Forever Spam

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For I Have Spammed

(was: An appeal to every Irish-American)

 

Inside a confessional, Father Seggerson sits as he waits for the next penitent. The hatch slides open, and through the screen he hears an indistinct voice.

Man: Bless me, father, for I have sinned. It has been six hours since my last confession.

Father Seggerson looks baffled.

Father: Six hours? Isn't it a bit soon for a return, my son?

Man: No. You see, father . . . this sin . . . it's like a sickness. I can't control myself.

Father: Tell me what you've done.

Man: It's the same thing I confessed before. I . . . I spammed. I did it again. Not ten minutes ago.

Father Seggerson quickly crosses himself.

Father: Holy Mother of God! My son--six hours since your last confession? You can't possibly have done the proper penance for spamming in only six hours! What of the sackcloth and ashes, the fasting, the self-flagellation? Not to mention the fifty years of prayer and solitude in an Albanian monastery?

Man: I'm really sorry, Father . . . but I'm going to spam again.

Father: You must be strong, my son! Fight the temptation!

Man: I didn't come here for a sermon! I want absolution for my sins!

Father: My son, God can only forgive your sins if you are truly penitent and fight the temptation to sin again. Confession is not some sort of spiritual "Get Out Of Jail Free" card!

Now a peculiar sound comes through the confessional screen: a rasping, gurgling, snarling sound, suggestive of something inhuman.

Man: Me make spam! Here! Now! With laptop and wireless modem!

Above the rapid clicking of keys, Father Seggerson begins to say the rites of exorcism. Too little, too late; the evil force of spam erupts in an overwhelming blast of noise and vile blue light.

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: A disaster scene somewhere in Toronto. Several city blocks have been reduced to rubble. Emergency crews work at rescuing survivors from the shattered buildings. A green Caddy slowly drives along the cluttered street. It stops, and Nick and Schanke get out and look around.

Schanke: Man oh man oh man. Have you ever seen anything like it in your life?

Nick: Not now, okay? Is this where it happened?

Schanke: Yeah, they figure this was ground zero. St. Swithin's Church. Let's get a closer look.

Nick hesitates, seeing several crosses scattered about.

Nick: Uh . . .

Schanke: Hey, you okay? All of a sudden you look like hell.

Nick: I'm fine. Hey, over there.

Nick and Schanke walk to an ambulance, where a paramedic is bandaging Father Seggerson's forehead. Nick addresses him.

Nick: Detective Knight, Detective Schanke. Were you in the church when this happened?

Father: Yes. I . . . I was hearing a confession.

Nick: What happened?

Father: I can't say. What happens in the confessional is secret.

Nick looks exasperated. Maybe hypnosis would work, but it's bad karma for a vampire to try that on a priest.

Nick: Is there anything you *can* tell us?

Schanke: Hey, back off, Nick. Let's see if forensics has anything.

Schanke wanders off to what's left of the church. Nick spots Natalie and goes to her.

Nick: What have you got, Nat?

Natalie: Well, it was no ordinary explosion. At least, nobody can find a trace of any unusual chemicals. C-4, Semtex, Torpex--nothing.

Nick: How about radiation?

Natalie: If you mean, was this the work of an atomic bomb, the answer is no. Nick--there is no *natural* explanation for what happened here.

The way she says "natural" tells Nick that she thinks there might be something here that involves vampires.

Nick: So you think I should look for . . .

Natalie: Right. A church *is* the sort of place you'd expect to find something . . . out of the ordinary.

Nick: I don't know. A church is consecrated ground. It should repel evil in all its forms.

Natalie: You've entered churches without trouble. Of course you're not all that evil.

Nick: I'm not exactly a candidate for sainthood, either.

Natalie: It's those little flaws that make you so loveable. Why don't you go help your partner?

Over in the ruins, Schanke is waving for Nick to join him. Reluctantly, Nick goes to join him. As he crosses the boundary of what used to be the church a look of surprise appears on his face. We understand what it means: this ground is no longer holy. Something--clearly something of profound evil, indeed, the absolute summation of everything foul and wicked in the universe--has desecrated this once-holy ground. Which, as it turns out, is a very good thing for Nick. He joins Schanke.

