Forever Spam

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A More Permanent Spam

An observatory outside Toronto. Inside, a team of Canadian astronomers stand beneath their telescope as they watch a TV news bulletin.

Announcer: --have just announced the discovery of life on Mars in a meteor. The meteor, which was spalled off from Mars 16 million years ago during an asteroid impact, landed in Antarctica. NASA scientists have not verified this--

Dr. Sterne: No, no, no! How can they get it all so wrong!

Dr. Zvezda: Didn't they listen? We told them that the giant asteroid, which has been on its way to Earth for 16 million years, will soon pass Mars and go on to impact our world in Antarctica, destroying all life on Earth!

Dr. Aster: Somehow our announcement has been mixed in with this other message.

Dr. Etoile: But what could have fouled up our message so badly?

He is answered by a strange rumbling sound. The scientists look up in terror as something hideous and slimy pours through the open dome of the observatory.

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: Outside the observatory. Nick and Tracy get out of the Caddy and look at the dome. It and its surroundings are coated in a thick, rancid, congealing slime.

Nick: One of the biggest telescopes in the world, and they never saw it coming.

Tracy: It's the worst spamming I've ever seen. What brought it on?

Nick: That's what we're here to find out. Let's get out the waders.

Nick opens the trunk and pulls out some huge, hip-high wading boots. Tracy stares into the trunk as he puts on a set.

Tracy: TV, refrigerator, reading light, bookshelf--

Nick: You should see the guest room. Put your boots on.

She does so, and they wade into the spam. While forensics technicians examine the scene and paramedics rescue survivors, they stop to look at the mutilated remains of two of the astronomers, who lie amid the rubble of the shattered observatory dome. Then Nick hears something, and uses his vampiric strength to rip into a heap of wreckage. In moments he and Tracy have pulled the stunned and shocked Dr. Etoile from the debris. The elderly man mumbles almost incoherently as Nick carries him to a waiting ambulance.

Dr. Etoile: Giant asteroid . . . coming for 16 million years . . . hit Antarctica . . . end all life . . .

Tracy: Poor guy. He's so mixed up he didn't even understand the news.

Nick: What news?

Tracy: They found signs of fossil life on Mars.

Nick: Really? Far out.

They get to the ambulance, where the paramedics simultaneously wash off the spam, splint and bandage Etoile's injuries, put him on oxygen and treat him for shock. He rouses and regains consciousness, and looks alarmed.

Dr. Etoile: You have to warn everyone! An asteroid is going to hit the Earth and wipe us out, unless we take immediate action!

Tracy: No, no, it's all right, they found life on Mars--

Dr. Etoile: No, they didn't! The message got garbled somehow! We found that a huge asteroid is going to hit the Earth!

Nick: A garbled message?

Tracy: How could a warning about a disaster get garbled?

Nick flashes back.

 

1883. Krakatoa, *west* of Java. Nick, LaCroix and Janette get off a sailing ship which has just made port. The docks are jammed with people.

Janette: The hunting will be good tonight.

LaCroix: We have no time. That volcano will explode soon, and that is not a spectacle I enjoy. We must charter the fastest ship we can find, at once.

Nick: But why are all these people here?

LaCroix: To die, I should say. Search for a fast ship; return to me when you find something appropriate.

Nick starts looking around. His attention is drawn to a man who stands at a podium. He's dressed like a carnival barker, and he sells tickets to the people around him as he shouts.

Carnie: Hurry, hurry, hurry! Step right up, gets your tickets to see the eruption of the century! Krakatoa, east of Java! Bigger than Tambora, bigger than Mazuma, bigger than Vesuvius! See death and destruction up close!

Nick goes to him, pulls him aside and uses hypnosis to quiet him.

Nick: You should warn these people to flee!

Carnie: What . . . and not make money from the suckers?

Nick: Be careful who you call a sucker. You lure them to their deaths! Why don't you tell them the truth!

Carnie: Because I want their money.

            {recognizes what Nick is; smiles}

You take blood, I take money. What's the difference?

 

Meanwhile, back at the present, Nick and Tracy have gone to the morgue, where they confer with Natalie.

Natalie: Well, it doesn't surprise me that a spammer would let the world end. There's no limit to their depravity.

Tracy: At least the truth is getting out now.

Nick: NASA and the Canadian Space Agency have already announced that they have plans to deflect the asteroid.

