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Spammer of the Month

(was: XXX Memberships)

TEASER: A physics lab at York University. A team of scientists are hard at work amid a collection of computers, pipes, wires, cables, blinking lights and vapor-spewing ducts. All attention is fixed on a steel chamber with a door, where a monkey is being strapped into a seat. The scientists finish their work, give the monkey a pat on its head, grimace in disgust as the monkey pats itself somewhere else, and slam the door on the chamber. They speak as they seal the door.

Dr. Widget: Think this will work?

Dr. Wadget: It should. The calculations are perfect. If it succeeds--

Dr. Widget: We'll have the world's first successful time machine.

Dr. Wadget: And if it doesn't work, we only lose one monkey.

Dr. Widget: Considering the monkey, that makes it a win-win proposition. I want to wash my hands when this is over.

Lab Technician: Same here. I'm glad we're using, and not a normal monkey.

They go to the controls and start pushing buttons. Huge sparks flash from electrodes, blue light glows around the chamber, and equipment makes deafening noises. Inside the chamber, the monkey sees a computer keyboard and screen. It takes one of its paws from its lap and reaches for the keyboard.

In the lab, Dr. Widget exclaims in horror as he looks at his computer screen:

Dr. Widget: We're being spammed!

Dr. Wadget: Abort the process!

There's a brilliant flash of light and the roaring noises of the time-machine subside. In the silence we hear one word.

Lab Technician: Oops.

Then the entire lab disappears.

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

"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 One: The physics lab, or what's left of it. Nick and Schanke look worried as the examine the empty room.

Schanke: C'mon, Nick, admit it, you're as spooked as I am. People don't just disappear!

Nick: Tell that to Judge Crater and Benjamin Bathurst. Do we have any idea what they were doing here?

Schanke: Research.

Nick: Schanke, sometimes your powers of observation scare me. Let's see what we can find.

They walk through the building to the office of the head of the  physics department, who--like everyone else in Toronto--is conveniently available at this time of night. Nick and Schanke flash their badges and introduce themselves.

Nick: Dr. Boff, can you tell us what they were doing in there?

Dr. Boff: Time-travel. Drs. Widget and Wadget said they were going to test their machine tonight by sending a monkey into the past . . . sort of like NASA used chimpanzees in the early days of the space program. They were geniuses, the best in their field.

Schanke: And now they're planted *in* a field.

Nick: Could this machine have worked?

Dr. Boff: An earlier test worked with a prototype of the machine. Dr. Widget went back in time by an hour, and--well look.

Dr. Boff reaches into his desk and hands Nick a photo. It shows two Dr. Widgets shaking hands with one another while Boff, Dr. Wadget and several other people look on. Nick looks at the picture in recognition--

Flashback: The Fifth Crusade. Nick and some other knights are having a bad day at the office. Surrounded by Saracens, they fight furiously to beat off the attack. Then a man in strange clothing drops out of the sky, flattening them. Nick and the others end up as prisoners of the Saracens. As they are marched away Nick turns to the stranger.

Nick: What manner of heathen devil are you?

Dr. Wadget: That damned monkey!

Nick looks blank; the English used by Dr. Wadget is not the contemporary Chaucerian English of ye olde Englande. However, Nick does spot the monkey as it falls from the sky and lands on the desert soil--whereupon it proceeds to soil the landscape in a most vile fashion. The Saracens see this, exclaim upon the deplorable spectacle in Saracenish, and swiftly riddle the monkey with arrows. The monkey makes jealous noises--it feels a Freudian envy of anything long, hard and penetrating--then vanishes like a pricked (as it were) soap bubble.

Back in the here-and-now, Schanke speaks to Nick:

Schanke: Earth to planet Nick! You still with me?

Nick: Oh, yeah. Dr. Boff, is there any way you can reverse this accident?

Dr. Boff: I don't know. Drs. Widget and Wadget left some notes in their offices. I'll check . . . but don't hold out much hope. It's hard to undo accidents.

Which is what the spammer's daddy said to its mommy.


Nick and Schanke drive back to the 27th Precinct in the Caddy. Schanke waxes philosophical.

Schanke: Just shows you, doesn't it? It doesn't matter how smart you are, something can always trip you up, then boom! You're just a bad smell in the air. If a couple of eggheads like Widget and Wadget can get wiped out in an accident, what chance have the rest of us got?

Nick: I'm thinking this wasn't an accident.

