Three holiday classics for the modern millenial age. No Internet Name Anthony makes a history-changing wish! Diaper Chris and Major Tom “die hard” while gift shopping! Judge Reinhold entertains some eerie holiday visitors! Most ideas are mined from the Beavis & Butthead Christmas episode!
THE MEN DRINKIN’ COFFEE
THE MEN DRINKIN’ EGGNOG CHRISTMAS ANTHOLOGY COOLECTION
The following anthology of holiday-themed short stories are a work of fanatic fiction. It is not an official or canonical entry in the Men Drinkin’ Coffee mythos and should not be taken as such. Each story weaves a tale starring a different Latté Lad (or lads. Diaper Chris and Major Tom are both support classes, so they’ve been placed together in the interest of narrative structure). There may even be a special guest!
So come, join in the festivities. Unless you don’t celebrate Christmas, because the stories as written are fairly non-inclusive.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: All of the short stories herein are a product of peace and love. No issue of favoritism is to be derived from the length, ‘screen-time’, quality, or characterizations within. The author reserves the recognition that writing fan fiction about real people, even in a questionably ironic fashion, is an incredibly weird thing to do and any boundaries crossed herein are to be considered unintentional and subject to removal pending notice of the offended party(s). The text contained herein is free to be redistributed ONLY on websites bearing the Official Men Drinkin’ Coffee copyright.
NO INTERNET NAME ANTHONY
“It’s Wonderful to Not Have a Life”
“It’s about Anthony,” Rotta intoned solemnly from his perch high in the heavens.
“He is losing his faith,” Dexter agreed. “But what is to be done about it?”
“It is not a question of what, Mr. Jettster.” Mace Windu leaned back in his recliner and steepled his fingers like a smart guy. “It is a question of who.” The CGI snot monsters exchanged confused glances. “Rotta the Huttlet,” Windu continued after a dramatic pause.
“It is time for you to go on your quest to become a Jedi. Go. Save No Internet Name Anthony and earn your place on this council.”
No Internet Name Anthony stumbled onto the cold December streets. Though it was a time for holiday cheer and merriment, Anthony felt only misery in his chest as he left the theater and let the cold air burn his face. He turned a sideways glance to the makeshift tent that had been his home for eleven months and felt no intention of gathering it away. He decided to leave his K-Mart bag full of semi-fresh underwear on the icy pavement, next to his heart, and his Magic cards. Besides, while he was inside watching the movie some vagrant had taken residence in his tent and was sucking on Burger King ketchup packets.
Anthony came to a bridge that cast itself across Anytown River. He cradled a vague bottle in a brown paper sleeve, which he intermittently pulled to his now-stubble-laden lips. His gait towards the edge overlooking the waterway was not so much a walk as it was repeatedly dropping forward and dizzily catching himself with his other foot. He took one last slug from the bottle. Mere drops bounced off of his tongue.
“Dang it!” Anthony cursed, slinging the flagon from the catwalk and into the frigid water below, where it landed with a ker-plunk.
The Force Awakens. It was competent. Too competent. It was a sensation Anthony greeted with suspicion and derision. Midichlorians had clearly not been present at any stage in the screenwriting process. Jar Jar Binks was long absent, without so much as a heroic death scene to carry his torch onward into Valhalla. The weird hilt on the one guy’s lightsaber was never once used to punch a hole into a beer can. And he could have sworn he saw a practical effect or two. It was a disaster. NINA, in a moment of clarity, struggled to recall a single quotable line from the previous one hundred minutes. And yet he came up empty. Empty. Empty.
“I’m so sick of all these Star Wars! I wish Star Wars had never been made!” Anthony cried out, letting it echo back to him and savoring the hatred. But Anthony should have known more than anyone that hate leads to suffering.
“If that is what you wish, then it is done,” a calm voice came from behind Anthony. Surprised, he turned around and saw a weird CGI pile of mucus with glassy, marketable eyes.
“Rotta the Huttlet? What are you doing here?”
“Remember the 2012 census when you stated your religion as ‘Jedi’?” Rotta relayed with otherworldly calm, “It was in that act that I, Rotta the Huttlet, became your guardian angel. But I’m afraid I am simply Rotta from now on.”
