Part 1 – A Blast from the past
A year on from the famous Bitter-Sweet Christmas story, another festive tale did take place. As with all great stories, it tells of the great battle between good and evil. About justice and injustice. But the best bit of all, is that it took place over my favourite time of the year…
Christmas season was upon us, December 8th and things were getting chilly. Living right on the South Coast, when the snow did fall it would often melt before it laid. Which meant we very rarely got a white Christmas season (let alone Christmas day). But for all the lack of snowfall, we made up for it in lack of temperature. It. Was. Freezing. Recovering from the classic flu bug (and associated decorations of such illness), both me and Becky were just about on the mend when a local breaking news story cut across our Christmas film.
The report went on to announce that the regional energy was running at an all time low because of all the heating that was being drawn upon. Sure it was cold, but was it really that much colder than prior years? As a press announcement came from a glum employee representative for an energy company, I looked into the background of the camera-shot and noticed something that would anger me to my very core. There, in the background, stood three men and chummy and smiley. In the middle, the Energy Captain. I’d read about him a few days earlier – we all thought the energy prices were rising because they had to – the truth is, it was all due to this man. He was in control on 90% of the UK’s energy – and he was getting greedy. To his left a man I had met only one year ago, the evil Banker. And to the right of Energy Captain was my arch-enemy – Cyda. He was one of the old managers that got promoted in the early days of my Supermarket Chronicles. What was he doing amongst this rabble of obvious-evil. I suppose I shouldn’t have been too surprised.
The press-announcement continued to state that over Christmas there would be a ration of Gas, Electricity and Water that each household would be allowed to use. After that, they would either be cut-off or require advance payment on additional commodities. The crowd on the screen watching the press conference went wild with rage, me and Becky weren’t too pleased either. Suddenly I had a realisation. My eyes grew wide and my face went pale as I considered a major consequence of this ridiculous ultimatum. I ran to the fridge and swung open the door. There, sat in its glorious top position was the turkey. What was to become of this on Christmas day? Surely there wouldn’t be enough gas in the house to cook the turkey and heat the rooms. Becky, who had followed me into the kitchen, shut the fridge and turned me to face her and then put things into perspective: “Forget about the turkey- what about all the old and frail who NEED that heating over this Winter?” She was right. Anger rose up inside me, something had to be done. The very fact that I knew two out of the three people behind this disaster meant that I had a better chance than most to achieve a victory this time.
Part 2 – Hunt for the Hogs
Research was my ally in this challenge to bring down the high-and-mighty’s- and without thinking, I quickly Google’d Cyda. I quickly began to piece together his movements since we last met. After out clashes in the early days, he moved onto senior management, where he was clearly treated like the dirt he had treated his employees as. That only enraged his dark side, causing him to seek more power. Soon he took over senior senior management and became the unpublicised (but somehow still on Google) CEO of the Supermarket. He then took a job as Executive Supermarket Co-Ordinator, a secret title that few knew of. My history in Supermarkets alerted me to the potential position, but it had never been confirmed until now. Things were starting to become more clear. He was in charge of all supermarkets, the Energy Captain was in charge of the county’s energy and the evil bank man was in charge of the banks. These three actually DID control the three things that held our society “together”.
I went straight to the council, who had received mine and Becky’s help only a year before in saving Christmas. This time I needed a favour from them. I wanted to know how to get as much information as I could on these three. Unofficially, the further information was given and I began to find out as much as I could about the different enemies. Using only their first names, for security reasons: I knew Cyda. The Energy Captain’s name was Frogget and the Banker was Srudge. I’d finally found the identity of the banker that had tried to ruin last Christmas. And now he was at it again! But how to stop them? I knew there was power in the people. The local people were already panic-buying fuel and water off the shelves at the local supermarkets (who were loving it) with money they didn’t have (so the banks were loving it too). There had to be a way to cut off the source. Then I had a brain wave. How do you convince people to stop buying something? Tell them there’s something wrong with it.
I quickly got to work on signs that suggested that the bottled water was contaminated by the supermarkets and the fuel had sand in, ruining cars and engines. I put a few up around town and added a few online articles. Suddenly the rumours spread like wildfire. People slowed down purchasing, but then were in a desperate state – not knowing how to survive. Rumours of riots were spreading too. Things were getting out of hand. I had to point their anger in the right direction. So I posted a community meeting, promising a solution to attendee’s and spread the word amongst the online articles as well as telling a few select people from various circles to ensure the news spread. We met at a large park two weeks before Christmas. Hundreds and hundred turned up. Uncountable. This was enough to make a difference.