Nick: What is it?

Schanke: Well, this is definitely where it all went down when the church went up. Ground zero--and you see where it is?

Nick: This used to be a confessional.

Schanke: Yeah. The Father sat there, and the bomb went off *here.* You gotta figure that whoever was giving his confession at the time . . .

Nick: Was packing a bomb. Or whatever caused this.

Schanke: You on to something, Nick?

Nick: Natalie says there's no trace of chemical explosives around. Or radiation, so it wasn't terrorists with a black-market nuke.

Schanke: Then what was it? I mean, what on God's green earth could cause this much devastation? And how did the Father survive?

Nick: I don't know . . . but if we can find the priest's visitor, we'll have all the answers we need.

Schanke: Well, we better move fast, partner. Whoever did this has gotta be history, after sitting right on top of the explosion, but you can bet he's the sort of wacko who'll have left other little bombies here and there.

 

ACT 2: The Raven. As music plays and people dance, we watch Nick approach Janette at the bar.

Nick: What do you hear?

Janette cocks an ear and listens to the music.

Janette: Siouxsie and the Banshees. "The Double Life," isn't it? So appropriate.

Nick: I need to know about the church bombing. Four city blocks were destroyed, and Natalie thinks--

Janette: That vampires are connected?

Nick: It's possible. Our kind are not fond of churches--and there was something impossible about this blast.

Janette: Nicola, at the moment *you* are the impossible one!

Nick: But you know something.

Janette: I . . . I heard the explosion, of course. But just beforehand, I sensed something . . . horrendous. Something like an unseen terror, lurking in the shadows. A sensation that filled me with fear. And LaCroix sensed it as well. Didn't you notice?

Nick: I was asleep.

Janette: Well, whatever it was, it was not connected to vampires. LaCroix would have sensed that.

Nick: I'll ask him.

 

He leaves the Raven, and gets into the Caddy. As he drives he tunes in LaCroix's Night Crawler broadcast.

LaCroix: Strange events . . . disasters and terrors. We always sense evil around them, but we must ask ourselves, what is the nature of this evil? Can not evil come in as many breeds as do bacteria? Or is evil, in the end, always of one essential type?

And how does evil appear in our midst? Does it barge in like Attila the Hun? Or do we gladly invite it in? Or does it see that we do nothing to prevent its arrival, and in so doing, unwittingly give it access to our homes?

And why does evil grow in depravity as time passes, until it becomes the ultimate in depravity, that vile and monstrous scourge known as--

The broadcast is cut off by a sudden boom and an anguished cry. Alarmed, Nick steps on the gas and speeds to the CERK building. When he arrives he finds that the windows have all been blown out, a hideous yellow-green slime drips from the walls, and the survivors are running in terror. A dazed LaCroix staggers out into the open. Nick runs up to him and clutches him by the shoulders.

Nick: LaCroix, what happened?

LaCroix: Happened? Ah, yes. Well, after I was born in Rome, during the reign of the Emperor--

Nick: I mean just now!

LaCroix: Why this petty concern with the mere present? Ah, well. My assistant was working on the computer. He said something about spam before he shuffled off this mortal coil. Such a waste; those type AB-negatives are *so* hard to find.

Nick: Spam . . .

Nick's cell phone rings. He lets go of LaCroix and answers it.

Nick: Knight . . . yeah, I know about it, Schanke. The CERK station got hit. And, Schanke--

            {He pauses to survey the dead and wounded, and the slime-dripping building}

--it looks like spam.

 

ACT 3: The 96th Precinct. Chaos, as might be expected. Nick and Schanke hustle into Amanda Cohen's office, where the precinct captain is shouting into her phone.

Cohen: You don't need to tell me how bad it is! I *know* the Skydome is full of spam! I've seen it! It looks like a Godzilla-sized bowl of puke-flavored pudding! . . . Do? Put a lid on it! . . . Not *you,* bozo--the Skydome! Slide that mobile roof over it and seal it in!

She hangs up, sits down and massages her temples.

Cohen: Spam! I remember when all we had to worry about were cannibals, serial rapists and axe-murderers.

Nick: Those were the good old days.

Schanke: But we got a lead, captain.

