Story by Leonard Pigg. Illustration by Shaye Kato
At the law offices of Chapman, Humbert, Unger and Morris, a nervous law clerk walks down the hallway. Senior partner Gerry Chapman struts down the same hallway in the opposite direction. He is a large man in a light brown suit. His thin hair wisps behind him and his jowls jiggle as he walks. Chapman stops the clerk with a raised hand and puts an arm around him. They share a brief smile and a friendly chuckle. He strokes his mustache and takes a deep breath.
“Good afternoon, young man. Let me see if I can remember… Kirk Patrick, was it?” Chapman says with a wide smile and a slow Southern drawl.
The clerk replies in a confident voice as he slicks back his red hair, “It’s Patrick Curtis, sir.”
“I was close, very close. Nonetheless, I’ve got a trial in about a half an hour and the majority of my team have been hauling briefs over to the courthouse. I’ve got a small thing that needs to be taken care of and I think you could handle the job. A last request on behalf of the Ebeneezer estate. Do this for me and I will keep you in mind for a promotion very soon, young man.” Chapman say with a wink.
Curtis replies, “Whatever you need me to do, I’ll take care of it!”
“I’m counting on you, Kirk Patrick!” Chapman pats Curtis on the back and hands him a manila envelope from his jacket pocket, then walks away.
Curtis opens the envelope. Inside is a key, an address to a storage facility and a code on a slip of paper. Leaving the office, he gets in his car and heads toward the address after entering it into the GPS in his car. He drives along calmly and turns on his stereo. With music by Erasure filling his car, Patrick drives through traffic toward his destination. Twenty minutes later he arrives at a storage shed, parking in front of the one marked “7.” He hops out and uses the key to unlock it, pulls up the door and walks inside.
Sitting on a table is a golden box with a metal keypad on the front. Curtis finds a folded chair off to the side and sits in front of the box. He enters the code from the paper. Suddenly, the box opens on its own. Several beams of light come from within it, filling the room. Curtis finds himself in a retro neon holographic landscape. A bald elderly man in a gray suit appears, adjusting his monocle.
“I am Ebeneezer Scrooge of the Six Emperors. If you’re finding this message, that means I’m already dead. Alas, this moment has been prepared for. I require you to go to my grave and activate the jewel at the center of the headstone. That will summon my secret ally from beyond the stars and he shall bring me back to life. Time is of the essence if I am to get vengeance upon whomever was responsible! Get to my grave now!” Scrooge’s holographic image walks around Curtis and then disappears at the end of the message. The landscape fades away and the box goes back to normal.
Curtis looks around confused for a moment, then takes the golden box with him. As he rushes out the storage shed, he gets on his phone. He looks online to find out where Scrooge’s grave is, then frantically drives that way. Once at the cemetery, Curtis walked through the grounds looking for Scrooge. He finds the grave and dusts it off with a handkerchief. Looking around the headstone, he sees a central jewel and presses it. It begins to glow orange. Nothing happens, so Curtis sits down by the grave and gets on his phone. He starts playing a game as the night approaches.
An hour later, a beam of orange energy shines down and brightens up the night momentarily. When the beam fades, a crimson-skinned dwarf in a toga with an elongated head and bulging eyes, standing defiantly. He is flanked by two hulking white apes. Both apes have bright blue eyes and four arms. They both give a grunt as the dwarf dusts off the grave, then looks it over.
The dwarf smiles and says, “Scrooge was right. Someone was going to kill him. However, I can fix this.”
“Are you an alien?” Curtis asks while on the verge of a panic attack.
The dwarf replies with a toothy smile, “Not on the planet Barsoom. I believe your people refer to my planet as Mars?”
Curtis sees this and panics, screaming. The dwarf holds his ears, annoyed by the noise and hisses loudly. The apes look on confused as Curtis runs back towards his car and drives away in a panic.
The dwarf points to the ground and says, “Dig him up and bring the remains to the ship. I have a promise to keep. Be quick about it.”
With that, the two begin digging at the grave as the dwarf takes out a small orb, which he activates and teleports away. The two apes begin digging at the grave, throwing the dirt aside. The apes continue to dig, finally climbing down and unearthing the coffin. The two pull the decomposed body of Ebeneezer Scrooge out and hold it up in the air. Another orange energy beam comes down, teleporting the two apes back with their carcass onto their ship which hovers in orbit.