Natalie: But that leaves the spammer still at large. And, since it killed several people to cover up its spamming, it's safe to assume that this wretch isn't ready to stop.

Nick checks his gun.

Nick: Ready or not, here we come.

 

ACT 2: The 96th Precinct. The entire detective force has gathered in a conference room to hear Captain Reese speak.

Reese: Okay, forensics came back with an ID on the observatory spammer. It calls itself edward@ebiznet.com. A while ago it posted a spam about a so-called charity, but right off the bat we spotted something fishy in this "press release" spam.

Nick: For one thing, it spammed from an account on biznet.com, but the spam included an e-mail address on a different server, truenet.net. The idea was that when the spam account got shut down, the spammer's real business account would go unscathed.

Reese: It didn't work; we forwarded the spam to the postmasters at both servers. But there's more. Vetter?

Tracy: The spam had some nice touches in the doubletalk department. For example, it had a phone number--Barbara Bennett at (561)837-3962--but that area code isn't in use anywhere in North America. What's more, these Net Lnnx wanks claim they're setting up a web site for a charity, and then they claim this "charity" site will have a "sales value" of about a million dollars.

Reese: And since when do charities turn a profit? This whole thing is a sleazy scam.

There are angry sounds of assent from the crowd. Hardened cops look enraged. As they know, swindlers who use a charity appeal on their victims are doubly damnable. Not only do they bilk well-meaning people, but they steal money that was meant for humanitarian ends.

Nick: And these people aren't satisfied with defrauding generous people. They used spam to disrupt the observatory's warning about that asteroid, and then they attacked the observatory to make sure the warning wouldn't get out.

Reese: They could have brought on the end of the world. I want them behind bars tonight.

The crowd breaks up and starts to leave the room. Nick and Tracy go to the Caddy and drive off into the Toronto night. Nick tunes in to LaCroix's Night Crawler show as he turns onto Yonge Street.

LaCroix: So at the same time we discover life on another planet, we find that life is about to end on this world. How strange it is that we find the life of this world to be important, when it turns out that life is a common, plebeian thing, found throughout the universe. And why do we become upset over a natural disaster that may exterminate us, when for centuries humanity has done its best to wipe itself out through unnatural means?

 

Nick flashes back to Krakatoa, where LaCroix and Janette try to draw him away from the crowd and the carnie.

LaCroix: Nicolas, we have no time to waste here.

Nick: This man is doing evil.

LaCroix: He feeds as we do. To excess, I admit, but what of it? This glutton will be destroyed with these others.

Janette: As we shall be destroyed if we do not escape soon. Do not waste time on this crusade, Nicolas.

Nick: I must stop him from drawing others to their doom, if only to show that I do not kill for the same reason he kills.

 

Back in present-night Toronto, Nick is drawn from his flashback by Tracy's call of alarm.

Tracy: Ohmigod! Look out!

Ahead of the Caddy, a huge wave of spam rolls down Yonge Street toward them. Nick executes a hairpin turn, and amid other cars races away from the wave of spam. It overtakes the Caddy and lifts it off the street, and carries it along. As the Caddy rises to the crest of the wave Nick and Tracy look around and see that vast areas of Toronto are being inundated by waves of spam. Then the wave breaks, depositing the Caddy near the docks on Lake Ontario.

Tracy: It's a good thing you just had this car waxed.

Nick: Yeah . . . but I never meant to use it as a surfboard.

Tracy: At least we came out all right.

Nick: I'm not so sure. Things are going to get worse.

Tracy: What makes you say that?

Wordlessly, Nick points to a dock, where a large freighter has dropped a gangplank. A bearded man in robes stands at its foot while the animals line up two by two.

Nick: I don't think this is our night.

Tracy sees something amid the crowd of animals. She gets out of the Caddy and hurries through the crowd, and finds Vachon and Urs.

Tracy: Vachon? What are *you* doing here?

Vachon: Well, they did say two of everything.

Tracy: Running away again?

Urs: More like floating away.

Tracy: Have we met?

Urs: No.

Vachon: Urs, Tracy. Tracy, Urs.

Tracy: Vachon, how can you just run away when we need all the help we can get to fight this spammer?

Vachon: How? Just watch me.

Tracy: Okay, where can you run *to?* No place will be safe if this spammer isn't stopped.

Urs: She has a point, Javier.

Vachon: Well . . . all right.