Schanke: Yeah? Why? You got some feeling? Face it, partner, neither of us are exactly rocket scientists, much less theoretical-physics-type scientists.

Nick: No, we're detectives.

Schanke: And what's to detect? Experiment, accident, boom, it's all over except for that flight to the Pearly Gates. You got evidence of *any* crime here?

Nick: Let's just say I want to be thorough. You heard Boff; Widget and Wadget were the best in their field. Maybe something caused this accident.

Schanke: Like a jealous competitor? A rival?

Nick: I don't know.

The police radio signals them.

Dispatcher: Eighty-one kilo, see the woman, 1313 Bloor Street.

Nick recognizes the address while Schanke takes the radio's microphone and answers the call.

Schanke: What's the problem?

Dispatcher: There's been a spamming.

Schanke: Okay, Nick, we're goin' in, hit the siren and fasten your diapers!

Nick: We'd be better off if the spammer fastened his diapers.

Schanke: Huh? You havin' *another* hunch, partner?

Nick: No, it's just the voice of experience. You know how spammers are.

Schanke: Yeah. Toxic Waste City, here we come.


Act Two. The Raven, where it's BYOB (Bring Your Own Blood) Night. The children of the night have each brought along a mortal, and are dancing to a Siouxsie Sioux classic, "O Baby." Janette circulates among her guests and keeps things from getting too flagrant (her special customers are *very* bad at picking up their empties). Nick and Schanke walk in and go to Janette.

Nick: You've been spammed?

Janette: Oh, horribly! Look at my computer!

Janette leads them downstairs, to her apartment. She has placed her computer on a chair in a corner, with its screen facing the wall like a naughty child. Schanke notices a white foam on the monitor, pokes his finger in it and sniffs. He looks puzzled.

Schanke: Soap?

Janette: I had to wash its mouth out after it said such filth!

Steeling themselves, Nick and Schanke look at the screen. The spam, which identifies an URL named "monkeyspanker," is entitled "XXX Memberships."

Nick: I can see why the spammer chose that subject title. He has an obvious preoccupation with his "member."

Schanke: Yeah, and delusions of grandeur. "Mount Saint Helens"? Man oh man oh man, somebody is full of himself!

Nick: You mean full of it, Schanke.

Schanke: There's no difference with a spammer. And that name? Monkeyspanker? What an imagination!
{looks out the door; sees one of the Raven's ladies}
Y'know, I imagine I can collect a witness statement or two.

Nick and Janette watch him leave.

Janette: At least he has a clue about sex. This spammer! I wonder how he would feel about a nice cold female mouth on his neck?

Nick: Just as long as you brush your teeth afterward, and gargle with disinfectant. I want you to look at something. Tell me if you recognize any of these mortals.

Nick whips out the photo he took from Dr. Boff. Janette sees it and goes into flashback mode.

France, 1792. The Terror. A double-header has gone into extra innings as a guillotine beheads people at night. The tumbril rolls across the plaza, and among its passengers it bears Janette. The cart reaches its destination and she is forced out by French soldiers. Before she can be placed in the guillotine, however, Dr. Widget drops out of the sky, knocking her off the platform. They fall under the platform, where Janette uses her vampiric strength to snap the ropes around her wrists.

Dr. Widget: That damned monkey!

Janette: You speak your English with a most peculiar accent.

There's no time for explanations, however. As the crowd reaches under the platform for her, she grabs Widget and hauls him to safety. They reach a rooftop, where she looks down in time to see the monkey materialize on the guillotine. The crowd expresses its appreciation of the vile creature's presence:

Crowd: Off with its head!

The monkey has its own ideas, as might be expected of a beast with a one-track mind. It sees that the guillotine's retaining bar has a hole in it, designed for the victim's neck. Its vague, limited understanding of sex tells it that it must place something in the hole . . . and it steps forward to do this, baring its grungy teeth at the crowd as it accomplishes this goal. Then the blade drops, and the monkey loses several fingers along with its, *ahem*, head. The crowd laughs as it realizes that the much bigger chunks are the monkey's fingers. Having given everyone the finger, so to speak, the monkey vanishes.

In the present, Janette shudders in revulsion.

Janette: That filthy monkey!

Nick: I saw it once . . . when I was still mortal.

Janette: Impossible!

Nick: No. It's been travelling through time.

Nick's cellphone rings.

Nick: Knight . . . right away.
{to Janette}
It's LaCroix. He wants to see us at CERK.