“Because I have granted your wish, and Star Wars as a franchise has ceased to be. And thus, there are no Huttlets to be had,” Rotta replied. Anthony was shocked, first and foremost that anybody would take one of his suggestions seriously, and secondly that such powerful supernatural forces could exist to rend the tides of fate. This surprise soon turned to excitement.
“So now my favorite movie really is Rush Hour! I can be the cool guy that I’ve always dreamed of instead of some nerdo super lameoid!”
“Err… no,” Rotta solemnly shook whatever mound of digital flesh counted as a head. “But I can take you to see your friends.”
When Anthony phased into the studio, Judge Reinhold and Diaper Chris were getting ready to stream on twitch .tv/mendrinkincoffee for the evening. As Anthony came into view, their faces did not change. Their eyes were still, focusing past him as though he did not even exist.
“Oh, I get it. They can’t see or hear me, huh?” Anthony smirked. “Well how about this, Judge! I liked your jokes better when I saw ’em on Mystery Science Theater! And Chris, maybe if you learned how to play the dang game instead of being a dingus all the time I wouldn’t have to fill dead air!”
Diaper blinked. “Huh? Uh. I can see and hear you just fine. I just think you’re unremarkable.”
“Yeah. You’re a real piece of garbage, Anthony,” Judge Reinhold agreed. “But it’s a good thing you’re here. We’re about to start streaming Wacky Sports Challenge.”
“Huh?” Anthony scrunched up his nose, “Why are we streaming that?”
Rotta leaned into Anthony’s right ear and whispered an explanation.
“Without Star Wars to revolutionize garbage popcorn cinema, the only films to prosper are arthouse dramas from independent, auteur voices instead of merchandising conglomerates.”
“…And without garbage popcorn cinema, there’s no Golden Compass movie. And with no Golden Compass…”
“…The Men Drinkin’ Coffee became famous for its Tiny Toon Adventures LPs!” Anthony exclaimed with a rising level of understanding.
“Famous?” Rotta braced himself uncomfortably. He raised his stupid little nubbly arms in an attempt to do air-quotes.
“Hey, uhhhAnthony? Who ya talkin to, my man?” Chris furrowed his brow. It became apparent that while Diaper and Judge could see and hear Anthony, the magical form of Rotta was beyond their comprehension.
“Oh, nothing,” Anthony excused himself, “just my little alien friend that only I can see or hear.”
“Ugh!” Judge spat, “You’re not going to do Flintstones references all night again, are you?”
“I’m Judge Reinhold…”
“This is No Internet Name Anthony…”
“And I’m Diaper Chris. No relation!”
“Yuck. Uh, and we’re back with… Tiny Toon Adventures: Wacky Sports Challenge!”
The stream began, and the jokes began to fly like home runs at a good baseball team’s baseball game. The Tiny Toons were doing all sorts of crazy nonsense. They were critters to the extreme. Diaper Chris was in a good mood because instead of Star Wars his coworkers only bothered him with hype and speculation about the next Wes Anderson movie. Judge was less cynical because George Lucas had never had the opportunity to lewdly assault his childhood. And without the cultural prepotency of Darth Maul to influence the tasters towards the dark side, the chat was remarkably troll-free. But little did anyone know that something was going to give.
“This Booster Bunny guy,” Chris chuckled, “He’s a real knucklehead. They oughta give him his own show on the Food Network.”
“Yeah,” Judge reciprocated with a chuckle. “He’s like Emeril.”
“He’s like this!” Chris cleared his throat for a bangin’ Emeril impression. “Bam! Let’s punch it up a notch!”
Punch it up a notch. Punch it up. Punch it. Punch it. Punch it. Punch it. The words pierced Anthony to the core.
“It’s kick it up a notch, ya… ya dingus,” Judge corrected his friend. But his correction would serve as a distraction to Diaper, who immediately lost at the game. The other Tiny Toons onscreen started to cheer in victory while Buster Bunny shrugged his shoulders.
“Ohh, look at em,” Chris growled in mock frustration, “Laughing it up. Hey, check out, uh, who’s the blue cat?”
“I belieeeeve… thaaaat issss…. Fur…ball…” Judge replied, spacing out the words to make it sound like he didn’t immediately know that off the top of his head.
