Jump to content

It’s A Wonderful Charles Dickens Type of Christmas

Guest TelephotoMarigold

Recommended Posts

Story title: It’s a Wonderful Charles Dickens type of Christmas

Type of story: One Shot

Main characters: Roman and Nicole

BTTB rating: G

Genre: drama

Spoliers: None

Warnings: None

Summary: Roman gets the visit from three ghosts one Christmas Night

It’s a Wonderful Charles Dickens type of Christmas

Somewhere in East Timor:

Standing guard outside the Australian Embassy in East Timor Roman Harris looked out on the dark night and sighed. He checked that his gun again and paced slowly around the compound.

“LT?” his sergeant called softly as he approached his position.

“Yup?” he answered quietly keeping his eyes peeled on the distant horizon for anything suspicious.

“You ever get tired of this?” he was asked.

Roman moved slowly over to stand by the other man contemplating his answer. He knew the other man had family back home and it was Christmas after all.

“You mean Christmas in another country?” he asked in return. “Working?”

His sergeant nodded.

“No.” Roman said softly. “Because I think that if I’m here taking my turn standing at the front line then someone is kept safe at home with their family.”

“Don’t you have some place else you’d like to be?” his sergeant asked with a grin.

“No.” Roman said quietly. “No I have no place to be.”

He moved away then back to patrol the compound. He looked out and saw the thin sliver of moon in the dark sky and heard in the distance the sound of the sea hitting the beach. He thought of home but didn’t long suddenly for a place to call his or that last chance to find his missing daughter. She was better off not knowing him or what he did.

Suddenly an explosion to the east of the compound took him by surprise and he raced towards the commotion. The far wall had been turned to blackened rubble and he saw underneath the twisted debris the broken body of the man he had just been talking to about home and family. He groaned and moved stupidly towards him not noticing the second explosive device. The second explosion took him off his feet and sent him hurtling backwards, towards the earth. He landed on his back and felt the air rush out of his lungs as heat seared his skin. He gasped his last breath as the blackness of death claimed Roman Harris. But then he didn’t have much to live for anyway.

Back to the Ghost of Christmas Future – Part I

“Hello Roman.” A grizzled man greeted him.

Roman looked down at himself not seeing a blackened uniform or the marks of the bomb.

“Er hello.” He said softly.

He looked around and saw a sign in the distance.

“Welcome to Summer Bay?” he questioned.

“That’s right, I’m Alf Stewart and this is Summer Bay.” Alf murmured with a sweep of his hand gesturing behind him.

“Why am I here? What happened?” Roman asked puzzled.

“Well you were in a spot of bother and I’m here to fix it.” Alf replied slowly.

He stepped forward and instead of the welcome sign they were suddenly outside a building near the beach. Alf pushed open a door that led them into the diner. He scanned the room and waited for Roman to step in behind him.

“Wait!” Roman exclaimed.

“I ain’t got all flippin’ day!” Alf grizzled at him.

Roman looked around, to the rear he could see himself lying on the dark earth and forward, if he followed Alf it was light and more than that sunny. Curiosity got the better of him and he took a step forward. He gasped at the feeling of lightness going through him and looked down expecting to see a uniform, his normal attire but instead he saw navy shorts and a green T. He sucked in a quick breath and exhaled equally as quickly.

“Alright, Alf what is this?” he asked puzzled.

Alf looked round at him.

“Well my boy this is the life you’ve turned your back on.” Alf said softly. “I’m here to show you what could have been.”

Roman gasped once more and then his head turned as a man walked in. He was shabbily dressed and you could tell in a heartbeat that he was living rough on the streets. There was a streak of dirt on his cheek and his curly hair was matted and in need of a wash.

“I know that face.” Roman whispered more to himself than to anyone else. He didn’t count on the sharp ears of Alf.

“You do know him. He becomes your best friend but not in this life.”

Roman looked around some more then, seeing that everyone seemed to be ignoring them.

“They can’t see us.” Alf confirmed reading the other man’s expression.

He nodded before noticing a woman come out of the kitchen.

“For the last flipping time! How many times do I have to tell ya’s we don’t cater to your sort in here. We ain’t a flippin’ soup kitchen.” Irene Roberts stated.