The body of Scrooge hovers in the middle of energy shaped like a column. Pew Mogel, stands on a platform hovering adjacent to the energy field, operating a series of chemical spheres that fluctuate in size. The dozen spheres hover between his arms, as each one changes color and flies through the energy and affixes itself to the corpse. As each one flies over the body, more of it is encased in the liquid and the room gives out a high pitched wobbling noise. The apes look on intently, as the body is engulfed in the chemicals. The liquid expands into the shape of an oval and begins to change colors rapidly and throb.
Mogel’s platform begins to move around the energy field, as he inspects the chemical oval. As he looks on, his eyes change size as he observes the continued throbbing, which continues getting louder and louder. The oval finally solidifies, turns a bright green and cracks open like an egg. The contents of the oval fill the column with its bubbling mass and begins to take shape. Ebeneezer Scrooge rises from the gray frothing liquid, reborn in his physical prime. He feels his musculature and runs his fingers through a full head of hair. Scrooge smiles as he looks down at his new form. The fluid drains away and the energy field dissipates. The two apes go over to him, toweling off his new form and giving him a robe to wear.
“I live again! Thank you, Pew Mogel! I feel fantastic! Invincible!” Scrooge says, reaching up to shake the hand of Mogel, who still stands on the platform.
Pew smiles and says, “My smart mold process improves upon the original body, by using initial genetic designs and then making a synthetic variation. Your strength will be tenfold what it was in your original form. Your form is denser, thus making you more durable. There is even the ability to change your appearance. If you are damaged, simply find silicon based matter to replenish your form.”
Scrooge looks over at a mirror, checking himself out. He goes over to the smart mold, reaching around in the muck and pulls out his monocle, which he places over his left eye. He smiles, then begins to push the hairline on his head back, until he is bald atop his head. “I always liked my hair this way. Every king must have a crown.”
“I have kept my end of the bargain, Scrooge. Now it’s time to fulfill yours.” Pew says, hopping off the platform.
Scrooge smiles and says, “Of course, my friend. I’ve got the specimen stashed at Black Vault Island. We have but to go there to get it.”
Pew walks over to a console and sits down. He starts manipulating various crystals and orbs. The ship begins to vibrate and he says, “Tell me where this island is, my friend.”
A few hours later, Professor Moriarty sits across from Dracula playing chess. They are in Moriarty’s study which is filled with books, a bar and a fireplace. The two continue to play, as a robotic servant walks into the room. He bows to both men and hands Moriarty a note. He makes a waiting gesture to Dracula and reads the note. Crumbling the note up and tossing it into the fireplace, he continues to play chess.
“According to one of my operatives, it looks like Scrooge’s grave has been robbed.” Moriarty says.
The robot servant nods and leaves the room. Dracula makes his move and gives a fanged smile.
“You’ve always been one of the most formidable players I’ve encountered. Do you think Scrooge is alive again?” Dracula asks.
“He has tasted of your blood in the past, however I’m not sure that would confer any resurrection abilities. However, he could have made other arrangements, as he was scared to die. I recall him telling a tale of meeting ghosts which ascribed to him a dark fate. Growing weary of pretending to be righteous, he focused his energies and resources on being long-lived. He then became one of the Six Emperors.
maintaining his status for decades until his defeat and death at the hands of Mr. Hyde.” Moriarty says.
A moment later, a beeping noise comes from Moriarty’s watch. He presses a button on it and holds out his arm. A holographic image of Sebastian Moran appears. The man is a rugged military type, that looks injured. The sounds of violence echoes in the background as Moran begins to speak.
“Sir, we’ve got a situation! Scrooge showed up on Black Vault Island. He started fighting off the guards, shrugging off gunfire like it was nothing! He had two four-armed apes with him! They’ve already breached the entrance!” Moran says desperately.
Dracula perks up and says, “Four-armed apes? Sounds like another Martian incursion. They never seem to learn, do they?”
Annoyed, Dracula gets up from the table. Crossing to the window of Moriarty’s study, he opens a window. Moriarty rises from the table and says, “Just as well, it was a stalemate. You don’t have to fly there as a bat, I still have a teleportation device available and I’d like to come along. I’ve never fought Martians before and I could use a bit of a challenge.”
Dracula shuts the window and wait with arms crossed, while Moriarty slides opens a book shelf, revealing a wall of guns. He looks at the wide array of weapons and grabs two. He also takes a cane off the wall, which he then points toward the middle of the room. A purple beam of energy comes from the cane creating a portal in the room. The two step through and appear on the beach of Black Vault Island. The beach is littered with dead soldiers and weapons strewn across the landscape. Dracula strides ahead toward the building, as Moriarty brings up the rear.
