! You goddamned fool, say something!
Labelle: I thought not. I do hope you find happiness on the path you have chosen, Jack.
She disappears into the darkness. YOUNG BRIGHT lingers for a moment more, and he too disappears.
Bright: Spirit! Gears, whoever you are, please. Take me away from this. Show me nothing else.
Gears: I told you that these were the shadows of the past, Jack. They are what they are, I am not to blame.
Bright: Why do you haunt me? What have I done?
Gears: There is one more you must see.
Bright: Is this fun for you? Torturing me?
Gears: Follow, Jack.
They walk a short ways. In the distance there are lights. As they approach them, they see the window of another dormitory, at another site.
Narrator 5: Before them was another place—
Narrator 3: A room, not very large—
Narrator 2: But full of comfort!
LABELLE, now older, sits across the room with her daughter.
Narrator 1: Across the room sat the woman he had once loved.
Narrator 5: The same woman he had let go so many years before.
Bright: Gears? Is that… it's Rose! But how can that be? She looks older, more mature…
Labelle: Another Christmas Eve.
Daughter: And what a beautiful night it is!
Labelle: All Christmas Eve's have beauty in their own way.
Daughter: Do you think mama will be home soon?
Labelle: If she doesn't wander off looking for some beautiful gift for her beautiful daughter.
Daughter: Oh mama! Why won't you tell me what she's gotten me?
Labelle: (Laughs.) You'll just have to wait and see, won't you?
Bright: She looks… beautiful. Look at her eyes, her hair, her lips… I would like dearly to—
ROSE'S WIFE enters. ROSE rushes to help her with a load of packages while their DAUGHTER squeals in delight.
Wife: Rose! God, I have missed you.
Labelle: And I you.
Narrator 3: Seated comfortable by the fire, the wife turned to Rose and said with a smile,
Wife: Rose, you won't believe it. I saw an old friend of yours while I was on assignment this weekend.
Labelle: Who was it?
Wife: Take a guess.
Labelle: Pah! I don't know. How could I? (She pauses, considering, and then says like a joke,) Jack Bright.
Wife: The same.
Labelle: Aha! How did you happen upon him?
Wife: I was delivering a shipment of artifacts to Site-19 and happened to pass by his office. Seeing as he hadn't closed up and there was a light on inside, I couldn't help but notice. They say his partner is on the verge of death, but there he sat alone. Quite alone in the world, it seems.
Bright: Spirit, please… remove me from this place.
Gears: I told you, Jack. These are only the shadows of things that have been. I cannot change them, any more than I could have cast them.
Narrator 1: Bright turned to speak, but instead of the face of an old friend, he saw many shattered fragments of all of the faces of everyone that the Spirit had shown him. The face was a somber one, a silent one.
Bright: Take me back, Gears. Haunt me no longer.
Narrator 2: With a solemn nod, the world around Jack began to collapse, the walls caving in upon themselves and the ground beneath them coming undone. The lights began to flicker and go out until all that remained was a single glowing fireplace. In his last moments of consciousness, Jack reached out as if to signal towards Rose, but a howling wind overtook them and the light was extinguished.
Narrator 1: Jack sat up quickly, immediately conscious of being both in his own bedroom, and of being exhausted. He was suddenly overcome with a terrible drowsiness, and soon collapsed back into a deep and heavy sleep.
The Second of Three Spectres
Narrator 4: Bright awoke in the middle of a particularly voluminous and tough snore and, sitting up in his bed to get his thoughts together, did not think to look at the numbers on the clock to his right, which had just turned to 1AM. He did, however, think to look at the bright light shining from beneath his bedroom door and, donning a pair of slippers, he crept over and opened it.
Narrator 5: Beyond it was his own living quarters, no doubt, but they had undergone a surprising transformation. Gone was the dark and cold he had grown so accustomed to, and in its place were walls and a ceiling hung with evergreen. From every corner hung holly, mistletoe and ivy, all glistening in the light like a million tiny mirrors. Beyond was a roaring fire in his fireplace, and beyond that was a throne of the most succulent and delicious foodstuffs he had ever laid eyes on.
Narrator 2: Turkeys, geese, poultry, hams, kebabs, sausages and links of all variety, apple pie, pumpkin pie, cherry pie, pot pie, oysters, clams, lobster, shrimp, literally an entire buffalo, fruit of all kinds, stacks of produce, all assembled in the finest seat a man could dare to sit upon. Around the chair lay an even greater treasure; rum, gin, vodka, bourbon, whiskey, and liquors of all kinds, and a great many more kegs of beer flowing freely like a cascading waterfall. On top of all of it was TROY LAMENT, a man tall and lean, with a thick red cloak held with a golden brooch, holding a flaming torch on a long staff and wearing a festive winter hat. His voice boomed when he spoke and to Bright, it was a familiar tone.
Lament: Bright! You old cocksucker, get in here! Com— *hiccup* -come on, you son of a bitch, I ain't got all night.
Bright: Troy? Troy Lament? What are you supposed to be?
Lament: Me? Oh, right, the food. I am, (Clears throat.) the Ghost of Christmas Present. This present, as it were. Look upon me and despair, Jack Bright.
