The clock chimed three and Smooge sat up expectantly. Nothing happened. Nothing continued to happen as the clock struck the quarter hour. After another five minutes a figure slouched through the wall and into the bedroom. Smooge noticed that it was female. Her long raven black hair was streaked with bright pink. Strange wires sprang from her ears and connected them to a small device to which she was paying close attention. The girl’s thumb rubbed over the device in strange, jerky motions. Her mouth moved in a rhythmic chewing action, reminiscent of cattle at rest.
“You’re late.” snapped Smooge.
“Whatever.” The girl said without looking up.
“Well, don’t you have some sort of message for me?”
The girl gave a long, all suffering sigh and reluctantly slipped the small device into the pocket of her baggy cardigan. She fished out a card and read it, her lips moving slowly as she did so. Satisfied that she had memorised the contents of the card she thrust her hands into her cardigan pocket and spoke somewhat petulantly.
“I am the ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. I bring you a warning of your fate should you not mend you ways.”
The message delivered the girl drew out the small device and recommenced her fiddling with it. She giggled at something and then started moving her thumb more rapidly.
Smooge examined the girl more closely. Apart from the baggy cardigan she wore some sort of tight shirt, above which an expanse of chest sparkled with gold glitter and below which her belly button was exposed, showing a gold ring pierced through it. Her skirt was a strip of denim that stopped in a ragged fringe well above her knee. Her legs were encased in pink and green striped nylon leggings that had holes torn in them in a number of places. She wore shoes that went to a point at the toes but also had a heel that was at least six inches high. Were she solid Smooge guessed that the heels would make small holes in his hard wood floors. Smooge’s bunions started to throb in sympathy.
“Wat you lookin’ at, you pervert?” The girl realised she was being examined.
“Your clothing. I have never seen such strange garments on a female.”
“I don’t follow no fashions. No one tells me how to dress.” The girl stated angrily. “I’m an individual. So are all my friends. We all dress like this. Wat are you, my Mum or somefing?”
Smooge wisely decided not to pursue the matter. “I suppose you have somewhere to take me?”
“I do, but you’ll have to make your own way. My Dad will have to give me a lift and if he sees you with me he’ll think you’re some sort of Paedo out to groom me.”
The girl waved her hand and Smooge found himself flying over the town once more. He had to admit it was a very convenient way to travel. After a while he started to descend and was deposited in a field. There was nothing in sight in any direction.
The girl appeared beside him. “Sorry ‘bout this. We’ve got a bit of a walk from here. They used Brianair for this trip so we couldn’t get no closer. I hope you only had hand luggage otherwise you’ll get a bill for the excess.”
The house was dark and Smooge noticed a black wreath hanging on the door. “Who is this for?” He asked, already knowing in his heart. The girl didn’t answer, but waved her hand and the door swung open.
In the tiny parlour the family were gathered. Bob Scratchit sobbed quietly and the children whispered together, casting occasional glances at their father.
Smooge counted the children and only managed to get as far as eleven. He searched the faces to identify the missing child.
“Tiny Tim.” He exclaimed. “Where is Tiny Tim?”
“He is the one the wreath is for.” The ghost explained.
“Oh Elisa.” Scratchit wailed. “Elisa why have you abandoned me?”
“Run off with the man who provided her with curtain material.” Explained the ghost.
“Before or after Tiny Tim’s death?”
“About five minutes ago.”
“Whose grave is this?” Smooge asked the ghost.
“Will no one come to mourn my passing?”
“Wait.” The ghostly girl commanded.
Smooge heard a murmur and turned his own head towards the gate. There he saw a sight that filled his heart with joy.
“People are coming to pay their respects.” He said as he watched the growing crowd. So many people. It looked as though the whole town had turned out for him.
“As if.” was all the ghost said by way of reply.
The crowd gathered round the open grave. Smooge saw Bob Scratchit step forward to speak to the Vicar.
“You better get the grave filled in, Vicar.” He said.
“Why, my son. What is the need for haste?” The Vicar replied.
“Well, we can’t start dancing on it until it’s been filled in, can we?”
For Smooge the world went black.
* * *
The fifth and final of this story will be posted next week. To be sure to receive a reminder go to Facebook and 'like' my page at http://tinyurl.com/o4gtb6v or 'follow' me on Twitter @robert_cubitt
FREE FREE FREE
There's still time to claim your free copy of "The Warriors: The Girl I Left Behind Me". Just click on the "Free Stuff" tab at the top of the page.