One of the apes is attacking a soldier on the beach, so Moriarty unloads multiple shots at the beast. The bullets hit the skin of the ape, unable to penetrate deep. It gives a roar and tosses the soldier aside. Dracula charges forward and the ape meets him head-on. Fangs are bared and claws fly, as the two cut and bite at each other. The enraged Dracula moves quicker than the ape, but is caught by the extra set of arms. It slams him down on the sand three times, long enough for Moriarty to find a rocket launcher to fire at it. The rocket streaks through the air and the ape catches it in one hand. The rocket explodes in his hand, leaving a bloody stump in its wake. Catching e the fresh scent of blood, Dracula perks up, lunges at the ape, biting it in the neck and draining it dry.
The ape’s bloodless carcass falls to the sand and Dracula’s eyes glow bright red. He gives Moriarty a bloody smile, sniffing at the air and charges off toward the sound of battle in the building. Moriarty watches the vampire lord charge off into the fray and he follows, after grabbing a blood and tissue sample from the dead ape.
“I can’t let this opportunity to study a Martian ape go to waste,” Moriarty thinks to himself as he puts the sample in a vial and pockets it.
Once inside the building, Dracula follows the trail of dead soldiers and destruction until he sees another ape carrying a casket sized container. Using both sets of arms, the ape holds the container behind him. Dracula sees the writing on the side of the container which says: “AREA 51 SPECIMEN.” The vampire turns himself into a swarm of bats and begins flying around the ape. Each of the small bats, scratch at the beast as it flies by. It gives a howl, dropping the container and swatting at the swarm with all four arms. Moriarty steps into the room and yells, “Fire in the hole!” The bat swarm scatters, as Moriarty fires a rocket toward the ceiling. The explosion rains down debris onto the ape, burying him.
Dracula reforms into his humanoid self, dusting off his shoulders as Moriarty crosses to him. He pats Dracula’s shoulder and asks, “So where’s Scrooge? Can you catch his scent?”
The vampire sniffs at the air repeatedly, then shakes his head. “Nothing,” Dracula replies.
“I’m right here, gentlemen.” Scrooge says as he steps out in a gray business suit. “Sorry the scent is foreign to you, old friend. I’ve got a brand new body. Let me leave with the specimen and we can part ways peacefully. I was the one that brought it here in the first place decades ago. If not, I’ll kill you both and take over the Six Emperors.”
Moriarty scoffs and says, “How about you leave without it and I won’t have Mr. Hyde come break your neck again?”
Scrooge frowns and says, “You always knew exactly what to say to make me hate you!”
Scrooge charges at Moriarty, who dives out of the way. The momentum of his movement sends him crashing into the wall, leaving an indentation. Ebeneezer pulls himself from the wall, as Moriarty begins shooting him with pistols. The bullets ricochet off his body as he closes in on him. Just as he grabs Moriarty by the neck, Dracula kicks him in the back, knocking him to the ground.
Scrooge leaps to his feet, striking Moriarty. The force of the blow sends the professor sprawling across the floor. Dracula leaps into the fray, as the two exchange blows. With each punch, he sees Scrooge’s face shifting around as if made of putty. The two combatants battle on, while Moriarty gets up and starts searching the room for another weapon.
“What does it take to kill you now, old man?” Dracula asks.
Scrooge tears Dracula’s chain mail vest off and throws him across the room with a hearty laugh. Dracula crashes through a glass display case that contained the bones of various monsters. He staggers to his feet, noticing the cuts on his body from the glass and growls.
“More than you’ve got, vampire!” Scrooge yells as he tears off his jacket and shirt, revealing his muscular frame.
Moriarty then pulls out a detonator from his coat pocket and holds it up. He then steps over to Scrooge and says, “Zero sum game. I’ll set off the charges of this island and kill us all. There are things here that aren’t meant to be out in the world. You get nothing, but a ticket back to hell.”
Scrooge pauses a moment, then quickly knocks the detonator from Moriarty’s hand. He tackles the professor to the ground, beating him mercilessly. Scrooge continues to pound away at him, until he realizes he’s not fighting back. He then tears the head from Moriarty’s body and tosses it aside, after seeing it was simply a robotic duplicate.
“You’ve denied me your death! I’ll find you James Moriarty and I’ll do that to your real body!” Scrooge yells.
The Moriarty duplicate begins to spark and sputter, then explodes. The force of the blast sends Scrooge flying, as it scorches his synthetic flesh. He tumbles to the ground, dazed. A moment later, Dracula leaps onto Scrooge and bites him in the neck. He tears out a chunk of synthetic flesh and spits it on the floor. Scrooge screams, then punches Dracula away. Scrooge notices he’s not bleeding and begins to laugh.