BRIGHT hesitates. LAMENT stares at him for a moment before breaking out into laughter.
Lament: Almost had you there, didn't I?
Bright: Troy, what is all of this about? I don't understand, I—
Lament: Bet you've never seen anything like me before, have you?
Bright: No, I haven't. (Pauses.) Are you here to…?
Narrator 2: The Spirit of Troy Lament became suddenly still, though the smile did not leave his face.
Lament: I am, Jack Bright. (Steps down off of food-throne, stumbles slightly.) There is so much for us to see.
Bright: Then take me where you will. I went forth last night only after being compelled, but I see now the wisdom in the Spirit's words. If you would teach me, please, let me profit by it.
Lament: (Reaches out.) Take my hand.
Narrator 3: With but the slightest wisp of smoke and a mild burning sensation, the two of them were suddenly whisked away. When they reestablished themselves, they stood outside a row of short houses on Christmas morning. Bright recognized it as being one of several small towns near Site-19, where the lower paid staff might go to find housing, or to keep their families. This one was no different than the rest; small, compact and bustling, but tidy despite itself. The air was full of smoke from chimneys and the sounds of people bustling, and in spite of the grey of the morning sky, there was an air of cheerfulness around them.
Narrator 4: Around them were researchers and agents, custodians and engineers, and unknowing townsfolk, all going about their morning duties. From time to time one could hear a "Merry Christmas!" to which all would respond in kind.
Narrator 5: They passed by a place that Jack had never seen, and only ever heard described. It was little more than a hole in the wall, shoved between other small, dingy apartments like itself. But it was clean, and the windows were full of light. A sign on the door read "Mr. Bridge and Mrs. Moose", and Bright realized he was standing outside of the home of his own assistant.
Lament: Aha! This is it. See, Bright? I always know where the party is. Don't you doubt *hiccup* me.
Narrator 1: They passed through the wall and beheld the scene within. Hustling and bustling through the chores of a Christmas morning breakfast were none other than Django's wife, Tilda Moose, their eldest son Fritz, and two small children, boy and girl, tearing around the house after each other screaming about who would have the first slice of breakfast casserole. Lament laughed joyfully at the scene.
Lament: Ah, man. This is fuckin' great. The whole *hic* family here, together, having a good fuckin' time, man. (He stumbles slightly.) Can't ask for *hic* more, yaknow?
Moose: Fritz! Come here, child. Wherever has your father gone? And your young sister, Tiny Zyn, for that matter.
Narrator 2: She had no more said the words when in burst Django, in his threadbare winter finest, with their daughter Tiny Zyn seated upon his shoulder. Alas for poor Zyn, she bore a little crutch, and had her limbs supported by an iron frame. As for what calamity, anomalous or otherwise, had befallen her, we cannot say.
Bridge: Hullo, wife! I have returned! Go now, kids. Take Zyn off to the play room, it'll be time for breakfast soon. Come on now, get out of here.
The CHILDREN scamper off.
Moose: And how did little Zyn behave?
Bridge: As good as gold, Tilly, and better. She gets so thoughtful sometimes, you know? We went by the infirmary this morning to deliver those letters to Dr. Cimmerian, and the whole time she stood as straight as she could and delivered words of good cheer to those in the waiting room. Not a single crack in her armor, I'll tell you.
BRIDGE sniffles, his voice tremulous.
Moose: Come now, Django. Let's get this breakfast finished. I'm sure the children are starving.
Narrator 5: With haste, the parents finished preparing the meal. It was not much; a casserole, toast, eggs, a bit of cheese and juice. But it was what they had, and for them, it was enough. They gathered around and, under the watchful eye of Troy and Bright, they gleefully indulged themselves in their meager breakfast until the plates were licked clean. As they finished, their mother brought out drinks to finish the meal; brandy for the parents…
Narrator 2: …no doubt long since stocked away for such an occasion…
Narrator 3: …and chocolate milk for the children. As they all took their drinks, Django stood to make a toast.
Bridge: A Merry Christmas to us all, my dear, sweet family. May the following year be as blessed as the last. God bless us.
Narrator 4: And they all echoed in response, with Tiny Zyn squeaking out last of all;
Tiny Zyn: God bless us, every marp.
Narrator 1: As they gathered to have their toast, Tiny Zyn went to sit with her father. They sat together for a moment, neither saying much to the other, with Django softly holding Zyn's little hand. After some time, he began to hum a song…
Narrator 2: …one he had heard in his youth, when his father had sung it to him…
Narrator 5: And Bright could not help but notice that the man was weeping. Tiny Zyn did as well, and wiped her father's tears away with the edge of her tattered sleeve.
Tiny Zyn: Don't cry, papa. Everything will be fine.
Bright Troy, please. Tell me that Zyn will live.
Lament: Bright, lad, come 'ere. These are the shadows of the present, man, the most concrete of all. They are untouched by the rigors of time, or by the uncertainty *hic* of the future. But what may be *burp* if these shadows remain unchanged, I see only an empty corner, a forgotten crutch, a stool without an owner. Woo. That's dark.