“People of (Town name omitted!)! We have a responsibility to respond to the pressure that is before us. There are thousands on Turkeys that will not be cooked on Christmas Day…” Becky elbowed me in the ribs, I corrected myself: “There will be thousands of elderly people freezing in their own homes this Winter. There will also be worst credit crunch in history unless we stand up to these brutes that are trying to control us.”
The crowd responded well, but they were soon asking how we take on people like this. I showed them who they are. “Target 1: Srudge, the banker. Target 2: Frogget the Energy hog and Target 3: Cyda the Supermarket glutton. We start with the banks. Stop all money going into our bank accounts. Pay all bills with cash, where possible. Pay for groceries with cash. And cut out the banks altogether. I realise this won’t work for everyone – but those who can – this is your chance to fight for your country!”
“We shall fight them in the shopping malls, we shall fight them at the banks – and we shall never ever ever surrender until we get our turkey on Christmas day without the fear of paying upfront for our gas!” The crowd roared with determination. Finally we had an army that could take the big names. The ones that thought they could ‘milk us for all we have’. Suddenly, out of the crowd came Frogget with a bomb trigger in his hand. The crowd separated from him – although it didn’t look as though the bomb was strapped to his chest… so where was the bomb? If there were to be a sound track – it would be a really dramatic one here.
“Don’t you people see, this is futile – you are all ants beneath the big boy’s shoes. There is no hope, just get on with your puny lives. There will be a price to pay for this rebellion, only we can set the rules in this country. To show you that there is no consequences to our actions, and plenty for yours, this park is rigged to explode the moment I push this button.” The trees began to blow heavily and as I looked up, a helicopter approached in the dusk.
A rope dropped from the chopper and landed at Frogget’s feet. As he went to grab it, I ran through the crowd until he couldn’t keep eye contact any longer. Before he could push the trigger, I dived at him – latching onto the rope as he did and sending the bomb remote through the air. As everyone watched it fly in slow motion through the air – the force from the chopper blades sent it into the nearest tree, caught in branches.
Frogget started to climb the rope and as he did I tried to pull him down, bullets showered down from the chopper. I lost focus on Frogget as he ascended the rope. I didn’t let go as I yelled to the crowd to take cover. I then climbed the rope to keep out of the sights of the overhead gunner.
Frogget was now safely in the belly of the helicopter and I was hanging onto the runner beneath it. As it slowly started to gain altitude, I pulled the rope from being retracted and started to swing it towards the tail blades. We still hadn’t got too far off the ground, and as we started to reach tree height, I managed to hook the rope onto the tail causing it to spark, stop and catch fire. As the chopper spun out of control into the nearby bus-lane, I dived into the tree with the remote in it. The helicopter hadn’t gained enough height it to explode on impact, but the fire from the blades was growing. Everyone ran from around it before the fire exploded in a white burst of flames – the passengers didn’t stand a chance – Frogget and his henchmen were no more. So much for no consequences, I thought.
I looked at the detonator and removed the AA batteries. The equipment had a famous bank’s name on it. Suddenly I had a location for Scrudge. But that would have to wait – I needed to know what the crowd’s reaction to what had just happened. Were they still going to boycott the banks?
Part 3 – Boycott
Frogget’s death was cleverly covered up by Scrudge and his merry bank-men. Frogget’s position of ‘Energy Hog’ was filled by another shady character – Christmas wasn’t going to get saved unless we took on the banks directly. Amazingly, the explosive event at the park hadn’t phased the crowd at all. Everyone seemed to be spreading the word of boycotting the banks! It even reached national news. There was to be a press conference on national television with Scrudge’s response to be held on the 19th of December, and I knew somewhere in the background Scrudge would be there. So I made it a priority to be there, to make him look like the fool that he was.
I pushed into the centre of the crowd, with a classic trenchcoat and a fake moustache over my real moustache. Everyone was taking a seat when the announcement started…
“We, the bank, are so sorry to hear of the minority of disgruntled customers that have decided to risk doing their own finances without proper legal and investment support. For all customers who are willing to stay true to the country, to show true patriotism, we are offering a discount in all personal loans, credit cards and are happy to provide mortgages at our lowest rates ever…”
The dribble the spewed from Scrudge’s mouth disgusted me, but this was sure to win the hearts of the people. The only way to beat it would be to come up with even MORE dribble. We had to act fast to keep people against the very system that would make them freeze this Christmas! It was then that I remembered the classic news story that everyone had heard over the last few years – “the world is going to end on December 21st 2012”. The classic misunderstanding of the ancient Mayan calendar had the superstitious in a tizzy about everything ending that day. But if there were to be a disaster on the 21st, people would stock up on goods and try to get their savings out of the bank accounts… Thus creating a mass-problem for the banks… Not the ideal solution to our problem – but a welcome one.
