Chapter One: Nero was dead, to begin with.
He had, in fact, been dead for some time. The constant grind of slaying thots and racking up huge amounts of internet Cash & Clout had taken its toll, and left EbBARTneezer Scrooge (Bart, for short), solely in charge of the Flappr Counting House, Printing Emporium, and Meat Market (Flappr, for short).
Never had a soul been more emo than Bart, but never was Bart’s soul more emo than at Christmas, which is where our story begins with a knock on the door.
“Go away” moaned Bart from inside a black, barely like room.
Through the door, a muffled voice could be heard: “Excuse me, sir, my name is Patton Claus, and this is my assistant Pizza Czar. We are collecting donations for the poor and hope that you can spare money to provide the poor with some good food and cheer.”
“Bah” cried Bart. “Crumbug!” (There is another similar story with a different word, but it’s copyrighted.)
The muffled voices continued.
“Please, sir! At this time of year, it is more important than ever to help those less fortunate!”
“HAS A WASHING MACHINE HAS NEVER BEEN CHEAPER? HAVE WE NO LAUNDROMATS? HAVE WE NO 99 CENT STORES?!”
Bart came charging out of his office, a huge poker in hand to use as a weapon. The men, fearing for their lives, ran away frightened. They’d been warned that Bart was super sullen all the time, but hadn’t thought he might actually try to kill them. As Bart went back into his room, he bellowed, “Oh, stop whimpering, Cratchit.”
JAC Cratchit had worked for Bart for most of his life and knew that Bart was prone to these types of things, but they still frightened him. Moreover, JAC had recently put some extra coal in the fire and was afraid Bart might notice the slight temperature difference.
Thankfully, at least for JAC, the men looking for charity had come back.
“Sir, might we at least speak to Mr. Nero?”
Now, as you will remember, Nero was dead to begin with. He had actually died several years ago on Christmas Eve from Extreme Boning. Bart, his only family, had not honored Nero’s request of a “sweet Viking funeral with strippers and blow” because he wanted to re-invest the life insurance money into Flappr. In fact, Nero’s name was still visible on the outside of the building as co-owner, despite him having been dead for several years.
Bart refused to pay for the sign to be repainted and had only used single strokes of red paint to cover up Nero's name.
“NO SIRS, YOU MAY NOT, AS I AM IN FACT THE SOLE PROPRIETOR, NOW I BID YOU ADIEU!” This final shout, combined with Bart flinging a brick at the men, caused the charity seekers to run off for good.
“I suppose, Mr. JAC, that you would like Christmas off so you can steal wages from me even easier?”
JAC would have answered, but at that precise moment he was saved again.
“UNCLE BART! Merry Christmas!”
It was Bart’s nephew, Ground Miller. Ground’s mother, Stephanie Co, had been Bart’s beloved sister before her tragic death. Bart personally blamed Ground for her passing, despite the fact that Ground was 8 and had in fact not even been in the country when her tragic death occurred.
“Christmas a crumbug, Uncle? For shame! Mr. JAC, how does this season find you, sir?”
“Very well, Mr. Miller, and a pleasure to see you. You must forgive your uncle, as he just had an unwelcome exchange with two charity seekers.”
“Uncle Bart! How could you deny your fellow man charity at this time of year? Please, come warm your heart and dine with myself and Yeshua tomorrow for Christmas.”
Bart looked up with deepset, bloodhound-esq eyes and sighed.
“Mr. Miller, despite your penchant for meaningless frivolities, the world will not cease to need more news about twerking brides and inappropriate t-shirts. You keep your Christmas in your way, and I shall keep it in mine.”
“That disappoints me, Uncle, but I insist that the invitation stand. Now, I leave you with the grace and goodness of the Lord, and wish you a Merry Christmas anyhow.”
With that, the young man left and the door closed behind him.
And for the next few hours, the building was dark and silent, as if nobody had been there at all.
“I suppose, Mr. JAC, that you may have the day off. BUT BE HERE ALL THE EARLIER THE NEXT DAY TO WRITE AN ARTICLE ABOUT KAMALA HARRIS BEING OF ILL-REPUTE!”
“God bless you, sir,” cried JAC in a thick Italian accent, “and a Merry Christmas to you!”
“Bah! Crumbug! Now leave my presence before I rethink my position.”
Chapter Two: Nero Appears
Bart walked down the street, alone.
He always walked alone, he walked alone. His shadow was the only thing that walked beside him, and he could often feel his shallow heart beating. As he walked, he made thought those things, and made them into a song to drown out the incessant laughter and singing of children.
As Bart approached his house, it was dark. He slowly stumbled up the empty steps and went to unlock the heavy door. A harsh wind blew, and he could have swore he heard someone whisper “mistake” but saw nobody and thought it best to go inside.
Bart stumbled back and saw what appeared to be his old partner, Nero, appear in the door handle.
Bart looked away and then turned back. The door was just as normal as it was before.
“It must be the cold,” Bart mumbled to himself, and went inside and up the stairs.
Bart cooked his meal, a solitary potato—meat and vegetables were unnecessary extravagancies—and ate it in solitude. The surroundings were almost indistinguishable from his office. Darkness prevailed everywhere, and cobwebs ruled the walls and ceilings. There was a sense that some great potential was there, but it was coated in an indescribable despair.
Suddenly, the sound of a big band began playing; Bart was sure the tune was “Born with a Tail,” but played by a big band with lyrics sung by Michigan J. Frog. This was disconcerting enough, but more so for Bart, because he did not own any audio equipment, nor for that matter any audio to play on said equipment.