Bright: No! No, kind spirit, please. Tell me she will be spared.
Lament: She won't, Jack. Should these shadows *hic* not be altered, she will be gone. Uh, perish, as it is. Time is not her ally, and her time *hic* is growing short. But better that she do it, right? (Laughs.) One less person for you to protect. Hah, that's *hic* pretty fucked up, isn't it?
Narrator 1: Bright hung his head at the sound of his own words, echoed back to him as a rebuke.
Lament: It's not my place to say *hic* what comes after, Jack, though I can't help but think that perhaps you're more of a dick, and less fit to live than millions like this child, yeah? In the face of *hic* judgement, what value do you have over her?
Narrator 3: Bright bent before the Spirit's words, and trembling cast his eyes upon the ground. But he raised them speedily, upon hearing his own name issues by Django as a toast.
Bridge: To Doctor Jack Bright. Bright, the Founder of the Feast!
Moose: Pah! Founder of the Feast, indeed! I wish he were here right now, I'd show him a thing or two. I'd give him a piece of my mind to feast upon, and hope he'd have an appetite for it.
Bridge: Tilda, darling, please. It's Christmas Day. The children…
Moose: It very well should be Christmas Day, I'd assume, for you to drink to the health of such a foul, stingy, unfeeling man as Jack Bright. You know he is, Django, nobody knows it better than you.
Bridge: My dear… Christmas Day.
Moose: Fine. I'll drink to his health for your sake and for Christmas'… but not for his. Cheers to him, and may he live as long a life as he will. He'll be very happy with it, I have no doubt.
Narrator 1: They had their toast, but the warmth had gone out of the room. Bright could feel it. Even with the warmth of the Spirit's torch near him, he could feel the chill of his own name through the family. The very mention of it cast a darkness on them that was not readily dispelled.
Narrator 5: Suddenly, and without warning, Jack found himself standing in a bright, dry, gleaming room with the Spirit standing by his side smiling, and with the laughter of his nephew filling the air.
They come around a corner to see ROGET, his wife ALEXANDRA, and their friends CHELSEA ELLIOTT, JACOB CONWELL, DMITRI STRELNIKOV, and DIETRICH LURK sitting about. They are all well into gleeful intoxication.
Roget: …and then he said, after I'd wished him Merry Christmas, to go fuck myself! As I live, those were his words! And he meant it, too!
CHELSEA ELLIOTT scoffs loudly.
Elliott: Well then, shame on him.
Strelnikov: Shame? What shame? Is ill temper old man. What else is expect?
Roget: He's a funny old man, that's the truth, though not as pleasant as he could be. His ill mannerisms carry their own punishments, though, and I hold none of it against him.
Lurk: He's very rich, yes? That is, you always say so.
Roget: Hah, that he were. His wealth is no use to him. He doesn't do anything with it. He doesn't use it to make himself comfortable, or those around him. If anything, I think he only keeps it to gain the satisfaction of knowing (Laughs.) that is he never going to benefit us with it.
Alexandra: Well, I have no patience with him.
Roget: (Laughs.) Oh, I do. I feel sorry for him, seriously. I couldn't be angry with him if I tried. Who suffers from his shitty mood? Only him. Look, he's got it in his head that he dislikes us all, and he won't come and eat with us. What does he lose? Not much of a dinner, I'll tell you that.
Conwell: Hah! I would think otherwise. I think he misses a great dinner!
ELLIOTT, LURK, STRELNIKOV and ALEXANDRA echo the sentiment.
Roget: Well. I'm glad you all think so, honestly. I only meant it to mean that the consequence of his taking a dislike to us is missing out on moments like these. I'm sure he has no more pleasant companions in his own thoughts, or in that cold office at Site-19. I'm going to give him the same chance every year, because I pity him.
Alexandra: He'll just keep turning you down.
Roget: Then let him! That won't be enough to stop me. He may rail against Christmas, and against me, or everybody else in the world until he dies, if he dies… but that won't stop me from going to him, if just to say "Uncle Bright, hello! How are you?" If it puts him in a good enough mood that he gives an extra bonus to that poor assistant of his, all the better for it. In fact, I think I got through to him yesterday.
They all laugh at the notion.
Lament: Hah. Look at that, Bright, look at em. Givin' *hic* you the shit right there, yeah? Heh. Maybe you shouldn't have been *hic* such an asshole. Oh man, and from *burp* your own nephew, too. That's pretty shitty.
Roget: Alright, all of you, enough about my poor uncle. Come on, let's play a game. How about some mafia?
Narrator 3: As they picked up their game, the Spirit was pleased to see Bright joining in quietly, making his own guesses and calling out answers along with the others. At the end of the game, Bright begged to be allowed to stay until the guests had all left.
Lament: *burp* No can do there, Jack ole buddy. Too much else *hic* to take care of, too much else to see.
Bright: Oh, come on, Troy. There's a new game they're starting. It's just a half hour, please.
Lament: Fine, fine. Do your game, whatever, I'm *hic* gonna be in the kitchen.
Roget: Alright, this is ten questions. I'm going to think of something, and you lot have ten yes or no questions to figure it out.
