Evil Editor's unpaid assistant had been reading slush sixteen hours a day, seven days a week, ever since college had let out for Christmas vacation. "I want to go home," she said. "It's Sunday, it's New Year's Eve, and it's freezing in here."
"I told you before," Evil Editor told her again, "if you get cold, shovel some manuscripts into the furnace. Heating fuel is expensive. Manuscripts are a dime a dozen. And not my dime."
"But I worked Christmas. And I have a date. Have a heart, Master."
"All right, already," EE told her. "Anything's better than listening to your whining. Be back by five A.M., or you can forget about that job recommendation."
Five minutes passed. There came a knock on the door. "Now who could that be at eleven o'clock New Year's Eve?" Evil Editor grumbled.
"EE, how nice to see you again! Happy New Year!" The bald headed old geezer pushed his way into the room before EE could say, "Get out."
Leaping to her feet, EE's unpaid assistant made her escape.
"Wait. Come back here," he commanded, but the old geezer blocked his path. The door closed shut and Evil Editor found himself face to face with his old English professor, Dr. Wells.
"You're not real," EE said, ignoring the shine off the old man's head.
"But you are, Evil," the old man grinned. "I knew from the first sonnet to the last, that you’d fail English Literature."
"I may be a college failure, but you are a failure in life." EE waved Dr. Wells aside. "After all, you're dead." EE's hand passed thru the old man's shoulder as if thru air.
The ghost, for indeed that’s what the professor turned out to be, laughed. "Oh, please don't do that. You don't know how it tickles."
"Be gone!" EE thundered, pointing to the door. "My college days are over. And thanks to those poor grades you gave me, I cannot write, but now must endure late nights to edit what others, less talented than I, may write as they will."
"Ah," the old man laughed. "It could be worse. You could be an agent. In any case, at the first stroke of midnight I'll be in heaven. Anything you'd like to pass on to Shakespeare?"
"Damn Shakespeare!" EE shrieked in despair. "It was he who started me down the path that ruined my writing career."
Dr. Wells passed thru the door leaving Evil Editor with these comfortless words: "Those who cannot write are doomed to edit."
When the bells pealed out the New Year 2007, Evil Editor awoke to find himself laid out on a bed of freshly shredded manuscripts. For him, this annual nightmare would never end.
Continuation by Lp