 

ACT 3: The CERK newsroom. LaCroix and Nick are waiting by the teletype as it prints out a news bulletin. LaCroix reads it.

LaCroix: "NASA has announced a plan to divert the Doomsday asteroid from its course with Earth. The American space agency will launch a hundred megatonne H-bomb at the space-rock, and the explosion will nudge the rock very slightly from its present orbit. According to a NASA speaker, the slight change will add up over the last twenty million miles of the asteroid's trajectory, causing it to hit Mars. This will end any threat to Earth."

Nick: Amazing what they can do these days.

LaCroix: It would be more amazing if they could stop spam. Has anyone located this spammer yet?

Nick: No. It claims to operate out of West Palm Beach, Florida, and to have a listing on the NASDAQ stock exchange, but that seems as false as the rest of its claims.

LaCroix: Well, the wire reports show that no place on Earth has been spammed as badly as Toronto, so we may assume that the spammer has chosen to infest this city.

Nick: If we can trust the wire reports.

LaCroix: Yes, the spammings may have garbled them as well. It is in the nature of spammers to sew confusion. The more muddled the world becomes, the less certain people become over what is true and what is false--the more it benefits spammers.

Nick: I know . . .

 

And he's back at Krakatoa, at the heart of the crowd with the carnie.

Nick: Listen to me! When Krakatoa explodes it will kill everyone on the island! Flee now! Save yourselves!

Carnie: Hey, nothing to worry about, would I sell you tickets if there was any danger!

Nick: All he wants is your money! He doesn't care if you live or die!

Carnie: Come on, I can't sell you tickets if you die, so trust me! After you see what a great show the volcano puts on, you can tell your friends what a great deal I gave you!

The crowd shoves Nick aside as people line up to buy even more tickets. The carnie's shouts drown out Nick's warnings. LaCroix and Janette appear at Nick's side; LaCroix chuckles.

LaCroix: You tell them there is danger; he tells them otherwise. Which would they rather hear?

Nick: The truth will save them!

LaCroix: But he will not let them hear. And to save themselves they must make a certain effort, a quality lacking in so many mortals.

Janette: The time is upon us to make that effort. And we have not yet found the swiftest means to escape Krakatoa.

 

Tracy has problems of her own. She is at the top of the CN Tower, where she can see that much of Toronto is submerged under spam. As she consults a map of the city Vachon and Urs return from a flight over the disaster zone.

Urs: Nothing.

Vachon: Same here. I checked all the deepest spots in the spam, but our spammer isn't there.

Tracy: Damn. I was certain our spammer would be where the spam is worst.

Vachon: Maybe it isn't spamming just now.

Urs: That could be. Even a spammer must need to rest.

Vachon: Speaking of which, we'll need to rest, too. The sun's almost up.

Tracy: Okay. I'll see you guys tonight.

Vachon and Urs fly away, leaving Tracy to contemplate the city. Her face brightens with inspiration.

Tracy: Of course!

She hurries into the nearest elevator.

 

Nick is in his loft as the sun comes up. He drinks cow's blood as he listens to the morning news on TV.

Announcer: NASA launched its asteroid-deflection flight less than an hour ago, and all is going well. The high-speed rocket will hit the asteroid in twelve days. In a related development, the Canadian Space Agency announced that it will launch Juno I, its first Mars probe, early tomorrow morning. The probe will land on Mars in time to observe the effects of the asteroid's impact on the Red Planet.

Nick: If the spammer doesn't interfere with it . . . or the bomb.

Nick looks thoughtful as he drinks more blood.

 

ACT 4: Another Krakatoa flashback. The night is lit by the ominous glow of the volcano as it prepares for a full eruption. The docks seem almost deserted. A few sailors work here and there, and we see that only one craft, a sleek-looking steamer, is ready to leave port. The carnie appears out of the night and walks up its gangplank. As he boards the ship he sees three dim figures in the shadows.

Carnie: Okay, boys, let's cast off before that sucker blows up!

The three figures--Nick, Janette and LaCroix--step into the light.

Nick: I warned you against talking about "suckers."

Carnie: Get lost, vampire

LaCroix: Nicolas is already quite lost, in his own way. And yourself?

Carnie: I'm right where I want to be.

LaCroix: Yes, and I see Nicolas' deductions were correct. You planned to flee to safety on the fastest ship available.

Janette: And by watching you we could discover that ship.

