Charles Dickens would Not Endorse this NSFW Version!
I’ve collaborated with 2 of my favourite sexy authors, using the traditional framework to create a tale of an enlightening seasonal journey. Part 1 is by me
The sound of Christmas Eve merriment drifted up from the busy street below Ebony’s first floor window. She tried to put from her mind that most people had already switched off their computers and shut their workplaces for the festive season. Ebony Scrooge needed to submit her copy to the magazine, she’d never missed a deadline. She returned her attention to the blinking cursor on her screen, where she was giving advice to Jodie from Clacton-on-Sea whose husband wanted to spank her with a hairbrush.
“Tell him a firm NO!” Ebony’s fingers raced over the keyboard, “you’ll be opening a can of worms. By encouraging punishment in the bedroom you are saying that violence is acceptable. Not to mention you’ll be taking women’s liberation backwards.”
Ebony was rather pleased with her answer. She was proud to be a no-nonsense Agony Aunt, fighting a 1-woman war to uphold the sanctity of marriage and textbook relationships.
Earlier today she’d been approached by a gay charity which needed a positive quote for their newsletter. Ebony Scrooge had brushed them off, unable to endorse the kind of supportive statement they would have wanted to print. She neither understood nor supported the diverse nuances of sexuality or lifestyle which seemed to be blooming around her. Her personal mission, through the medium of her magazine page, was to nip these practices in the bud by pouring scorn on anything which strayed away from the old fashioned values she’d had drummed into at her convent school.
With a click of a button she sent her words to the features editor. Ebony closed her laptop and stood, stretching her arms, she eased the cricks in her neck. Adjusting the scarf she wore and hugging her chunky cardigan around her torso, she moved to her kitchenette to boil the kettle. Her fridge was pretty bare, but she found some cheese to perch on a cracker. Chewing on this light snack she checked for messages on her phone.
You’d think she’d have friends to meet at the pub, which was only a few doors away from her flat, but Ebony’s strong opinions and argumentative, forthright manner didn’t endear people. Seven years ago her journalist boss and mentor, Marley Jackson had died. Since then weeks could pass without Ebony speaking to anyone except those she met on forays to the shops to buy essential food and drink.
She took a strong cup of tea into the bedroom, quickly swapping her multiple layers of clothes for flannel pajamas and thick bed socks. Ebony didn’t heat her bedroom, so she pulled on a dressing gown and belted it. Brushing her teeth in the chilly bathroom, it seemed to Ebony that in the distorted reflection of her chrome tap, she saw Marley’s face looking back. This so startled her that she swallowed toothpaste foam instead of spitting. It must be her imagination, she remonstrated with a shake of her head. She snapped off the light and climbed into bed.
Ebony had pulled the covers up to her chin and deleted her usual morning alarm off her phone. She had no need to wake up early – she had nowhere to go and nobody to see on Christmas morning.
A sudden noise startled her, was it a roll of thunder? No, rather a strange, dragging and moaning noise assaulted her ears. She wondered what the drunken idiots in the street were doing. Stuffing her phone under the pillow Ebony lay down to sleep, but the sounds of scraping, accompanied by groans and grunts, came from the very next room.
She sat bolt up-right in bed. She was startled to see an apparition of Marley Jackson, as she’d never seen him look in life, dragging a wooden St Andrew’s cross into the room. Marley was a grisly sight, hazy and not quite solid, his pale body dressed in fishnet stockings and black latex spanking pants, with a heart-shaped cut out at the back. His chest was bare except for a pentagon shaped leather harness, and he grunted and groaned around a red ball gag as he manhandled the punishing post into the room.
“Marley? Is that really you?”
“Mfffgh! Urrgh!” The ball gag hindered his speech, but with his hands shackled to the cross, he could not remove it.
“How can you be here?” Ebony was not blessed with a vivid imagination, but she was ready to convince herself that she was dreaming.
Marley shook the cuffs at his wrists, expressing his frustration with their jangle so, despite feelings of intense trepidation, Ebony crawled to the bottom of her bed to pluck at the buckle with trembling fingers to unfasten his gag. Her mentor’s hair swirled around his head as if in a wind tunnel or a howling gale. She couldn’t step away fast enough and she buried her chilled fingers in her dressing gown pockets.
“Seven long years, I’ve stood outside your mortal world, watching you continue to make the type of mistakes which condemned me to haunt this place, suffering without the punishment I crave.”
Ebony went to speak, but Marley held up one pale hand for silence.