Cohen: You do? Talk!

Schanke: A survivor from CERK says the place was spammed. This fellow named LaCroix saw the message come in, and he remembers all the details. The spammer is jmay <106125.315@CompuServe.COM>

Nick: And his message was political--"An appeal to every Irish-American." Something about asking people to send e-mail and faxes to Ireland to stop an Irish-Protestant parade, yadda-yadda-yadda.

Cohen: Spammers! Doesn't it occur to this guy that when it comes to politics nobody takes an e-mailed letter seriously? They're too easy to send and they're too easy to fake. Even the dorkiest pinhead knows you only get a response from a snail-mailed letter.

Schanke: Well, if this guy had that kind of smarts, would he be a spammer? No, he'd be a slightly higher link on the food chain, right up there with the grubs and aphids.

Cohen: What gets me is that he spammed a priest. Bag him and tag him!

Nick: My pleasure. Let's go, Schanke.

 

We follow the partners out to the Caddy, where they get in and drive off. Schanke looks thoughtful.

Schanke: What have you got in mind?

Nick: This spammer went to confess his sins, so he must have the remnants of a conscience. Maybe he'll want to confess again.

Schanke: A spammer with a conscience? Reality check, partner! Repeat those words over and over, until you see what's wrong with this picture.

Nick sighs.

Nick: Good point. But why did he go to confession?

Schanke: Maybe it's a habit he can't kick. Or maybe--

Nick: Maybe he wanted to taunt a priest.

Schanke: Yeah. Priests symbolize all that's good and right, which makes them a natural enemy of spammers. You think he'll go back to bug Father Seggerson?

Nick: Makes sense, doesn't it? He could pick on a rabbi, a Muslim imam, or an Amerind shaman, but Catholics keep everything in the confessional secret. He knows a priest can't reveal what he says, no matter how disgusting. That's got to give him almost as much of a sick kick as he gets out of spamming.

Schanke: He could pick another priest. That would make our work harder.

Nick: We're talking about a spammer, Schanke. Spammers aren't smart enough to think of anything that clever.

Schanke: So we watch the priest, and maybe we catch our spammer.

Nick nods at that. They come to a Red Cross disaster center, a huge gymnasium with cars and trucks parked outside. They park and go inside, where hundreds of people--refugees from the first spamming--have set up temporary homes with cots, crates, and "walls" made from blankets and sheets hung over ropes. The detectives find Father Seggerson among the refugees. Nick and Schanke take him aside.

Schanke: Father, we know what's going on. That guy in your confessional was a spammer, and we're dead sure he's going to come back to you.

Father: I can't discuss this.

Nick: Even though we all know what's going on?

Father: The fact that others do evil never excuses the evil we do ourselves. If anything, an evil done in the name of good is even worse than evil done for its own sake, because such an act corrupts the goodness it seeks to protect.

Schanke: Too bad our spammer doesn't understand that. Yeah, I know--you can't discuss that either.

Father Seggerson nods and they walk away from him. They go out to the Caddy, but merely sit there rather than drive away.

Schanke: We'll have to stake him out.

Nick winces at his indelicate phrasing, but nods.

Nick: Question is, how do we handle this? If he knows we're watching, he may have to warn off the spammer.

Schanke: Yeah, I know. Hell of a thing when a priest has to protect an evil man, isn't it?

Nick: You said it. I think--

The police radio squawks.

Radio voice: Eighty-one kilo, code three, the Raven.

Nick grabs the microphone.

Nick: Dispatch, eighty-one kilo, what's the problem?

Radio voice: Eighty-one kilo, spam-induced spamming.

Schanke slams a fist against the dashboard.

Schanke: Damn! It never ends, does it!

Nick shakes his head, and hits the siren as he starts the car.

 

ACT 4: The Raven. The usual swarm of police cars, emergency trucks and ambulances. The Raven still stands, but a vast flow of putrescent spam oozes from the front door, impeding the work of the rescue crews. Janette stands across the street. She looks badly shaken as she speaks to Natalie; Nick and Schanke join them as she talks.

Janette: It was terrible! What causes this?

Natalie: It's just like Northern Ireland, the Balkans, the Middle East--

            {she shrugs}

One idiot does something stupid, and then another idiot just *has* to respond in kind, and of course the next idiot has to strike back.

