Forever Spam

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Dying to Spam You

(was: I'LL TELL YOU YOUR FUTURE NOW)


A boiler room--that is, a small room in which lots of swindlers, losers, slackers and other wankers sit at phones and place (or take) phone calls. In this case, the scam is a fortune-telling rip-off, and we hear the crooks as they pretend to be psychic:

First Operator: Ah, yes . . . I see you are a lonely man . . . you are not as rich as you deserve to be . . . you never did well in school . . .

Second Operator: You ask if I am psychic? Let me tell you your nicknames: all who know you call you dummy--sucker--pinhead--dorkmeister . . . yes, I *am* impressive.

Third Operator: Yes, lady . . . you will meet a handsome man. He will fall in love with you . . . make you happy. He will give you everything you want from life . . .

            {hangs up}

Sucker.

His boss is mwilkins@earthlink.net--better known as "Mongo" Wilkins. He looks like a spammer, which is to say, he looks like a gorilla that's been shaved from head to foot, dressed up like Buster Brown, painted the same color as a "flesh"-colored Band-aid, and then had its brain removed. Mongo speaks to the third operator in a sharp tone:

Mongo: You moron! Why did you let that pigeon hang up so soon? We charge the rubes $3.99 a minute for these calls.

Third Operator: But I had her on the line for an hour!

Mongo: That still ain't long enough, dillweed! When you talk to 'em, talk slower, and throw in stuff like "There are many mists veiling the future," "It becomes clearer only slowly" and "Ah . . . yes . . . now I begin to see the first vague hints of your future." Waste their time and run up their bills!

Third Operator: I'm *trying,* Mongo! But it takes practice to become a skilled fraud. Most of us aren't born swindlers!

Mongo snarls an obscenity that even a spammer should feel reluctant to utter. Then he goes to a corner, where a woman works at a computer which is connected to the Internet.

Mongo: Look, spamming is the best way to get publicity, Phoebe.

Phoebe: But there are a lot of people out there who report spammers to their servers' postmasters and administrators. And some of them get *real* nasty!

Mongo: Ah, what can they do to us? Post the message to this group.

He hands her a note. She looks at it and reads it.

Phoebe: "From: M. WILKINS mwilkins@earthlink.net
                Subject: I'LL TELL YOUR FUTURE, NOW!!!
             post to: alt.tv.forever-knight" . . . I don't know. I've got a bad feeling about this newsgroup, Mongo.

Mongo: Yeah? Maybe you really *are* psychic!

After a few seconds they laugh, and she posts the message.

Voiceover:
"He was brought across in 1228.
Preyed on humans for their blood.
Now he wants to be mortal again.
To repay society for his sins.
To emerge from his world of darkness.
From his endless forever night."

 

ACT 1: The 96th Precinct. Nick and Schanke are diddling with paperwork at their desks when Amanda Cohen walks in. Nick looks up as she puts a paper on his desk before him.

Nick: Trouble, captain?

Cohen: Yeah, we've been spammed again.

Schanke: Man oh man oh man . . . what is it with this place? It seems like every week we have some bizarre new problem. Every--single--week! You can set your watch by the crooks around here!

Nick: Why us, captain? We're homicide detectives. Why have us investigate spam?

Cohen: Because every time we have one of these sicko crimes, somebody ends up dead. I thought I'd save time and put you two on it now.

Cohen walks away. Nick and Schanke look at the paper she left.

Schanke: Another psychic scam.

Nick: Yes.

Schanke: Makes you wonder why people fall for these things.

Nick: People feel uncertain about their futures. They want reassurance. And these swindlers know a certain type of person will fall for their con, so they tailor their predictions to them. Lonely, not too bright or educated, not much money--like that.

Schanke: You mean losers and loons. Don't people ever learn?

Ever? A dangerous word to use around the Flashback Kid . . .