He saw the man’s shoulders hunch even more.

“Sorry!” Miles muttered to her.

Irene glared at him.

“On your way.” She said her tone sound harsh.

Roman stepped forward at that moment to intervene. There was no need to be so rude, he thought.

“Don’t bother.” Alf said to him.

He ignored the older man’s warning, putting his hand out to touch Miles on his shoulder. There was no substance to his touch and his hand slide down without making contact with the other man.

“Ok that was weird.” He said, again to no-one. He heard Alf mutter something under his breath that sounded like ‘ya’ flippin’ Glallagh!’ and he felt a smile on his face.

“I have money for a coffee.” Miles was saying, his voice was low and almost inaudible.

“Ok then but it will be take away.” Irene muttered.

Miles moved to the counter and then took out a handful of change. He painstakingly counted out the price of a cup of coffee and watched as Irene poured it out. She added a couple of biscuits in cellophane wrappers and ignored the look of shock on the other man’s face.

“Just make sure this is your last time in here ok, we don’t want your sort hanging around.” She cautioned her tone still harsh. They watched as Miles shuffled out with his drink. He made his way tot he beach and sipped the coffee slowly. When it was finished he tossed away the cup and picked up a stick. With a shaking hand he wrote the word “Milco” in large letters in the hot sand in front of him before walking away. Then they were once more at the Welcome to Summer Bay sign watching as Miles walked away and out of town.

“This isn’t right.” Roman said quickly.

“But this is what happens without you.” Alf told him.

Roman shook his head

“So I choose this?” Roman asked. “I somehow make this happen with what I decide back there.” He gestured with his thumb to the dark scene that was never far away behind him, back in East Timor.

Alf nodded.

“Now you’re getting it! Stone the flammin’ crows!” Alf said but there was a glint of amusement in the other man’s eyes.

Roman smiled before looking around.

“Ok that is just one person. I can’t have been that important.” He said to Alf. “I’m not special.” He denied.

Alf looked at him and took a small step. They were now at the Cemetery and Roman groaned suddenly afraid of what he would be shown now.

“Come with me.” Alf said sounding just a little bit menacing.

He stepped through the cemetery gates and Roman was left with no choice except to follow him. They moved through the rows of headstones that peaked up through the earth like a crooked row of teeth. Roman looked at the names of people he never met but felt compassion for until they reached one in the distance. It stood alone but the grave was covered with a multitude of flowers and cards even though he could tell it was some time since the burial.

“Who is this?” Roman asked quickly and looked over at Alf. He saw a flash of intense sadness cross the other man’s features and he gasped with shock. Kneeling down he traced the inscription on the stone.

“Sally Fletcher?” he asked looking up at Alf. “I’m sorry I don’t know her.” he said but a flash of image came into his head and he saw a scene of a small delicate looking woman lying on the floor. She had been stabbed and was bleeding. He saw the life leave her body and he gasped again before looking once more at Alf.

“I stopped that?” he questioned the older man. “I somehow stopped that happening?”

Alf could only nod for a moment before he spoke.

“She was stabbed because that was her destiny but you were there that night and you helped stop the attack.” Alf finally bit out his voice containing both the misery of grief and the fire of anger in its tone.

He coughed suddenly clearing his throat before pointing at other headstones in the distance. Roman stood slowly and went over to them. He read the names, Rachel Armstrong, Annie Campbell, and then Geoff Campbell, wondering what they meant and who they were. He saw a house with a woman lying on the floor, her curly hair spread out like a wild cloud around her still head. Then it flashed forward to the cliff top and he was watching a young man try to save his sister only for them both to fall as another man stood and watched.

“Reverend Hall was very ill and he didn’t know what he was doing.” Alf told him reading the other man’s expression. “He killed them. First Rachel then Annie and finally Geoff.”

Roman turned then looking up at the sky and keeping his eyes carefully on the clouds above him.

“So I cause this?” he asked when he finally found his voice.

Alf nodded.

“In a roundabout fashion. You can’t be held responsible for the actions of others, the man was ill Roman, but without you here there was no-one to save them.” The older man told him. “You touched so many lives when you came to the Bay.”