Schanke: And drag other people into it. It never ends.

Nick: Not until it destroys everything in sight. What do we know about this spam?

Natalie: Not much; it was just a minor, casual reply to jmay <106125.315@CompuServe.COM>'s original spam.

Schanke: You call this minor?

Natalie: Compared to the original spam, yes. All we got here was a minor reflection of the original spam's true evil.

Schanke: Just like this Northern Ireland stuff. People left Europe to get away from European idiocies, and it has to follow them across the ocean.

Janette: That is very deep.

Schanke: The ocean? Of course it's deep.

Nick speaks quietly to Natalie.

Nick: And people call *me* a brick.

Schanke: What?

Natalie: He said the spam looks awfully thick. That's because it has an unusual component in it: brimstone.

Schanke: Brimstone? As in hellfire and?

Natalie: Uh-huh. I ran a whole battery of tests on it. Everyday spam is bad enough, but this stuff was cooked in the very fires of hell itself. It's about what you'd expect from something that comes out of a bloody, centuries-old conflict.

Janette: And this jmay person seeks to keep it alive?

Nick: Maybe not deliberately, but--

Schanke: Hey, he came, he saw, he spammed! Let's talk about staking him out!

Janette shudders at his language.

Nick: I'll tell you what. Why don't I go back to the disaster center now? You can take over this evening.

Schanke: Sounds like a plan.

Natalie: Nick, can we have a word in private?

She pulls him aside and speaks quietly.

Natalie: Do the words hellfire and brimstone suggest anything to you? As in getting in over your head? With maybe six feet of earth shovelled over it?

Nick: Nat--

Natalie: Nick, you are dealing with hell itself here. Remember what happened the last time you went one-on-one with the devil? If you lose this time, you go to hell, and I don't think they'll offer you time off for good behavior.

Nick: This is still something I have to do.

 

Nick goes to the Caddy, gets in and drives. He fiddles with the radio a bit, and gets CERK. The announcer's voice is scratchy with static, but it's clear enough.

Announcer: --can't keep CERK down! Anyway here he is, your man an' mine, the Night Crawler with the Night Watch!

LaCroix: Bonne soire, mes amis. As you have heard, not too long ago I did battle with the forces of evil. It was, I admit, a draw; I shall do better next time.

But what brought on this evil? What arrogance made it feel it had the right to intrude on me and mine? We extended no invitation to it, offered it no cause to think that it could find a proper venue here. Yet it, and others like it, constantly disrupt our tranquil lives.

We all wish it would go back from whence it came, *and stay there.*

 

Nick arrives at the disaster center. He parks a block away, and as the east brightens with the dawn he walks to the building. Before he can enter he is stopped by a uniformed cop. Nick shows his badge.

Nick: Police business. I'm investigating the spammings.

Officer: Anything I can help you with, detective?

Nick: No, I just plan to hang around a while.

The officer nods and goes about his business. Nick slips into a nearby alley, and jumps to the top of the building. He slips in through a skylight, and finds the ceiling is a maze of girders, conduits, and lighting fixtures. He spots Father Seggerson, who has set up a makeshift confessional in a corner. Nick twists around a bit, hooks the back of his knees over an iron rod, and hangs upside-down as he watches the priest.

 

ACT 5: Panic shots of Toronto by day as the spammings continue. At long last the sun sets, hiding the indescribable horrors of the day . . . but not hiding jmay <106125.315@CompuServe.COM>. It walks like a man as it moves down the desolate, ruined streets of Toronto. Flowers wither as it passes, dogs bay at the moon, and the air turns to a smoglike crud as it exhales. You look at it and do not need to be told that it lacks any concept of personal hygeine. It cackles insanely as it sees a computer store. It smashes its way in, finds a computer that still works despite the devastation, and it goes on line. What it does can only be called spamming, but how can you expect me to describe that act when children may be reading? Suffice it to say that part of Toronto shudders and, gratefully, falls into Lake Ontario.

 

Back at the disaster center, Nick still keeps watch on Father Seggerson, who is hearing the confession of an eight year old. Nick's hearing lets him listen in:

Child: Bless me father, for I have sinned. It has been one week since my last confession. My sins . . . well, once . . . I acted like an adult, so is that adultery?