Sweat began to form on Anthony’s brow.
Laughing it up. Furball. Laugh it up. Furball. That’s minus one R and plus one ZZ and you have sort of a joke!
“Alright. Hey, what’s up with you, Anthony?” Diaper noticed Anthony was more quiet than usual and reached out an olive branch.
“I… I can’t… I can’t… I CAN’T LIVE LIKE THIS!” Anthony stood up and tried to tear his shirt off, but couldn’t and just sort of flailed around with it clumsily. “HOW CAN YOU LIVE LIKE THIS?! HOW? YOU’RE LIKE GOSH DERN CAVEMEN!”
“Ey! Try being positive,” Judge warned.
“Be positive? Tell it to my blood type, pal!” Diaper Chris chuckled before grunting in self-disapproval.
“I QUIT! I’M DONE! I JUST…. I can’t do this without Star Wars!”
Anthony ran from the studio, slamming the door. After a long pregnant pause, Judge turned to his Twitch audience.
“Uh… well, you heard it, people. I don’t know what a star war is, but that’s the end of the Men Drinkin’ Coffee.”
“Huh?” Chris almost choked on his own surprise and Cliff Bar.
“We can’t do this with only us two,” Judge explained. “What’re we gonna do? Ask Tom to fill in for Anthony? He’d never let us rope him into this BS. Not in a million years! A million years, I tell you!” And with that, Judge threw his head back and cackled loudly and endlessly.
“A million years!” Diaper echoed and joined in the laughter. The echoes from their maniacal guffaws chased Anthony through the night as he ran from the studio and into the darkness, covering his eyes with his forearm. He did not look back.
Tony was alone. Cold and alone. He had forgotten that, without the insulation provided by his many Star Wars posters, the walls in his apartment were paper thin. His stomach growled.
“The Men Drinkin’ Coffee have disbanded, and without your collection of C-3PO pez dispensers you are without dinner,” Rotta noted with a sudden appearance. “Have you learned your lesson?”
“Probably,” Anthony barely sobbed. “Not really. No. But I want Star Wars back. And my friends, too, I guess.”
“I will make it so,” Rotta bowed.
“That’s from Star…. Trek.”
In a flash, Anthony was back on the bridge where this whole mess had started. He breathed a sigh of relief and was suddenly caught up in holiday magic. “It’s real! It’s really real! Merry Christmas, uh, bridge support cables! Merry Christmas… bottle of alcohol I polluted the river with!”
“Anthony! What are you doing here?” A voice came from far away. He looked. The whole gang was there! Judge Reinhold, Diaper Chris, and Major Tom!
“We’re supposed to be streaming today you piece of garbage,” Judge scolded him.
Anthony laughed it off, “As long as it’s not a game made for children based on asinine cartoon animals, count me in!”
“Hey, Anthony, I found this in my dog’s mouth. I thought you might want it.” Diaper Chris pulled from his pocket a chewed up Sy Snootles action figure. Most of the paint was stripped off; replaced with specks of filthiness and uneasy moistness. Chris handed it to Anthony, who hugged it to his bosom.
“Wow! Thanks, Diaper! Now I have the entire Special Edition Max Rebo Band!”
“Hey,” Major Tom interjected, “I saw on the TIL Reddit that every time a collection is completed, a poorly conceived character becomes a Jedi.”
Anthony smiled. He looked up into the hazy winter sky and squinted. A small spark of light glimmered, as if greeting his gaze. Anthony nodded as his smile grew wider.
“That’s not canon.”
DIAPER CHRIS & MAJOR TOM
“Christmas Cheer? Chris más FEAR!”
Diaper Chris awoke on the top bunk and landed with aplomb on the floor, awakening a very cranky Judge Reinhold on the lower bunk. Apparently they all live in the studio together or something. Chris scratched his butt through his long pajamas and then yawned, stretching his arms high into the air. The tension this placed on his onesie pajamas caused the buttons to give way on the backside flap, placing his exposed butt inches away from the bloodshot eyes on Judge’s face.
“Great stuff,” groaned Judge, weary at starting the day like this.
