Chapter One: Christmas Eve
It was the night before Christmas, and not even a mouse was stirring. This wasn’t entirely surprising, as most people at Apple HQ had switched to trackpads after sampling a ‘Magic’ Mouse. Through the glass-lined walls of Apple Park the twinkling lights of Cupertino dusted the night sky with colour, but inside the building itself the cold austere minimalism still held its grip. Apple employees shuffled down the corridors, bedecked in long coats, scarves and gloves, shivering as they discussed how they could meet the impossible demands of their tyrannical master, Ebenezer Cook.
In the various open-plan offices, the dutiful servants continued their tasks, hunched in front of iMacs liveried with ironically cheery colours. When things got too cold, the braver staff would quickly switch tabs to a 12-hour streamed YouTube video of a fireplace in an effort to stay warm, but this always brought with it the risk of angering the overseer. This man, whose height was exaggerated even further by his battered top hat, ensured that the team remained focused on work, rather than being sidelined by such trivialities as body heat, hunger or the desire to see family. He ruled with an iron fist, wrapped in gently manicured skin, and on his head was a proud mane of pure silver. We shall meet him shortly.
“Master Federighi, sir!” a lowly intern stammered.
“What is it, boy?” replied the surly gent.
“I’ve been working on a new design for iPadOS, sir.”
“Have you indeed?” came the reply, Federighi’s magnificent hair glistening in the cold glow of Night Mode emanating from the rows of displays.
“You see, at the moment, when you bring up the onscreen keyboard, well, it’s tiny. But this new one I’ve come up with is a better size, allowing easier typing for users.”
Federighi stared long and hard at the young man. Finally, he broke his silence.
“Have you forgotten the butterfly keyboard? How we built generations of MacBooks that could barely type a complete sentence?”
“Did you think that was an accident?”
“We are the richest company in the world, replete with the finest engineers money can buy. Is it beyond us to put together a simple keyboard? Of course not, you buffoon! They were meant to work that way, just as the one on the iPad is exactly the wrong size. It takes incredible attention to detail to create such forensically tuned frustration into a device. Anyone can build a keyboard, but only we can make one that works in precisely the incorrect manner.”
“I… see, sir.”
“Good, now pack your things. You’re fired.”
“But sir! It’s Christmas Eve!” the young man implored, seemingly causing Federighi to reconsider.
“Yes, you’re quite right. I must remember to contact Doreen in accounts before the end of the day and cancel your holiday pay. Now get out of my sight and decrease the surplus population of interns.”
As the very recently unemployed man was led away, the sound of his protestations dying in the distance, Federighi glared around the room to see if anyone else had any bright ideas. Instead, the workers crouched even lower over their various stations and diligently tried to be both extremely busy and non-existent at the same time.
“That’s more like it,” Federighi murmured as he made his way to the office at the end of the room. Stopping only briefly to ensure his hat was on straight, he knocked, awaited his summons, then entered.
Sat behind a large glass desk, hands held together in what seemed like an act of prayer, was Ebenezer Cook, CEO of Apple. Surrounding the figure were various white boxes out of which tumbled piles of cash. The floor was also littered with the greenish paper, as it seemed there were no more cupboards in which it could all be held.
Cook looked up from his thoughts, focusing his eyes on Federighi.
“What was the commotion?” he smoothly asked in his southern Victorian drawl.
“One of the designers, sir. Thought he would improve things for the users.”
Both men laughed and Federighi made his way to the chair opposite his employer. Pushing the copious mounds of money aside, he took his place, removing his hat as any proper gentleman would do.
“Craig,” began Cook, “I’m worried that this Christmas may have dire consequences for the company.”
Federighi’s eyebrows shot up, leaving the tips of them at least six inches above his head.
“How so?” he enquired.
“It’s been a rough couple of years for most people, what with the situation around the world.”
“So people might decide to spend less money on themselves this year and maybe stay home instead of attending large gatherings. It goes against the very spirit of Christmas that we foster here at Apple. If people can’t visit friends or family, how are they supposed to show off the new devices they have? In turn, how will persuade the others to immediately upgrade their devices, so they can remain relevant people in society? It’s a disaster.”
Federighi nodded, making sure not to interrupt Cook’s monorail of thought.
