A Christmas Boris
This is the sixth entry in the satirical series at https://www.abctales.com/collection/pandemic-tales-bojo-and-co
A Christmas Boris
Dom was not dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.
It had been another hard day in office; another day of non-stop catastrophe. A shaggy, blonde-haired man strolled down a cobbled street, complete with tall top hat, black cape and a walking cane. The sun had long passed below the horizon and pathways were lit conservatively by eco-friendly street lights. As he bowled along, passers-by averted their gaze not willing to catch the man’s eye. Most had mistakenly taken him for a reincarnation of Jack the Ripper dressed as he was. Others thought he was Michael Caine’s Scrooge from “A Muppet Christmas Carol.” In any event, the disguise worked and he ignored others en route home, caught up in thoughts of his own. Well, maybe a single thought. It paid not to think too much.
The man stopped outside a grand, panelled door. It had an ornate knocker with a letter box underneath. The number “10” was a grandiose centre piece in the middle. A policeman dressed in traditional, blue uniform complete with bobby helmet and brass buttons on his tunic stood ramrod straight to the left of the entrance. “Evening officer” offered the cheery, ex-public school character. “Evening, prime minister.” Came the reply.
Groping for keys in his pocket, he noticed something odd out of the corner of his eye. As he looked up, the magnificent lion door knocker was swirling. Just for a moment it looked like….well….Dom, his trusted former aide. Large forehead, peeled back lips almost snarling and a thunderous expression made the apparition a dead ringer for his ex-partner. Just as quickly as it had appeared, the vision had drifted away.
The man shook his head and dust flew out onto the floor. He turned the key in the lock and entered, closing the door behind him. Parking his stick in a stand, he marched down the hallway following the length of Persian carpet that led the way into the main living room. Opulent chairs sat around a long, wooden table. An armchair in front of a fireplace beckoned and the politician sat down. He leaned back and closed his eyes in the gloom. There was nobody at home tonight as it was Christmas Eve.
Thoughts drifted through his mind like “What colour wallpaper will Carrie choose next?” and “Which party donor might he tap up next for some dosh?” Sleep called to him like a snake charmer playing a tune of seduction. Just as he was about to doze off, the television in the corner of the room came on. Static hissed and filled the air with white noise. The screen looked like a blizzard scene until a different image replaced it. There was his faithful Allegra leaning forward and smiling. She had been muttering something about Christmas parties. The man in the comfortable chair winced. He just couldn’t recall last Christmas. As it was, he struggled to remember the previous day. He had been hounded continuously for days and weeks now by the Press. How was he supposed to know what happened in government? Why would anyone think ill of him? He never lied. Well, rarely. OK, often but it was done for the right reasons. Surely the Public understood this.
At that, the shaggy-haired parliamentarian rose from the candy striped chair and headed for the stairs to bed. He was tired and his wife and baby were staying at her mother’s tonight. It was a rare chance to catch up with some sleep. Before he could reach the door to exit, he heard a loud, scraping noise. Twirling around, he watched as a stream of smoke wound in tendrils, filling the room. It was coming from inside the TV set. As it unfurled, a figure began to form. The ghost opened its eyes.
“Is that you, Dom?” the surprised bureaucrat bumbled.
The grey, translucent phantasm was ethereal. It blinked several times then spoke.
“In life I was your partner, PM. Now I have passed on to a lesser existence; one of blogging to those who will read my words. REPENT! REPENT, I SAY!!”
The PM now knew it was Dom from the low sneer and well-spoken, civil servant dialect. The loud appeal to repent left him a little shocked.
“For in my servitude for the country, I did many things. Many….questionable things.” Dom looked down and both men stared at a chain of iron wrapped around his ankle. As they watched, the manacles started to move, expanding along the floral carpet and creeping around the borders of the room like a metal snake.
The shaggy-haired man shook his head and blustered “You may be an undigested bit of beef, a…a….a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese. I….I….won’t have my authority questioned.”
“Take heed, PM. For your punishment will be like no other. You will be visited by three ghosts from midnight. Listen well. Listen.” And with that, Dom faded away taking his bindings with him back to the very bowels of his Hellish study in Durham.