I, in my disguise, stood in the crowded room. Scrudge fell silent, as did the entire newsroom of reporters – followed by a single click on a single camera which (by the law of reporters) meant they all had to take a picture. A mass of bright flashes suddenly made Scrudge aware of who it was. I quickly started speaking before he could start any kind of defence:
“And what do you say to the astronomers across the globe that have pin-pointed a meteor that is likely to hit earth on the 21st Dec 2012, shouldn’t people be withdrawing all their savings and putting it into Gold or something? Surely that would be a wise move?”
Attention quickly switched from me and questions flooded the room. Scrudge was immediately escorted off the premises while news companies madly phoned sources and checked websites. Amazingly, to my complete surprise, there was a meteor that would pass earth by several million miles – but as we all know, journalists love a good exaggeration. Before anyone could have even attempted a block, there were stories everywhere about the crazy meteor that MIGHT hit earth. They conveniently left off the bit explaining that the meteor would literally have to stop, take a right angle and then speed up again to even *possibly* hit us. But apparently the story was enough to cause a panic. People were lining up outside of banks to withdraw savings. There was a divide in the reaction. Half were withdrawing their savings, but the other half were panic-spending on their credit cards (knowing they’d possibly never have to pay them back…!). It was clear that getting anything done through the media was useless. There was only one solution to this mess. I pulled out the remote from the park, with Scurdge’s Bank’s name. That’s when went after Scrudge.
Part 4 – The Final Boss
Much like a computer game, when I arrived at the Government Bank building, I had to fight my way through so minor bankers – but that only levelled up my score. I reached Scrudge’s lair and knew I had him cornered. I burst through he portentous over-sized wooden doors and reached his waiting room where his little ally guarded him – Cyda.
It didn’t surprise me too much to see him as the under-dog to the big boss. But I was ready for battle.
I dived in, fist first and spent a good twenty – twenty-five minutes fighting Cyda. In a movie or cartoon, this would have been epic – but in written form, you can imagine the kind of stuff that took place. So we’ll skip to the actual plot of the story…
After much battling, I finally cornered Cyda, in his defeated state, he finally uttered the words “fine, I’ll take you to him”. As I moved him towards the adjoining door to Scrudge’s office, he typed in the key code. It was rejected. I tightened the grip I had around his neck “don’t play me, Cyda – I want my turkey!” He acted innocent and tried again, but once again the code was rejected.
“Honestly, I’m typing in the right code, but it’s not working…!” He exclaimed. I looked into his eyes and could see that he was telling the truth.
“That’s fine,” I said, “big shots have it in their DNA to change the codes at ridiculously fast intervals. I’ve experienced that too many times. It’s a power play. They have control, so they feel the need to re-state their authority. It’s pathetic.”
Cyda broke down in front of me, spilling the story of the last few years. He explained how Scrudge had approached him and offered him a new job with phenomenal prospects – tempting him to take the offer. But what he didn’t realise was that Scrudge had added conditions to his contact, stating that he would forever be loyal to Scrudge and support his plans – whatever they be.
“He’s going to destroy Christmas, but not just stop there, he is determined to own the entire country by bankrupting every establishment. He started with the energy companies, now he’s got plans to change the laws that are currently stopping the banks from taking over. I can’t take it anymore, he is an evil puppet-master looking to ruin everyone’s fun and happiness – and eventually everyone’s lives. We have to stop him.” He concluded. “I know he has a second exit from the office. But he only uses it in emergencies.”
I looked at the re-enforced door and then I looked at us two, even the two of us couldn’t barge that open. Then I noticed something, the monitor on Cyda’s desk was a classic, 2ft by 2ft CRT screen. Everyone knows that there is always a Big Bang in each monitor (that’s often how they sold them). All you need to do is light it…
It took us both a few minutes to shift the beast over the door, but we managed. We padded torn-up curtains and carpets around the door. That would be enough to make use his backup door. Cyda lit the curtains with his lighter and we out to the corridor and towards his second exit. The floors were shiney (as all fancy establishments are), making it tricky to run. But we slid up to the un-opened back door to Scrudge’s office in time to hear the CRT monitor explode. Then we noticed a shadow creep past outside the window in the corridor. Scrudge was making his escape along the window ledge! Other windows were up-openable, but it was clear Scrudge was climbing upwards on the drain-pipe. He was headed for the roof.
We turned to run to the staircases. Cyda took one set, while I took the external fire-escape stairs. We we reached the roof at the same time that Scrudge was heading for the roof door. Cyda swung open the door just as Scrudge went for it, nearly knocking him out. At the same time I reached the roof from the back, unseen.