Conwell: Easy enough. Is it an animal?
Elliott: Is it alive?
Lurk: Heh. Is it a domesticated animal?
ROGET shakes his head.
Strelnikov: Must be wild, then. Is disagreeable, is brute?
ROGET nods, barely containing laughter.
Conwell: Does it live in the wild?
ROGET shakes his head, tears beginning to form on his face.
Alexandra: Is it something that would be killed in a butcher shop?
ROGET bursts out laughing, but shakes his head.
Strelnikov: Is mean animal what lives in city. Must be horse, yes?
ROGET shakes his head, reeling now from laughter.
Elliott: Does it make noise? Does it like, grunt or growl?
ROGET loses composure completely, laughing wildly.
Lurk: I think I've got it. It must be a cat!
Roget: No! No, it isn't a cat! One last question!
Conwell: Well would you want one in your home?
Roget: No! No, you most certainly wouldn't! That's it!
Bright: Oh! I know it! It must be—
Alexandra: I've got it! I know it! It's—
Alexandra: It's your Uncle Bright!
Roget: Yes! Yes my dear, my quick-witted wife, yes! It is my dearest uncle!
Narrator 4: The room burst into a series of guffaws. Bright laughed along, in spite of himself, for reasons he could not accurately describe. He looked to the kitchen, where the Spirit was busy helping himself to the brandy, and laughed all the louder.
Roget: He has given us plenty of merriment tonight, my friends, and we would be amiss not to drink to his health. A toast! To Jack Bright. May he live forever.
All: To Jack Bright!
Narrator 2: Bright was so full of glee and light of heart, he would have gladly pledged his company to the group and thanked them with a fine speech, had the Spirit given him time. But by the time the thought had crossed his mind, they were gone suddenly.
Narrator 1: For the next several hours…
Narrator 3: …or was it days? Weeks? Years?
Narrator 1: Bright and Troy traveled across the countryside, visiting sick beds, hospitals, jails, containment cells, and all of the deepest and darkest, most miserable pits in the world. Everywhere they stopped, the Spirit would give his blessing, making the place a little brighter. Jack saw then what it was to give a person joy, how little was truly required to make a difference in the life of another.
Lament: This is the end of the road *hic* for us, Jack my man. I don't know if any of *burp* this has helped, uh, at all, but I want you to keep this in mind.
Bright: Speak, Spirit. Your words have been a gift upon my soul.
Lament: First off, ergh, don't *hic* do that. Second of all, don't forget those around you. The human experience is designed to *hic* be a shared one. The only way to truly find happ*hic*iness is to join with others, and share, uh, joy, or whatever. You get the idea.
Bright: Thank you, Troy.
Lament: OR, OR! You could just *hic* drink. That's what I did, and hey, everything worked out, yeah? (The SPIRIT pats him on the back.) Alright, that's it *hic* for me, monkey man. Go get em, chief.
Narrator 2: And then was Bright suddenly back in his chambers, cold and alone. His eyes locked on the clock in his room, and remembering the words of old Everett Mann, he watched as the numbers slowly changed to midnight.
Narrator 4: From the floor he saw a dark haze begin to rise, and the walls around him seemed to collapse. He felt his breath catch in his chest, and felt a steely chill begin to pierce his furred skin.
Narrator 1: The clock ceased ticking, the wind ceased blowing, and the world grew still…
Narrator 3: …very still indeed…
Narrator 5: … and from out of the shadows before him came a solemn, silent phantom, towering and dreadful, draped in a blackness that extended on forever…
Narrator 2: …and Jack Bright was afraid…
Narrator 3: …very afraid indeed.
The Last of the Spectres
Bright: You… you are the one called Famine. The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come.
FAMINE does not respond, but draws a single skeletal hand and point outward.
Bright: You are going to show me the shadows of things that have not happened… but will happen in time, is that so.
FAMINE raises its head slowly, as if to acknowledge BRIGHT.
Narrator 5: Despite being well acquainted with ghostly company at this point, Bright feared this silent figure so much that his legs trembled and nearly buckled beneath him. He found that he could barely stand on his own when he prepared to follow it. The Spirit paused a moment, as if observing his condition, and to give him time to recover.
Bright: Famine… I fear you more than any spectre I have seen, or any anomaly I have witnessed, or any terror my heart might imagine. But I know your purpose is to do me good, and I… I want to be different. I want so much to be a better man from what I was, and am prepared to take your company. But… will you not speak to me?
FAMINE does not respond. Its hand remains pointed directly before them.
Bright: Let us do it, then. Guide me, Spirit. The night is waning fast, and I know it is precious time to me. Lead on.
Narrator 4: The phantom stretched out its hand and pulled the darkness away like a curtain. Around them suddenly was a site, one unknown to Bright and yet still somehow familiar. He glanced around, and noticed a sign on the wall reading "S-13". Near them stood three people, doctors by the look of it, all engaged in some low conversation. Bright couldn't help but notice a group of GOC Peacekeepers pass behind them, but nobody else seemed to notice.
Dr. Silver: No, I don't know much about it. Just know that it's gone.
Dr. McTiriss: When did they tear it down?
