Ottawa, Christmas Eve: At the home of novelist, blogger and all-around troublemaker William Kendall, all is well...for the moment. As the song says, all is calm, all is bright. Snow is falling. William loves snow, which is why everyone else in Ottawa thinks he's, well, nuts.
"Wake up, you moron!"
William's roused from sleep by the sound of the angry voice calling to him. He tries to open his eyes, but is blinded by an unexpectedly bright light. "What the...who's in here?"
"Your worst nightmare, you hack!"
He sits up, shielding his eyes from the with one hand. "My ex-brother-in-law Mike?"
"Be serious. That Neanderthal couldn't get in the door if you gave him a key."
"So you do know him."
A figure steps forward from the light, clothed in attire from another century. He's angry. William doesn't recognize him. "I don't remember too many of my dreams," he says, "but I have a feeling I'm never going to forget this one."
"I'm going to make sure you don't."
"Do I know you?" William asks, still confused.
"You know my work. You butchered it in your latest blog posts."
It takes a moment for the realization to come. William still isn't fully awake. "Charles Dickens?" he asks.
"Right. Mike Saxton sent you, didn't he?" William asks. "You've got the Victorian costume right, but the speech is all wrong for the nineteenth century England."
Dickens grows impatient. "Do you think the gates of Heaven were sealed after I arrived?" he asks. "There haven't been too many new admissions in the last century, granted...but those who have managed to get in have had an indelible influence."
"Like who?" William asks.
"Don't change the subject!" Dickens responds angrily.
"Your bloody blog!" Dickens looks like he might resort to physical violence. "How dare you make a mockery of A Christmas Carol! To compare my Scrooge to that cretin who's running your country...."
"Harper?" William asks.
"Stephen Harper." Dickens speaks the name as if it has a bitter taste. "My Scrooge had a heart. He could be saved! That was the whole point of the story, that there's hope, that anyone can change."
"Hey, he parodies my stuff all the time."
Both men turn to the window, where comic book legend Stan Lee has been observing them. William is even more confused than ever. "Stan the Man?"
Stan Lee grins. "In the flesh."
"Stan Lee!" Dickens smiles for the first time. "I'm a huge admirer of your work. Even Will Shakespeare is always bragging about the influence he had over your creation, Thor."
"Wait a minute!" William interrupts them. "Stan, you're not dead!"
"Of course not. And it's Mr. Lee to you." Stan looks at him with disdain. "You're in big trouble if the Avengers ever break through the Fourth Wall...and you don't want to know what Wolverine is planning to do to you. Drunken Hobbit, indeed!"
"I wanted to sue him," Dickens says. "But try finding a lawyer in Heaven."
"There are plenty of them down here who are more than happy to take my money to abuse just about anyone," Stan says.
"Hey!" William offers in a weak protest.
"He's not a bad writer," Stan goes on, "in fact, he's quite good, when he sticks to his own creations. But he's really pissing off my characters--and the people responsible for them now. That Bendis fellow has a William Kendall voodoo doll in his office. Quesada has a photo of him on his dart board. And the marketing department really takes exception to being compared to chimps."
"You should see how chimps are reacting," William puts in.
Dickens shakes his head in clear disapproval. "This one must me taught a lesson. We should make an example of him for others who might consider such foolishness."
"Let me guess," William starts. "You're going to send me ghosts?"
"No," Stan says. "You'll be getting visits from all the people you've poked fun at--in your blog, on Facebook and at Comixfan."
William takes a deep breath. "It's going to be a long night...."
William wakes abruptly, realizing it was all a dream. He's relieved. Then an inspiration comes to him. He reaches for pen and paper and jots down the idea for his next blog....