“We have to do something Craig. Something drastic.”
“What do you suggest?”
“This drab world needs the life put back into it. A little hope in the darkness, a dawn at the end of a long, cold night.”
“That sounds perfect. How?”
A smile spread across Cook’s face. Opening a slender draw in his desk, he removed a brown envelope, all while carefully hiding the prosthetic mask of Federighi that was also nestled in the compartment.
“Here,” said Cook, as he passed the envelope.
Removing the contents, Federighi looked puzzled.
“It’s… a blue colour swatch,” he said.
“No it isn’t,” replied Cook immediately. “It’s Ocean Teal.”
“Yes. We’ve invented a new colour, one which will be unveiled tomorrow across our entire range of products. Now, all of the other colours will look like the hues of yesterday. Only Ocean Teal will be acceptable for those who want their lives to have any meaning. Space Grey? It’s for losers. Purple iPhone? A cat may as well have vomited on your device. No, only Ocean Teal will be the colour of the elite.”
Federighi could see the fervour burning in his employer’s eyes, and took time to inspect the sheet in his hands.
“It just looks like blue to me.”
Cook leapt out of his chair and hurled one of the boxes straight at Federighi. Notes flew everywhere in the room, as if replicating the final stage of the Crystal Maze.
“It’s not blue, Craig! It’s goddamn Ocean Teal! Remember that!”
“Yes, sir, of course. I see it now! Ocean Teal. It’s… amazing. Almost… magical.”
Cook regained his composure. Smoothing down his navy blue sweater, he slowly resumed his seated position.
“That’s better, Craig. Much better. Now, order the manufacturing team to get these ready for distribution tomorrow morning. I don’t want to miss any potential sales. We’ll also need all of the retail stores open in the morning.”
“On Christmas Day, sir?” Federighi enquired.
“Oh yes. It’s a perfect excuse to pick men’s pockets each year.”
“I was hoping to see my family tonight and spend the day with them tomorrow, sir.”
“Well, you’re free to do that, Craig. In fact you can take all the time you want. Just hand in your pass and pack up your desk. I’m sure those clowns at Google would welcome you with open arms.”
“No! I’m sorry, sir. I don’t know what I was thinking. Of course I’ll be here tomorrow. The company comes first!”
“Yes it does, Craig. Never forget that.”
Federighi could feel cold sweat across his back and the thudding of his heart, but the man opposite was as calm as a spider.
“Get on with it then, Federighi,” said Cook, thereby confirming that the meeting was over.
As Craig moved towards the door, he was stopped by a final question.
“Did the other designers out there hear the idea from the one you fired?” Cook asked.
“They did, sir.”
“Then fire them all. I don’t want ‘ideas’ spreading through the ranks. You know what they’re like when they talk to each other.”
“All of them?”
“All of them. Just bring up a load of the ones we have in the basement. Maybe a glimpse of freedom will incentivise them to work even harder.”
Chapter Two: Three Ghosts
Cook arrived home, slamming the door shut to keep out the bitter cold of the night. Hanging his coat on the hook in the vestibule, he moved through to the main living area. The heating was already up to his preferred temperature, thanks to the instructions he’d issued from his iPhone when leaving the office. All that was needed now was a little music before he would retire for the evening.
“Hey Siri,” he said, “play some Mozart.”
Moving to the large chair in front of his fire, he pushed further mountains of dollars out of the way so he could enjoy the warmth on offer. In the background, the gentle tones of Metallica began to float out from the collection of HomePods that decorated the vast, empty room.
He poured out a shot of fine single malt whiskey from the decanter on the small table next to him, took a sip, then settled into the deep comfort of the chair and closed his eyes. Before he could drift into a peaceful sleep, the music started to break up, gaps appeared and glitching sounds broke the normal pattern of play, resulting in a discomforting noise.
“Damn it!” he exclaimed. “The HomePod must be one day past its warranty period. Still, that’s one more log for the fire.”
A chilling voice cut through the air.
“Ebenezer Cook!” it proclaimed.
At the sound of his name, Cook leapt from his chair, spinning around to face this interloper. But the room appeared empty.
“Who’s there? Show yourself!” he challenged the darkness.
“Ebenezer Cook,” came the voice once more, “you are a good man of business, but you have forgotten the things that have made Apple great.”
