The story begins in Victorian-era London at the manor of the Malthus family. The current patriarch of the family, Caspar Malthus, is a rich industrialist and head of a manufacturing empire. Like those who came before him, he detested the poor and working class of London and hoped for a future where some new technology could render their presence in society entirely unnecessary. He gave little thought or concern as to what would happen to them all afterwards.
One Christmas Eve, Caspar was visited by the ghost of an old boyhood friend, Eric Fellows. Eric had come to warn Caspar that he must change his ways, or he will suffer an eternity of torment on this earth, weighed down by the chains of his own cruelty. Caspar was not convinced by these prophecies, but Eric had expected this. He told Caspar that he would be visited by three ghosts…
The Christmas Spirits of the Past, Present and Yet to Come, appeared and showed Caspar many scenes from his life. His childhood, the plight of his workers, and finally the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come allowed him to witness the eve of his death. Caspar saw an old man, hunched over a drawing board and surrounded by a library of failed designs, models and ideas. His future self’s obsession with conceiving some means to expand his family’s empires without the need to sustain the poor and working class of the city has only grown over the years. Caspar watched as his future-self put a final finishing touch on his newest device and then suddenly yell out with a joyous cry of exultation upon realization that after a lifetime of failed attempts, he had finally achieved his goal. However, this moment of triumph was short lived as this excitement was too much for his frail old body that had been worn away be decades of neglect. Caspar watched his future-self fall to the floor, take in one final breath, and die alone in his empty house without a single soul to mourn him.
When Caspar returned to the present he assured Eric that he had seen the error of his ways. He would not succumb to that fate or allow his life to become an obsession over an unachievable goal. When Eric departed, he returned to his study to ponder the night’s events. He was almost asleep when he was startled by the thudding sound of immense chains being dragged across the floor. He opened his eyes only to see a much more sinister spirit appear before him. This massive dark creature sarcastically lamented at how foolish Caspar was in his fear of what the future would bring. He told Caspar that the future he witnessed need never come to pass. The dark spirit reminded Caspar that he had already seen the results of his decades long obsession, the mechanism that would end the need of the working class in London. A world where the rich and wealthy no longer need to suffer the presence of the lower classes. While his future self may not have lived to see the device put into action, there was no reason why he could not make use of the design now.
Caspar thought about this. He had seen enough of the device and blueprints scattered on the floor to understand the brilliance of how it would appropriate. Yes, he thought to himself, I could create it right now, right here in my own factory. It wouldn’t take half a century, or even a decade, it would not take longer than a year, and after that the Malthus family would finally realize their generations long goal. Although no words were spoken between Caspar and the dark spirit, there was an understanding shared in their eyes that both of them had a lot of work to do.
Our story begins once again in the city of London on Christmas Eve, 1 year later.