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Games Spampires Play

In his loft, Nick sits at his computer. He looks weary, as though he's finally seen too much human folly in his eight hundred years, and is carrying on only through force of habit.

Nick: More spam. And not just any spam. I could ignore it if it were only one of those incoherent rants from some villein with what the Alaskans call a room-temperature IQ, but this is another one of those get-rich-quick swindles.

            {sighs, shakes his head, then forces himself back to work}

All right. First, click on the "Forward Post" icon. Address the spam to my server's postmaster. Then, put the word "SPAM" in the heading, and add a note to the forwarded message telling my postmaster that this is spam and doesn't belong on my newsgroup. Then, click on the "Send" icon. If it comes back in my e-mail with a note that there's no such address, forward it to something like "abuse" or "operator" or "sysadmin" at my server.

            {pauses to sip from his glass of cow's blood. Then back to work, and he's so intent on his mission that he doesn't notice someone sneaking up behind him.}

Then, because it's a felony swindle, repeat the process by forwarding it to nfic@internetmci.com, to see what sort of legal action they might take.

            {sips more blood, while behind him the intruder raises a sharp wooden stake.}

And then forward it to the spammer's postmaster--urk!

The intruder plunges the stake into Nick's back.

Familiar music as the sun rises, then sets over Toronto.

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 loft. Paramedics and crime-scene specialists are there, along with Schanke and Captain Cohen. Cohen has her hands on Schanke's shoulders as she tries to comfort him.

Cohen: Maybe you shouldn't be on this one.

Schanke: Come on, Nick was my partner. If I was the one that got killed, Nick wouldn't rest until he found the killer.

Cohen: It's still going to be rough.

Schanke: I'll live. What have we got?

They go to the computer, where Nick is slumped over the keyboard.

Cohen: It's pretty baroque. That's a wooden stake. Considering how little he bled, death must have been instantaneous.

Schanke: What was he working on when the killer got him?

            {peers at the screen}

Looks like he was reporting spam. Maybe that's a clue.

Cohen: Could be. Spammers and their groupies really hate guys like Nick. And spammers are wacko enough to use a wooden stake, where a more normal psychokiller would use a gun or a knife or reruns of "Three's Company."

Cohen gestures to the paramedics, who load Nick's body onto a gurney. As they pull a sheet over him LaCroix enters.

Cohen: Who're you?

LaCroix: Luke LeQuex, Secret Investigations Unit.

Schanke: Never heard of it.

LaCroix: Perhaps that has something to do with our secrecy. Has Dr. Lambert been assigned to the autopsy?

Cohen: No, and she won't be. She was a personal friend of the deceased.

LaCroix: As opposed to an impersonal friend? *Perhaps she would wish to be involved.*

Cohen: Perhaps she would wish to be involved . . .

Hypnotized, Cohen and Schanke present no problem to LaCroix. However, this situation presents other problems which he must cover.

LaCroix: It would be inappropriate for me to say too much, Captain, but let me assure you things are not as bad as they seem.

Schanke: My partner's dead! You don't call that bad?

LaCroix: I've seen worse. I suggest you contemplate the Reichenbach Falls. If you will excuse me?

LaCroix leaves with the paramedics as they wheel out the gurney. Cohen and Schanke face one another.

Schanke: Reichenbach Falls?

Cohen: That's where Sherlock Holmes faked his own death.

Schanke: Faked? Nick? I've seen dead before, and Nick's dead! He couldn't fool me about something like that!

 

The morgue. LaCroix watches as Natalie grasps the stake and pulls it out of Nick's chest. As he gasps and sits up she hands him a transfusion bag, and he drinks its contents. After he finishes his second drink he gets off the table.

Nick: What happened?

Natalie: You're the detective; you're supposed to work it out.

Nick: It isn't fair, expecting me to solve my own murder.

LaCroix: Fair?

            {chuckles}

Life's a bitch, and then you die. Repeatedly. What do you recall?

Nick: I was investigating a spamming. That's all I know--Schanke.

Natalie: He's at your loft, investigating your murder.

Nick goes to the phone and places a call.

Nick: Schanke? Yeah, it's me . . . of course I'm still alive. I couldn't call you if I was dead, could I . . . LeWho? Oh, right . . . okay . . . no, *you* can celebrate with a souvlaki dinner.

He's about to say more when an orderly wheels in a loaded gurney. He says goodbye and hangs up. Natalie pulls the sheet from the body as Nick and LaCroix look over her shoulder. The body is that of a bald man, whose head has two large punctures in its exposed scalp.