Part 5 – View to a Kill
“Ah, Cyda. My friend. You have always been good to me, and here you are to save me.” Scrudge went to give Cyda a welcoming hug.
Cyda pushed him away. Scrudge looked confused as he tried to figure out the situation. As he looked around, he spied me walking towards the dark wintery roof. Suddenly his looks switched from confusion to analysis as he tried to assess his way out of the situation. He pointed at Cyda “Traitor! After all I’ve done for you. You’re ruined, you hear me? Ruined!”
He ran away from us both towards the other edge of the roof. I knew he wouldn’t jump, he loved his greedy power-hungry life too much.
“You two have no idea what you have done. I own the banks! You’re savings and credit ratings have just disappeared and say goodbye to affordable energy. You think that people will boycott banks forever? You have can’t even imagine how powerful we are! What happens on December 22nd when the world doesn’t end? Guess who’ll be in the spotlight.” He called out to us from his corner if the roof.
“You are right about one thing. The world won’t end. Not for everyone anyway. I think it’s safe to say you’re banking days are at the end if their world though…” I started.
“What makes you so sure?”
“Take a look on your ID badge.” As Scrudge looked down he saw nothing unusual about his ID.
“It’s just an ID badge…” Scrudge stopped as flashbacks reminded him if an event at the press conference…
He’d lost his ID badge and was unable to get in. Someone’s secretary- or someone who he *thought* was a secretary had given him a replacement. Enter my cunning and gorgeous wife. She knew we’d need further evidence to prosecute Scrudge and so she was able to attach a microscopic microphone to his ID badge, recording every conversation since the press conference – including this one.
He shook his head smiling, “You forget. I’m a mastermind, I have electro magnetic pulses that surround this building and my vehicles. Any recordings made on this little gadget…” He took out the miniature microphone and tossed it to the ground, before stomping on it, “wouldn’t have worked anyway.” He reached into his jacket and pulled out the biggest hand-gun I had ever seen and pointed it at us. Cyda panicked, but I had a backup-backup.
I slowly took out my iPhone and opened YouTube. I didn’t have the wi-fi password and I was tied to a contract only allowing 3G (flipping 18 month contracts!), so it loaded slow- creating a slight awkward moment while I assured Scrudge a ‘clever come-back’ was on its way. And tried to explain that shooting me would cost him more than he realised. Fortunately, his inquisitive nature held off his assassination attempt on us as I turned the phone to face him. The video had finally loaded. It was of our last conversation. Video and audio.
“Two things Scrudge- never underestimate a guy in a baseball cap..” I took off my hat to reveal a camera transmitting everything I had seen, “and secondly, don’t rely on high levels of electricity for you electro-magnetic pulse – didn’t you know? There’s an energy shortage?”
I smirked as Scrudge began to realise that everything was not only only record, but was available for the whole world to see. He ran for me, trying to grab my phone. I sidestepped as he dived beside me. I grabbed the gun and tripped him to the floor.
“You’re lucky I’m not a murderous dirtbag like you.” I threw the gun away from Scrudge. He scrambled to try and get to the door but before he could say or do another thing – the loudest sound of sleigh-bells echoed across the roof and a spotlight shone down from above onto Scrudge. “Scrudge- you are on the naughty list. This is so naughty, I’ve called the police!” Scrudge didn’t know what to do! Was that Santa? Was it a bluff? It wasn’t even Christmas Eve! I had just as many questions as he did. But before we could analyse the situation properly, police burst through the roof door and arrested Scrudge. He was finally under arrest for the crime of trying to kill Christmas.
Part 6 – Turkey Dinner
The world didn’t end on December 21st, as you will no-doubt be aware, and time shot by as we found ourselves at home on Christmas Day.
It’s not often you watch the news while eating a Christmas dinner, but somehow it seemed appropriate to eat the turkey in a well-heated house while watching the news report on the story of Scrudge, the first banker to get jailed for being pure evil. As for Cyda, he still kept his job as Executive Supermarket Co-Ordinator, but was now a positive influence in ensuring fair-trade and keeping evil bankers away from people’s pockets. His role was even extended to take charge of all services available to the public. He was able to lower energy prices and reveal how ridiculous claims of “running out of energy” were.
As for our Christmas dinner, it was perfect. And as we looked out of the window, the snow started to fall. It was re-assuring to know energy prices were affordable again. Our thoughts then trailed into the wonderful memories of the turkey we had just eaten. Long live the Christmas dinner.
Me and Becky sunk into our warm sofa with our faithful dog and switched on classic Christmas TV. Becky reached behind the sofa to make sure the remote control helicopter with torch and loudspeaker was hidden from my sight. Because its always nice to have reason to believe in Father Christmas.
Merry Christmas everyone.