 

Paris, 1792. A fortune-telling shop near the Bastille. A woman dressed as a Gypsy clich waves her hands over a crystal ball. A man sits across the small table, an intent look on his face. From the shadows, Nick, Janette and LaCroix watch in amusement as the woman speaks in a thick accent.

Fortune-teller: I see that the French Revolution will fail. King Louis will return to the throne. You will not go to the guillotine. All will be well.

Man: Wonderful! Tell me more!

Fortune-teller: I see . . . things are blurry. The spirits must be placated with more silver.

The man urgently empties his purse onto the table, making the woman smile.

Fortune-teller: I see--

LaCroix and company step forward.

LaCroix: I see it is time for dinner.

            {smiles as he fingers the coins}

And you've set the table with your good silver!

aCroix grabs the man and chows down. The woman makes a break for it. Nick and Janette catch her at the door, drag her back into the shop, and struggle with her as LaCroix finishes his meal.

LaCroix: Now, now, children, don't play with your food.

Nick and Janette drain the fortune-teller. As they get up Nick sees something odd about her.

Nick: A Gypsy with blue eyes and blonde hair? I thought the Romany only had dark hair and eyes, and an olive complexion.

Janette: She was not of the Romany people, Nicolas. Did not her blood tell you that she was a petty thief of Paris?

Nick: Then why did she pretend to be Romany?

LaCroix: At times you are *such* a brick, my son. She pretended to be a Gypsy because people outside their tribes believe them to have the ability to divine the future. She sought to cash in, as it were, on a stereotype.

Nick: Then she could not truly foresee the future.

Janette: You are such a child, Nicolah! If she could see the future, why did she not see us in it?

Janette and LaCroix laugh as Nick returns to the present.

 

Schanke: Hey, partner! You ready to roll?

Nick: Roll? Yeah.

Schanke: Roll, yeah! As in jelly roll! Let's hit the doughnut stands before we hit our perp.

Nick: I should have seen that coming.

Schanke: Yeah, and our spammers shoulda seen us coming!

 

Perhaps they do. We return to the boiler room, where the crooks work the phones and Phoebe sits at the computer, a worried look on her face.

Phoebe: Forever Knight . . . there's something ominous about that . . . as if they do something hideous to spammers. I'd better do some investigating. Investigating . . . like a detective?

She shudders in fear, and unconsciously places a hand on her throat. Then she starts typing at her keyboard.

Phoebe: Why do I feel so afraid? As though I'm surrounded by evil?

Guess who walks up behind her? He looked ugly enough the last time we saw him, but now he looks like he's doing a very bad imitation of a baboon on LSD (it's a bad imitation because spammers can't do *anything* right).

Mongo Wilkins: You make spam on all the net with my ad?

Phoebe: I'm spamming as fast as I can, Mongo.

Mongo: Spam more, spam fast! Fast-fast-fast!

Mongo shambles away, leaving Phoebe to look even more frightened than before.

 

ACT 2: The Raven. The place is busy. Nick approaches Janette at the bar.

Janette: Well, Nicolas, what brings you to my neck of the woods?

Nick: Schanke's getting to be a bit too much.

Janette: "Getting"? How can he *get* any more annoying?

Nick: It's a talent he has. Today he found a shop that sells souvlaki doughnuts. With extra garlic.

Janette: It could be worse, Nicolas. He could like spam.

At the sound of that word, everyone in the Raven turns and spits on the floor.

Nick: Come on, Janette. Even a man who likes garlic would never sink that low. He *is* human!

Janette: I suppose you are correct, Nicolas. The one saving grace of mortals is that they all hate spammers.

Nick: And we're hunting one now. I should get back out there.

 

Nick leaves the Raven and gets into his car. As he drives away he turns on the radio and gets LaCroix's Night Crawler show.

LaCroix: We all have the urge to know what our futures hold. But why is this? What insecurity drives us to know all that awaits? And why is it that we demand to know only the good in our future, and never the bad? Is it reasonable to destroy the surprise of the good? The unexpected windfall, the marvellous success, the lifelong lover? Does it not make more sense to wish to know of the bad--the failures, the disasters, the sorrows--so that we may prepare ourselves against them, perhaps even avert them?