They leave the room, and we here the flying woosh.


Act Three: The CERK studio. Nick and Janette enter. They see LaCroix crouched on the floor of his broadcast booth. He looks like a cat stalking a mouse. Nick enters the booth.

Nick: LaCroix?

LaCroix: One moment, Nicholas . . . there!

The monkey materializes in front of LaCroix and he grabs at it--but before his hands can close on its scrawny throat, it vanishes (but not before we see that the monkey's paws have closed on an even scrawnier imperfection in its anatomy).

LaCroix: Curse that animal! It has bedevilled me like this all night! And I know I've seen it somewhere before!

Nick: Perhaps this will jog your memory.

Nick shows LaCroix the photograph. LaCroix stares at it and goes into a flashback.

Pompeii, August AD 79. LaCroix and his legion have just returned to the city from his conquests in Gaul, and his first stop is one of the city's finer brothels--to look after his men, of course. LaCroix has arranged an orgy for several hundred of his officers, and he notes in critical approval that everything is proceeding in proper Roman fashion. Then a man dressed in a white lab coat falls out of the air and flattens the still-mortal LaCroix. They both tumble to the floor.

Lab technician: That damned monkey!

LaCroix: Barbarian!

LaCroix draws his gladius and hacks the man to death. Then he notices the monkey. It's watching the orgy, all those men and all those women, doing what you'd expect them to do (with some spectacular, impressive exceptions) . . . and the monkey looks thoroughly baffled by all of it. To ease its confusion, its hand goes to its crotch, and after a few minutes of diligent searching it locates something too small for anyone to see. It now engages in its solitary concept of sexual activity. Disgusted by the sight, LaCroix skewers it with his sword. As LaCroix raises his sword and the apekabob, a sculptor walks in.

Sculptor: General Lucius! Glad news! I've finished your marble bust! It is as magnificent as you wished--

The sculptor sees the skewered monkey, which is still trying to abuse itself. The man's delicate artistic sensibilities cause him to scream in horror.

Sculptor: Oh, horror, horror, horror! No man should see such a thing! The horror! Spare me that sight!

LaCroix: As you wish.

LaCroix draws a dagger and puts out the man's eyes, after which he weeps in joy.

Sculptor: Oh, thank you, general! Blindness is a gift after witnessing such a horror!

LaCroix: Indeed. Only a hardened veteran of the Gallic Wars can stand such a sight . . . and if the monkey doesn't stop this, he'll go blind as well.

Indeed, the monkey's palms are already hairy. LaCroix swings his sword and smashes the impaled monkey against the wall. It shrieks in pain and vanishes.

LaCroix recovers from his flashback and speaks to Nick and Janette.

LaCroix: This verminous misstep upon the road of evolution--it can travel through time?

Nick: Yes. It disrupted a scientific experiment in time-travel, and somehow it's popped up all through history.

LaCroix: But what makes it return here? What have *I* done to deserve this?

A studio technician bursts into the booth, saving Nick from the embarrassment of answering that question.

Technician: Hey, Nightcrawler, what is it with you, you were on ten minutes ago, we got a lotta dead air, get with the gab!

Surprised, LaCroix glances at the wall clock and notices the time. He speaks as he sits down at the microphone.

LaCroix: I am back, gentle listeners, after an unseemly interruption. Let us now discourse upon the nature of Time itself . . .

And once again Nick gets a call on his cell-phone. He and Janette step out of the booth.

Nick: Knight . . . yeah, Nat? What? Okay, I'll grab Schanke and get to you right away.

Janette: There is trouble, mon cher?

Nick: Yeah. Natalie says she blinked, and three hours vanished.


Act Four: The Raven. Nick forces his way through the crowd of dancers as he looks for Schanke. Baffled, he goes downstairs and finds Schanke. Schanke is adjusting his tie as he walks after a woman--the same one he was pursuing before Janette's flashback. Nick grabs him by the shoulder.

Schanke: Hey, partner, what is it? Can't you give a guy even one minute?

Nick: One minute? You started after her over an hour ago.

Schanke: An hour? What are you, crazy? I just stepped through the door!

Nick: Something's wrong, Schanke. Come on.


Downtown Toronto. Nick and Schanke drive in the Caddy while the Nightcrawler speaks over the radio.

