I had spent a long, long life fighting it. I gave all I had to the battle — my family, my friends, my work, my health. The fight was everything to me and took everything from me, and I thought it was worth it.
I thought I could win.
Everything, as it turns out, was not enough.
The moment finally came, that most terrible of moments, with the first snowfall of the waning year. It was the moment when my enemy spoke to me in the voice of my dearest friend, and leered at me with a face I had loved and lost. It wore old Marley like a shabby suit, and played his voice like a broken church organ. The chains that it used to tie itself to the world jingled with a sort of demented music as it sat on the edge of my bed.
“You will be visited by three spirits,” it wheezed at me. “Each will have a lesson to teach you. Heed them well, Ebenezer, or you will end up like…me.” Its smile was malicious as it touched a hand to its stolen chest. The chains rattled out a queer and awful melody.
“And what if I don’t? What if they fail?” I folded my fingers together underneath the covers so it couldn’t see my hands shake. We both knew better.
It made Marley’s face look sad, and perhaps a bit wistful. “Denial doesn’t suit you, old friend.”
“You’re no friend of mine.”
“Ah, but I will be. The chiming of the clock will bring you to me at last.”
Midnight began to ring, slow and terrible, as it laughed at my fear.