Now, I felt, we were finally getting somewhere. Although I couldn’t help but feel it was an awfully flimsy premise – and that we were finally getting somewhere awfully late in the day.
“Okay,” I said, “a telepathic alien simulation.”
“I don’t know that this one is alien,” Doctor Cratch said. “It could be one of us generating it, or all of us together. There’s a lot of talk about how humans can’t really do it because we haven’t got the discipline, but there’s plenty of alien snobbery built into that assumption.”
“Don’t get me started on alien snobbery,” I muttered.
Doctor Cratch spread his hands. “I know, right?” he exclaimed. “Some of them don’t even think we’re sentient.”
“Just because almost none of us are capable of self-reflection, independent thought or behavioural patterns outside the single-celled stimulus-response model,” I scoffed. “The nerve of aliens.”
“It boils my blood, I tell you,” Doctor Cratch agreed. “And besides, if we’re all representatives of consciousnesses of unknown provenance, who’s to say which of us are or are not capable of manifesting a coherent telepathic environment, and also successfully formulating a concept of self awareness?”
“I am acutely self-aware,” Winona said.
Doctor Cratch pointed supportively at the Xixian, and gave him a thumbs-up. “See? Good for you.”
“Don’t let the Man keep you down,” Creepy joined in. “Even if the Man is actually an alien.”
“Especially then,” Mister C of 9 added.
“Alright, but is this what we’re going with?” Carla asked, as I had basically known she would. “‘Turns out it was all a dream’? That’s our big conclusion?”
“It’s a classic,” Creepy said mildly.
“And it would tend to answer what this has to do with Christmas,” I added. “‘Turns out it was all a dream’ is a pretty big part of the-”
“But this is not a visitation from three deep-seated manifestations of religious-indoctrination-based guilt with the intent of salvaging your sociocultural credit rating,” Carla objected.
“Isn’t it, though?” I couldn’t help asking.
Carla was right and wrong, of course. She was right about the Seven Creepies not being manifestations, although if you really wanted to dig into the psychic landscape simulation idea I suppose you could make a case. And there weren’t three of them. It could very easily be a variant on the concept, but I got the distinct impression that it wasn’t.
What she was wrong about was the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future being manifestations of Scrooge’s psyche. They were actual entities. We’d met them – or were going to have met them. It was hard to keep straight because they were personifications of time, and at least one of them had told me to keep my mouth shut about it until later. Or earlier. Doesn’t matter. The point is, she was wrong.
Again, if you wanted to make the case that everything was happening inside someone’s head and it was all a dream, you could very well do that. It does tend to be a gateway ideology that ends up with you being marched into prison by a superhero of some kind, or a lone wolf cop who plays by his own rules and his plucky comedic partner, however, while ranting about how everyone is a fool and you’ll show them all and no cell can hold you. It’s a slippery slope.
All I’m saying is, you need to be careful with the assumption that things aren’t real. Because as soon as you start doing that, you leave yourself open to a serious kicking when certain things, and specifically their boots, turn out to be real.
That’s my point.