“Human life comes in all shapes and sizes, and people’s sexuality and preferences are just as varied. I’m ashamed that in my time as a columnist I could not be honest about my masochistic lifestyle and the pleasure I gained from it. Worse than that, I exacerbated the negativity and shame which pervades by using my page to spread a message of distrust and disapproval for alternative sexual pleasures, such as those I enjoyed.”
“But Marley, you always said it was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”
“It is for such attitudes that I’m now I punished, when I observe the daily struggles within the gay and lesbian community to live and love, staying true to themselves. Many must conceal who they are to keep their jobs or maintain the equilibrium in their family. Plenty still trap themselves unhappily within straight marriages, which they deem necessary to present a ‘palatable’ image to the world. But they should feel free to express their passions.”
“Why are you dressed this way Marley?”
“While I lived Ebony, I had a secret life. A squeaky clean advice columnist by day who sought the darker pleasures of the flesh in my evenings and weekends.” Marley moved lasciviously while he spoke, grinding his latex covered hips against the wooden structure. “While I publicly poured on scorn or advised against vanilla couples trying out a paddle or a flogger in the bedroom, I was privately spending all my wages on Fin-Dom and dungeons.”
“I loved to be caned and whipped, I still crave the bite of clamps and pinwheels. It’s my own personal torture to drag this St Andrew’s cross with me in the afterlife. To know that although I’m manacled to it, I’ll never again be spanked and tormented to the point where I reach the bliss of sub-space.”
Marley’s face looked so mournful, and his wailing sob was so pitiful, that Ebony was momentarily distracted from the huge revelation that she was processing. Was he really experiencing agonizing distress from being unable to experience pain? She could not relate.
“Don’t be like me Ebony. I’ve manifested here this Christmas Eve to implore you to change your ways, to open your mind. I urge you to use your column to give sex positive advice. If there are sexual practices you don’t understand: learn about them, grow your experiences. Try sharing your column space with experts of every gender so that you can offer support and comfort to any of your readership who feel alone or confused.”
“I’m sending you three ghosts this Christmas Eve. They will guide you, make you examine yourself and your motivations, so listen and learn, I implore you.”
“Ghosts Marley? I’d rather not. You know I can’t even watch supernatural films!”
“Hear me Ebonyyyyyyyy!” Marley’s wail was plaintive and piercing, making her wince.
“Yes OK Marley, but can I meet them all at once, get it over with quicker?”
“You have so much to learn Ebony, you cannot shape everything to suit yourself.” Marley’s expression was pitiful. “The first ghost will come when the clock strikes one. The second will visit when the clock strikes two, and the third – with the most critical message – when you hear the chime for three.”
“Can’t you tell me now? We know each other Marley, the truth would be better coming from you.”
Ebony wrung her hands. A cold sweat had begun pricking in her armpits.
“Already Marley I’m wishing I’d advised Jodie from Clacton-on-Sea differently, to allow her partner to try spanking her with his hand first. They could agree on a safe-word before moving onto other implements such as a hairbrush.”
She looked at her long-dead mentor with imploring eyes, but he shook his head, which made his grey hair swirl, stirred by the slip-stream of his constant journey around the mortal world.
“Tonight, once the clock strikes one.” His look was intense, it chilled her to the bone. “Learn your lessons from the spirits Ebony Scrooge, while time is still on your side.”
He’d barely delivered those parting words, when the ball gag fastened itself back in place. Marley began to shuffle his feet, which she only now noticed were strapped onto a spacer bar, as he laboriously dragged the huge wooden X towards her bedroom window. It flung open and the foggy night air swirled into the room, wrapping misty tendrils around the fishnet clad man, it transported him out of the window.
Ebony hurried to fasten the window behind him, she strained her eyes in the moisture laden gloom to watch him go. She was chilled to the core, both literally and figuratively, a bitter cold no amount of tightening her dressing gown or rubbing her arms could warm. She decided the solution was a tot of whisky, so moved to the kitchen to pour a tiny measure to revive herself from what had surely been a terrible nightmare.
It was reassuring that the room looked the same as always, now lit by the orange glow from the street which slanted through the uncurtained window. As she stood there appreciating the reviving warmth of her whisky, the lamps outside switched off, signalling it was midnight. Just one hour to wait until her visitation from the first ghost, which Marley had predicted.
She shuffled back to bed and pulled the covers up until only her face was visible. If she fell asleep now, perhaps she could sleep deeply, proving the night’s events to be a bad dream. Cheese was supposed to give you nightmares, wasn’t it? She hunkered down and closed her eyes hopefully.