Forever Spam

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Spam of Night

A toxic waste dump somewhere outside Toronto. It's night, but by the eerie glow of high-level nuclear wastes we can see a thirteen-legged spider scuttle across an oozing barrel of Agent Orange, while a thing with purple tentacles pokes an eyestalk out of a crate loaded with old disco eight-track tapes. The bare ground is parched and sere in some places, and mushy with spilled toxins in other.

Bubbles now begin to emerge from one of those mushy spots. The ground rumbles, shudders and parts, and a shape hideous beyond description--horrible beyond words--vile beyond even the standards of election-year politics--crawls out of its fetid grave. It stands on its hind paws, sees the full moon riding high in the sky, and lets out an eerie noise:

Olaph Swensen: Hyuk-hyuk-hyuk! Me be back! Me be make spam again!

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 96th Precinct. Nick and Schanke are kicking back at their desks. Schanke reads a newspaper while Nick plays with a yo-yo. The whole precinct seems idle.

Schanke: Just another lazy day in heaven.

Nick: I can't believe we haven't been spammed for so long.

Schanke: Don't knock it, partner . . . but I have to wonder why the spammers have been avoiding us lately.

Nick: I don't know, either. Do you think it was something I said?

Captain Cohen walks out of his office; she's playing with a paddleball.

Cohen: 997, 998, 999--one thousand!

Nick: Not bad for a Monday.

Somebody sails a paper airplane past him; Nick swings the yo-yo and knocks it down. Then he looks at the computer and becomes alert.

Nick: We're being spammed.

Schanke: Mondays. What else can you expect?

Schanke and Cohen look over Nick's shoulder as the spam pollutes his terminal. Everyone looks irritated and contemptuous of the spam.

Schanke: Is *this* the best this wacko can do?

Cohen: takilma@nurk.org (Olaph Swensen). Is that name on our better-dead list?

Nick: No, and this chain-letter doesn't look familiar.

Schanke: Familiar? It looks like *spam!* About all you can say for it is that it's got some new idiocies. Lookit that--this weenie claims to have paid off all his bills, bought a new Ford Explorer, and started living high on the hog, and all on less than twenty-five thousand!

Cohen: At least he isn't offering that dorky sob story about how he managed to go broke in 1994, when the economy was booming.

Nick: He's got bigger problems now.
            {hits the keyboard and forwards the spam to postmaster@nurk.org, with a note denouncing Olaph Swensen as a depraved little putz who can't even spell his own name correctly.}
He's going to have to sell that brand-new Ford Explorer to pay his legal bills. And get a new Internet account.

Schanke: Unless everyone has caught onto him by now.
            {resumes reading his paper}
Well, whaddaya know!

Nick: I happen to know that Yonge Street, at 1900 kilometers, is the longest street in the world--

Schanke: Wise guy. It says here that Barbara Eden is coming to Toronto to host an I Dream Of Jeannie marathon.

Nick: So I'm going to have to listen to you rave about genies for a month, is that it?

Schanke: Just about blonde genies, partner! Hubba-hubba! Here's my chance to get up close and personal with everyone's favorite supernatural entity! A little something to lift us out of the mundane and humdrum!

Nick: If Myra doesn't kill you first.

Schanke: Man oh man oh man, what is it with you, Nick? You act like you got no soul.

Now that that is settled, the precinct returns to its quiet routine. Things are quiet and crime is low (welcome to Toronto), and not a thing happens before quitting time. As the day shift shows up Nick and Schanke say good-bye, and Nick goes out to the Caddy and starts driving home.

Things go worng as he drives down Queen Street. A trolley car stalls, blocking an intersection, and he's forced to take a detour down a narrow side street. Then he's forced to make an awkward U-turn when he finds the street is blocked off by a repair crew. His next route home is blocked by an overturned moving van, and after that--well, you get the idea. As mentioned before, it's a Monday, and a Monday morning at that. Nick finds himself stuck kilometers from home as the sun begins to rise.

This is why he drives a 1962 Cadillac, the vehicle of the renowned trunk space. He parks, gets out, and walks to the rear of the car. He opens the trunk and--

--he opens the trunk--

--he *opens the $#@&*! trunk!*--

Brilliant detective that he is, Nick figures out that the trunk won't open. It has something to do with the bubblegum jammed into the keyhole. As the sun peeks above the horizon he runs for cover. He's trapped in the middle of a park, and is forced to take cover behind a small knoll. It obviously won't be long before the sun clears the top of the small rise. Nick gets out his cell phone and hurriedly punches in a number; happily, he gets an answer on the first ring.