And what of those who claim to foresee the future? If they have this talent, why do they not use it to enrich themselves? If, as they so often claim, wealth means nothing to them, why do they offer to show others the way to wealth, and charge them so dearly for it?

And, more to the point, why do they not see the tragedies that await them? Why do they not see that their crimes lead them ever deeper into disasters of their own making?

Nick's cell phone rings. He answers it.

Nick: Knight . . . yeah, Schanke?

The scene shifts to the 96th, where Schanke is at his desk, phone in one hand and a hideously-mutated doughnut-thing in his other hand.

Schanke: Hey, partner, guess who cracked the spam case? Turns out our man--if you'll excuse the way I abuse the word--is M. WILKINS, and his e-mail address is mwilkins@earthlink.net Anyway, I forwarded his post to postmaster@earthlink.net, with a note that he's a spammer.

Back to Nick's car.

Nick: Have you forwarded his post to nfic@internetMCI.com? They're the people who take care of fraud cases.

We return to the 96th.

Schanke: Thought about that, partner, but I'm not sure. I looked at their web page, which is at http://www.fraud.org/ and I wasn't sure that this was appropriate. They aren't here to take care of just any spammer, and this M. Wilkins life-form is one of the lesser slimes on the net. Sure, he's a spammer, but there are different levels of spamming and fraud. Anyway, it's case closed, partner, the old Schankinator triumphs again, and we didn't even have one of those killings Cohen was worried about.

 

And we're back in the boiler room, where Mongo Wilkins is talking to Phoebe. Okay, he's ranting at her; spammers are, of course, incapable of holding a normal conversation, and they become especially inarticulate when faced with a member of the opposite sex (hey, if they could talk to girls, would they have to waste their time and lives in spamming for fun?). Mongo looks even more hideous than before, as though his earlier semblance of mere sub-humanity was a difficult act he can no longer maintain.

Mongo: %#$@* that $#@ of a &$%#@ cop!

Phoebe: I told you there was something strange about these Forever Knight people!

Mongo: %$#@* you, too, you %&#$!

Phoebe: You went too far when you spammed them, and they ratted on us to postmaster@earthlink.net.

Mongo: %@ me, %@! Why don't you %$@$ yourself in the %$#@ with a jagged, rusty $#&@, after you &%#$ your *%# into a jar of chunky peanut butter!

Phoebe: At least they haven't forwarded our posts to nfic@internetMCI.com yet!

Mongo Wilkins replies with a string of profanity so vile that even the symbols that replace it are too disgusting to include here. Phoebe and the phone operators are stunned into silence, and into that silence the computer issues a beep. Mongo becomes almost coherent as Phoebe looks at the terminal screen.

Mongo: Huh?

Phoebe: It's the information I was looking for on those detectives, Swank and Fright. It says that Done Swank likes garlic, and Dick Fright is a vampire.

Mongo: &#@!

Phoebe: Computers are never wrong. Look, we're finished. Let's get out of here while we can. I don't want to tangle with a vampire!

Mongo: No! Make more spam, @%+=!

Phoebe: No, Mongo! Spam got us into trouble in the first place! Use your brain for once!

Mongo: Me no use brain! Brain be waste! You spam net! Tell net that Swank be a--a--what was that real long word you used?

Phoebe: The one with *two* syllables? Vampire?

Mongo: That be word! Spam net with--with--with that real long word! Tell net Swank be what you say!

Phoebe: But it's the other one that's a vampire--

Enraged, Mongo shoves her away from the terminal and starts spamming. Phoebe watches in horror.

 

ACT 3: The 96th Precinct. Amanda Cohen's office. The captain is working at her computer when she sees something odd. She puzzles over it, muttering to herself.