Natalie: Now there's something you don't see every day.

Nick: This isn't the work of a vampire.

LaCroix: Certainly not. We have better aim than that.

Natalie: Not to mention smaller fangs, if that's what caused those punctures. But if a vampire didn't do this, what did? And--why?

She is answered with ominous silence.

 

ACT 2: The loft. Cohen and Schanke are working at Nick's computer. Schanke looks overjoyed.

Schanke: I knew he was alive! Nick's never been able to fool me.

Cohen: Whatever you say, Schanke. Can we stay on track here?

Schanke: Sure. I figure that we'll find something in one of Nick's files.

Cohen: And he's got some weird file-names here. Dracula.txt, nosferatu.wri, vampire.lst, undead.msg.

Schanke: My partner. What a clown! Hey, let's try this one--clueless.txt

Schanke opens the file and they read it:

    "I dont need these posst to tell me about reproting spammers! Ide rather have the spammers!Bad boy! Bad, bad boy!"

    "Hard to imagine the Internet has all christians using you can cus and get in trouble but man download kiddie pron or something and that is kewl"

    "As much as I hate spamming, I also tend to also get annoyed by people like you who enjoy having others ISP accounts cancelled. That sort of action would be appropriate if it was an e-mail spam, but in Usenet, especially in the alt.* heirarchy, I feel that action is very unneccessary. If you continue to act in this manner, you will easily gain a reputation, if you know what I mean."

    "I"d just like to say that anyone that spends their ife on the internet reporting spams to server postmasters really has far too much time on their hands."

Cohen: Can you believe it? People complaining about someone who reports spammers? That's strange.

Schanke: I can't think of anything weirder. You think there's a connection to this attack?

Cohen: Well, Nick was working on a spam at the time, and these weenies are obvious sickos.

Schanke: Man oh man oh man, I wonder what makes people turn out like that? They seem so brainless.

 

A matter which is being considered at the morgue, where Natalie is finishing her autopsy on her latest visitor.

Natalie: Simply put, somebody punched two holes in his head and sucked out his brains. And what's weird, as if that isn't weird enough, is that the wounds are about a month old. They show definite signs of healing.

Nick: You're saying that this man lived for a month without a brain? How is that possible?

LaCroix: An amusing question to ask in an election year. A more pertinent question would be, what was this man doing without a brain?

Natalie: He was spamming. He was gregoire@earthlink.net (Greg B.), who posted some mickey-mouse spam about fading celebrities.

LaCroix: Do you suppose that some laudable vigilante took matters into his own hands, and dealt with this spammer more kindly than he deserved?

Nick: No, he posted his spam only a week or so ago, long after his brain was removed. Spamming is the only activity that requires no brains.

Natalie: Could this be the work of some sort of mutated vampire? Taking brains instead of blood? Making spammers instead of more undead?

LaCroix: Our kind do not "mutate," doctor. Nor do we spam.

Natalie: I'm not saying you do. I'm suggesting--

She's suggesting something we won't hear just yet. The lab door crashes open and a creature of indescribable, unspeakable and untype-able evil bursts into the room. We see it has two huge puncture-marks in its forehead as it lunges at Nick with a wooden stake.

Icky thing: Die, spampire hunter!

Nick, LaCroix and Natalie battle it. Fists fly, Nick shoots with his pistol, Natalie hacks away with scalpels, LaCroix chills it with comments of unsurpassed irony. Soon it is reduced to little chunks of crud. Nick, however, looks concerned.

Nick: I hear other things like that out there.

LaCroix: Let us retire to a place of comparative safety.

They leave with Natalie.

 

Act 3: The alley behind the Raven. Nick and LaCroix land; Nick is carrying Natalie in his arms. She speaks as they enter the Raven's rear door.

Natalie: That beats the hell out of flying coach. Sure wish I'd had a seat-belt to fasten, though.

Nick: Just as long as you observed the "No Smoking" sign.

They cross the dance floor to the bar, where they meet Janette. She sees them and speaks to the bartender.

Janette: The usual for the gentlemen, and a Roy Rogers for her.

Natalie: And people say you have no sense of humor. Scotch, straight.

The bartender delivers the drinks, and all imbibe. Janette coolly eyes Natalie as she sips her Scotch.

LaCroix: We should be discussing this remarkable occurence. Precisely what did we encounter?