Natalie: Natalie's Gardening Shop. You plug them, I plant them.

Nick: Natalie? I have a small problem . . .

 

ACT 2: The interior of a camper. Nick sits huddled under a wool blanket while Natalie places aluminum foil over the windows with duct tape. Nick's voice is muffled by the blanket.

Nick: 3M makes a spray adhesive that works better than duct tape. Spray it on the glass and just press the foil over it.

Natalie: Hey, beggars can't be choosers. You're lucky Eddie drove this to work today, and that he was willing to lend it to me without any questions.

Nick: I'd be even luckier if station security had kept someone from sealing my trunk. And if traffic hadn't been screwed up all over town.

Natalie: Well, when was the last time you had a good Monday?

Nick: There's such a thing? I was brought across on a Monday.

Natalie: Figures.
            {finishes covering the windows}
There! A brilliant achievement in creating darkness, if I do say so myself. And you've got to admit, when it comes to trunk space a camper beats a '62 Cadillac hands down.

Nick crawls out from under the blanket and gets up.

Nick: I'll bet it doesn't ride like a Cadillac.

Natalie: You can't have everything. The question is, how did you get into this mess? I don't think this traffic mess was a string of really bad luck. *I* got here without any trouble.

Nick: You think I was set up?

Natalie: You *have* made a lot of enemies.

Nick: But how could anyone arrange a traffic jam just for me? Who could be that clever and stupid at the same time?

Natalie is about to speak when Nick's cell phone ring. She gestures for him to answer.

Nick: Knight . . . yeah, Schanke . . . what? Calm down! What is it? . . . Barbara Eden isn't coming to Toronto? . . . That's too bad, but . . . look, go out, have some souvlaki, and we'll talk about it tonight.
            {disconnects}
It seems the I Dream of Jeannie marathon was a hoax. The CBC just announced that.

Natalie: And how did Schanke take it?

Nick: Like a man.

Natalie: You mean he broke down and cried.

Nick: Like a baby. The weird thing is that this whole hoax was arranged just for him.

Natalie: The same way you were set up. Man, somebody is *low.*

Nick: Incredibly low. Repugnantly low. So low they can only be--

The camper rocks suddenly, and from outside comes a grinding, rumbling noise. Natalie gets up and cracks open a window, while Nick protects himself from the light with the blanket. What Natalie sees horrifies her.

Natalie: Nick, stay covered up, I have to get us out of here!

Nick pulls the blanket all the way over himself. Natalie jumps out of the camper, closes the door and runs around to the cab. She gets behind the wheel and starts driving. As she drives she keeps checking the rear-view mirror on the door in astonishment.

Nick raps on the window between the cab and the camper.

Nick: What's wrong?

Natalie: Nick . . . the whole Parkdale neighborhood is being dismantled by flying saucers. Tacky flying saucers out of a Fifties Z-grade sci-fi flick. It's *gone!*

Nick: That's impossible!

Natalie: Look who's talking! What should we do now?

At a time like this there's only one thing to do: go to the Raven.

The camper parks in the alley behind the Raven. Helped by Natalie, Nick makes a dash for its rear door as smoke billows from him. As Natalie helps Nick slap out the flames they hear Janette's scream. They run into her private apartment, where she sits in the dark at her personal computer.

Janette: Nicolas! Help me! I am being spammed!

Nick draws his gun and shoots her computer. Natalie looks askance at this.

Natalie: Most of us just read the freaking manual.

She watches in jealousy as Nick comforts a sobbing Janette.

Nick: What happened?

Janette: It was terrible! I was running an on-line search, and then--I found--it can't be true--they say bell-bottoms are back in style! With platform shoes and butterfly glasses! And . . . we must all wear *polyester!* And dance to--to *disco!*

Natalie shudders at her wail of horror.

Natalie: Nick--reload.

Nick: At least now we know we're up against spammers.

 

ACT 3: The Raven. The place is busy; vampires and mortals alike dance and drink and chat, although all are clearly disturbed by the strange events which have beset Toronto. Nick, Natalie and Janette are at the bar, where they speak.

Nick: I'm the target of this attack. It's getting at me by attacking my friends as well as me. I can't explain how guilty this makes me feel.