Cohen: "Defective Done Swank is a umpire! He shrinks blud from peepers decks! Hess stared of the crass! Chick oat my websight end C!"

Cohen looks up as Nick and Schanke rush into her office.

Cohen: You've heard?

Nick: It's all over the place, captain.

Cohen: And?

Schanke: It's spam, captain. I don't need forensics to tell me *that!*

Cohen: *I* don't need you to tell me it's spam, Schanke. The idiot spelling clued me in. But why is this spammer calling you an umpire?

Schanke: I think the spammer means "vampire," captain.

Nick: Of course with spammers you never really know what they mean. You have to wonder why they can't bother to put together a complete, proper sentence. And how is it that they can work with computers, which can't handle even the slightest spelling error, when they can't even spell their own names right half the time?

Cohen: Don't change the subject, Knight. What's going on, Schanke?

Schanke: It's ridiculous! Me a vampire? I get out in the sun every day! I *love* garlic! I don't even like the sight of blood! And I have a cross on my rosary, right here! Want to see it?

Schanke puts a hand in his pocket. Nick quickly grabs his wrist to stop him.

Nick: You've made your point, Schanke. You're not a vampire.

Schanke: Vampires! It's ridiculous.

Cohen: It's still spam. I want it stopped--*now.*

Nick: Right away. Come on, Swank.

 

They leave the office. The scene now changes to the CERK studio, where LaCroix sits at a computer terminal. He looks displeased by what he sees.

LaCroix: "Defective Done Swank is a umpire! He shrink blud from peepers back! Hess stared of the crass! Chick oat my websight and C!"

He shakes his head in mocking sadness.

LaCroix: Atrocious spelling, abysmal grammar--the last time an educational system produced anything so illiterate, the Roman Empire fell.

            {he smiles fondly}

And the hunting *was* rather good in those days. But perhaps I should investigate this "websight."

LaCroix surfs the net and comes ashore at the brand-new site. What he sees brings a look of dismay to his face.

LaCroix: So Nicolas has been exposed at last . . . and, ironically, with forged documents and false records.

LaCroix reaches out and touches the intercom control at his terminal.

Voice: Station manager.

LaCroix: I fear I must skip tonight's show.

Voice: Oh, man, you're gonna kill our ratings!

LaCroix: There are worse things to kill. This is a family matter.

LaCroix gets up, goes to the window and launches himself into the night sky over Toronto. After a dizzying aerial shot, the scene cuts to the boiler room. We watch one of the phone operators get up, stretch, pick his nose, stick it under his seat, and leave. He gratuitously insults Phoebe, who as a spammer deserves it, and then walks into the night and goes to a street corner, where he hails a taxicab. He climbs into the back and speaks to the driver.

Operator: Trinity and Mill, Q-tip-head.

Driver: No . . . Prospect Cemetery.

Operator: What can I do there?

The driver turns around and smiles at him, and we see it's Uncle.

LaCroix: Die.

 

ACT 4: The morgue. Nick is talking with Natalie.

Natalie: It's always something different, isn't it? Chain letters, get-rich-quick schemes, "discount" coupons that cost a fortune and aren't worth anything. Now it's psychic phone lines.

Nick: I liked the good old days better.

Natalie: Which days were those? The Middle Ages?

Nick: At least we could have them burned at the stake back then.

Natalie: Do that these days, and the Environmental Protection Agency will ticket you for polluting the air. Have you ever smelled a burning spammer? Talk about foul! And they make these absolutely horrible noises when you burn them. I mean, their cries of anguish could break glass, and they seem to go on forever.

Nick: Wouldn't it be more merciful to kill them before you burn them?

Natalie: What, show mercy to spammers? Nick, don't carry this wannabe-mortal thing *too* far.

Nick: The question is, what should I do? These people know I'm a vampire. They have Schanke's name in the spam, but it's my name on their home page, and even if the facts are wrong--

Natalie: --it could get you invited to the sunrise services this Easter.

