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.
He hobbled across his office, but before he could reach for the skull-shaped pewter knob, the door burst open. Smoke billowed in from the hallway, tinged with an oily herbal scent.
EE coughed, fanning the fumes. He squinted through the haze. "Marley?"
"Dats right, mon!" Marley pushed past EE, dreadlocks swinging wildly with every step. It couldn't be, thought EE. "But...how? Why?"
"Mi ere tah save yah sool, Mista Eevah." Marley spread his arms dramatically, cocked his head skyward, and broke into a haunting rendition of "One Love." When he finished, he turned to EE with glowing green eyes. "Yah weel beh vizz-uh-ted by tree ghosts."
"Speer-utts, mon!" Marley made an "okay" gesture. "Tree uh dem. Deh ghosts uh New Year's Rockin' Eve."
EE frowned, eyeing Marley suspiciously. "You mean Dick Clark?"
"Whaddat? Noooooo, mon." Marley scoffed. "Dick-uh-Clark, cha! Aahn juss where d'yah tink eeh got dat Rockin’ Eve name from?"
"Dats right. Iffa weh can save Dick-uh-Clark, den weh can save yah too, Mista Eevah."
"But I don't need saving," said Evil Editor. "I have a blog."
"Ha! Dats what dey all say. Butcha got no heart, dah wey yah treat dat poor Bobbie."
"Yah unpaid assistant! Bwaay! Don'tcha even know har name?"
EE shuffled his feet. "Er, never crossed my mind, actually. Usually I just point and--"
But Marley poked him in the chest. "Now dah first ghost 'ee bey dah ghost uh New Year's past."
"Dats Jimi. An' ee don lika bey kep waitun, so gwan." Marley waved EE toward the desk. "Yah haffa go tah sleep fah dis tah work."
"But I never sleep," EE said. "I sit here all night thinking up caustic, yet humorous, insults to lob at those hopeless wannabe writers, who lap it up like abandoned puppies--oooh!" EE patted his jacket pockets. "I should write that down."
"No sleep? Noooo problem. 'ere." Marley extended his arm. Pinched between his thumb and index finger was a sagging cylinder of dirty paper, twisted at one end and smoking at the other. "Dis'll work too."
Continuation by blogless_troll