The rotund parliamentarian felt dazed. He wasn’t sure whether what had just happened had, in fact, happened. Perhaps it was trick of some kind. A jape. If it was, it was one in jolly bad taste. Standing at the door still, he pushed down on the handle and made his way up the stairs to his bed chamber. Slipping into a night gown, he pulled the covers back and slid under the sheets of his four-poster bed. Looking over at the radio clock, he noted the time at 11.05 and wondered whether anything would happen at the witching hour. With that, he drifted off to sleep.
In a dream, the PM could hear shouting. The voice was loud and scathing. The berating was becoming unbearable when he awoke to the realisation that the sounds were from within the bedroom and not some kind of night terror. Floating above him was the face of a woman. With curly hair, a sharp nose, tombstone teeth and a jutting chin, the ghostly harpy was demanding that he raise himself from his slumber.
“Is that you, Margaret, dear Maggie? My hero.”
The former prime minister looked at him in thunder.
“Raise yourself at once. AT ONCE!” Her voice was firm and authoritarian. The voice of a dictator.
Doing as he was told, he pulled the bedsheet back and hopped out of bed.
“For I am the first ghost; the ghost of Christmases past.” And with that, she grabbed his wrist. Turning towards the window, the phantasm floated off the floor and out of the fenestra, taking the PM with her. They both passed through the glass like a knife through butter.
They flew over the buildings of London, her dressed in a smart blue, pinstriped suit and he still in his nightgown. They passed over Big Ben and the London Eye, the river Thames winding its way towards the sea. For a few minutes, Boris felt like Peter Pan in a Disney movie. The sight-seeing was rudely interrupted by the sight of flames reaching for the sky. It was at this juncture that they started to descend. The scene in front of them was now that of a raging inferno. The PM noted a street sign that indicated this place as the Borough of Brixton. Now walking on a pavement, the harbinger took her captive by the hand and led him to a terraced house. Mayhem was all around as dark figures ran about in the night, screaming, shouting and hurling missiles at cars. They were now stood in a small, front garden peering through the front window. Inside was a man with wispy hair surrounded by other men all wearing donkey jackets, their faces platted in soot.
“Is that…is that Arthur Scargill?” the premier blustered.
“It is indeed. He and his merry men. For these are images from a great reign, a time of crushed enemies and iron will. The Thatcher Years – a time when men were men and women had balls. You should heed these things, Boris and amend your style accordingly.” The wraith’s words were harsh and austere.
The PM peered at the broken features of the former union leader. The other men in the front room looked equally bleak as they peered at the floor.
“But these events are from different times, ma’am. Different years.” Boris bleated.
“Yes, I know silly boy. I haven’t got all night you know? This is a snapshot and a small summary for you. Events amalgamated for simplicity. KISS – Keep it simple. Stupid.” As she spoke the final, emphasised word, the former party leader cuffed him about the side of his head. The PM yowled in pain and embarrassment.
With that, the scene slowly evaporated away and the shaggy-haired politician found himself in bed once more.
“What fresh Hell next?” he pondered, gazing into the gloom.
“Awa' wi' ye ye barmpot”. These words came unannounced from a corner of the room as a new spectre came forward from the shadows. Boris squinted his eyes to make out who this latest intruder was.
“'n' gimme mah vote fur independence”. The ghost of Christmas present was wearing a tartan tam o’shanter covering ginger hair. It put him in mind of a female version of Russ Abbot. Otherwise, things appeared conventional as ghosts went. This latest vision was dressed in a white blouse and blue, pleated skirt.
“Nicola? Is that you?” The PM bumbled, almost incoherently.
“'n' dinnae gimme ony o' that stuff aboot peppa pig. Scootlund wull be free.”
The PM looked flummoxed wishing his advisers were too hand. His brain scrambled to decipher the dialect.
“Once in a generation, Nicola. You will get your vote, in time. Once I have sorted levelling up, the Pandemic and this year’s Christmas party at Number Ten. Actually….oh…forget I said that last bit.” He coughed uncomfortably.
