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Spam Doctor

A sleazy one-room apartment, decorated in Early Sewer. Something stands in front of a mirror. It sort of looks vaguely humanoid, more or less, in a manner of speaking. Considering that its eyes are very close together, that hair grows out of its ears, that it bears green moles and warts on the skin above its neck (you can't call it a face), and that it keeps slobbering because it doesn't have enough sense to pull its tongue back into its mouth--considering all this, you can be sure it spams. Right now, though, it's giving itself a haircut. It's placed a bowl over its head (okay, it's really a whiskey shot-glass; a real bowl would be too big to fit its head), and it's cutting the hair that sticks out with a pair of scissors as dull as its wit. It finishes the work, removes the bowl, and looks at its hair in vague dissatisfaction.

Bobo: Hair no look good! Me need make hair better!

Bobo thinks it over. As it does so, there's time to go out to the kitchen, fix a snack, have a beer, clean up, brush your teeth, and come back to the TV, where Bobo is still trying to think. Then Bobo gets an idea.

Bobo: Hair! Me need bleach hair! Bleach hair, look better!

Well, different.

Bobo: But how Bobo bleach hair? For to do that, me need idea-thing! Bobo no have idea! Where Bobo get idea?

We've all guessed where, and the guess is confirmed as Bobo's myopic squint lands upon Bobo's computer. How is it that these weenies can always manage to get on-line? And why is it that they never learn that spamming here gets them in trouble?

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 Raven. Nick walks in and goes to the bar, where he speaks to Miklos the bartender.

Nick: Where's Janette?

Miklos: In back.

Nick goes in back, where Janette is working at her computer. She smiles as he comes in.

Janette: You look like a man with troubles.

Nick: Schanke's been getting on my nerves again.

Janette: Schanke will drive you into an early grave. What has he done this time?

Nick: He hung a souvlaki scent-strip in my Cadillac.

Janette: You should hang *him*--oh, dear. We're being spammed.

A message appears on the screen:

thumper@uniserve.com (Bobo)
Newsgroups: alt.tv.3rd-rock,alt.tv.ab-fab,
alt.tv.amer-gothic,alt.tv.animaniacs,
alt.tv.babylon-5,alt.tv.barney,
alt.tv.beakmans-world,alt.tv.beavis-n-butthead,
alt.tv.boston-common,alt.tv.brady-bunch,
alt.tv.brisco-county,alt.tv.casper,
alt.tv.chicago-hope,alt.tv.christy,
alt.tv.comedy-central, alt.tv.commercials,
alt.tv.dark_shadows,alt.tv.dinosaurs,
alt.tv.dinosaurs.barney.die.die.die,
alt.tv.discovery.canada,alt.tv.duckman,
alt.tv.due-south,alt.tv.dweebs,alt.tv.earth2,
alt.tv.eek-the-cat,alt.tv.er,alt.tv.forever-knight,
alt.tv.forever-knight.spoilers,alt.tv.frasier,
alt.tv.game-shows
Subject: HELP!!!!!!!

I need to bleach my hair with common household items. Please help.

 

Nick: Well, you know what *this* means.

Janette: It means that some spammer has *no* sense of style.

Nick smiles and gives her a playful nudge.

Nick: It means that a lot of people will reply to this clueless spammer. Unfortunately, one of them will reply by killing him in some horrendous and grotesque way.

Janette: And why is that unfortunate?

Nick: Because the spammer can only die once.

Nick gives her a fond kiss and leaves the Raven. He flies off, and as he cruises above Toronto the sounds of a crime-scene investigation draw his attention. He lands in the shadows at the edge of Dieppe Park. He walks into the crowd of cops, forensic technicians and what-not, where he finds Don Schanke standing outside the door to a public restroom, jiggling nervously on his feet.

Nick: Can't wait, Schanke?

Schanke: Guy's in there ahead of me, partner. Have a look.

The look Nick gives Schanke says he's not *that* kind of a vampire, but Nick enters the restroom. The Crime Scene Unit is in there, at work around a weird mess. Several empty bottles of bleach lie on the floor, while a man, sort-of, kneels in front of a toilet, his head stuffed in the bowl and his hand on the handle.

Nick: Praying to the porcelain god?

Schanke: No, he's a spammer, and they don't pray.

Nick: I forgot. Spammers only believe in annoying decent people. So, what happened?