“Mornin’, Judge. Oop, and Merry X-Mas!” Diaper giggled. And it was, indeed, X-Mas. The sun was shining brightly outside, and reflected off the snow brilliantly. Chris checked his FitBit with diligence. “Look, Judge, not a creature was stirring for 7.5 hours last night. Oh, and I drank 17 cups of water yesterday.” Diaper beamed as though he expected a medal.
And he got one! Judge sat up from his bunk and produced a small bronze medallion. On it were the beveled words: ‘#1 HEALTHY BOY…. AND THAT’S THE TOOTH!’
“Merry X-Mas,” Judge smiled.
“Aww, thanks! I didn’t get you anything,” Chris replied. Judge nodded in response. The lack of a gift from Diaper was exactly what he had asked for and he was pleased with how it had turned out.
“What did you get for Tom?”
“T-Tom?” A realization of panic spread slowly across Diaper’s face, starting from the bottom and working its way up. “Judge, ya gotta help me! I totally forgot!”
“You didn’t get me anything?!” Major Tom barked with incredulity.
“Whoa! Tom! I didn’t know you were in the room, my man!” Chris shrieked.
“Yeah, well, ah, I was stunned into silence by all the riveting ass humor from five minutes ago,” Tom said with peace and love.
“But… but,” Diaper stammered, “I don’t know what to get for you. You’ve only been a Man Drinkin’ Coffee for a few months and all I know about you is that you really like Snake Eater!”
“Yeah, well, take me shopping with you and I’ll pick out something.”
“It’s Christmas! I mean, X-Mas. Everything’s closed down!”
Judge interrupted, “I think the 7-11’s open irregardless.”
“Huh,” Diaper frowned. “That sounds like a blasphemous type of establishment, but it’s the only option we’ve got. Let’s go.”
Chris and Tom entered the gas station mini-mart. A seasonal jingle bell rang out when the door opened, but otherwise the 7-11 was horrifyingly secular. Immediately following the friends through the door was an awkwardly shaped stranger in a mysterious trench coat that covered his entire being.
“So, what would make this holiday one you’ll never forget, Tom?” Chris asked with sincerity.
“Uhhh… a Heath bar, I guess,” Tom replied with less sincerity.
Diaper Chris picked a chocolate bar from the shelf and handed it to Tom. “Well, Merry X-Mas, my man!” Tom unwrapped the bar and began to chew. He cocked his head from one side to another as he mulled it over.
“It’s fine!” Tom nodded at last. “Sorry I didn’t get you anything in return.”
“What the-!” Chris exclaimed, before chuckling. “Ya got me good. Ya got me reeeal good.”
“You boys are nothing but a couple of ar-tarded clownshoes ,” interrupted a nasally, but sardonic voice from across the 7-11. Chris and Tom turned to see the origin of the cutting taunt. It was the mysterious man in the trench coat that had followed them into the store. The man, in a clearly rehearsed gesture, removed his coat with but one swipe and tossed it aside. Revealed was not a man at all, but a bipedal bandicoot!
“The name’s Crash,” the bandicoot said from only the one corner of his mouth. Across his lips was a smearing of lipstick that drew up into his cheeks in a crude facsimile of bloody scars. Atop Crash’s head was a mop of dyed green hair; greasy and scraggly in a way that can only be had from not showering and listening to a lot of Slipknot. He tilted his face downward so that his hair would dangle in front of his eyes. If it weren’t for the fluorescent lighting, a shadow would have been splayed across his face, which was also sort of his torso.
“Ohhhh, I get it,” Tom sneered. “This guy thinks he’s Drop Dead Fred!”
“What do you want, Crash?” Chris asked.
“What do I want? Heh,” Crash chuckled and his voice fell into a whisper. “I’m a a crack monkey weasel with AIDS,” The bandicoot turned to showcase many piles of Nitro crates placed at key structural points around the 7-11. “What I want is to kill myself and win the athiest war against Christmas!”
“You are far past sick in the head, my man,” Chris counseled him. “You are in-sane in the main-frame!”
“Why… So… Serious?”
“Oh, God!” Tom gasped, “He’s doing it for the lulz!”
“I knew one day the trolls would get us, Tom,” Chris said with a stonefaced, noble grit unlike his usual fun-loving self.