Dr. Silver: Last night, I believe.
Dr. Rosen: Why? And here I thought that place would last forever.
Dr. Silver: God knows.
Dr. McTiriss: So what happened to all the staff? Are they all transferring?
Dr. Silver: I haven't heard. Dunno if they've made a decision yet.
Dr. Rosen: What about… him?
Dr. Silver: Hmmm?
Dr. Rosen: You know. Did he leave with the rest of them?
Dr. Silver: Oh, that old bag? No, not so far as I know. Probably just left him there to die. As much good as anything else would do him.
Dr. McTiriss: That's it then, isn't it? All that time, and that's the end of it? No grand send off or ceremony or anything of the like? No funeral?
Dr. Silver: For him? (Laughs.) You think anybody would've shown up if they'd done anything?
Dr. Rosen: I wouldn't have minded going if they'd provided lunch, but I do need to be fed.
They ALL laugh.
Dr. Silver: Well, I'm the most disinterested of the three of us, it seems. I'm not much one for ceremonies, or funerals for that matter. But… come to think of it, I think I would've gone. Who's to say, I might've been his most particular friend there at the end. Used to say hello every couple of weeks as we passed in the hall.
ACTORS fill the hallways, bustling to and fro. Bright notices several of the doctors now wearing GOC badges on their jacket sleeves, mixed in with their Foundation counterparts.
Narrator 1: The men all departed, and suddenly the hallway was full of people moving quickly. Bright looked to the Spirit next to him for explanation, but received none. He had known those doctors, worked with them.
Narrator 2: Suddenly there were two other men before him, and Bright recognized them as esteemed site directors, much like himself. They, like he, were of great importance.
Director Flux: Evening.
Director Toph: Evening.
Director Flux: Old Scratch has gotten his at last, aye?
Director Toph: So they say. Hard to believe, isn't it?
Director Flux: So it is. Golf later?
Director Toph: Not much for it.
Director Flux: Fair enough.
Narrator 3: And that was the end of their conversation. Bright was confused, unsure as to the meaning of such a mundane observation. He knew these men as well, but of whom were they speaking? Certainly not old Everett Mann, that was in the past, and was the past's business. But for the life of him, Bright could not think of anyone immediately connected with himself, to whom he could apply them.
Narrator 5: Suddenly they were away again, and now within a warehouse stretching as far as the eye could see in every direction. Boxes on boxes and containers and crates stretched up to some far off ceiling, and Bright recognized it as a deep storage facility, one of those places where records and collections went forever.
Narrator 2: Before them stood three individuals, custodial workers and labourers, all part of the Foundation's grinding gears and endless machinery. They were part of the inner workings of the Foundation, and knew nothing but their work and the food it put on their tables.
Kestrel: 'Nother load come through.
Falcon: Still from Site-19?
Kestrel: By the look of it. This is the last, I think.
Vulture: What is it? That crate there? It's got a name on the side of it.
They all see it, but the name is on the side of the crate away from the AUDIENCE. Bright cranes his neck, but cannot see.
Kestrel: Dunno. Let's have a look, aye? Can't imagine anyone would notice something gone missing from all of this junk.
Falcon: Say, look here. This is fancy, in'it? Some kind of gold pen, see. For writing.
Vulture: I'd say. I like this one a bit, too. Fancy top hat. Weird monkey statue.
Kestrel: Papers, papers, stapler… this is all office supplies, gents.
Vulture: Fanciest office supplies I've ever seen.
Falcon: Must've been a big wig, this fellow.
Vulture: Foundation, or GOC?
Kestrel: Must've been Foundation. All the GOC lot have moved to that fortress they built in Ukraine. Not a one of them at Site-19 before they tore it down.
Falcon: Hah! Look at this! A pair of tiny shoes. What a strange shape.
Vulture: Say, Kes. You don't think this stuff belonged to that old fellow who snuffed out when they tore the site down, do you?
Kestrel: Don't know much about the man. That was his name, though, there's no doubt about that.
Vulture: It's true, then. He's gone and kicked the great heavenly bucket.
Falcon: Might as well. They say he couldn't be bothered to leave, even as they were decommissioning it. Couldn't get him out the door.
Kestrel: Good riddance, then. That kind of attitude won't gel well with the GOC types.
Vulture: Don't know if any kind of attitude gels with the GOC types, mate.
They ALL laugh. The three of them load the crate onto a moving dolly and wheel it away. Bright takes a step to look inside the box, but the room around him dissolves.
Narrator 1: Bright looked through the darkness around him and saw a hill in the distance. On its crest, as familiar in the dark as it had ever been to Bright in the day, was the smoldering wreckage of what had at one point no doubt been Site-19. The pungent aroma of burning steel and ash hung in the air, singeing his nostrils and filling his lungs with acrid smoke.
Bright: Spirit, please. I know this place, or rather, I once did. I know that the man they spoke of may as well had been like I, should I not change my ways. God almighty, what is this. How could this have happened.