Suddenly, from the fire place, a series of bikini-clad, can-can dancing ghosts appeared and began surrounding Bart, kicking their legs. From the middle, out rose a ghost. It was Bart’s old partner Nero.
“BAAAAAAAAAAAART! Wow, that was cool. I had no idea I could do that with my voice.”
“Who…who are you?”
“In life, I was your partner, Nero Nomad.”
“But you have been dead for 7 years.”
“Not dead! Wandering the Earth aimlessly as punishment for my life. Honestly, it’s pretty kickass, but you’d hate it so I’m here to save you.”
“Bah! You’re probably just an illusion.”
Nero sighed heavily and mumbled “Poor, stupid Bart. Always doubting things.”
With that, Nero threw his hands in the air and the entire house appeared to be on fire. Skulls appeared to dive-bomb Bart, and the floor disappeared from under him. Bart shrieked in terror and begged for the torture to stop.
“I repent Nero, I repent! Just stop this madness!”
“Fine. Now that I have your attention: Bart, you are emo and it needs to stop. I am here to tell you that you will be haunted by three spirits of Christmas to help you break out of this funk.”
“Can’t we just have all them visit at once and get it over with?”
“No, Bart, just no. Now, if you’ll excuse me.”
Nero spun around and with that spin, changed his clothing to that of a barber shop quartet member. “Born with a Tail” began playing again, as the ghostly band and singer descended back into the fireplace with Nero.
With that, Bart brushed off the encounter as COVID-19 and went to bed.
Chapter Three: Christmas Past
At precisely 1am, an intense, bright light appeared in Bart’s room.
Bart sleepily crawled out of bed and saw a light so bright he was forced to look at you.
“Are you one of the three spirits?”
“Yes. I am Kyle, Ghost of Christmas Past. Take my hand, and this gun, and I will show you scenes from your past so you may learn from them.”
“I would prefer not to,” muttered Bart as he stuck the AR-15 into his waistband.
“Well, if you don’t you’re going to die so take my hand. And have another complimentary gun.”
Bart took the ghost’s hand, and what appeared to be a modified Glock 9mm, and began the journey.
Ghost and Man appeared to drift through space and time, until they came to a snowy bank in an indeterminate rural area.
“I know this place,” cried Bart, “I know it like the back of my hand.”
“Oh, you do, sorry I was pouring myself a bourbon,” said Kyle, who had managed to obtain a Thompson submachine gun during the trip. “What is this place?”
“Why this is my old boarding school. Look, there’s tiny Ludacris Hilar, and Miller Lite! Lud! Mil!”
“Man, listen, this is the *past*. You can’t alter it stop yelling. Now, let us see where a different boy can be found.”
Bart and Kyle walked into a building where a solitary boy could be found. It was a childhood Bart, passing the time alone by reading copies of Big Butts Monthly. A tall, pinkish, elephantish looking man wandered in and began talking to the boy.
“Eb-Bart-Neezer, I’ve received word from your father that you will be spending the holidays with me. We can look forward to a frank and productive holiday, filled with hard work and studying on your part, and drunken mayhem on mine. To the carriage!”
Bart and Kyle watched as Young Bart and the Headmaster walked off into the distance and faded away.
“You spent a lot of time alone, didn’t you?”
“I had my books! I had my friends all year! Krauthammer, Will, Buckley! Big Butts Monthly!”
“Oh, yeah, but those aren’t real man,” mused the Ghost as pulled a flask from a pocket. “Let us look at another Christmas a few years later.”
The scene whirled around and when it stopped, the location didn’t seem to have changed. The scene looked older, more work and weather beaten, but was clearly the same place. An older Bart, not a boy but not quite yet a man, sat reading a book, “Krauthammer Presents: Best of Big Butts Monthly.”
“Some things never changed, did they” asked the Ghost.
A young woman appeared, dressed to the nines in the style of the time, and ran directly to the young Bart.
“Oh, Eb-Bart-Neezer! I have wonderful news!”
“Eb-Bart-Neezer! Father wishes for you to come home! He has changed so much, and one day I asked if you might spend the holidays with us! He is so kind now; we are to spend Christmas together!”
The young Bart ran into her arms, and they then danced off into the mists of time. Kyle, Ghost of Christmas Past, looked over at old Bart and could have swore he saw a tear form in the man’s eyes.
“You loved her didn’t you?”
“Yes, I did.”
“She died young, did she not?”
“She left you a nephew did she not?”
“Come, we must see another Christmas.”
The room began to spin again, and when it stopped, Bart and the Ghost found themselves outside a warehouse in a busy section of a city.
“Why, I remember this place! It’s Old Cox-iwigs!”
Man and Ghost moved close to a window to peer inside. A red-faced man who looked eerily like Telly Savalas in a Georgian era wig was running around, directing all manner of people back and forth.
“Nero! Eb-Bart-Neezer! Put away your ledgers and journals! Tonight is Christmas Eve, and there will be time to work another day!”
The man practically slammed the books for the two boys and shoved them toward the center of the store, which had been cleared and set up to be a kind of dance hall and banquet hall. People gathered all around, and much merriment was being had. Soon, dancing began, and Cox-iwig shoved Eb-Bart-Neezer to a young lady.
“I’m sorry, ma’dame, he’s very forward, but you are very beautiful and I must know your name.”
“My name is Stacey, sir.”
“Might I have this dance?”
“You may, Sir, if I may have your name.”
“I am Eb-Bart-Neezer, but those closest to me call me Bart.”
Old Bart and Kyle watched as the young Bart and Stacey grew closer and closer through the evening.