Carnie: Okay, so you rubes are clever.

LaCroix: And--*hungry.*

They fall on the crook.

 

Nightfall. Much of Toronto is flooded with huge, bilious globs of spam. The 96th Precinct is mired in it. Inside we see uniformed officers placing sandbags around doors and windows on the first floor. Nick walks past them and enters Captain Reese's office.

Nick: Captain, I've been thinking. That spammer obviously planned to make a lot of money.

Reese: You mean netlnnx@truenet.net, alias edward@ebiznet.com? Of course he planned to make money.

Nick: And the end of the world figured in its scheme. That's why it tried to keep the world from learning about that asteroid in time to stop the collision.

Reese: And that's why it's still spamming Toronto. The streets are neck-deep with spam--I've been stuck here all day--

            {stops, gives Nick a suspicious look}

How did *you* get here, Knight?

Nick: I stayed off the streets. Captain, what good is money to the spammer if the entire world is destroyed?

Reese: Maybe the spammer is too addlepated to think of that.

Nick: Or maybe it thinks it has a way to escape.

Reese: A way to escape the Apocalypse? Knight, come on! Look at the idiotic, clumsy, self-contradictory garbage it spammed us with! This spammer is no rocket scientist!

Nick: Maybe it doesn't have to be one. Do you know about the Juno probe?

Reese: That super-fast Mars rocket we're launching from Nova Scotia?

Nick: If it really is going to Mars. Let's get the space agency to check and make sure everything's okay with it.

Reese: Nick, that idea is so weird . . . hm . . . so weird it could be right.

He reaches for his phone.

 

Tracy is busy hunting for the spammer. She's in an empty field, one that's thick with weeds and rubble, and she carries a large crowbar. She's grimy and sweaty; she's obviously put in a long, hard day. She looks around, spots a large, flat rock and goes to it.

Tracy: Okay, girl, one more time.

Tracy uses the crowbar to raise the rock. As it lifts from the ground something screams from below it, then scrabbles out into the open. It's hideous; in fact, the only way to describe it is to say that it bears an uncanny and unsettling resemblance to that renowned spammer, netlnnx@truenet.net, alias edward@ebiznet.com.

It attacks Tracy. She fights back, swinging the crowbar, and she connects with the spammer's pinhead. She hits the spammer's head so hard that she bends the crowbar. Not that this hurts the spammer; in fact, it seems to feel nothing in its head. It emits a burst of vile green spam, inundating Tracy as it makes its getaway.

Only the timely appearance of Javier Vachon saves Tracy. He flies in, plucks her out of the spam and speeds her to Niagara Falls. He plunges her into the cascade, and in a matter of mere hours the mighty torrent of water has washed away the worst of the spam. At last he takes her back into the open, to dry off.

Vachon: You okay, Trace?

Tracy: Yes . . . but I'll never be able to eat lime Jello again.

Vachon: How did you find the spammer?

Tracy: Easy. I figured it would spend its days sleeping under a large, flat rock . . . just like any other snake.

Vachon: Well, now that you've flushed it into the open, how do we catch it?

Tracy: Well--I'd better call for back-up. This is more than I can handle by myself.

 

ACT 5: A rocket base on the coast of Nova Scotia. Spotlights illuminate a sleek white rocket, while engineers and scientists make the final preparations for its launch. Nick walks into the launch control center and goes to the project head, Dr. Verne.

Nick: Dr. Verne? Nick Knight, Metro Homicide.

Verne: Yes, we spoke on the phone a little while ago . . . How did you get here?

Nick: As quickly as I could. Have you checked the rocket?

Verne: Yes--and exactly as you said, it had been sabotaged. Its guidance system had been reprogrammed, and the Mars probe had been replaced with a small capsule, capable of holding one man . . . or at least, one oddly-shaped creature that might be mistaken for a man in bad light.

Nick: A spammer.

Verne: Well, perhaps, although it's hard to imagine anyone mistaking a spammer for a man. What I can't understand is how these changes in the probe could be made without any of us noticing them.

Nick: I think you'll find that your paperwork was spammed. That could confuse everyone so badly that you'd never detect the changes. It's happened before.

Verne: You know, I thought there was something odd about all of the paperwork from Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers.

Nick: I'll want those papers for evidence. Is the rocket fixed now?

Verne: Yes, the guidance computer is properly programmed, and the Juno probe has replaced that bizarre capsule. We launch in less than ten minutes.