Narrator 2: Bright recoiled, for the scene had changed suddenly. They stood now at what had been an entrance, a grand and glorious marble gateway into the Foundation's most premier facility. All that remained was a single dark corridor, and devastation on all sides. Bright went to step away from it, but stopped upon seeing the outstretched hand of the Spirit pointing down the ruined hall.
Bright: Famine, this is a fearful place. In leaving it, I won't forget its lesson, I promise. Please, let us go.
FAMINE remains still, pointing into the building.
Bright: I understand you, friend, and I would if I could. But I do not have the strength. Spirit, I do not have the power within me to walk down that corridor. Please, maybe… if there is any person, anyone at all, who feels any sadness over the death of the poor man they spoke of, or the ruination of this site… show me that person, Spirit. I beseech you.
Narrator 4: The darkness folded back over them again, and when it retreated they were standing outside of a tiny home that Bright had seen once before. It was the house of poor Django Bridge, and they entered it silently.
TILDA MOOSE, her little CHILDREN, and the older FRITZ are within. FRITZ stands silently by the window, while his mother quietly writes reports on their couch.
Bright: It's so quiet, Famine. This house was so full of life, and now—
Moose: Where could your father be, Fritz? It must be time for him to get home.
Fritz: Past time, mother. But I think he's walked a little slower than he used to, these last few evenings.
TILDA responds, her usually cheerful voice steady, faltering only once.
Moose: I have known him to walk with… I have known him to walk with Tiny Zyn upon his shoulder. He would walk so fast, and she would squeal the whole way home.
Fritz: So have I. Often.
Moose: But she was so light to carry, and your father loved her so much. For him, it was no trouble… no trouble at all. Ah, there's your father at the door.
Narrator 3: She hurried to meet him, poor little Django in his threadbare shirt and thin coat. She had a tea ready for him, and the little children brought it to him. As he bent to take it from them, they each laid a tiny kiss upon his cheek, as if to say "Don't cry, father. Don't be grieved."
Moose: It's Sunday. You went today?
Django: Yes, my dear. I wish you could've seen it. It's such a green place, such a beautiful place. But you'll see it often. I promised her that I… that I would walk there on a Sunday. My little girl. My little, little child. Oh god, my little girl.
Narrator 4: He broke down all at once, then. He couldn't help it. He left the room and went up to his study, which his young children had decorated with Christmas cheer. He was gone but a moment, just long enough to reconcile to what had happened, and soon returned to his family quite happy.
DJANGO seats himself with his family. They look to him, and he gazes off wistfully. He smiles in spite of the tears on his face.
Django: I met the most pleasant man I've ever met today, Tilda. I was at the new engineer depot, dropping off an application, when I saw a gentleman I had seen before at the office but never met proper. He introduced himself as Mr. Ralph Roget, who works with the GOC, and who was the adopted nephew of old Jack Bright. Seeing that I looked… a little down, you know, he inquired as to what was bothering me.
He inhales deeply before continuing.
Django: And because he was so pleasant, I told him. And he says to me, "I am so sorry for your loss, Mr. Bridge, and so sorry for your good wife and your family. So very sorry indeed. If there is any way I can be of service to you," and he hands me his card, "that's where I live. Please come and visit me, and come by my office sometime. We could use more men like you, Mr. Bridge." It really seemed as if he had known our little Zyn, and had felt the hurt with us.
Moose: He sounds like a fine man, and a good soul.
Django: But… whenever we leave each other, all of us, I am sure that none of us will forget poor Tiny Zyn, or this first loss we had among us. I know that— that we will recollect on how patient and mild she was, even though she was a little, little child… and we will not fight so readily among ourselves, and forget our little Zyn in doing so.
All: No, never father.
Django: I am very happy… very happy.
The FAMILY embraces as BRIGHT and FAMINE look on.
Bright: Spectre… I feel as if our parting moment is at hand. I know it, but I don't know how I know it. Tell me… tell me who that man was they spoke of. Tell me what was down that dark corridor.
Narrator 3: The darkness swallowed them, and as they moved slowly through the hallways of distant sites and down the roads of small Foundation towns, Bright looked for any sign of himself, but found none.
Narrator 5: Finally they arrived again outside of the smoldering wreckage of Site-19. Off to his right, Bright could faintly see the outline of the staff housing, somehow untouched by the ruin.
Bright: There, Spirit, down there. That would be my home, I know this way very well. Let me go and behold what I will be, in the days to come.
FAMINE stops. BRIGHT notices its hand is pointed into the corridor.
Bright: My house is down there, Spirit. Why do you point away?
Narrator 2: The inexorable finger underwent no change. Bright hurried down the hillside to the lodgings, many of which he found were empty, though there were those who remained, still packing their belongings and managing their affairs. But when he came to his own home, he found it empty, cleared out, as if no one had ever been there. He turned back to the site on the hill, and saw the Phantom still standing, its finger outstretched.
Narrator 1: Bright returned to the Spirit, and together they entered the dark building. "Here," he thought, "here it must be that the wretched man of whom the other had spoken, buried somewhere beneath the rubble."
Narrator 3: "It was a worthy place for such a man," thought Bright, "a worthy place indeed."
