Have you ever thought about what might have happened if the ghosts in A Christmas Carol had gotten out of order? Or perhaps the ghost of Christmas Future had a morbid sense of humor instead of foreboding?
What if Scrooge wasn’t the only person being visited by ghosts that night and someone else’s ghost of the past beat his to the door? What if the ghost of the present was more interested in parties and women then showing old Scrooge the truth? Any number of scenarios could have severely changed old Scrooge’s outcome.
Imagine this. Ebenezer Scrooge has already sent Bob Cratchit home for Christmas after docking half a days pay, and told the charity collectors that they should allow the poor to die and reduce the surplus population. These things we can’t change too much or we wouldn’t know why Scrooge was well, a scrooge.
Now we open the scene where Jacob Marley comes to visit Scrooge, only Marley really isn’t in the frame of mind to warn Scrooge and prevent him from sharing his fate. In stead, Marley wants to wrap him in his chains and take him away with him to suffer as he has suffered. After all, it’s only fair. Scrooge is the one who taught Jacob Marley to be this way, and so condemned him to his fate. Oh he warns him of what his fate entails alright, and how he too is condemned to wear a chain which his present lifestyle has helped him forge. He rants and raves and jangles his chains as he lunges at Scrooge trying to catch him. Then the chase is on as the two of them engage in a game of cat and mouse. Scrooge darts around the room, jumping over furniture, hopping from floor to bed trying to avoid Marley’s chains. Marley continues to explain, what is supposed to transpire throughout the evening with the three ghosts to come and warn him to change. Only Marley doesn’t intend to allow Scrooge to live to see these ghosts. No he will be dragged away with Marley before they can arrive, if only he can catch him. “After all, changing your fate, Scrooge, won’t change mine. Why should I suffer alone?”, cries Marley.
Just when Marley has captured Scrooge, in walks the ghost of Christmas Future, as we shall call him, for our purposes, because Yet to Come takes up too much space. He finds Scrooge wrapped in Marley’s chains, and Marley dancing around him screaming about all the misery they will share, together again, as Marley intends to drag him around by his chains. Scrooge sees Christmas Future, and he now believes that all is lost, and that the Grim Reaper has come for his soul. Surely he will be condemned to Marley’s fate. Unconsciousness overtakes him; he passes out before Marley can finish him off. Future retrieves Scrooge from Marley after a game of tug of war with an unconscious Scrooge dangling in the middle. He sends a very unhappy Marley away, but decides to use Scrooge’s unconsciousness to his advantage.
Instead of taking Scrooge through all the horrors of the soon to come future, he throws him over his shoulder like a limp sack, and carries him still unconscious, right into the heart of things, his own grave. Future is only hoping to add a little extra scare, to help him in his plight. After all, if a little foreshadowing of doom can work, a little reality in the foreboding can’t hurt, or can it? He stands over the grave and drops Scrooge right into the open hole, where in this future; he already lies in his casket, being covered with dirt.
Since the ghosts are out of order, Scrooge hasn’t been visited by the ghosts of the past and present to see all the things that should implore him to change. Future hasn’t shown him his dead body, or what will happen to Tiny Tim, those left indebted to him, or how those on the street feel about his death.
Now Scrooge awakens lying in his own grave at the point where the grave diggers are throwing in the dirt, on top of him, and discussing his retched life. Christmas Future is standing above looking down and looming over him. In the few seconds it takes to register his surroundings as well as all he hears and sees, he screams, and passes out again, only this time he really is dead from a sudden heart attack brought on by his own fears.
This is where the ghosts of Christmas Past and Present, finally find Scrooge and Future, and where Marley re-enters the scene as well. They are all watching as Scrooge’s ghost climbs from his body and his grave, looking as though he is clamoring out of a slippery pit, and still not quite aware that he is dead.
Marley is giddy with excitement as he once again begins to chase Scrooge around the graveyard, assuring him that this time he really is dead, and can’t get away. Marley points out Scrooge’s body in the grave, and gives him a shove in order to see it closer. Scrooge determined not to fall in, does a kind of non graceful acrobatic somersault over the hole in order to avoid returning to the grave.
Christmas Past and Present are scolding Christmas Future, and for the first time ever, his scary, smug, foreboding self is looking a little sheepish. He is attempting to explain his side of things, using only hand movements, and looking quite like a Grim Reaper, crossed with a Mime, which is attempting to play an over animated game of charades. This is very frustrating to the other two ghosts, and they tell him to knock it off and find his voice. Future, pouts. Meanwhile, the grave diggers are still burying the bodies of more than one Scrooge, now there is a wrinkle in time.
Mayhem has ensued and some how they must fix this before daybreak. Scrooge must still see the error of his ways. First they have to get Marley under control and Scrooge back into a body in a grave into which he has no more intention of re-entering, dead or alive then he does setting fire to all his millions.
At this point Scrooge isn’t listening to or believing anything the three Christmas ghosts have to say, although Marley has his definite attention. Of course that is merely because he wants to keep distance between himself and Marley.
As the curtain falls on stages one and two, how do you think it will all transpire?