Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Haunted Man

Trolling the Net for some new Christmas story to read, I find the following tale. Hope you enjoy it.

The Haunted man (or; the ghost of Christmas past)

In the big cities of our day not everyone has the sense to come in out of the cold, when the snows of winter come, and so emissaries must be sent out to coax them in, to persuade them to take care of themselves. Some people, sad to say, don't even have the sense to take proper nourishment. All this comes to a head during the time we used to call christmas, and now (with better sense) call the Holidays. Some of the destitute remain haunted by ideas of the past, of the traditions that once flourished in less enlightened times.

For the sake of these poor souls, a small army of workers goes forth to meet with the homeless and the unfortunate. In keeping with the season, they have the appearance of that great bard of christmas, Charles Dickens himself. The economy being what it is, they aren't actually human workers, but they appear as if they were. The gov. budget being hard pressed, not all government workers can have actual human form, and many must be, as we've come to say, virtual workers. (Please don't call them ghosts) We say all this so people won't worry about the welfare of the homeless. No, good people, your tax dollars are being put to work, and the people who need aid are receiving it.

Let's follow dear Charles as he heads out tonight on his round. (Just one of many such workers, who are out among the poor and needy at this time of the year.)


Charles walked the frozen streets of the city. He enjoyed being out and about, even at night, and yes, even in the snow and cold. (He could see that it was cold, even if he couldn't feel it.) He enjoyed looking at the lights and the surroundings of the great old city. (For only in winter did he get the chance to do any work, to make any contribution to the community.) The snow drifted down from the dark towers and into the canyons below. Few were out and about. Most people were inside, cozy and warm, watching fires flicker upon screens and enjoying the season with all its myriad festivities.

In a doorway he spotted a man sitting huddled within a ragged coat. "Hello sir. And how are you this fine winter evening?"

"Bugger off, and leave me be."

"Dear sir. That's just what I cannot do. I am here to be of service to you, if I may.''

The huddled man said nothing, seeming lost in thoughts, seeming a far way from the season. His very silence gave Charles cause for alarm.

"I fear for your welfare my good man. Why not come inside to one of our facilities and warm yourself."

"I don't need no advice from you. Bugger off."

Charles was distressed at this. It was very hard to help some people; impossibly hard almost. But being an optimistic sort, he rallied to the cause. "Have you had your pill today, my friend?"

"No, I ain't; not that it's any business of yours."

"But you must sir, you must. We all need nourishment, especially at this time of the year, when the climate makes special demands upon the body."

"I hate those pills. They ain't real food, all they do is give you these dreams, where you eat all this food. I don't like it, it's enough to drive a man mad. I end up feeling worse than I did before.''

"Yes, I know... but studies have shown that the dreams can, how we know not, provide a certain amount of nourishment. (While it's not much, it's enough to keep a person going for several weeks, or even months.) With the economy as it is, the government can't afford to hand out real food to everyone. If it could there would be no need for the pills. But we must be practical men, we must make the best of a bad situation eh?"

"Leave me be.''

"Tell you what. If you promise to go to the dispensary and take a pill, I'll tell you one of my famous christmas stories."

The man seemed to be interested. "I guess I could use a story. Why don't you tell me one."

"You have to promise to take your pill first though.''

"If it's a good story and I like it, I will. I solemnly swear."

"Okay then. I think I see a man I can trust, and so you're on. Do you have a favorite? which story would you like?"

"How about the one about the haunted man?"

"Very well. You can listen as we walk. How does it go now? Oh yes, I remember, 'Far be it from me to assert that what everyone says must be true...'"

The End

written by M. Johnson

1. While I was pleased to have found this delightful story on the Internet, I was doubly pleased to find out I'd written it myself. []
2. The Haunted Man by Dickens can be found online at It starts off slow, but the second half redeems the tale. Not as good as the 'Christmas Carol' it still bears reading. (The theme at least is a worthy one.)


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