Schanke: We've identified him as thumper@uniserve.com (Bobo). Just a little while ago he spammed the net, asking for help in bleaching his hair with common household items.

Nick: At least he kept it short.

Schanke: Yeah. Anyway, he got an answer. Somebody told Bobo the Geek to pour a couple of bottles of bleach into a toilet bowl, stick his head in it, and flush.

Two orderlies pull the corpse out of the toilet and place it on a gurney. Nick stops them and looks at Bobo's dead, rotting head.

Nick: You have to admit it's a nice, even bleach job. This spammer probably never looked better.

Schanke: Strike the "probably" and you got it. Spammers always look better when they're dead.

Nick: Good point. Well, it won't take much to wrap this up. Death by an act of stupidity so bizarre that only a spammer would have tried it.

Schanke: Still means a lotta paperwork, partner. Man, I wish this creep had lived, just so we could charge him with something.

Nick: Tell you what. I'll go see Natalie. Maybe she can speed things up.

Schanke: Like your pulse? That's my partner!

Schanke slaps Nick on the back and they leave. The camera pulls back to give us a view of the crime scene. As it does we see a shape standing in the shadows of some trees. It's an oddly-familiar shape to some of us; it wears a heavy, capelike coat, carries a cane with a silver wolf's-head handle and has slicked-down black hair.

 

ACT 2: The morgue. Masked, gloved and gowned, Natalie is finishing the autopsy on Bobo. She speaks to Nick, who looks at the hacked-up corpse in amused curiosity (it's hacked up because, while Natalie *can* be neat, why waste the effort on a spammer?).

Nick: No brain.

Natalie: You're surprised?

Nick: No, but there should be some sort of dead tissue filling the space between the spammer's ears. Did it get flushed?

Natalie: No, it was excised after the spammer was murdered--excuse me, I mean after the spammer was caused to stop wasting space. This is a spammer, so what happened to it isn't a crime, but--

Nick: But it's odd that someone would want to steal a spammer's brain, and then make the public-service killing look like a suicide.

Natalie: Sounds like the work of a mad scientist.

Nick: Anyone you know?

Natalie: I'd have to check my old college yearbook. But this could be good news. If someone is hunting down spammers and killing them, it might cause potential spammers to have second thoughts.

Nick: *Second* thoughts? Since when do spammers have even *first* thoughts?

Natalie: Smart-ass. At least this dip won't spam anyone again.

Natalie removes her gloves, gown and mask, and then leaves the morgue with Nick. After Natalie closes the door behind them a tall, stately redheaded woman in a lab coat emerges from the shadows. She walks past the festering remains of Bobo and approaches another body on another gurney. She pulls back the sheet to reveal a body even more agonizingly mutilated than the grotesque heap of hamburger that used to call itself Bobo. She takes a hammer and chisel and cracks open its skull. Actually she uses a sledgehammer and several chisels; you can imagine how thick a spammer's skull is, and there's no doubt that this repugnant stiff used to be a spammer when it acted like a living person.

Finally she gets the skull open. With a magnifying glass and tweezers she probes into the spammer's head, finds an incredibly tiny knot of tangled, withered nerves, and removes them. They were the spammer's brain, and she places them in a tiny vial. She pockets the vial and slips out of the morgue.

Meanwhile Nick and Natalie are seated in the cafeteria, where Nick watches as Natalie has a hamburger. She pours catsup all over her french fries, then pushes the plate to Nick.

Natalie: Be a good boy or you won't get any dessert.

Nick: All that catsup . . .

Natalie: Doesn't it look yummy? Like something that's thicker than water?

Nick: Like something that's been flavored with garlic.

Natalie takes the catsup bottle and frowns as she studies its label. She's about to say something when a uniformed police officer hurries up to her.

Officer: Dr. Lambert, there's been a break-in in your lab.

Natalie and Nick get up and follow the cop back to the morgue, where they discover the disturbed remains of the second spammer. Natalie shakes her head as she studies the head, while Nick reads its toe-tag.

Natalie: Weird. Really weird.

Nick: Olivier.Arcadipane@ping.be (Olivier Arcadipane) Why does that name sound familiar?

Natalie: He spammed the net the other day with a chain letter. Then he committed suicide. Five hundred and eighty-seven witnesses swear that he was all alone in a public square, where he slit his own throat, took cyanide, hung himself from a sour apple tree, doused himself with coal oil and set himself on fire, grabbed a high-tension power line with his bare hands, then shot himself eighty-nine times with an AK-47, pausing only twice to reload.