Janette: Oh, Nicola, you are such a child! This spammer is out to destroy all of us, not just you!

Nick: But I'm the one who reports them to their postmasters. Now one of them is out for my blood . . . or whatever.

Natalie: Wait a minute--*one* of them? This has to be the work of more than one spammer. What if they're all out for revenge?

Nick: Then I'm in big trouble.

Schanke shouts as he enters.

Schanke: *You're* in trouble? What about me? All the souvlaki restaurants have vanished! From here to Niagara Falls it's nothing but McDonald's!

Natalie: I'm not surprised. Something is systematically destroying our world.

LaCroix speaks as he enters.

LaCroix: It is doing far more than that, my good doctor. CERK can no longer broadcast. The laws of nature seem to have been repealed. We must act quickly to preserve ourselves.

Schanke: You're kidding, Q-tip head. How do we fight such a power?

The others think this over before offering their solutions.

Janette: Rip out its throat and drink its blood.

Natalie: Shoot it full of antibiotics.

LaCroix: Ruthlessly.

Schanke turns to Nick.

Schanke: Remind me not to talk to your friends on Mondays.

LaCroix: Enough of this frivolity. It is obvious that Nicolas is at the center of this attack. We must force his enemy to come to him.

Schanke: Use my partner as bait? There's something fishy going on here!

LaCroix: Such drollery. Nicolas, get on-line and send some e-mail.

Nick: Er . . . that might be a bit hard. Janette's computer is shot.

Janette: I have a laptop, of course.

Janette leads Nick into the back room. Natalie starts to follow, but LaCroix stops her.

LaCroix: You have realized, of course, that Nicolas is being haunted by all the spammers he destroyed.

Natalie: I know--but there has to be a central force behind them. Spammers can't cooperate.

LaCroix: Indeed. Cooperation requires intelligence. A central force, however, would explain much--one vengeful spammer, inspiring the others to attack Nicolas by setting a foul example. Or, as they say, monkey see, monkey do.

Schanke: That'd explain why everything is going ape today.

Natalie: Will destroying the central spammer help?

LaCroix: In the long run, yes. But for the present, we must realize that the spammers will continue their behavior. As they are brain-dead they cannot respond to any change in their world as would an intelligent person, or even as would a senile lemur with a spastic colon connected directly into its empty cranial cavity--

It is at this point that takilma@nurk.org (Olaph Swensen) enters the Raven. He bares a striking resemblance to LaCroix's pithy dethcription of him.

LaCroix: Speak of the Devil--and I'm sure that's the term I want--

Swensen: Me be want Nick Knight!

Schanke: Nick At Nite? The cable network?

Swensen swings a clumsy arm (the only kind spammers have) and knocks Schanke across the room. Schanke is out cold, and LaCroix steps in front of the vile scuzzball that calls itself takilma@nurk.org (Olaph Swensen).

LaCroix: Your mother wears army shoes.

This is a crude, simple, even infantile insult, one utterly lacking in imagination, so absurd it would be regarded as a joke by anyone with the merest hint of an active brain. Which means it's the only sort of insult a spammer can understand. takilma@nurk.org (Olaph Swensen) stamps his widdle feet on the floor, clenches his fists and comes up with a devastating reply.

Swensen: So's yer old man!

LaCroix swings a fist and hits him on the chin, knocking him out. Just for the hell of it, LaCroix gives Swensen a swift kick in the can, to the applause of the Raven's other customers. LaCroix then picks up the disgusting spammer and lays it on the bar. He vamps out and prepares to feed, then pauses.

LaCroix: Why is it you can never find a carouche when you need one?

LaCroix feeds, but he does not, as he has warned Nicolas, take too much. He wakes Swensen, who, being so stupid he would have trouble being mistaken for a moron, does not realize he has been attacked by a vampire and turned into one of the living dead.

LaCroix: What did you say?

Swensen: Me said . . me said . . . me said . . .

LaCroix: Speak to me again when you can remember.

LaCroix revives Schanke, and takes him and Natalie to a table, where they are joined by Nick and Janette. As might be expected, LaCroix is a ranconteur par excellance, and he entertains his companions for endless hours. He is at last interrupted by takilma@nurk.org (Olaph Swensen), who shambles up to him and taps LaCroix on the shoulder with a dirty, untrimmed fingernail.