Narrator 5: Still the Spectre's finger stretched down, further and further into the maze of decay and destruction. It was not until they reached a place that Jack knew very well, a place that caused his heart to seize with fear, did the Spirit come to a halt, its finger pointed at a lone doorway.
Bright: No, no no, Spirit, please. It cannot be.
Narrator 4: The name on the door read "Jack Bright and Everett Mann, Directors", as Jack had never troubled himself with having his old partner's name removed. From within the doorway before them, he could just make out a tiny, flickering light.
BRIGHT moves towards the door and, his hand shaking, opens it. Within is a man, face down on a metal desk, impaled upon a protruding piece of support that had fallen from the ceiling. BRIGHT approaches, just enough to glimpse a dirty red and gold medallion hung around the man's neck. The man is JACK BRIGHT.
Bright: NO! It cannot be! No no, no, please, Spirit, hear me now. I am not the man I was. I will not be the man of whom they spoke, the man I must have been. Why— why show me this, if I am beyond all hope?
The FAMINE'S hand begins to shake.
Bright: Good, spirit, your nature shows pity on me. Tell me, tell me that I may yet cast different shadows than these you have shown me. Tell me that I can change!
Narrator 1: The cold hand of the Spectre trembled, and from all around him Bright heard the sound of creaking beams, laden supports, crumbling masonry and collapsed walls.
Bright: I will honour Christmas in my heart, I swear it. I will keep it all the year long. I will live in the past, the present, and the future. The Spirits of all three will live within me, and I will not shut out the lessons that they teach, goddammit! Tell me spirit, please, tell me that I may not become that man!
Narrator 2: In his agony, Bright caught the hand in front of him. As he did, the world around him, burst into flames and imploded. The ceiling above him roared as it crashed down, the floors below moaned as they gave way, until it all was tumbling down into the nothingness below. Jack clung to the hand of the Spectre for his own life, even as the Spirit tried to pull away from him.
Narrator 5: In a last prayer to have his own fate reversed, Jack released the hand of the Phantom and threw his own up in towards the heavens, begging for mercy. As he did, he saw a light within the Spirit's dark hood, growing brighter and brighter, so much so that he had to shield his eyes.
Narrator 3: When he opened them again, he was sitting on his own bed, in his own room, as the sun poured through the window blinds.
Bright: This is my room.
He gets up quickly. His eyes dart around wildly.
Bright: Yes! This is my room! That is my bed! This—
He runs down to his front door. Flinging it open, he inspects the outside and, seeing it noticeably free of the face of MANN, goes back inside.
Bright: The Spirits of Christmas, bless them! And bless you Mann, you old piece of shit. Bless you for this chance you have given me! A chance to make it all right— and I must make it right!
He skips across his living room, gleefully making joyful monkey-sounds as he does.
Bright: It's all here! There's the door that Mann came through, and over there was where Troy was sitting, that drunken bastard. It's all right, it's all true! It all happened! Hahaha!
Narrator 1: Bright was aware that he was unaware what day it was.
Bright: I don't know what day of the month it is. I don't know how long the Spirits kept me. I don't— I don't know anything! I really am quite a baby. Never mind that, I don't care. I'd rather be a baby. Whoop whoop! Hallo! Hallo hallo!
He runs up to his bedroom window and, throwing it open to take a deep breath of the rich morning air, calls out to a doctor passing by his home.
Bright: Say there, fine young fellow! What's today?
Bright: What is today, my fine lad, what's the day?
Heiden: Today? Why, it's Christmas Day, sir.
Bright: It's— it's Christmas day! I haven't missed it! The Spirits did it all in one night. Of course they did, they can do anything they like. Oh goodness, of course they can.
Heiden: What are you going on about there, strange ape-man?
Bright: Hallo, you wonderful young man. Do you know the Poulterer's, not on the next street, but the one past that, at the corner?
Heiden: …yeah? Why?
Bright: Ah, an intelligent boy, a brilliant, remarkable boy. Do you know whether or not they've sold that giant, anomalous turkey that was hanging up there? Not the little prized turkey, fuck that. I mean the big hoss, the one there on the wall?
Heiden: What, you mean the one as big as I am?
Bright: What a delightful lad, a pleasure to talk to him. Yes, my buck, that's the one.
Heiden: It's hanging there now.
Bright: Is it, wonderful. Go and buy it.
Heiden: (Laughs.) Hah. Alright. Sure thing.
Bright: No no, I am in earnest! Go and buy it, and tell them to bring it here, so I can tell them where to take it. Come back with the man, and I'll give you two hundred dollars. Come back with him in less than five minutes and I'll give you half a grand!
Heiden: Half a grand! I could buy so many pedicures with that money. Yes sir, absolutely! (He takes off like a shot.)
Bright: (Rubbing his hands, cackling like a madman.) I'll send it to old Django's place. He won't know who sent it. God, it's about five times the size of Tiny Zyn!
Narrator 2: He sprinted down the stairs, eagerly grabbing a pen and paper with which to write down the address the turkey would be spirited off to. He smiled as he did, laughter pouring from some place within him that had not seen the light of day in quite some time. As he stepped out the front door, he made pause at the sight of it.