Nick: So it was a typical spammer's death. I remember him now. He was that Belgian who posted the "make$$$" chain letter from Belgium.EU.net. He tried to conceal his e-mail address, but I didn't have any trouble finding it. But what's so weird?

Natalie: Somebody chiselled open his skull and stole his brain. And it was in mint condition; he never used it once in his worthless life.

Nick looks bewildered.

Nick: But what can anyone do with a spammer's brain?

 

For the answer, we must go to a castle perched atop a mountain, just outside Toronto. Lightning flashes and thunder rumbles as we look inside. Amid masses of electronic gear and bubbling chemicals we see a huge, inert body lying on a surgical table. Two people stand by its side: a stately redhead and a man in a heavy coat. He taps the body with his wolf's-head cane.

Barnabas Collins: Is all in readiness, Julia?

Dr. Julia Hoffman: Almost, Barnabas. I only need the brain of one more spammer. I promise it *will* work this time. And then . . .

Barnabas: And then I will at last see the dawn.

 

ACT 3: The 96th Precinct. Amanda Cohen's office. She sits behind her desk while Nick and Schanke talk with her.

Nick: I know it isn't much of a crime, Captain, but somehow these weird things always lead into something messy.

Schanke: Yeah . . . almost like there's a plot.

Cohen: But stealing a spammer's brain--that doesn't even cut it as a Class Z petty theft!

Nick: But breaking into the morgue is, well, disturbing.

Schanke: And if you're stealing a spammer's brain, you gotta have something evil in mind.

Cohen: Good point, Schanke. There's nothing more evil than a spammer.

Nick: Absolutely.

Natalie bursts into the office, out of breath.

Natalie: In my morgue . . . a body . . . sat up and walked out.

Cohen: That's unusual behavior in a cadaver, isn't it?

Nick: I can't remember the last time it happened. Which way did it go?

Natalie: Out.

Cohen: Can you identify the body? Any distinguishing characteristics?

Natalie: Seven feet tall, flat head, bolts in its neck.

Nick: We're on it.

 

He and Schanke hustle out of the precinct. They hop in the Caddy and drive downtown, where they soon run into a mob of crazed villagers bearing torches and pitchforks. As Nick and Schanke get out of the car we hear the mob screaming:

Villagers:  Kill the monster!
                Destroy the fiend!
                Burn it! Burn it!
                Burn the evil spawn of hell!

Nick hesitates and turns to Schanke.

Nick: I, uh, I think I'll let you handle this one, partner.

A belligerent Schanke steps forward and faces the leader of the mob.

Schanke: Is there a problem?

Leader: Seven feet tall! Flat head! Bolts in its neck!

Schanke: Okay, that's a problem. Which way did it go?

Leader: To the ancient castle on the mountain!

Schanke: That's what I love about Toronto. This city has everything!

 

He goes back to the Caddy, and as he gets in he spots the monster, striding down the avenue. He points and shouts to Nick:

Schanke: Follow that cadaver!

Nick: Sheesh . . .

But he drives. Somehow the creature outdistances them, and Nick parks in front of a building. He talks to Schanke as he gets out of the car.

Nick: There's only one way we'll catch it. You take the front, I'll take the rear.

Schanke watches as Nick runs into a nearby alley, after which Schanke runs into the building's lobby--and stops dead.

Schanke: Wait a minute . . .

Meanwhile Nick has taken to the air. He lands in front of the creature and tackles it. As they fight the creature's sutures break, and it collapses in a heap of body parts. Nick looks up as Schanke finally catches on and catches up with him.

Nick: Some people go all to pieces under a little pressure.

 

Meanwhile, the creature isn't the only one having problems with the undead. As Natalie walks out to her car a huge origami bat swoops down and buzzes her. She looks irked as she plants her hands on her hips.

Natalie: Ha, ha. Very funny, Nick.

The bat turns into Barnabas Collins, who stands before Natalie and bares his fangs. And keeps standing. After a moment he looks disappointed.

Barnabas: You're *supposed* to faint.

Natalie: After living through the Reagan years, it takes a lot more than a vampire to make me faint!

Barnabas is in no mood for argument. He grabs Natalie and flies off with her.