Swensen: Me said, so's yer old man!

LaCroix: Such effrontery! Step outside and say that!

Swensen responds to the ancient barroom challenge by going to the Raven's front door. All present watch as the newly-vampirized spammer steps out into the morning sun.

Swensen: So's yer old--YIKE!

There is a whoosh as he erupts into flame. LaCroix chuckles over his glass of B-negative.

LaCroix: When you're hot, you're hot.

Schanke is about to comment on the spammer's peculiar demise when Amanda Cohen enters the bar. She looks bewildered.

Cohen: There you are!

Nick: Trouble?

Cohen: It's still Monday, isn't it? The thing is, I--I think I'm somebody named Natsuko Ohama.

 

ACT 4: The 96th Precinct. Captain Cohen's office. Nick, Natalie and Schanke stand around the desk while an attractive Oriental woman sits behind it. She shakes her head over framed pictures, papers and a police ID card.

Cohen: Look, I know I'm supposed to be this Cohen woman, but I'm positive I'm an actress.

Schanke: And now you're doing a hell of a job of putting us on, Captain. Natalie, what is this?

Natalie: I think she's been spammed. Badly.

Nick: There's no other way to be spammed.

Schanke: Yeah . . . uh . . . nuts. I can't remember my next line. Help me out here, Ger.

Nick: Don't do this to me, Schanke. It's bad enough that half of Toronto has vanished--

Schanke: What are you talking about? All they're doing is striking the sets. End of the season, and all that.

Natalie: The spammers have got to him, too, Nick. Let's get out of here.

Nick takes her hand and leads her out of the office. As they step into the parking lot they see men in coveralls starts to dismantle the precinct house, while somebody else drives off the Caddy. Oblivious to exposure, Nick takes Natalie in his arms and flies off with her.

They land outside the loft.

Natalie: And you do that without a cape.

Nick takes her into the loft, where he goes to his computer.

Nick: It's the spammers. They must be everywhere, driving everyone nuts. Let's get on-line and destroy as many of them as we can.

Natalie: While we still can. Look!

Natalie points to his calendar. Sure enough, every day is now a Monday. Nick sees that, and starts working frantically at the computer.

Nick: alt.vampyres . . . .another chain letter. Forward it to postmaster@gnn.com. A miracle-cure on alt.gothic. Forward it to abuse@aol.com. Here's someone on rec.arts.startrek.current who makes anti-gay posts from--not_real_address.com? Okay, save his post as a *.msg file, then view it as a text file and check the path line--there's his server's name, right at the end. A work-at-home scam . . .

Nick works on through the long night, to the point of exhaustion and beyond. He finally staggers off to sleep on the couch, while Natalie takes over at the computer.

The sun sets over Toronto. Nick wakes. He goes to the refrigerator and reaches in for a bottle. He opens it, drinks--and spits it out.

Nick: What *is* this stuff?

He looks at the label in horror.

Nick: What's "Ribena"?

It gets worse as he remembers he has a guest. He runs to the computer and finds Natalie lying on the floor, passed out from exhaustion. The screen tells the story: She has spent the day reporting spammers on countless newsgroups. LaCroix comes in as Nick kneels over her. He instantly understands the situation.

LaCroix: Nicolas, I have warned you against reporting too much.

NicK: I couldn't stop myself . . . and neither could Natalie.

LaCroix: I see . . . and . . . you even reported all of the spammers on alt.tv.forever-knight?
            {LaCroix picks up a big, heavy stick}
Damn you, Nicolas--
            {whomps Nick upside the head with the stick}
--*I* wanted to report those spammers myself!

Nick falls atop Natalie as LaCroix sits down at the computer to report even more spammers.

 

ACT 5: A mountain resort in the dead of winter. Nick and Natalie sit by a fire inside a private cabin.

Nick: I'm still confused, Nat. Tell me again about this alternate world we visited.

Natalie: It was just like reality, except we got mixed up in something called a TV show.

Nick: And LaCroix and all the others are trapped there.

Natalie: Not trapped. Doing good. Earning a reward like you've done.

Nick: Reward? I'm still a vampire.

Natalie: Am I complaining? Let's just be glad we're in a place where the nights are six months long, and the natives don't have a word for "sunburn."

Nick: We'll have to go back, Nat. That alternate world is still infested by spammers.

Natalie's smile, as might be expected, is something to behold.