Crash Bandicoot smarmed, “This let’s play is about to turn… into a speedrun!” And with that the timers on the Nitro crates began to tick down.
Diaper Chris and Major Tom braced for impact.
Everything was dark when Chris and Tom awoke. Surrounding them were rock walls which seemed to stretch upwards forever. Apparently, the explosion in the 7-11 had caused a cave-in that buried the two coffee pals miles underground.
Luckily a flashlight was on the ground not fifty feet away. Diaper Chris picked it up and then walked around in a clockwise circle for seventeen minutes. Later, he realized that there was a door not far north from where he was wandering. Diaper tried to open the door but it seemed to require some sort of key. It didn’t really, he just couldn’t figure out how to open it. In order to find the key that didn’t exist, Chris walked around the same area in a counter-clockwise circle for twenty minutes.
“Boy,” said Tom with not a hint of irony in his voice, “I don’t know where No Internet Name Anthony is, but I bet he’s real sore he’s missing out on this.”
Eventually they gave up looking for an exit. Either they died or they lived out their remaining years as mole people. Legends vary regarding this fact. Judge Reinhold, who had hardball negotiated power of attorney from Diaper Chris and Major Tom in their LP contracts, sued Crash Bandicoot rights holder NBCUniversal. But when Judge visited Universal Studios to stipulate a settlement deal, all of his legal documents were mistaken for garbage and thrown away, causing him to lose all leveraging power.
“A MUPPET’S CHRISTMAS CAROL”
“ASS!” Judge Reinhold slammed his back into his DXRacer chair with such a force that he almost got a rip in his disused green screen. He shoveled a handful of mixed nuts into his mouth and spoke as he chewed. “Who made this game?! Turd idiots?!” A member of the Twitch chat posted a Kappa meme, which caused Judge to immediately switch his mood to howling laughter that the clipped the audio recording on his headset microphone. It was disingenuous laughter, but it excited the rubes. Judge had a weird ultra-rich kid from Saudi Arabia in the chat, and he knew that if he played his meme cards right he’d end the night a few thousand dollars richer. Speaking of which…
“Okay, that’s enough of that crap sandwich for one night,” Judge leaned into his webcam and produced the best Dreamworks face he could muster. “So do me a favor and check out Loot Crate. Sign up to Loot Crate and you can get all sorts of cool stuff! I got this cool ‘Dr. Who Da Man’ t-shirt. The first 30 days are free, so sign up today! Also, nothing beats the cool relaxing taste of a Pall Mall. Yes, that’s Pall Mall. Merry Christmas everyone, and good night.”
Click. Click. Done.
Judge Reinhold immediately twisted his way out of his asinine, 40% cotton tee, and threw it on the ground. He navigated to his Patreon page. Things were lookin’ good. Paypal came next. Seemed like Kaashif came through, among many others. Still shirtless, Judge poured himself a shot glass of whiskey and made a sideways glance up to the Mad Catz wall clock. Quarter to midnight. Merry Christmas, indeed. He brought the glass to his lips.
“Who are you lying to, Reinhold? Them? Or yourself?” A voice from behind. Judge turned quickly and dropped the glass, staining the green screen.
“It can’t be,” Judge gasped, “Geop?”
Judge’s old Let’s Play mentor stood before him, wrapped in chains, and missing the lackadaisical whimsy that he was remembered for. That Judge remembered him for. Back when Geop was still alive, that is. “You were stabbed by that pun-crazed fan. That was…”
“Five years ago,”
“But you’re here. He killed you!”
“Did he? Or did I put that switchblade into my own chest? We thought we had it all, Reinhold. The money. The women. The power. But none of it lasted. All I have now,” Geop lifted his arms with difficult burden. “Are these chains.”
“Wow,” Judge remarked, “this is OFF the chain.”
“Please don’t do that,” Geop winced with some vague distant pain. “Look. Tonight you’re going to be visited by three ghosts.”
“Aren’t you a ghost?”
“So, two more ghosts. Got it.”
“No no no, three ghosts in addition to me,” Geop was beginning to get frustrated. “It’s not too late for you, Reinhold. It’s not tooooo laaaaate…”
Geop vanished before Judge’s eyes. The rattling of chains faded from his ears.