An alarm bell rings loudly and a voice blares from a loudspeaker in the control center.

Voice: Security alert. Unknown person has crashed through the main fence. Shoot to kill.

Nick grabs a microphone.

Nick: Correction: shoot to maim as painfully as possible.

 

Nick leaves the launch center. Once in the open he takes to the air and circles around. He spots the intruder as it runs toward the launch pad and the rocket. Nick swoops down on it, tackles it and wrestles it to the ground. As a vampire he is immune to the noxious spam it emits, and he handcuffs it with ease.

Netlnnx@truenet.net: Let me go!

Nick: So you can hijack that rocket and escape the destruction of the world?

Spammer: Yes! Me make lotsa money off charity scam! Me rich! So me deserve live because me clever!

Nick: What good will money be when the world is destroyed and everyone is dead?

Spammer: That be good! If me be only survivor, then me be richest man alive! Me like that!

Nick: What was your plan? To get off the world when the asteroid hit, and come back after the blast and chaos from the impact had settled down?

Spammer: You not too stupid! You see big plan! And if everyone else die, then there be no one to arrest me! But me be one to live, not you! Me be safe on rocket!

Nick shakes his head. It's an absolutely lunatic plan, bizarre beyond belief, utterly impractical and hopelessly laughable--in short, about what you'd expect from a dimwitted spammer like netlnnx@truenet.net, alias edward@ebiznet.com.

Nick: You want onto the rocket? Here, let me help you!

Nick picks him up and flies him to the launch pad. He lands atop the rocket, where he opens a hatch in the nose cone. He shoves netlnnx@truenet.net, alias edward@ebiznet.com, inside with the Juno probe, then seals the hatch. He hears the spammer scream in rage as it discovers that its plan has been thwarted. Nick gives the side of the rocket a fond pat.

Nick: Have a nice trip! Write if you find work!

Nick flies away. Seconds later the rocket ignites its engines and raises into the sky, on course for Mars.

 

TAG: The loft. Nick and Natalie sit on the couch, arm in arm as they watch the special news coverage of the Mars-asteroid collision.

Natalie: You're sure that netlnnx@truenet.net, alias edward@ebiznet.com, was on the probe when it landed on Mars?

Nick: Uh-huh. Dr. Verne showed me a picture from the probe. It shows the spammer on his knees, begging to be saved. Look!

The TV shows live coverage from the Hubble Space Telescope as the doomsday asteroid, successfully diverted from its original orbit, strikes Mars with indescribable force, creating a crater as big as Pat Buchanan's mouth and as empty as his head. This is followed by the last transmission from the Juno probe on Mars, and its TV camera shows the spammer still begging for mercy as an asteroid the size of Manhattan slams down atop him.

Nick: Not too shabby.

Nick and Natalie celebrate the spammer's too-merciful demise by pouring drinks and toasting one another with--respectively--cow's blood and wine. In fact, they make several more toasts as they watch the news coverage of events on Mars.

They are interrupted by a wonky electronic sound, and a flicker of really weird lights outside the loft. Puzzled, they climb onto the roof just in time to see a flying saucer land in front of them. A hatch opens and several Martians emerge. They're all green, and each has one leg, two noses, three eyes, and a whole bunch of tentacles. They speak through their upper navels.

Gleep: Greetings, Earthlings!

Gloop: You are the ones who sent the probe!

Gluup: And the strange alien creature!

Glaap: From now on, keep your damned spammers off our planet!

Gliip: Mars is for Martians, not spammers!

From inside the saucer, Glyyp gives netlnnx@truenet.net, alias edward@ebiznet.com, a kick in the butt, which sends him flying to land at Nick's feet. He and Natalie stare at the loathsome little creep as the Martians get back into their saucer and fly away.

The spammer struggles mightily, but it is tied up in a peculiar Martian rope which makes escape impossible.

Nick: It figures this dork would survive the impact.

Natalie: Yeah. What do we do with this thing?

Nick: Well, we can't let it go, not after what it tried.

Natalie: I know *that.* What I mean is, how do we punish it? Any ideas?

Nick looks thoughtful, and then smiles.

Nick: Natalie . . . did I ever tell you about the time I was captured by--the Spanish Inquisition?

Natalie smiles as she realizes the implications.

 

Fade to end theme and credits.

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Last modified: April 10, 2006