LaCroix: What can we say of time? Not of the scientific truths, the matters of relativity and space-time, but of time and its personal meaning? Is not time our only commodity, a limited thing even for those of us who are eternal? Something which, once lost, is gone forever? Used foolishly, is not only time lost, but the chance to use it wisely as well? To find enlightenment, strength, wealth, pleasure? What then can we say of those who waste our time? Are they not the worst thieves of all?

Schanke: This is creepy, Nick. That sicko is starting to make sense.

Nick: He has a point. Look at what spammers do.

Schanke: Not on a full stomach. No way am I going to risk spitting my souvlaki all over the place.

Nick: Good point.


The coroner's building. Nick parks the Caddy and goes inside with Schanke. They enter Natalie's lab.

Nick: What's wrong, Nat?

Natalie: Time, Nick. It's been vanishing left and right. A minute here, an hour there--and it's tied in with that accident at York University.

Schanke: How's that possible?

Natalie: I called York. Dr. Boff checked the university's mainframe computer, and the records are clear. The time lab got spammed during its experiment. Spam being what it is--

Nick: --it was instant catastrophe.

Natalie: Time is in an uproar. Blink, and hours zip by.

Schanke: Sounds like a great way to pick up some overtime.

Nick: What can we do about it?

Natalie: The spam is the focus of the problem. We have to catch the monkey that initiated the spam.

Schanke: Great idea, Nat. Any suggestions? Bear in mind that this little wanker is such a perverted little scuzz that it might not respond to a normal trap--Natalie? You still with us?

Natalie has taken a little trip to Flashback City.

1979. A seventeen-year-old Natalie Lambert is working in a Toronto Hospital as a surgical intern. She's in the operating theater as a surgical team does an appendectomy. Her duties consist of keeping the sutures ready, and learning not to throw up into a patient's open belly. She's just handing a threaded needle to the surgeon when a perverted little scuzz of a monkey drops out of nowhere and starts running around the operating theater.

Surgeon: That damned monkey! Get it out of here!

Natalie has dropped her suture (a needle threaded with catgut) and bends to pick it up. As she does so the thread slips out of the needle--and the monkey grabs the needle. Gritting its teeth, it thrusts a hairlike portion of its anatomy into the eye of the needle, then makes moves like it's dancing the "Time Warp" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." The eye of the needle is far too large for its purposes, but the reprehensible creature is far too brain-dead to notice this.

Thinking quickly, Natalie takes some forceps and grabs the monkey. It continues to perform a bizarre and unnatural act upon the hapless needle while Natalie rushes it out of the operating theater. She takes it into a nearby lab, where a microtome sits ready to slice tissue samples for microscopic examination. Natalie turns on the microtome, and its razorlike blade rapidly chops up and down. She forces the monkey through the scything blade, and in a spray of blood the creature is sliced into countless paper-thin sections. Then it vanishes.

Natalie returns to the present.

Natalie: Nick, I don't know how we can catch this monkey. I saw it once, I killed it--and it survived.

Schanke: It survived? How?

Natalie: Spammers. They can survive anything.

Nick: There must be a way, Nat. Something that plays on the monkey's weaknesses.

Schanke: What weaknesses? An immortal time-travelling monster? Something that likes to disgust people? Something that's preoccupied with giving itself a new thrill?

Natalie: That's it, Schanke, you're a genius!


Act Five: CERK. A frustrated LaCroix holds a sledgehammer. The monkey appears and LaCroix flattens it. For a few seconds we see the monkey as a bit of floor-pizza. Then it vanishes. The hammered look of the floor shows that LaCroix has hit it again and again, to no effect.

LaCroix sits down at the microphone.

LaCroix: The futility, gentle listeners, of crushing a spammer. Destroy it, and it pops up again. But what else can one do? Such vermin as waste our time must not be ignored, lest they increase their powers to harm us.

LaCroix gets up, takes the sledgehammer, and waits. The monkey eappears and he smashes it again. As it vanishes again, Nick and Natalie enter the booth.

Nick: LaCroix, we may have a way to get rid of the monkey.

LaCroix: Indeed? It's almost a pity.
{rolls back a sleeve, flexes his biceps}
The exercise has done me good. But what is your plan?

Natalie: We're going to play upon the three weaknesses of its psychology.

LaCroix: It has only three?

Natalie: Only three that count. The first is, it's a spammer. That means it has a demented urge to act like an idiot in public.

Nick: Preferably in front of as many people as possible. That's why it shows up here, in a broadcast studio.

LaCroix: But this is a radio station. None of my audience can see this abomination.