Dracula renews his attack again, this time in the form of a wolf. He charges forward, biting onto Scrooge’s arm. The attack causes more damage, as another chunk of him breaks away in Dracula’s maw. Scrooge kicks the wolf form of Dracula, sending him staggering back. He then finds a metal rod from the wreckage and throws it, impaling Dracula to a wall.
“Ebeneezer the Impaler. I like the sound of that!” Scrooge says triumphantly as Dracula howls in agony.
Scrooge rushes toward the pile of debris and begins rummaging through to find the specimen container. He pulls it from the rubble and carries it over his shoulder. Kicking at the wall, he makes a makeshift exit onto the beach. Once onto the sand, he tosses the container into the ocean. A moment later, Pew Mogel’s ship appears and fires a beam down onto the container, levitating it onto his ship. The ship then slowly drifts into the upper atmosphere, away from the battle.
A moment later, Sebastian Moran and Professor Moriarty appear and start firing machine guns at Scrooge.
“God I hope you’re not a robot duplicate this time.” Scrooge says as he walks toward the two as gunfire continues. Chunks of synthetic flesh come off Scrooge as he moves closer.
“I’m empty, boss. Reload and I’ll run interference.” Moran says.
Moriarty reloads his gun, while Moran charges at Scrooge. He tosses a knife into Scrooge’s chest, then does a flying kick to drive it in deeper. Scrooge screams, pulling the knife from his body. He backhands Moran, who stumbles to the ground. Scrooge grabs him up by his collar, slapping him down again. Moran gets up again, bleeding.
“Duck!” Moriarty yells.
Moran leaps away from Scrooge as Moriarty starts shooting again. The bullets chip away at Scrooge’s denser form, but he continues forward. Meanwhile, a haze appears over the beach and starts to flow between Moriarty and Scrooge, who continues forward. Moriarty continues shooting until his gun is empty. He then turns and runs. Scrooge follows as the haze continues to surround him, eventually seeping into his nose and mouth.
“Any time now, Vlad!” Moriarty yells as Scrooge closes in on him.
A moment later, Scrooge stops dead in his tracks and begins convulsing. He grabs at his head and stomach, confused.
“What the hell?!” Scrooge says as he explodes into synthetic chunks strewn across the beach.
In his place is a reformed Dracula, who pats Moriarty on the shoulder.
“Turning into mist and reforming inside Scrooge seemed to be the best way to incapacitate him. I’ll summon a clean-up crew to get this place back into working order. Too bad we lost the Area 51 specimen.” Dracula says.
“The alien would need to enter the right code on the container or it would set off the explosives inside.” Moriarty says as he points up towards the alien ship in the sky.
Seconds later, an explosion bursts from the side of Mogel’s ship. Dracula laughs as he sees the damaged ship wobble in the air, then disappear through a portal.
“That should teach them to attempt to invade this planet!” Dracula says.
Moriarty takes out his cane, activating the teleportation beam. As the portal opens, Moriarty gives a wry smile and gestures for Dracula to go through first. The vampire bows and steps through proudly. Moriarty follows suit and the portal closes behind him. Minutes later, the two are back at Moriarty’s lair playing another game of chess.
Hours later, pieces of Ebeneezer Scrooge’s synthetic body slowly move toward each other. Each fragment of his form uses silica particles from the sand to repair the damage from the battle. Finally, Scrooge is reformed completely and he rises to his feet.
He looks toward the distance and sees a cruise ship in the ocean. He leaps into the water, swimming with renewed strength. Minutes later he reaches the side of the ship, shapes his fingertips into claws and climbs up the hull. A cruise ship worker smoking outside on the deck sees Scrooge climb aboard and goes over to him.
“Are you okay, sir?” the crewman asks.
“Of course I am. I have defeated death itself!” Scrooge replies.
The crewman looks confused and shrugs. Scrooge punches the man, knocking him to the ground. He leaps onto him and quickly snaps his neck. Rifling through his pockets hie takes the man’s identification and keys. Before he tosses the body overboard, Scrooge changes his form to look identical to the man. He then goes to mingle with the rest of the people on the ship, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. After dining among the people and then going back to the dead man’s quarters, he shifts back to his regular form as he stares at himself in the mirror.
“Immortality suits me. I’ve got an eternity before me to take down Dracula and all the others. Tomorrow belongs to me.” Scrooge says triumphantly as he punches the mirror.