Roman nodded his understanding.

“Ok.” he said softly. “What do I need to do to fix this?” he asked.

“It’s not a problem you can just fix like that. “ Alf muttered that grumpy annoyed tone entering his voice again.

Roman looked at him then before feeling a swirling motion enfold him. They were suddenly standing in the hallway of a large house. Roman knew for certain that he had never seen it before, or well for that matter that he wouldn’t see it. He heard crying coming from behind the door and he paused for a fast second before he opened it. On the bed was young girl wiping at her tears with the luxury bedspread. He stood up straighter when the door of the en suite bathroom open and a man come out.

“Are you still sniffling Nicole?” the man asked her in a bored voice. “You could have said no but you wanted it and don’t forget that.” he added, then in a softer tone of voice he tagged on. “You know we are good together.”

Roman stepped forward his hands curling into fists.

“You’re married to my mother.” Nic said her voice sounding different to what he imagined it would.

“And isn’t this the perfect arrangement?” he asked her. “As long as we keep it secret.”

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of notes dropping them on to the bed beside Nicole.

“But yourself something nice.” He instructed picking up his wedding ring from his bedside cabinet and putting it on his finger and then donning his expensive looking watch.

Roman swung his fist then trying to hit the other man for the insulting and abusive way he was treating her but his hand went straight through the other man and he cursed. He looked round for something, anything to stop this man from hurting her but as suddenly as they were in that room they were gone. He missed the image of Nicole sitting up in the bed and counting the money a small but vicious smile on her face.

He saw himself then, standing talking to his sergeant and he groaned.

“What do I have to do to fix it?” he asked Alf.

Alf smiled slowly.

“It’s not something to be fixed Roman. It’s about what you want.” Alf said cryptically. “You can have this life or the one that you missed out on in Summer Bay. It’s not all sunshine though, there are some dark moments.” Alf cautioned and walked away.

Back to the Ghost of Christmas Future – Part II

“Hardcore.” Roman heard his nickname called and he turned.

“Gardy?” he asked.

The other man smiled.

“I’m the ghost of Christmas present.” He said with an evil grin.

The two men were transported into a small room with pale painted bricks and a small bunk. Roman found himself looking at the window seeing more bars and then through the small space in the door. He heard the calls of the other inmates and almost cried out at the plaintive tones of the men missing out on Christmas’ with their family and friends. However deserved it was that they were in here. Turning around he saw himself lying on the bunk looking at pictures of what he supposed was his family.

“Remember Mark?” Gardy asked quietly.

Roman spun around and glared at the other man.

“Of course I do.” He bit out.

“This is where you end up if you chose the path the old man told you about.” Gardy grinned as Roman looked around him in shock.

“I end up here?” he asked puzzlement still in his voice.

“You take the rap for Mark and for the cover up.” Gardy murmured. “Bleak isn’t it?” he taunted.

“And they chose you of all people to show me where I end up?” he asked shaking his head in disbelief.

Gardy chuckled.

“I’m just a simple messenger.” He added as a throwaway line.

“So great, I save a few people and then I get locked away! Is that my life?” he asked Gardy.

“It’s not just a few people you save.” Gardy murmured then and the smug grin disappeared from the other man’s face. “There are far reaching consequences.” He added.

The room around them swirled into a blur and they morphed into a room with a bunch of kids inside. At the front of the room was a man holding a gun.

“Put the gun down.” A young blond man was saying softly his voice calm and gentle. “There is nothing that can’t be worked out.”

Roman felt a familiarity with the words as though he had said them at one time or another.

“You don’t know what it’s like!” the hostile kid muttered the gun waving around in all directions as he spoke.

“I’ve been to a few dark places myself Jamie. I can’t promise to understand everything you tell me but I promise to listen.” He murmured.

“Who is that?” Roman turned and asked Gardy.

The other man raised his finger to his lips and smirked.

“Mr Jefferies I can’t do what you want.” The kid with the gun moaned.

“It’s not what I want son, it’s what is right, as long as you always do the right thing it will be ok.” Aden Jefferies Highschool counsellor murmured. He moved a step forward slow but steady his blue eyes never leaving the boys face.

