I'm half awake. It is the morning of my birthday. The room is quite unusually cold. I check the window by my bed and there is a thick layer of frost on the inside. My wife is wrapped up warm and still snoozing gently besides me.
There at the bottom of the bed is a glowing figure. He introduces himself, "I am the ghost of birthdays future." His voice is thin and ethereal. He rattles some chains for effect. As he speaks I can see subtitles floating in the air about midway down.
"Great," I say, watching my breath cloud in front of me, "I'm exactly one year older and I've lost my last marble!"
"I am the ghost of birthdays future," he says again. Well I assume it's a he. Maybe it's an it. Or a he in drag. Cross-dressing ghosts, now that'll be a first. The subtitles mis-spell ghost as gots.
"You're repeating yourself, I got that bit." I really don't like being woken up, especially not by glowing apparitions of central heating past. This is the first time I've seen a ghost and I'd expected to be scared. Instead I'm annoyed to be woken up and freezing cold. "What is it with the subtitles?"
"A couple of previous clients were saying they couldn't hear me over the chains, so I got them added by a local TV company. The spelling's atrocious though."
Remembering the tiny bit of Dickens I didn't sleep through at school, I asked my first sensible question of the new day, "Are you like the Ghost of Christmas Future from A Christmas Carol?"
"He's my brother. He always gets the good jobs, lucky bastard!"
"Am I a really mean person who needs to mend his ways?"
"No, not really. I found your name in the phone book using a pin. I was curious. Do you come from a long line of iDifficults?"
"No, my mother is aTypical though. Anyway, aren't you supposed to find a bad person, scare them senseless and make them good?"
"Yes, I'm supposed to, but I really can't be bothered and I find the phone book technique much better than years of research, careful watching and finally intervention." He pauses reflectively for a few moments, "Do you suppose that's why my brother gets the good gigs?"
"You mean because he does the job properly? No, no I can't imagine that would be why..." Somewhere about now, we should be doing something. I'm sure of it. "Aren't you going to take me and show me some birthdays in my future, so I can finally understand something deep and significant about myself?"
"I should do. Did you fancy a pizza instead? I can pop us forward to the special offer Pizza Hut are going to run next March on lunchtime buffets. Oh, I'm not supposed to tell you that! Never mind. I'm starving."
"You are an appalling slacker. Let's go."