 

ACT 4: The morgue. Nick and Schanke stand over a surgical table heaped with body parts, while Grace and Dr. Zang examine them.

Zang: Yeah, this hand, I recognize it, it's from bob@ipa.net, alias "Johnny Cash." And this armpit--that rank hair is a dead giveaway, it comes from gregoire@earthlink.net (Greg B.). And this nostril, oh, man, the last time I saw snot like that was when we carved on Magmo <magdalena.socha@viewer.se>.

Grace: And those beady eyes, I'm certain they came from the corpse of 20K@usenet.com.

Schanke: You're saying that this creature was a sort of who's-who of dead spammers.

Nick: Somebody collected body parts from spammers, and stitched this thing together.

Zang: Looks that way, detective.

Schanke: It's as if they were trying to create a monster from all the evil in the world.

Nick: But why? What's the need? Everyone has already nominated their presidential candidates and picked their running mates.

Schanke: It's gotta be something besides politics, Nick. Look at what we got. When you put it all together, so to speak, you come up with Spamzilla.

Nick: So you think someone is trying to create the ultimate spammer?

Schanke: Looks that way, stinks that way. You guys missing any more stiffs?

Grace and Dr. Zang look at one another, then shake their heads.

Grace: Of course only Dr. Lambert can say for sure, and she's still out to lunch.

Schanke: Speaking of lunch, Nick--

Nick: It's your turn to buy the doughnuts.

Schanke grumbles as they leave the morgue.

Schanke: Why is it always *my* turn to buy the doughnuts?

We hear the hypnotic-whisper-heartbeat thing.

Nick: Because it's never *my* turn.

Schanke: Yeah . . . right . . .

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

Nick: Knight.

Natalie: Nick, help, I'm in the old abandoned castle--mmph!

There's a buzz as the phone disconnects.

Schanke: What's up?

Nick: Oh, uh, just a wrong number. Schanke, I just remembered, I have to be somewhere in a little while. I'll catch up with you later.

 

Nick leaves the building, ducks into an alley and takes off. Meanwhile, back at the castle, we see Natalie and Julia Hoffman laboring over a hot surgical table. Natalie looks at the distorted body that lies before her while Julia tightens its sutures. Natalie no longer seems upset by her abduction; scientific curiosity overcomes all.

Natalie: So you built this from a kit?

Julia: Some of it. Most of it was worldnet@mail2.netfree.com, back when it was alive.

Natalie looks aghast.

Natalie: worldnet@mail2.netfree.com! The worst spammer known to modern medical science! It has a web page that offers spamming software, and it passes out mailing lists that subject tens of thousands of people to e-mail spams! It spams unsuspecting people with 26 kilobyte e-mails, and tries to sucker them into spreading its evil! It's lower than a rattlesnake's belt buckle!

Julia: Yes, I was lucky to find it before someone could destroy it. And I'm going to increase its evil by implanting the microscopic brains I've taken from other spammers.

            {sighs}

If only spammers had larger brains. My last monsters all failed because ultra-micro-surgery is so tricky. But now I have all the problems solved, and my monster has the brains of fifty thousand spammers inside its skull--with room to spare!

Natalie peers into the thimble-sized interior of the spammer's head, and sees that Julia is correct.

Natalie: But why would you create anything so evil?

Julia: Because once the evil reaches critical mass, it will begin to suck up all the surrounding evil . . . including the evil that makes Barnabas a vampire. And your Nicolas.

Natalie: So let's plug this thing in!

The two scientists set to work. They connect wires, adjust knobs, pull leevers. Current arcs and ozone fills the air as eerie lights flash madly. Power surges into the thing on the table. It shudders and groans, and slowly sits up. It climbs off the table, stretches its arms before it, and lurches across the laboratory. Then it pauses as it sees a computer. With a happy growl it goes to the machine, logs on--and spams.

 

ACT 5: The foot of the castle's mountain. By the sinister light of dawn we see a small stone hut. Then the shadows shift as night approaches. Inside the hut we find Barnabas and Nick, side by side as they hang by their feet from a rafter.

Barnabas: Redheads have always been my weakness, too.

Nick: There's something about a woman in a lab coat.

Barnabas: On the other hand, French women can be a problem. It's been two hundred years, and Angelique *still* won't lift that curse.