“Lets get these people out of here shall we?” he asked calmly. “And then you and I can talk.”

For a moment the harried waving of the black pistol in the boy’s hand continued his eyes wild as they moved around the room scanning the frightened looks on the faces of his classmates. He slowly nodded and Aden held the door open.

“Walk don’t run.” He cautioned in his authoritative voice. “One at a time.” he added watching at the frightened pupils stood and eased out of the room.

“Now then it’s just us here. You can talk to me.” Aden murmured once the room had cleared.

“I can’t!” the kid gasped the gun still moving around wildly. “Everything is screwed up.” He added sinking down on to a nearby chair. In that moment he looked utterly defeated a look that Aden recognised from looking in his own mirror a time or two.

“There is nothing that can’t be fixed.” Aden murmured. “But you need to start somewhere. Why don’t you start by telling me what the problem is, I can’t promise to fix it but I promise to listen.” Aden said softly.

The kid looked at him for a long moment before placing the gun flat on the desk in front of him.

“My girlfriend is pregnant.” He began.

Aden smiled slowly.

“Kind puts a lot of pressure on a kid doesn’t it?” he said quietly. “I knew someone once who was in the same position as you Jamie.”

The kid looked up.

“What did he do?” he asked quickly.

“He let everyone tell him what to do and missed out on seeing his daughter grow up.” Aden murmured slowly watching as Jamie’s eyes flew around the room before meeting his.

“Point is he believed what they said about him even though he was a good person. You’re a good person aren’t you Jamie?” Aden said quietly.

Roman turned to Gardy.

“That’s about me isn’t it?” he asked quickly. “When I walked away from Nicole.”

Gardy nodded.

The scene moved forward with Aden finally leading Jamie out of the room and then they were back to the compound in East Timor. Roman folded his arms across his chest and looked at the other man and then turned and focused at the frozen scene behind him.

“I have to go now Hardcore. Think carefully about what you want.”

“That’s it?” he asked. “You show me one scene and expect me to decide just like that.”

“That’s all I can show you.” Gardy murmured. “Everything you do affects someone else.” He stated.

“Oh I know that one.” Roman said bitterly and was forced to watch as Gardy moved away. He heard laughter from him and groaned aloud. Looking back over and to see his other self talking to the Sergeant and he sighed.

Back to the Ghost of Christmas Future – Part III

“Hello Dad” Nic murmured.

“Your Nicole?” Roman questioned.

Nic smiled at him and nodded.

“I’m here to show you something.” Nic told and walked over to take hold of his hand.

He felt a strange comfort in the contact although in his present life he had never held her hand or spent any time with her. His eyes drank in the sight of her and he sighed. It seemed to be his night for sighing, he thought randomly.

“It’s ok.” she said with confidence.

The surrounding began to blur and he closed his eyes to the slight nausea that went though him before opening them and seeing a Christmas Tree with mountains of presents underneath. The door flew open and a young man walked in carrying a small child. Following him was Nic with a little girl clutching her hand. The children were sent upstairs to get changed into night-clothes and Nic and the young man sat on the sofa.

“Nicole?” Roman asked.

“Shush just watch.” She told him smiling. She gave his hand a reassuring squeeze.

“Mummy.” The children cried in unison rushing down the stairs.

“Have you brushed your teeth?” the man asked them.

They nodded and leaned in close to breath on him.

“Minty.” He declared and they giggled.

”Ok story time.” Nic said and helped them to sit on the sofa next to them. She read out the story ‘Twas the night before Christmas’

All too soon he watched as his grandkids were despatched to bed and he felt a pang of loneliness for missing out on this. Even if he chose to get in touch with her and move to Summer Bay he would end up in prison.

He continued to watch as the couple moved down stairs and back to the lounge to reclaim their seats on the sofa.

“What is his name?” Roman asked. “You look happy.”

“Shush!” he was told once more and found himself grinning at his bossy daughter.

“Isn’t it peaceful when they go to bed.” The other Nic said to her husband.

He grinned at her and pulled her too him for a kiss.

“Not half.” He answered.