Bright: Mann, Mann, Mann. What a beautiful door. I'll treasure it so long as I live, what an honest, good door this is— ah! And here's the turkey. Hallo. Whoop whoop! How are you, sir, Merry Christmas.
Narrator 5: The chuckle with which he said this, and the chuckle with which he paid for the massive turkey, and the chuckle with which he paid for a cab to deliver it to old Django's humble home, and the chuckle with which he paid the sweet little Heiden, were only exceeded in magnitude by the chuckle with which he sat down breathless in his chair again, and chuckle he did until he cried.
Bright: I know! I don't need to be kept up in here. It's Christmas! I've got to go meet the people where they are!
BRIGHT puts on his winter best, and struts out onto the streets. As he passes people in the street, he greets all with a generous smile and a "Merry Christmas".
Narrator 4: He had not gone far, when he happened upon the two Manna Charitable Fellows who had passed by his office the day before. It sent a pang through his heart knowing what these two must have thought of him, but he knew the path lay straight ahead of him, and he took it. Quickening his pace, he caught up to the two men and took them both by the shoulder.
Bright: Kind sirs, how do you do. I do hope you succeeded yesterday. It was very kind of you, of course. A merry Christmas to you, sir.
Manna Charitable Fellow 1: Dr. Bright.
Bright: Yes, yes, that is my name, though I fear it may not be pleasant to you. Allow me to beg your pardon, sir, and hope that you will have the goodness from me…
He whispered in the man's ear.
Manna Charitable Fellow 1: My goodness!
Manna Charitable Fellow 2: Dr. Bright, are you serious?
Bright: If you would, please, and not a dollar less. There are a great many back-payments included in it, be sure. Will you do me that favour?
Manna Charitable Fellow 1: Sir, I don't know what to say to such generosity!
Bright: Say nothing! Go now, and please, come see me later! A merry Christmas to you both!
Manna Charitable Fellows: Merry Christmas!
Narrator 1: He wandered the streets then, watching people hurrying to and fro, playing with children as they passed, making jokes with the labourers, looking into kitchens and bakeries, all while skipping as he went. He never dreamed that any walk, that anything at all, could give him so much happiness.
Narrator 2: As the afternoon came upon him, he turned his steps towards his nephew's home.
Narrator 3: He must have passed the door a dozen times before he had the courage to knock, bless his old monkey heart.
Narrator 5: But knock he did, and who answered but his nephew.
Roget: Uncle?! Bless my soul, is it you?
Bright: It is. It is your uncle Bright. I have come to dinner. Will you have me, nephew?
Narrator 4: Have him? It's a wonder he didn't shake his arm off. Bright was in and acquainted in mere minutes, and the night was as he had foreseen it. Games were played, drinks were had, Strelnikov accidentally shot himself in the foot ("Do not worry, is metal foot. Already lose foot to frostbite.") It was a wonderful party, and Bright was happy.
Narrator 1: But he was up and at the office early the next morning. Oh, and how he was early. To be there first, to catch Django Bridge coming in late! He wanted nothing more.
Narrator 2: And he did! The clock struck eight, and no Django. Ten after, and no Django. It was not until a full quarter past the hour that poor old Django came flying in through the door, moving to his desk and a pen in one swift motion.
Bright: (Gruffly.) Hello there, Mr. Bridge. What do you think you mean, coming by here at this time of day?
Bridge: I'm so very sorry sir, I am behind.
Bright: So you are. Step into my office, Bridge.
Bridge: Please sir, it's only once a year. It won't be repeated, I swear. I was making too merry yesterday, sir.
Bright: This is most unacceptable, Mr. Bridge, and I am not going to stand for this any longer. That's why—
He jumps from his desk, pounces across, and comes eye to eye with the sweating Django Bridge.
Bright: —I am going to raise your salary.
Bridge: My— wha? You're going to do what?
Bright: Raise your salary, Django my old friend. Merry Christmas to you! A merrier Christmas than I have ever afforded you, to my great shame. Yes, I'll be raising your salary, and we'll sit down over some drinks tonight and discuss how best to assist your struggling family. Now, get over there and raise that thermostat, Mr. Bridge! It's chilled to the bone in here, let's have some warmth!
Narrator 1: And Bright was better than his word. He did everything, and then some, and to little Tiny Zyn he was like a second father. He became as good a man, as good a doctor, as good a director, as Site-19, or any site, had ever known. Some would laugh to see the change in him, but he let them laugh, and did so with them. His spirit was moved, and he laughed all the same, and that was enough for him.
Narrator 5: From that day forth, he had no further dealings with spirits (aside from one wild midnight romp with the Ghost of Christmas Present several years down the line (but that's a tale for a different time)), and it was always said of him that he truly knew how to keep Christmas well, if anybody did. May that truly be said of us, all of us! And as Tiny Zyn so aptly observed;
Tiny Zyn: God bless us, every—
Moose: Wow, it's really hot all of a sudden. What's happening?
Bridge: It's coming from outside, what's that sou— Oh my god!
The Hateful Star: (Laughter.) HAHAHAHA! MERRY CHRISTMAS YOU FUCKING LOSERS! HAHAHAHAHA!