Nick: Janette and I have had our ups and downs, but--

            {his cell phone rings; he answers it}

Knight. Yeah, Schanke--what? . . . I see . . . I see . . . okay . . . Look, I'm hung up on something here, but I'll get going as soon as I can.

Barnabas: Trouble?

Nick: There's another monster ravaging Toronto.

Barnabas: Julia is such a dear. Always trying to cure me. But somehow things always go wrong.

Nick: Tell me about it.

He senses that the sun has gone down. He drops from the rafter, does a backflip and lands on his feet. Barnabas joins him.

Nick: I know that monster is part of your cure, but we'll have to stop it. Aside from all the spam it's creating, it has panic-stricken mobs tearing up the city. What's worse, the Royal Canadian Air Force is bombing the crap out of downtown. Schanke says they can't hurt it, so it's up to us.

Barnabas nods gloomily.

Barnabas: A conscience can be *such* a bitch, can't it? What should we do?

Nick: First, we have to find the monster.

Barnabas: That shouldn't be too hard.

He goes to the window, turns into a bat and flaps away.

Nick: Cool.

 

Nick takes off himself. He circles over Toronto until he spots a scene of chaos--falling bombs, panic-stricken crowds, and they've torn up half of Bloor Street for repairs. The monster strides through it all, and as Nick zooms in he hears it speak.

worldnet@mail2.netfree.com: Computer! Modem! Need! Make spam!

Nick lands and attacks the creature. He pounds the daylights out of it (metaphorically speaking), and as Barnabas lands he gives the heap of body parts a triumphant look. Then, to everyone's dismay, the monster pulls itself together and goes berserk. Nick and Barnabas give battle, but in the end they are forced to retreat into the air. They land atop a building and look down on the rampaging spammer.

Barnabas: And I thought Cousin Quentin was a real bear.

Nick: I heard he was an airwolf--er, werewolf.

Barnabas: The question is, what do we do now?

Nick looks around. Amid the chaos he sees several mobs of panic-stricken Torontonians, waving torches, clubs and pitchforks. Meanwhile the monster has stumbled down a side-street, where it is trying to break into a computer store. Being a low-grade dimwit with delusions of  sanity, it hasn't noticed that the front door is unlocked.

worldnet@mail2.netfree.com: Clear stuff be hard! Be in way! Why me no be able make walk through hard clear stuff?

Nick turns to Barnabas.

Nick: That mob, over there. Try to lead them down the north end of that street.

Barnabas takes off to do so, while Nick flies off and lands at the head of another enraged mob.

Mob: Kill the monster! Burn it! Destroy it!

Nick shifts his hypnotic powers into high gear.

Nick: *Screw the monster! Kill the spammer! Up this street!*

Mob leader: A spammer? Let me at it! Kill! Maim! Burn!

The mob starts chanting as it waves its torches and clubs, etc.:

Mob: Death to spam! Death to spam!

Essentially, normal people don't need to be hypnotized into hating spammers. Pitched into a fury heretofore unknown among rioters, they surge up the south end of the street, trampling over Nick in their blind rage. Meanwhile Barnabas has flown, batlike, to the front of his mob, where he takes on human shape. As the mob sees what he is they charge at him. Barnabas buzzes them with a juicy raspberry, then runs up the street toward the bewildered spammer. It's dark and shadowy, and as he passes the spammer he turns into a bat. He vanishes from the mob's sight, but in the dim light the rioters mistake the spammer for him, and in a pinch any old monster will do. The two mobs collide with the monster at ground zero, and for all its vile powers the spammer is no match for the just and mighty wrath of decent people. Within moments all that's left of it is scraps, which are swiftly deposited in nearby garbage cans (even when enraged, Canadians are polite and tidy).

 

TAG: The Raven. Nick and Janette sit at the bar. Janette is as svelte as ever, while Nick looks like he's been trampled by a wild, crazed mob. Which, of course, he was.

Janette: So all this destruction came about from an attempt to deprive this Barnabas of his vampiric nature.

Nick: Not deprive, Janette, cure.

Janette: Men! Why can't you leave well enough alone? You and this doctor would both be happier if you accept what you are. Look at Barnabas and his lady-friend--thirty years lost in an impossible pursuit.

Nick: Sometimes it's the pursuit that matters.

Janette: Indeed? You make the pursuit sound so intriguing.

She leans forward and kisses him.

 

Fade to end theme and credits.

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Last modified: April 10, 2006