Roman watched from the edge of the room as the couple eased back on the sofa. He felt like he knew the other man but also felt out of time.

“Geoff I can’t believe that Christmas is here again.” She murmured to him.

Geoff shook his head and looked at her.

“Another year together.” He said with a quick flash of his grin before he grew serious. “I love you Nic.” He murmured and received another kiss in response.

“I love you too My husband, in fact I adore you so much that I’m going to give you an early Christmas present.” She told him.

He grinned as she removed a small package from under the tree and placed it in his hands. He felt through the paper before carefully tearing it open.

“If you go any slower it will be Easter before you open it!” she grumbled.

He looked over at her before placing another kiss to her rose coloured lips.

“Can I help it if I like to prolong the suspense?” he asked softly.

She gave one of her giggles and Roman found himself smiling as he watched her.

“You are beautiful.” He whispered to both Nic’s.

The one holding tightly onto his hand gave it another squeeze and leaned just a little bit closer and he found himself letting go of her hand and instead placing his arm around her shoulders to hold her close. He focused back on the scene in front of him watching as Geoff finally opened both the wrapping on the gift and the box.

“Really?” Geoff asked looking over at his Nic.

She nodded and leaned in close to kiss him.

“Yes.” She said with a smile.

Geoff reached into the small oblong box to lift up the small white stick. He looked at the blue cross in the little display window and pulled his Nic on to his lap and kissed her.

“We’re having another baby.” She told him pressing a hand to her belly and grinning.

Roman looked over at the Nicole that was standing beside him his arm around her as though it belonged there and leaned over before kissing the top of her head.

“Just as long as it isn’t twins again.” Geoff murmured rolling his eyes but Roman could tell from looking at the other man that he was thrilled and then the scene faded before his eyes and he was back in the compound.

“I don’t have a choice do I?” Roman asked his daughter. “Not after everything I’ve seen tonight.”

Nicole smiled slowly and turned to look at him.

“You have a choice and not many do.” Nic told him her voice soft.

He shook his head.

“Dad, just follow your heart.” he heard her say.

He turned to look at her a last time but she was gone, just a hint of glitter hovering in the cool night where she had been standing.

Somewhere in East Timor:

Standing guard outside the Australian Embassy in East Timor Roman Harris looked out on the dark night and sighed. He checked that his gun again and paced slowly around the compound.

“LT?” his sergeant called softly as he approached his position.

“Yup?” he answered quietly keeping his eyes peeled on the distant horizon for anything suspicious.

“You ever get tired of this?” he was asked.

Roman moved slowly over to stand by the other man contemplating his answer. He knew the other man had family back home and it was Christmas after all.

“You mean Christmas in another country?” he asked in return. “Working?”

His sergeant nodded.

“No.” Roman said softly. “Because I think that if I’m here taking my turn standing at the front line then someone is kept safe at home with their family.”

“Don’t you have some place else you’d like to be?” his sergeant asked with a grin.

“Yes.” Roman said quietly. “I’m going home soon and I have someone I’m going to find.”

“Where is home?” The Sergeant asked.

“I don’t know where it is exactly but I’ll find it.” Roman replied knowing his words puzzled the other man, heck they puzzled him. “I’m just going to ride around until someplace calls to me.” He said and laughed at the notion but in that instant he knew that’s what he’d do and more than that he had a daughter out there he needed to find.

He began to move away then to patrol the compound. Glancing up he saw the thin sliver of moon in the dark sky and heard in the distance the sound of the sea hitting the beach. He heard something else though and he turned looking back at the other man.

“Did you hear that?” he asked.

The Sergeant nodded and they readied their weapons before checking out the suspicious noises. Between them they were able to stop the attack on the embassy, subduing two terrorist suspects and stopping them from planting explosives before handing over watch to regular army.

Roman Harris stayed up to watch the sunrise on that Christmas morning somewhere in East Timor thinking of the strange night that he’d had. Although it felt like he had a night full of different dreams he knew that he had done his last Christmas day duty as a soldier. He didn’t know what was next for him but well he wouldn’t be that surprised if it wasn’t just as eventful.

Comments please....

Thank you for reading....


Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.