Natalie: It had two huge fangs, and they were the right size to fit the huge holes in gregoire@earthlink.net (Greg B.)'s head.

LaCroix: And our visitor sported similar holes in its own head. We may safely assume that there are more such creatures at large.

Janette: Creatures?

Nick: Something that feeds on mortals for their brains, and turns them into spammers.

Janette: How repugnant!

            {shudders, and calms her nerves by finishing her glass of blood}

Natalie: I know. Don't get me wrong, but my gut instinct is that these things are at least similar to vampires. There has to be a master-spammer somewhere to create and control them.

LaCroix: That is reasonable. Certainly the typical spammer lacks what it takes to do anything on its own.

Nick's cell-phone rings; he answers it.

Nick: Knight . . . you did, Schanke? You have? Good. Look, don't tell anyone. I'll catch up with you tonight.

LaCroix: And what has your busy partner found?

Nick: He's identified my attacker. But it doesn't mean anything; it was just a minor spammer.

Natalie: But a spammer means we're on the right track. You've been attacked by two spammers. That's no coincidence.

LaCroix: Indeed. There must, as you say, be a master-spammer behind these perfidious beings, using them as pawns in the game it plays against my son, their enemy.

Janette: So you have been crusading again, Nicola?

She sees that Natalie has finished her drink.

Janette: It is almost dawn; some of us will have to rest. May I offer you a daycap?

Natalie: Why not?

At Janette's gesture the bartender refills everyone's glass. Janette watches as Natalie kills her drink. Janette smiles and goes away. Natalie coughs and wheezes, then slams her empty glass down on the bar. Her eyes water as she grabs Nick by the lapels. She speaks in a hoarse, strained voice:

Natalie: Don't ever let me do that again!

 

A quick shot as the sun rises, then sets. Schanke is in Nick's loft, watching "I Dream of Jeannie" on Nick's TV. He gets up and goes to the refrigerator, where he peers in and sees nothing but bottles of cow's blood. He shakes his head.

Schanke: Everybody else keeps food in their refrigerators. My partner--

Nick: Keeps his painting supplies there.

Schanke: Jesus! Do you enjoy sneaking up on people like that?

Nick: Everybody needs a hobby. What have you got on the attack?

Schanke: What I got is a partner who scares the bejeezus out of me! How did you fake being dead?

Nick: With this.

            {reaches inside his coat and pulls out a Steve Martin stake: two halves of a stake with a gap between them, held together by a curved bit of coat-hanger wire. Nick slips it over his chest, spreads his arms and smiles.}

Easy. See? My attacker tried to kill me with a stake. He blew it and ran off, but I was sure his boss would check, so I faked the whole death scene for his benefit.

Schanke: Yeah. Now for the sixty-four dollar question. Why would someone try to kill you by pounding a stake through your heart?

Nick: Let's ask them when we catch them.

And that opportunity presents itself at once, as a hideous beast breaks into the loft through a skylight. It brandishes another stake, then pauses in bewilderment as it sees that Nick has, apparently, already been staked. Schanke takes advantage of its confusion by drawing his gun and filling it full of lead. As it staggers around in pain and confusion Nick rushes it, grabs it and hurls it into the fireplace. He douses it with lighter fluid and touches a match to it, and then piles firewood atop it. The monster burns--and generates a thick, noxious black smoke that drives Nick and Schanke out of the loft. They get outside, to the lot behind the garage doors, where Schanke gasps for air and turns to Nick.

Schanke: I think you have a lot of explaining to do, partner.

 

ACT 4: Outside the loft. A toxic-waste emergency clean-up crew goes inside to remove the vile remains of the spammer from the fireplace. Nick and Schanke look on. Then Schanke turns to Nick.

Schanke: Nick, I've noticed something *odd* about you. You never eat or drink, you never get out in the sun, you've got bottles of blood in your refrigerator, and now two people have tried to kill you with wooden stakes! How do you explain *that?!?*

Nick: I don't. I'm more concerned about stopping the next spammer with a wooden stake.

Schanke: Come on!

Nick: I think these people have decided I'm a vampire. Which is crazy, and in case you haven't noticed, there's something odd about *them.* How many rounds did you put in that spammer's chest?

Schanke: Six. It would have been eight, but I put the rest of the clip into his skull.

Nick: Seven. You shot out my TV, and I know there's something wrong with you when you fill Barbara Eden full of lead.

Schanke: Did I do that?

Nick: I think the spammer affected your mind, or at least your aim. Calling me a vampire!