Natalie: LaCroix has a plan to take care of them.

 

Station CERK. LaCroix sits at his computer, and chuckles as he posts messages on a wide variety of newsgroups. One may safely assume that his plan will be both effective and fiendish.

Indeed. We see a spammer read the message. We know the spammer is reading because we can see its lips move. They move for a long time because it's a long message with big words--right, two whole sentences, and some of the words have more than two syllables. To make matters worse, every single word is spelled correctly, and you can imagine how that must perplex a spammer. Eventually, however, the spammer gets a grip on the sentence.

Geek: Hey, spammer, this is your chance to be rich and famous! Come to Hollywood and star in a TV show about you!

The spammer pauses to pick its nose and stick the effluvia under its chair, after which it realizes what the sentence means. It gets excited, goes out and steals a suitcase, and packs its dirty underwear and spare sock. Then it forgets to take its suitcase as it hitches a ride to California.

Much later, in the office of a well-known network, we see a group of angry executives seated around a table. A TV hangs on the wall, and it plays what is without doubt the most brainless schlock ever to pollute the airwaves and waveguides. Only LaCroix, who sits at one end of the table, looks unperturbed as the executives rant at him.

Executive #1: After seeing *that*, I wouldn't call TV a vast wasteland any more. Now it's only half-vast.

Executive #2: How in hell did that show ever go into production? It's the dumbest, most brainless, most inept and incompetent drivel I've seen since I was hired!

LaCroix chuckles.

LaCroix: As you said when you decided we should produce it, it was the dumbest, most brainless, most inept and incompetent drivel you had ever heard of. You seemed to think those were virtues.

Executive #3: But this is so crappy that not even the Nielsen families will watch it!

Executive #4: And what an idiotic idea! A show about spammers! *Starring* spammers! Cancel it immediately!

LaCroix: Oh, dear. The spammers have poured their hearts and souls into this show. Cancellation will destroy them.

Executive #5: Tough cookies!
            {gives LaCroix a suspicious look}
You don't seem upset. It's as if you *knew* this would happen.

LaCroix: Well, you win some, you lose some.

On the TV, the moronic garbage about spammers--think of Jerry Lewis on methedrine, Beavis and Butthead with lobotomies, a politician making any kind of campaign promise--suddenly vanishes in mid-scene. As a commercial comes on the air is rent by an unearthly cacophony of agonized spammers, suffering as they are mystically cancelled with their show.

Executive #6: It isn't a total loss. We can always sell "Spammers" in syndication.

LaCroix: I'm afraid not. We only filmed one episode. That's not enough for a syndication package.

Executive #7: I thought you filmed eighty episodes!

LaCroix: Yes . . . but what happened was, we filmed the same show eighty times. Spammers are not creative writers. I'm afraid the spammers--er, the show about spammers--is as dead as dead can be.

Executive #8: Well, whatinhell do we do now! We got a big hole in our schedule, and we can't fill it with an hour of commercials!

Executive #9: Why not? We could make lotsa money that way!

Executive #10: Because we need a show to sell the commercials. The sponsors expect it.

LaCroix: As it happens, I have an idea for a show. It's about a vampire detective in Toronto and his quest to regain his mortality . . .

The executives listen, frowning and scowling, as LaCroix describes the show to them. Finally they begin to mutter and raise objections.

Executive #11: No! It sounds too brainy, too sophisticated.

Executive #12: And how can that girl coroner be sexy when she's old enough to have already graduated from high school, and don't look like she has anorexia nervosa?

Executive #13: And brainy! You're talking about *three* women with brains! That's three too many!

Executive #14: And this vampire cop doesn't like to kill people? He likes to use his brain? What sort of TV cop is he, anyway?

Executive #15: And this stuff--what did you call it? Humor? Is that anything like the stuff you use with a laugh track, so people will know it's supposed to be funny?

Executive #16: And why isn't his partner stupid, like partners are supposed to be? You got any idea how hard it is to write intelligent characters? Ever see us do a show like that on purpose?

LaCroix: Gentlemen, please! The point is, you need a show, and I have one ready to go.

Executive #17: He's got a point. We're desperate. Things are so bad I'll try anything--even quality.

 

TAG: The mountain lodge. Natalie opens a letter, smiles, shows it to Nick, gives him a hug and a kiss.

Natalie: We're back!

 

Fade to end theme and credits.

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Last modified: April 10, 2006