Nick: And I don't think Coppertone would help.

Natalie: Well, don't put the bite on them. I know spammers aren't really human, but killing one could tempt you to start hunting real people again.

The phone rings; Natalie answers it.

Natalie: Dr. Lambert . . . Where? Okay, I'll be there, Schanke. Yeah, I'll tell Nick, he's here.

            {hangs up; turns to Nick}

There's a dead body at Prospect Cemetery.

Nick: And that's unusual?

Natalie: This one isn't a permanent resident. Come on.

 

The scene: a cemetery in Toronto. Police cars and an ambulance are parked outside its gate, their lights flashing. Nick and Natalie pull up in the Caddy, get out and go through the gate. A twisted body lies on the grass below a large marble cross. Nick hastily looks away as Schanke walks up.

Schanke: How about this one, Knight? From the skid marks on the grass, it looks like someone tossed him over the fence.

Nick: I noticed.

Schanke: I'm tellin' ya, it's hard to imagine how anything human could throw a body like that. And how about those two holes in the stiff's neck? Did you notice, there isn't one drop of blood around the holes, either?

            {he finally notices Nick has his back turned to the body--and the cross}

Hey, Nick, you okay?

Nick: Yeah, I'm fine, just fine. Why do you ask?

Schanke: Nothing. But with all this vampire spam--

            {everybody except the corpse turns and spits on the ground at the sound of that word}

--it just seems funny, finding a stiff with two holes in its jugular and no blood in sight. Hey, if you're feeling nervous, I have a spare rosary you can borrow.

Nick: That's all right.

Natalie: Well, I wouldn't pin this on a vampire, Schanke. Those holes in the body's neck weren't made by anything human.

Schanke: You sure?

Natalie: Trust me.

A uniformed cop hurries up to Nick.

Cop: We found something, detective. This guy was a phone operator for--get this--mwilkins@earthlink.net.

Nick: Looks like Cohen was right. Sooner or later spam leads to murder.

Schanke: Okay, so let's check on these spammers.

They hustle off to the Caddy. As they leave we find ourself tracking LaCroix, who in turn is stalking Phoebe. Stealthily, he pursues her down a street. Although she has not seen him, she seems aware she is being hunted. Finally LaCroix corners her in an alley.

Phoebe: What do you want?

LaCroix: You are a spammer, and your talk of vampires has endangered my favorite son. Prepare to die.

Phoebe: No, please, it was only spam! We were only posting messages and robbing innocent people!

LaCroix: And you see nothing wrong with that?

Phoebe: Mongo made me do it! My ESP warned me something was wrong, but Mongo wouldn't listen!

LaCroix: ESP? No, that was your conscience speaking. Of course to a vile spammer a thing like the conscience must seem as mysterious and magical as ESP, but to normal people, its warnings against wrongdoing are no mystery.

Phoebe: Give me a chance, I'll never spam again!

LaCroix pauses, then smiles.

LaCroix: You want a chance at . . . forgiveness?

Phoebe: Yes! I'll do anything!

LaCroix: Free consent, freely given.

LaCroix moves on her.

 

ACT 5: The boiler room. Mongo Wilkins is on the rampage, as his frightened operators work the phones. Mongo leaves a trail of slime as he scuttles around the room, bellowing obscenities at his crew. From time to time he goes to the computer and spams, before he returns his attention to his money-making operation.

Outside, Nick and Schanke pull up in the Caddy. They hear a horrendous roar from inside the building.

Schanke: Sounds like a bull-moose spammer to me.

Nick: Smells like it, too. And the only way in is through the front.

Schanke: Wouldn't ya know it? Let's earn our pay, partner.

They draw their guns and move in on the building. As they go in Mongo's rage becomes even more outrageous. We hear wood splinter, metal warp, plaster shatter. As Nick and Schanke near the boiler room the operators come streaming out in panic.

Nick: Keep them covered, Schanke, I'll get the spammer.