Schanke: Yeah, maybe you're right. Look, let's go out and grab some souvlaki.

Nick: With garlic? Forget it.

Schanke looks askance at his partner. Fortunately Natalie drives up now and hurries over to them.

Natalie: What happened?

Nick: Schanke's upset. Another spammer tried to drive a stake through my heart, and now he's convinced I'm a vampire.

Natalie: You? A vampire? That's silly!

Schanke: Yeah? So why'd that creep try to off him with a stake? Or are you going to tell me he thought it was a giant toothpick, and he mistook Nick for a martini olive?

Natalie: Well, the truth *is* a bit psychological. You know that a spammer is a different form of life from real people.

Nick: That's right. Schanke only stunned it when he shot it.

Natalie: Exactly! But Schanke shot it because we all know that guns are the way to kill something, right?

Schanke: Works for me.

Natalie: But not for a spammer. Look, you used a gun because it was the obvious way to you. But spammers, which are nothing like people, have to be killed through different means. I'd say it involves driving a wooden stake through the heart. So to a spammer, *that* is the obvious means of killing someone.

Schanke: So when the spammer tried to stake Nick--

Natalie: It was only a coincidence that Nick's allergies to the sun and to food, plus his warped sense of humor, make him seem like a vampire.

Schanke: I knew it all along!

Nick: Of course you did.

A police radio makes some incomprehensible noises, and Schanke rushes off to answer its call. Natalie speaks quietly to Nick.

Natalie: Did I make any sense?

Nick: No, but don't let that stop you.

Schanke motions for Nick to join him. Nick does so.

Schanke: We got an ID on our master spammer! It calls itself Scott@Op.Net (Scott Peikin). It's been trying to sell memberships in some sort of merchandise club. Has this big 23 kilobyte post that's full of doubletalk.

Nick: Let me guess. You pay a little fee, and you make a huge return, and it swears up and down that all sorts of folks have made money, too--

Schanke: And "they," whoever "they" are, would like to keep you from learning about his scheme. And get this, our spammer has the gall to ask other people to spread his spam for him!

Nick: Which would explain why he's been turning other people into spammers, the fiend.

Schanke: And I have his address! Let's nail him!

Nick: At once. To the Batmobile, Robin.

Schanke looks put off for a moment, then accompanies Nick to the Caddy. They drive off into the Toronto night. As they leave LaCroix appears and approaches Natalie.

LaCroix: I overheard what you told the good detective, Dr. Lambert, and I must say you were quite brilliant.

Natalie: I was?

LaCroix: I must admit that there are certain similarities between spammers and vampires. Perhaps we evolved to fill different, yet similar, roles.

Natalie: You mean vampires take blood--

LaCroix: And spammers take brains. Perhaps it is because we vampires do not produce blood on our own, while spammers lack brains of their own. And, given this similarity, it seems that the master-spammer will be especially difficult to destroy.

Natalie: So what should we do?

LaCroix: Let us think.

 

ACT 5: A construction site near Lake Ontario. As Nick and Schanke drive up they notice something strange.

Schanke: Where is everyone? This place feels *dead.*

Nick: Seems okay to me.

They get out and enter the construction site. It's dark and cluttered with heavy equipment--cranes, steam shovels, a piledriver, cement trucks. Nick hears something and draws his gun, as does Schanke. They creep up on a foreman's shack, where a light glows through a window. They peer in and see a vaguely humanoid shape at work at a desktop computer. It's obviously not a construction worker; in fact, it's obvious that this reprehensible abomination has never done an honest day's labor in its worthless life. In short, it's a spammer--and it realizes it has just been spotted. It jumps up with a roar and smashes its way through the side of the shack. Guns blazing, fists flying, Nick and Schanke do battle, attacking and retreating as Scott@Op.Net (Scott Peikin) pursues them around the construction site.

 

Back at the loft, Natalie and LaCroix work furiously at Nick's computer.

LaCroix: Nicolas has found the one sure way to weaken a spammer. Report it to its server, and if its deeds are foul enough, the server will close its account.

Natalie: Look, that posting is its spam--the posting that says TOMORROW

LaCroix: So I shall forward this spam to postmaster@Op.net, with a note attached to say that it is inappropriate and unwelcome on this newsgroup.

            {does so, and clicks on the "Send" icon}

My, what a wonderfully satisfying sensation. I can feel the spammer's power fade already.