“That was WEIRD,” Judge said to himself. “Nah, well. Time for bed!”
Judge laid his head down onto his pillow. His puffball nightcap folded over his face and he sighed contentedly. “Bah, fiddlesticks!” he comforted himself. “That stuff about ghosts was all nonsense! That initial ghost doesn’t know what he’s talkin’ about! Ain’t no such thing as subsequent ghosts!” These would prove to be famous last words, so to speak, as the air came to a ghastly chill around him. The bedroom window flew open and cold winter air made a stark and eerie entrance.
Floating above Judge’s bed was none other than a ghost!
“OoooOOOOOoooooOOO! I’m The GhOOst of Chriiiistmaaass PaaAAAaasst!” the semi translucent image of Diaper Chris intoned with a bit of zany play-acting. He then coughed. “I’m The Ghost of Christmas Past, Judge.”
“The Ghost of…” Judge spat out, flabberghasted. “So the ghost of Geop was right! Ghosts DO exist!”
“Yeh. But y’see I’m not just a ghost. I’m The Ghost of Christmas Past,” Chris corrected him. “So, Judge. Y-yuh-you remember Caroline in the City… on Christmas?”
“Yeah, I remember. I didn’t watch it, but I remember it.”
“Do you remember it… on Christmas, though?”
“Uh, I guess.”
There was a long period of silence.
“Alright. Hey uh,” Chris continued, “yyy’remember Palm Pilots… on Christmas?”
“Is this going somewhere?”
“I’m just takin’ ya back to the past!” Chris’s voice cracked slightly, and then he composed himself. “Back to the Christmas past.” His shit-eating grin was practically audible. “Back when you were a 90s Kid Retro Gamer!”
“Actually,” Judge reasoned, “back when I was a kid I wasn’t a retro gamer. I mean, it was the 90s and all, but I was playing games that were released in the 90s. If I was a retro gamer as a kid, that would mean I spent my time after school playing, like, oscilloscope games on university mainframes.”
“Yeh,” Chris was silent for a long time. “Uhhhyuh remember Mr. Bill? The claymation guy? On Christmas?”
“I remember Chris Farley used to do a bit a lot like this on SNL,” Judge countered him.
“I remember Chris Farley as well!” Diaper stated proudly, intentionally stonewalling Judge’s obvious critique. “And I remember watching SNL on Christmas!”
“Yeah, well, didja ever look at the back of a twenty dollar bill on Christmas?”
“Ah! You see, now you remember the movie Half Baked on Christmas!” Chris seemed eager to leave but was too prideful to submit. “You’ve truly opened your eyes to the Christmas past of yore. I believe my work is done here.”
“So that’s what The Ghost of Christmas Past does? He just has the power of remembering things?” Judge was both not pleased by how this haunting was turning out, and pleased that it was putting The Ghost of Christmas Past in the hot seat.
“The, uh, the other ghosts that visit you tonight are probably going to be more prepared…” Diaper’s spirit laughed at its own befuddlement. He then ‘got real’ for a moment, “My dog’s been throwing up, and every time we give it the medicine to make it stop throwing up, it throws up the medicine…”
Judge sighed, “Alright, alright. Begone, foul spirit! Begone!”
“THANK you.” The Ghost of Christmas Past quietly made its exit.
“Boy,” Judge Reinhold scoffed to himself as he climbed back into bed, “that ghost was a pain in the keister, meester. But, y’know, I’m willing to bet that was just a one-time thing. Ghost of Christmas Past… I don’t see how that could be the start of a pattern.”
Judge had barely gotten toasty under the covers when a new ghost appeared! It looked like Major Tom, even though in the context of this story Judge and Major Tom have never met.
“Hey,” the phantom stated, his eyes perpetually halfway shut like a Garfield. There was no follow-up to his greeting and it just sort of hung in the air for a few moments.
“Wh—who are you, grim specter?!” Judge pulled his comforter up to his chin in fright.
“I’m The Ghost of Christmas Present,” Major Tom responded.
“Ohh-HHHH-hhh, I love Christmas presents!” Judge joked. “What’dja bring me?”
“Ah, ya got me,” the ghost stated flatly. “Naw, I was sent here to show you what Christmas is like as of 2015. Apparently… all of Santa’s elves are millennials complaining about safe spaces.”