“In fact, last time we were together, you said something about a Glasgow kiss if you saw me again. Well, I’m game if you are.” He winked suggestively prompting a look of fury from the Scotswoman. Boris closed his eyes and puckered his lips. The Nicola entity approached. As she got closer, she leaned her head back targeting a specific spot on the annoying man’s forehead. Lunging forward like an uncoiled spring, the PM was saved by a swirling vortex that swept the tartan apparition away.
With eyes open again, Boris looked in terror at what he assumed to be the final ghost. A huge spectre loomed over him, dressed in a monk’s cowl. There was no face under the hood; only darkness. In fact, there was no evidence at all that this was a person. There were no hands at the ends of the robe, no legs or feet beneath the hem. There was a quiet buzzing sound like a swarm of bees very far away in the distance.
“Are you the ghost of things yet to come?” enquired the PM with a tremor in his voice.
No reply came.
Boris peered closer trying to spy any evidence that this might be someone he knew.
The ghostly monk floated closer still and its robe started to slide away. As it dropped to the floor, the PM could see nothing; nothing at all. If the PM had had an electron microscope to hand, he might have been able to make out the miniscule, numerous particles of virus that made up the cloud in front of him. Instead, all he could do was to sense the danger.
He screwed his eyes and declared “You’re that invisible mugger that got me last year, aren’t you? I was nearly done for, y’know? Even Michael Gove was worried about me at one point.” The public servant imagined a Michelin man in tears.
The virus looked its victim up and down. As it swirled making shapes in the air, it thought about sucking out the very essence of this man’s soul. It had fled when trying to infiltrate Dom’s body months ago and, ever since, had been careful only to select those with an actual heart in situ. It looped and spun like a macabre belly dancer. Boris looked one last time and the virus swooped, streaming towards the man’s cavernous mouth.
Church bells rang out and Boris awoke. Raising himself from his mattress, he leaned over to the clock on the bedside table. It said 07:00. He pawed at his chest and checked that his faculties were in working order. Springing out of bed, he felt euphoric.
“Survived again. I’m simply the best. Better than all the rest.” He sang out in his old Etonian tones. His last memory was of the encounter with the coweled ghost. He couldn’t recall anything between that and now. Running over to the window, he pulled the top pane down to look out onto the world. A robin landed next to the PM’s hand prompting him to smile contentedly.
A young lad was wandering past, crunching through new snow.
“Hey you boy, what day is this?”
“It’s Christmas Day, mate.” He chirped in colloquial cockney wondering why the minister was shouting questions at him through a window and why he couldn’t have checked this fact on a mobile phone or something.
“Ah…that’s wonderful news. Could you fetch me a turkey from the butchers around the corner? I will reward you handsomely, of course.” The PM lied.
“Butchers? It’s Christmas Day geezer. There’s nowhere open. When do you think this is? Dickensian times?” The youth dressed in green tracksuit top and trainers started to jog as he muttered under his breath “Man’s a clown.”
“No need for that. Honestly.” The PM bumbled and went back inside.
Whilst he wondered what to do next, his Nokia mobile rang to the dial tone of “Mission Impossible”. Boris had always fancied himself as a bit like Tom Cruise. It was a comparison nobody else saw.
“Hello.” He answered.
“Ah good morning, PM.” In the background Boris could hear Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” playing on a sinister church organ.
“Good morning to you, Priti. And a merry Christmas.” the parliamentarian felt light as a feather.
“I just thought I would call you to let you know that Matt wants to come back to work in the Cabinet. He said he’s bored now and wants to sort things out for you. He’s confident that, given time, he can resolve the cheese and wine party scandal, the investigation into the refurbishment of your flat and ensure pizza deliveries can get through to you bypassing the police cordon at Downing Street.”
The shaggy-haired man thought about this. Things were sticky at the moment and Matt had done a good job on the Pandemic. Eventually. Sort of. It’s just a shame he had been so shifty about other things and, worse still, been caught on camera doing them.
“Well anything’s possible. Yes, let’s have him back.” He uttered into the phone.
There was a pause that seemed to last an eternity before a voice rasped at the other end of the line “Yes, PM. God Bless us, every one.”
Image free to use at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/10_Downing_Street#/media/File:10_Downing_S...
This is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents
are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a
fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental