Well, it's not mine. Not eleventh Hour, not A Christmas Carol.
A Christmas Carol
Rachel sighed. It was the 24th of December and she was in a strange mood. She had liked Christmas for the most of her time, but ever since her father died two years ago she was sad and miserable.
Today, she set with Hood and Felix on a plane back to Washington, for the holidays.
"Rachel…" Hood began quietly: "Uhm… my sister is giving her Christmas-party tonight, and tomorrow we will have a typical dinner…. Would you like to come?"
There it was. She had feared this question, but known it would come. Ever since they worked together Jacob had invited her. The first time she went was also the first time, she didn't have Christmas with her father. The year after that he died.
"I'll be there to." Felix said cheerfully, he was looking forward to meet Jacobs family.
"Good, then there is no need for an extra agent." Rachel said, using it for an apology.
"Rachel please. I would love it, if you come. There is always an need for one more." Jacob said showing his biggest smile.
But Rachel just sighed again and shook her head.
** Ghost of Christmas Past **
She had taken a connecting flight to California and drove with a rented car to a cabin in the mountains near Alta Sierra. Here she had spend most of her Christmas with her family. It was late in the evening when she finally arrived and got in.
An hour later she sat with a cup of very strong hot spiced wine in front of the fireplace and felt more miserable than ever.
She must have fallen asleep because she woke up to a hard knock on the door.
Drowsily she stood up and walked to open it, and then… her heart almost stooped.
Her father smiled. "Hi Rachel, may I come in?" he asked and without waiting he went right through her.
Rachel was shocked and turned around. First she looked at her father and then on the cup of spiced wine. "I didn't drink that much." She said confused.
"You shouldn't drink that stuff at all." Her Dad said with a look to the cup.
"You are dead."
He shrugged: "Well… yes."
"Am I dead to?"
He smiled: "No. You are very much alive. And would you please close the door? It's getting cold in here."
She obeyed. Then she decided that this was not real. She went over to the cup on the table and brought it into the small kitchen. Her father followed silently.
"Would you open the door under the cooker?", he asked.
Rachel did what he told her and he took a close look at the gas container which was used for cooking. "Ok fine… it's off. Now we can go."
"Go? Where would I go with a ghost?" Rachel asked now completely confused. This was a dream or some wine caused fantasy.
"To the past, where else?" he seemed a bit disappointed that she did not figure out that by herself: "I'm the Ghost of Christmas Past." He hold out a hand for her.
She didn't take it. "This is not a Christmas Carol." She said dryly.
"Oh, you are wrong, that's exactly what it is!" he said grabbing her arm and disappeared with her.
Next thing Rachel knew was that she was standing outside the cabin. Like nothing ever happened. Snow was falling down and inside the cabin was a warm light.
"Don't you want to go in?" a voice asked.
She turned around. Her father was standing there. Anger rose inside her but she took a step towards the cabin and suddenly she already was inside. There was her family. Her father, her mother and herself. They where decorating the Christmas-tree. Rachel smiled.
Her younger self was placing the Star on the top of the tree, supported by her father.
"I remember this Christmas." She said smiling.
"You do?", her dead father asked.
"Yes… look I'm wearing the pink dress Mom bought for me." She said and pointed out to the little girl, who was now playing tag with the younger version of her father.
The man beside her drew a face: "I hated this dress, you wore that almost the howl year…. But it is also the last Christmas you had with your mother."
Rachel's smile faded and she looked angry at the ghost. "And why are you showing me this?"
He didn't answer. Instead the scene chanced and they were standing in the house of Jacobs sister. His nephew Owen had fallen asleep on the big armchair. Jacobs sister was in the kitchen and she, Rachel sat together with Jacob on the Couch talking quietly. His sister came out of the kitchen and gave them hot cacao with crème.
"Thank you." They said.
Rachel smiled to herself.
"You thought this was the perfect family, didn't you?" her father asked.
She nodded while watching herself and the others. The light in the room was so warm and there was harmony.
"Yeah, but I should have spend that Christmas with you." She said.
Her father shook his head. "No, I was glad you had some place else to stay. I was on vacation in Florida, remember. And by the way, there was one Christmas I would never forget." He said and the scene chanced. Rachel saw herself sitting in the corner of her darkened room at home. She was not much older then she hat been, when she had worn her pink dress. The door opened and her father came in.
"You want to come down, to decorate the tree?" he asked softly and somehow…uncertain.
"Well… I made your favourite cookies… you want some?"
"No." she said and turned to look the other direction.
But the grown up Rachel could now see the hurt on her fathers face as he closed the door. She turned to the ghost, who was silently standing by her side. "Dad I'm sorry:" she said.
He was just looked at her. "Wake up someone is knocking."
** Ghost of Christmas Present **
Rachel woke up by the sound of someone knocking on the cabin door. She looked around. The cup with wine was standing on the table and her father was nowhere to be found. It knocked again and she went to open it.
When Rachel opened the door, there was a woman she did not know. The woman smiled.
"Hi. Are you Rachel Young?" she asked.
Rachel was somehow relieved. For a second she had thought that this would be another ghost.
"Yeah… how can I help you?" she said and looked for the car of this woman.
The woman grinned hold out her hand for Rachel to shake. "I'm Maggie Hood. Nice to meet you."
When Rachel opened her eyes again she was lying on the floor, the door still open.
"What happened?" she asked herself quietly while getting up.
"Oh, you blacked out. Sorry, I would have put you onto the couch but I am a ghost." A voice behind her said. Rachel turned around. There she was, Maggie Hood.
"Okay. Where do you want to take me?" Rachel asked wearily and closed the door behind her.
Maggie smiled. "I'm the ghost of Christmas Present and it seems that you already know your miserable Christmas…", she said and looked around: "…I'll show you Jacobs."
And with that, the surrounding disappeared.
They were in Alex' house and there was music coming from the radio. The first persons Rachel saw were Felix and Owen. Felix stormed into the living-room with Owen on his shoulders. The boy laughed and wanted to go faster. Rachel smiled.
Maggie grinned. "He has a lot of positive energy."
"Of cause, he is a child.", Rachel said.
"No, I meant Felix."
"Well, it's not the right behaviour for an FBI Agent but I think on Christmas it's ok."
Maggie didn't say anything to this but went to the kitchen and Rachel followed her. Jacob and Alex were preparing dinner.
"So, she is not coming?" Rachel heard Alex say as she entered.
Jacob shook his head. "No, I don't know what to do. She would shoot me if I try to kidnap her and bring her along."
Alex laughed: "Maybe she would. But please try to bring her next time. I like her and Owen does to. It is just so sad, that she'll be all alone for Christmas."
"I wish I could help her." Jacob said sadly and Rachel felt bad. Then Felix and Owen stormed into the kitchen and the scene went black.
There were only Rachel and Maggie.
"You see, they want you there."
Rachel sighed: "Maybe, but I would only make their Christmas as miserable as mine."
"I see, you still haven't leaned it. Maybe the future is able to teach you." She said.
And Rachel woke up in the cabin by a knock on the door.
** Ghost of Christmas Future **
It knocked again. Rachel knew what would come. She had read A Christmas Carol every year when she was a child.
"Come in!" she called, not seeing why she should get up.
The door opened. And there he was. The death. In the story his face was just a howl in the cowl but this one had his cowl just pulled over his face so she could not see if there was a face or not. She knew she should be scared but being a FBI-Agent and a grown up of the 21st Century she was just kind of bored: "Let me guess: Ghost of Christmas Future?"
He just nodded but didn't say a thing.
Finally she got up and walked towards him. "Ok where do we go?"
He waved her to follow him and went out. Rachel did what she was told to. She left the cabin… or she tried to, but instead stepping outside she stepped back in without remembering turning around. She was now in the door facing the inside of the cabin and the ghost.
"Wow, nice trick. How did you do that?", she asked but he did not answer just waved her fully inside.
"Don't like a good conversation, Nazgul?", she asked and followed him.
But when she saw what he was now pointing at she could not say another word.
She saw herself sitting on the Couch. There was a lonely candle on the table in front of her and dozens bottles of booze. One of them lay on it's side and the liquid was all over the table. The Rachel on the Couch looked awful. Black circles under her eyes, messy her and drunk.
The Rachel next to the ghost was shocked. "That's not me!", she said.
Then she heard a ring. It came from a mobile-phone on a counter. But the drunk women didn't seem to care.
Rachel went over and had a look on the ID. It was Jacob. "Why doesn't she answer?" she asked the ghost but he remained silent. "Why don't you answer?", she asked annoyed and had a second look on the phone. There was also a Calendar on the screen. 24th of December 2013.
The ringing continued, but instead of answering the Rachel on the couch pressed her hand over her ears.
"Nazgul! Tell her to answer!"
But then the scene chanced. They were now in Alex house. Felix was there, standing next to window and looking outside. Owen stood next to him.
"Why don't you want to play with me?", he asked.
Felix turned to him and Rachel could see the stern look on his face.
"Because FBI-Special-Agents do not play." He said coldly.
"You need to play with him!" Rachel called but no one heard her.
Alex entered the room. "Mooom! Felix won't play!"
Alex looked sadly at her son. "Leave him alone, he is angry because Jacob took of without telling him."
Owen was not ok with that answer: "He didn't play with me since Rachel quit three years ago."
"I quit?" Rachel asked and the ghost nodded. "And… where is Jacob?" she was almost afraid to ask.
The scene chanced again and they were outside the cabin. "No!" Rachel screamed. The cabin was on fire. "Is anyone still in there?", she asked but knew the answer. She, herself, was in there, asleep maybe. The candle must have burned down and ignite the liquid on the table. Rachel watched in horror but it came even worse. She saw a car pulling up in front of the cabin and Jacob jumped outside.
"RACHEL!" he screamed and ran into the cabin.
"NO! NO! JACOB DON'T!" Rachel began to scream and then the howl cabin exploded. The gas-container in the kitchen.
She sank into the snow, sobbing and calling for Jacob. She didn't care that her future-self was dead but Jacob…
„You…" she heard a voice and turned to the ghost. "… didn't only get yourself killed but also..." and he took his cowl off: "…me."
Rachel's heart almost stopped. It was Jacob! The ghost Jacob, his face white like a skull with eyes sunken in deeply.
She started to scream.
And with that she woke up.
Rachel jumped of the couch and hurries to her cell-phone. 5am on the 25th of December…. 2010. She was relieved. "Thank god, it's not to late."
Two hours later she was at the airport shopping in the duty-free-shop. She had left the cabin in a hurry but not without checking the gas-container.
There were only a few people I the shop. Just some businessmen. One of them walked over to her.
"Hi.", he said.
Rachel was busy looking at a small fire-engine for children.
"Hi.", she greeted.
"I'm Ryan, would you like a cup of coffee while waiting for your flight?"
She smiled sweetly at him. "No, thank you Ryan but I think this woman would enjoy it." She said and pointed to a lonely woman, who was standing near the shop.
On the plane Rachel felt happy. She had watched when Ryan offered the coffee to the woman and she seemed glad about it. 'Yesterday I was the Grinsh now I'm the spirit of Christmas.' Rachel thought happily.
Jacob had watched Owen unwrapping his presents. The little boy was so exited that Felix was infected by it. And soon the two of them where playing with his new toys. Alex had disappeared in the kitchen and told him to not go in there. Jacob knew why. He wanted to help but always ended up eating all the crème for the dessert. When he heard a knock on the door he went to open it.
"Rachel.", he said surprised.
"Merry Christmas." She said happily. "I brought presents.", she continued and held up the bags she had in her hands.
Alex had also come to the to see how the visitor was. "Rachel, come in, it's great to have you here." She said pulling her into a hug.
"RACHEL!", Owen screamed running to her.
Half an hour later, Rachel sat next to Jacob, both looking at Felix and Owen. Owen had his new fire-engine, which Rachel hat bought for him. Felix had also got a present it was a matchbox police-car.
"He will never grow up.", Jacob said laughing.
"Why should he?", Rachel asked.
"He is an FBI-Agent.", he said and Rachel realised that he was talking about Felix.
"Yeah and a very good one…. Hood would you promise me something?", she asked and he looked straight into her eyes.
"Everything.", he said.
"Never run into a burning house for me, ok?"
He seemed a bit surprised but nodded.
In the evening they had their dinner and after that a cup of eggnog.
Alex eyed Rachel and asked: "Will you stay today? I can fix the second guestroom."
"Oh yeas Rachel please stay!" Owen begged.
This was a family. "Yes, I'll stay."
** Bonus Chapter**
In the middle of the night Rachel woke up. She did not know who, but someone was in her room.
"Hello Rachel.", a soft voice said into the silence and then a woman walked towards her bed.
"Mom?" Rachel asked and her mother nodded.
"I'm very proud of you today and that's why I want to give you an extra present."
Rachel smiled, it was nice to hear that her mother was proud.
Rachel got out of bed and followed her mother out of the door. They stepped on a snow covered street and Rachel saw a house she did not know.
"What are we doing here?", she asked.
They went to a window and Rachel looked inside.
"You remember the young man at the airport? That's him… and her."
Ryan was in a living-room and the woman from the airport was by his side. Rachel smiled to herself, she really did a good thing today.
"Future, I won't tell you the year. But that's not what I wanted to show you." Her mother aid and the scene chanced. They where in Alex's house again. It was morning and Rachel saw a young girl, maybe four years old. She was dressed in a pink night-gown and ran down the stairs to the big Christmas tree.
"Mommy! Daddy!", she called: "Look Santa has been here!"
Two boys followed her. A teenage Owen and a smaller boy which was the twin of the little girl.
Rachel watched the children a while, then Jacob came downstairs.
"Look Daddy!", the boy called and held a big Teddy in the air, to show him his present.
"He has children.", Rachel said happily felt somehow sad. Her mother smiled.
Then Rachel saw herself coming down into the living-room, followed by Alex. The little girl jumped up.
"Mommy! Merry Christmas!", she called and ran into the older Rachel's arms.
"I'm a mother.", the Rachel next to the fourth ghost said. "The mother of Jacob's children."
Her mother nodded: "And a very good one."
Suddenly they heard a knock and Alex went to open it. She came back and Santa Clause followed her. Rachel saw at the first look that it was Felix in a costume and the children seemed to notice that fact to.
"Uncle Felix!", they shouted and hugged him.
"Then you are pretty late, don't you think?", Jacob asked and helped Felix with the big sack of presents.
"Ok, I'm not Santa, but he left those at my house and I thought you would like them."
There was joy and laughter and happiness in the house and Rachel could not stop smiling.
Suddenly she was back in the guestroom with her mother, it was clearly the present.
"Mom, I have another question…." She said and was afraid to ask: "This frightning ghost of the future…"
Her mother just smiled: "He won't be with the other ghosts for a very long time. I promise. You two will be happy. Trust me." And with that she was gone.
On the next morning Rachel woke up with the feeling that she had a wonderful live to life and that was the best present she could get.
Thx for reading.