Mr. Reinhold appreciated the timely joke by stifling his laugh.
“Okayyyy, so… Christmas Present…” Tom strained for something to say. “Presently,” he annunciated carefully, “you, uh, have a dresser where you store your clothes. I think it’s made out of mahogany. You also presently have a mirror. Could probably stand to Windex that.”
“You’re just looking around the room!”
“Uh, yeah. It’s called improving,” the phantom deflected. “But, uh, naw, I’m also gonna show you what all your friends are doin’ right now. Actually, they’re all asleep in their beds so that’s… not terribly exciting.”
Judge shifted in his bed uncomfortably.
“Well, hold on. There’s actually this kid named Tiny Tim who’s really sick…”
“Never heard of ‘im.”
“Yeh, there was a thing on NPR about him. OH! Speaking of which,” Tom’s ghost face lit up with significance, “I was going through your trash earlier and I saw on your credit card statements that you’ve been getting charged monthly for satellite radio even though you don’t listen to it anymore. So, y’know, that’s a reflection of your hubris.”
“Alright, that does it,” Judge arose from his bed, steamed as a clam. He started to shove the incorporeal Tom out of the bedroom door. “Begone, begone foul spirit.” He slammed the door behind him and, with a deep sigh, returned to underneath his covers.
Judge had barely shut his eyelids, when a terrifying clap of thunder announced the final and most frightening ghost of this traumatic night. Appearing from out of nowhere was a terrifying grim reaper! Little scythes flew out from under his cloak and started floating around the room, making a mess. The reaper pulled back his hood and revealed his true form: No Internet Name Anthony, The Ghost of Christmas Future!
“Anthony?!” Judge shrieked, “But you died!”
“Huh? No, I didn’t die.”
“Then why are you dressed like a Grim Reaper?”
“Ummmm,” NINA nervously played with the sleeve of his cloak. He didn’t want Judge to know that he had just come from a Vampire: The Masquerade LARP. “Yeah, you’re right. I died. And that’s why I’m now The Ghost of Christmas Future!”
“Cool! Send me back the winning lotto numbers.”
“Now now listen,” Anthony explained as though he was walking a relative through computer maintenance over the phone, “I’m going to show you your future as it relates to Christmas, m’kay?”
Judge sat back in his bed with a huff and groaned, “Y’know, this is wasting a lot of time. You could have consolidated this into a single ghost.”
“Right,” Anthony nodded, “Okay. So in 2016 the big thing is gonna be Captain America’s Civil War, which marks the beginning of Phase 3 of the big MCU roadmap. Now, of course, that’s released in the summer which means that for Christmas future, you’re gonna be pickin’ that up on blu ray. Meanwhile, Dr. Strange is coming in November 2016, so that’s probably going to still be in… maybe not the big big theaters on Christmas, but not the cheapo last-run theaters either.”
“And, okay, while it’s technically an X-Men film and not a Marvel Cinematic Universe film, the ‘merc with a mouth’ Mr. Deadpool is hitting theaters in May next year.”
“That’s the, uh, monkey cheese guy, right?” Judge asked, exuding little enthusiasm.
“Yeahyeah. I mean there’s more to it than… well, no, it is pretty much just monkey cheese shit. But, hey, maybe you should LP the Deadpool video game to celebrate?”
“Uhhhyeah, maybe not.”
Anthony laughed out loud at his haunt’s antipathy but barreled ahead regardless, “So that’s the Christmas future of 2016. Returning in 2017 is Guardians of the Galaxy, with a sequel to 2014’s surprise hit. Say, did Tom mention a Tiny Tim at all?”
“Oh? Uh, yeah! Tiny Tim!” Judge was suddenly fraught with concern for the future of the sickly young lad, as he hoped it would steer the conversation to something more pleasant. Like disease. “I beg of you, spirit, tell me! How will young Tiny Tim fare?”
“Well, little Lil’ Timmy is DEFINITELY going to be dead before he has a chance to see the Norse God return to the silver screen in November 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok. And his illness will likely rob his eyesight before the release of the second Spider-Man reboot starring Tom Holland as yet another incarnation of Peter Parker. Coming that June.”