Natalie: But it isn't dying? How do we destroy it?

LaCroix: I have a plan.

 

Whatever it is, Nick and Schanke are too busy to care. Slowly, they get the upper hand on Scott@Op.Net (Scott Peikin), pin him to the ground and wrap him in rope. Nick finds a large hammer while Schanke digs up a sharp wooden stick. Schanke holds it over the spammer's chest, and Nick makes like John Henry, the steel-driving man. The spammer roars in agony as the stake pierces his heart. Nick drives it so deep it pins him to the ground. The spammer screams and howls, but does not die.

Schanke: We're doin' something wrong, partner.

Nick: It's a spammer. It figures a spammer wouldn't have a heart.

The spammer laughs in mockery. It speaks in a grating voice:

Scott@Op.Net (Scott Peikin): Fools! You cannot destroy my power! I shall open another account under a new name and return to destroy you!

Schanke: Let's drive another stake into it.

Nick: It won't help.

Schanke: Yeah, but it'll be a whole lot of fun.

Nick: Good point.

Schanke: And the point's at the end of a stake!

So they do it again, causing Scott@Op.Net (Scott Peikin) to shriek out some delightfully agonized noises. This accomplishes nothing, however. They're preparing a third stake when Natalie rushes up to them.

Natalie: You're doing this all wrong.

Nick: Well, what should we do?

Natalie: Think. When you destroy a vampire, you drive a stake through the one part of its body that doesn't work.

Schanke: You mean nail it in the--

Natalie: The *heart,* not that, Schanke. A vampire's heart doesn't work. Now, what's the one part of a spammer that doesn't work? I mean, aside from *that?*

Nick: The brain. Of course, *that's* why it steals brains!

Natalie: Because it's own brain is dead.

Schanke: So let's quit talking and stake its brain!

 

We now pause for a word from CERK and our host, the Night Crawler.

LaCroix: What causes these foolish spammers to perpetrate their evil, when they know they are outnumbered by the good and righteous? Worse yet, how can they ignore the fact that, when one man will stand up to them, when one woman will defy them, that soon countless others will learn from their example and carry the fight to new ground, and reclaim the newsgroups from their savage depredations? We can only stand and marvel, dear listeners, at the folly of the spammers and the determination of their foes.

 

Back to the construction site. The ground around the spammer is littered with shattered stakes and broken hammers. Nick tosses aside a ruined sledgehammer while Schanke shakes his head over a bent length of pipe.

Schanke: It's unreal! This spammer has a skull like solid steel!

Natalie: It's probably solid bone, no damned brain at all.

Scott@Op.Net (Scott Peikin): Dummies! You have not the power to--

Nick: Stuff a sock in it, spamboy! I have an idea.

Nick picks up the spammer and carries him off.

Schanke: I think I see what he's doing. Come on.

Nick tosses the spammer beneath the piledriver. He goes to a bulldozer and rips out an axle. As he carries the metal shaft to the spammer, Schanke diddles with the piledriver's controls, and soon its enormous, multi-tonne metal weight is lifted high into the air. Nick places the jagged end of the axle over the spammer's head, placing it right between its beady eyes. Then Schanke releases the piledriver, and the weight plunges down. The fury of its impact makes the spammer scream again--but the makeshift stake has actually been driven several millimeters into Scott@Op.Net (Scott Peikin)'s dense skull.

Nick: This could take a while--but I think he's getting the point.

 

TAG: The loft. Nick and Natalie are enjoying their drinks.

Natalie: Not a bad night's work. The spampires are all put down, and Schanke is convinced you aren't a vampire.

Nick: It's only a temporary solution. We'll have other spammers.

Natalie: I know. It's always something different each time, isn't it? But you did everything in your power to stop this one.

Nick: But he'll be back--unless you're sure you destroyed his remains after I finished with him?

Natalie: Well--I couldn't think of a perfect way to destroy him, so I decided to freeze his body. That way, we can keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn't rise again.

Nick: Where is the body?

Natalie: In a place where it will help take care of a problem you've always had.

Nick: Problem? You don't mean--

Natalie: No, not *that.* I mean people who wonder why you never have any food in your refrigerator.

Natalie gets up and leads him to his refrigerator. She opens it and shows Nick a pizza delivery box. When opened, it reveals the flattened remains of the spammer, who now looks like an especially unappetizing pizza.

Natalie: How about that? The spammer is finally doing some good.

 

Fade to end theme and credits


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Last modified: April 10, 2006