Nick: I know. It's a spammer. It's too stupid to understand that. If it had any brains it would show up in a TV studio.

LaCroix: I see. And how will you catch this wretched animal?

Natalie: Watch.

Natalie puts a piece of cardboard over a wall socket. The cardboard has a small hole in it, exposing one of the socket's openings. The monkey appears, and its perverted mind is drawn by the obvious symbolism of the hole. Taking its hands from its lap, it runs up to the wall and does the "Funky Munky" with the socket. At once it screams as a hundred and ten volts of AC current zap through its anatomy. One might think it makes screams of pain, but this weird little booger is so warped that it enjoys getting shocked in the gajimbas. At last it shorts out the wall socket and collapses to the floor. Natalie picks it up with a pair of forceps.

Natalie: That's weakness number two. It has such a simple mind that it can't handle the complexities of sex. It can only think in symbolic terms, and a hole symbolizes what it would want if it had anything like a normal sex drive.

LaCroix: And what is weakness number three?

We see that as Schanke walks in, smoking a cigar. The monkey has been appropriately limp in the forceps, but now it sees the cigar. In the monkey's twisted mind, a cigar is most definitely not a cigar, as Freud might have said; its big, long, hard, dark, smoldering form is a symbol of all that the monkey lacks. It enters a fit of jealous rage--cigar envy, one might say, its third weakness--and breaks loose from the forceps. Screaming in frustration and anger, it runs out of CERK.

Natalie: Ohmigod! Nick, if it gets away now we'll never catch it again! It'll disrupt all of time!

Nick chases after it, eludes Schanke and takes to the air. He goes to the Caddy, where he picks up a banana and a large wooden barrel from the back seat. Back in the air, he flies over Toronto and spots the monkey. To his horror he sees that it is about to run into the Raven.

Nick follows it, where he finds that the monkey has attacked a lamp above the dance floor. The vile animal has unscrewed a blue bulb and has attempted to screw something in its place.

Janette is there. Nick hands the barrel to her, and she looks inside it with fascination.

Janette: Nichola, why is the inside of this barrel lined with such sharp, wicked spikes?

Nick: It's a long story. Hold the barrel so the monkey can see its interior.

Janette does so. Taking the banana, Nick jumps up to the ceiling. He gets near the monkey and waves the banana at it.

Nick: Hey, monkeyspammer! Look!

The monkey looks. Ashamed to be outclassed by a piece of tropical fruit, the monkey looks away in fury. As its head turns it sees the barrel, which in the dim light of the Raven looks like a large, dark, inviting hole. With a gleeful scream it dives into the barrel. Nick jumps down, grabs the barrel's spiked lid, and slams it over the opening. As he does so the monkey screams in pain as it hits the hundreds of spikes that now surround it.

Nick: More fun than a barrel of monkeys . . .

Natalie and Schanke rush in.

Natalie: You got it?

Nick: Right here!

He gives the barrel a playful pat, backed by vampiric strength. The jolt makes the monkey scream in more pain.

Schanke: Are you sure this will hold it?

Natalie: Forever! If not longer. You know how it's afraid of long, hard things, because it can't match them? Well, now it feels surrounded by them, so it's afraid to go anywhere!

Schanke: Great! Hey, Janet, does your band do requests? Maestro! Play me a polka!

The musicians oblige, and as they play Schanke takes the barrel, puts it on its side and pushes it across the floor. As it spins he starts to sing:

Schanke: Roll out the barrel . . . we'll have a barrel of fun!

Endlessly pierced by the spikes that surround it, screams and shrieks as the Raven's patrons roll the barrel back and forth across the dance floor.


TAG: The loft. Nick and Nat sit on the couch before the fire.

Nick: There's no danger that will ever escape, is there?

Natalie: I don't see how. That barrel is made of durable wood, the spikes are rustproof steel, and Janette is immortal. She can watch the barrel until doomsday.

Nick: Good. She may have to.

Natalie: Why? What is it?

Nick: Well, she thought that deserved to suffer more, so she made some changes to the barrel.

Natalie: Changes? What kind of changes?


Nick doesn't answer, but the scene shifts to the Raven. We see the barrel sitting in a corner. As the Raven's sound system plays the old Peter Gabriel song "Shock The Monkey" we see that hundreds of wires are hooked to the spikes nailed into the barrel, zapping every time it moves.


--fade to end theme and credits



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Last modified: April 10, 2006