As Schanke holds his gun on the operators, Nick dashes into the boiler room. He finds a beast too hideous to behold. Without hesitation Nick attacks the spammer and engages in hand-to-paw combat with it. They fight, and as they tangle they crash through a wall and land in the alley behind the building. LaCroix and Phoebe stand there. Both have vamped out.

LaCroix: Enough, Nicolas. Phoebe, dinner is served.

Phoebe: You want me to take my first blood from a *spammer?*

LaCroix: You said you would do anything for forgiveness.

The fight has stopped. Mongo rises up on its hind feet (quite a trick for something as underevolved as a spammer) and backs away in fear as Phoebe moves in for the kill.

Mongo: No! Me no want be die!

The spammer runs away, pursued by Phoebe. Nick turns to LaCroix.

Nick: What is this?

LaCroix: Phoebe engaged in spamming, but she asked for the chance to repent. For the crime of spamming, one must make an enormous effort at repaying society. I have sentenced her to an eternity of feeding on spammers.

Nick: But--if her first kill is a spammer--

LaCroix: Exactly.

Nick: That's fiendish!

LaCroix: I'm rather pleased with this, too, dear boy.

From a distance we hear the sound of the spammer's death-cry--loud, horrendous, yet somehow amusing, even piquant. LaCroix smiles, yet Nick looks troubled.

 

Calm reigns as we see the morgue, with the Caddy outside it. Inside, Nick confers with Natalie.

Nick: There won't be any problem over that website that called me a vampire. It's been shut down, and everyone thinks it was just a spammer's attempt to fight the law. But what about Mongo and the operator? They were killed by vampires.

Natalie: Well, they were only spammers, so there won't be any questions. And I'd say Phoebe got better than she deserved.

Nick: No. You can't imagine the horrible fate LaCroix wished on her.

Natalie: It can't be that horrible, and it *does* give her a chance to atone for her sins.

Nick: Yes . . . but at the price of becoming a larouche.

Natalie: A what?

Nick: A larouche. You know how a carouche is a lower form of vampire?

Natalie: One that feeds on vermin. You explained it to me.

Nick: A vampire can become a carouche if its first kill is an animal rather than a human. You acquire a taste for their blood, their deaths. But a larouche is even lower than a carouche. All it wants to feed on is spammer's blood.

Natalie: Well, that sounds useful. It isn't as though spammers are people. Even the animal-rights activists don't care what happens to spammers.

Nick: But not even vampires will talk to her now. She's an outcast among us. Doomed to wander through eternity, alone, able to feed only on the blood of spammers, which carries the nauseating taste of their crimes.

Natalie: Quit saying things like that, Nick. You're going to make me start liking LaCroix.

Nick: Well . . . come to think of it, maybe he isn't so bad after all.

He looks around the morgue, puzzled.

Nick: What happened to the spammer's body?

Natalie: It's right here.

She holds up a small Petri dish, which holds something that looks like a mummified mouse. Nick looks at it in bewilderment.

Nick: That's a spammer's corpse? But--he was huge! How did he shrink that far?

Natalie: Well, Nick, this is all that's left of a spammer after you give it a laxative. Let's call it a night.

Nick: Sure. Give you a ride home?

Natalie accepts with a smile, and we watch them leave. Then the view changes to a different part of Toronto. We see a spammer at work at its computer. As it drools and giggles and spams, it remains oblivious to the terrifying sight outside its window: Phoebe, her face and body corrupted by her foul diet of spammer's blood, her eyes ablaze with hunger.

 

TAG: The morgue. Grace, Natalie's assistant, is sweeping up when she notices something disgusting: the spammer's shrivelled body.

Grace: Ick! Dr. Lambert, you have to be tidier.

Taking forceps, she picks up the spammer's body and carries it into the restroom. We hear a flushing sound as the spammer goes to an appropriate final resting place.

Fade to end theme and credits

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Last modified: April 10, 2006