“Izzat a sports guy?”
“If you doubt my prophecies, ya dingus,” Anthony scolded, “perhaps I can reveal my true power and show you the future in person!” The walls in Judge’s bedroom flew away. Judge and his bed teetered precariously above a wild void. The bed, too, disappeared, and Judge fell. It seemed as though he was falling eternally into nothingness, but fading into view around him was a cold and desolate graveyard. If you freeze-framed on parts of the scene some of the gravestones had cool gags and in-jokes written on them, like Here Lies Yanama and RIP Manwich Enthusiast. When Judge hit the ground, it was not as though he had been falling for as long as he had comprehended. Instead he hit the rotted grass pasture softly and with the velocity of having fell only scant few inches. He still got a cramp, though, because of his faulty belief that doing warm-up stretches is bad for you.
“Look, Judge Reinhold. To the grave ahead of you.”
Judge, on hands and knees, craned his neck upwards. The faux-marble block of stone towered above him and stated, with stolid efficacy:
HE DID LET’S PLAYS
AND THEN HE DIED
“Do you see now, Judge Reinhold?” boomed Anthony in a surprisingly deep, bassy, and intimidating voice, “Or does your vision remain clouded by arrogance?”
“Uhhh-hhh-hh… sssso, Captain Marvel… What’s that guy all about?” a nervous Judge stammered.
“If you do not change your ways, Reinhold, this is what awaits you.” Anthony rasped with impassivity. “You will DIE, Judge Reinhold. Quietly. In your sleep. At the age of 96.”
“Aww, that doesn’t sound too bad.”
“Allow me to finish my statement. You will die, quietly, in your sleep, at the age of 96… and in the house you never managed to sell!”
“What?! No. No!”
“I pity, is it not? All that DIY. Those hours spent waiting between the hours between 2 and 5pm. Wasted. Gone forever… like tears in the rain.” Anthony turned to a distraught Judge with purpose. “That’s from Blade Runner.”
“B-but I can change things, right?!” Judge scooted on his knees towards the reaper. “That’s the whole point of this, isn’t it? I… I can get new carpeting! I could repaint the living room! I saw on HGTV that light blues create positive vibes! I’ll work for the Koch brothers and manipulate the economy so it’s a seller’s market! Please!” Judge was so invested in his fruitless begging that he didn’t notice the world turning dark around him. Before long, the graveyard was gone. Anthony was gone. Judge was gone.
And there was nothing left but void.
Judge Reinhold’s eyes snapped open. He was in his bed. There was light shining through the window. It was morning. No more ghosts. No more graves.
“It…was it just a dream?” he asked himself. But with a burst of excitement he leapt from bed. “No! It was more than just a dream! It was a call to action!” He ran to his window and swung it open with the joy and frivolity of a man given a new lease on life. The snowy wonderland of Anytown greeted him. Down one story was the kid who crashed his big wheel into Judge’s gutter, playing in the snow.
“Boy! You there! Yes, you!” Judge called to the lad.
“Me?” the boy responded, confused.
“Yes, you! What day is it, young man! What day is it, I say!”
“Are you crazy, mister?” the boy laughed, “It’s December 26th. The day after Christmas! Boxing Day in Canada and the UK.”
“Oh!” Judge exclaimed. “Oh. Ohhh. So I missed it, then.”
“I… dang, I missed the whole day? Geez,” Judge dabbed at his brow with a kerchief. “Uhh, young man! If I give you fifteen dollars will you go to the store and buy a luscious ham? For that sick Tiny Tim boy they’ve been going on about on NPR!” The child was about to answer, but a middle aged man who was likely his father came by and scooped the boy up into his arms.
The man turned to Judge’s window and shouted, “HEY YOU! STAY AWAY FROM MY GOD DAMN KID! I’LL CALL THE FUCKING COPS IF I SEE YOU AROUND MY SON AGAIN YOU GET ME?!” The man stormed away with his son in tow.
“Geez. You didn’t have to swear,” Judge rebuked long after he was sure the man was out of earshot. Judge sighed. It wasn’t a complete waste, he supposed. He decided to focus on turning his personal rehabilitation into a New Years thing instead of a Christmas thing.