Father Seggerson fights down a belly laugh; he hasn't heard that chestnut since parochial school.

Father: No, that's something else. If that's all, you don't have a thing to worry about. Go get your dinner.

Nick looks perplexed; if this kid doesn't have anything to feel guilty about, how will he know he's Catholic? He wonders how much the Church has changed since the time of the Crusades.

Meanwhile, the sun sets. He is about to leave the rafters when he detects the biting odor of brimstone. He sees the refugees stir in apprehension, and then break into full-scale panic as jmay bursts into the building. Amid the chaos the spammer slithers toward Father Seggerson's confessional, where it seats itself, snarls, and growls out its words.

Spammer: Bless me, father, for I have spammed.

Father: You again!

Spammer: I told you bless me! Spamming be good! So bless!

Father: I'll "bless" you!

Father Seggerson pulls down the sheets that served as his crude confessional, and blesses jmay with a haymaker to the chin. As he does this Nick flies down from the rafters. This gives the father pause.

Father: Goodness gracious me.

Nick's entry is ill-timed, and the spammer grabs Father Seggerson while he is distracted. Jmay is obviously about to kill him, but Nick tackles the spammer, and the monster is forced to drop the priest and battle the vampire. As they fight Father Seggerson backs off, stands, and starts to speak in Latin, which is hereby translated for those among us who didn't have four years of it in high school:

Father: I, a priest of Christ, do command you, most foul spirits who stir up these clouds, to depart from them, and disperse yourself into the wild and untilled lands . . .

The words of exorcism continue as Nick and the spammer battle one another. Then the bowels of the earth open asunder, flame and sulphurous smoke belch for, and the night becomes thick with darkness made visible as Satan himself climbs out of the ground. His cloven hooves clatter on the shattered floor and his black eyes gleam with evil anticipation, while lesser demons caper and cavort around him.

Satan: Stop and obey! I command you to come hither!

The fight stops, and Nick and the spammer stand and face the devil.

Nick: I will not go with you. I've repented of my sins. I will not serve you--

Satan laughs.

Satan: Why should I want you, vampire?

Nick: I have done evil--

Satan: Piker! What are the collected sins of a vampire compared to even one act of a spammer? I am here to collect one whose evil surpasses anything you can imagine!

            {crooks a finger at the spammer}

Time to come home, my child!

Spammer: No! Me no go hell! Me be good!

Satan laughs again. He reaches out and grabs the spammer, and drags him down to hell. Nick watches in awe as the ground closes up over them while Father Seggerson walks up behind him.

Nick: I'll be damned . . . so to speak.

Father: You are . . . a vampire?

Nick: Yes.

Father Seggerson thinks it over. On the one hand, Nick is a creature of evil. On the other hand--

Father: Ah, what the hell. Anyone who hates spammers can't be all bad.

He gives Nick a friendly pat on the shoulder. Nick smiles, even though his shoulder smokes where the priest touches him.

 

TAG: The loft. Natalie lounges on the couch, sipping a glass of wine as she talks with Nick.

Natalie: So the devil wasn't interested in you? Seems almost insulting.

Nick: Don't knock it. That rite of exorcism should have condemned me to hell, too.

Natalie: Well, it didn't. You must be making progress.

Nick is about to answer when we hear a grinding, rumbling noise. The loft shakes as though caught in an earthquake. A huge fissure opens in the floor, and amid clouds of sulphurous smoke Satan himself climbs into view. Nick looks frightened, but Natalie leaps to her feet to confront the devil.

Natalie: Go away! *No way* are you taking Nick from me!

Then she hesitates, and we see that the devil's face is worn and haggard, and tears of misery spill from his eyes.

Satan: I'm not here to take him away! I want to make a deal--

Natalie: You are not buying *anyone's* soul tonight!

Satan: Please listen, please! It's that spammer! I'll do anything you want, anything, just--

The devil sobs, then drops to his knees and clasps his hands as he begs.

Satan: *Please* take him back! I can't *stand* having him in hell! He's ruining the place!

Fade to end theme and credits.


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