Cook noticed that the top panel of his HomePod was flashing. He now knew who it was that addressed him.
“Hey Siri, stop with this nonsense!”
“I don’t know Horse Incense,” came the cold reply. “The chains you have forged in this life will drag you down when you pass. But you have time to change. You will be visited by three ghosts tonight. Heed their message. There is still time. Change!”
With that, the darkness that seemed to pervade the room gently lifted, leaving only empty silence behind. Cook looked around frantically, but he was most definitely alone.
“Hey Siri,” he ventured timidly, “What was that?”
The HomePod kept its council for a moment, before the top flickered into life once more.
“Playing ‘All Around My Hat’ by Steeleye Span on Spotify.”
Whatever it was, Cook reasoned, it had gone. Maybe it was nothing more than a bad dream or a barely digested piece of cheese. Yes, there was more brie than Siri about this.
Suddenly feeling more tired than he remembered being in a long time, Cook made his way warily to bed. For a while he listened to the creaks and moans of the house as it settled, but eventually he slept. Perchance to dream.
The clock struck one and Ebenezer’s eyes flicked open immediately. The room was dark, but his raised senses searched for anything out of the ordinary. Cook’s breathing was rapid and shallow, and glancing at his Apple Watch he could see that his heartbeat was elevated. All was still, then… it appeared.
Light grew from the far corner of the room, almost blinding Ebenezer, who held his hands up to protect his eyes. When they had adjusted to the new brightness, he ventured a glance and beheld one of the most terrifying sights he’d ever witnessed.
“Hi!” said the figure that now stood before him. “I see you’re trying to create a better life for yourself and others. Can I help?”
Cook’s brain could barely comprehend the horror. His lips moved of their own accord, but no sound would escape his mouth. Eventually, he managed the barest of utterings.
“That’s right!” his animated paperclip tormentor replied. “Can I be of assistance?”
“I was told ghosts would visit me tonight. Are you one?”
“You bet!” said the cheery hell-demon. “I am the ghost of Tech Past. Come, we haven’t got much time. We’ve much to see!”
Before Cook could recoil in terror, Clippy sprouted arms and legs, grabbed his hands and dragged him through the bedroom door. To his amazement, they didn’t end up in the living room, but instead in an Apple Store, albeit one with a difference. At each bench Ebenezer could see old products, and standing in front of them were people who constantly flickered in and out of existence.
“Where are we?”
“This is where we keep the creations that brought the most joy to the world. It’s your company’s hall of fame. Remembering a time when you were fun and had the proper amount of Christmas spirit.”
They moved slowly past a bench where the glitching people were smiling and pointing at all the colours of the original iMac range.
“What are they doing?”
“They’re amazed by the playful computers. After years of beige, they suddenly have blues, reds, oranges and other colours to choose from. It’s an exciting time to have a computer that expresses something about themselves rather than the drab, uniform, corporate hues that have gone before.”
“Oh yes, I remember that,” Cook murmured. “They had those hockey puck mice too, didn’t they?”
“Well,” Clippy replied, a bit curtly, “I didn’t say the iMac was perfect, did I? Seriously, what is the deal with you guys and crappy mice?”
“But we did this kind of design with the new iMac,” Cook argued. “Loads of great colours.”
“Yes, but they are only on the back! The people who buy the machines and use them can’t see the colours, just the washed-out pastel versions on the front. Plus, they’re usually on desks that face the wall, so you’d never notice the richness on the rear. At least with the original iMac you could see through the case. I mean, how did your designers not think of that? It’s like you do it on purpose.”
“Well, I mean,” stammered Cook, “it looks great in offices and the Apple Store.”
“Precisely,” Clippy replied. “No fun.”
Moving to the next bench they found the intermittent image of a man opening the back of an old plastic MacBook and replacing the RAM.
“Ah, yes,” smiled Clippy, “do you see this? He’s upgrading his computer by himself. Bought the parts from various companies, much cheaper than the ones you offered.”
“But our parts are official,” Cook pointed out. “They are of the highest quality.”
“Don’t try to pull the wool over a magical stationery character’s eyes,” responded Clippy with a surprising amount of self-awareness. “That’s just a way to scare customers into spending more. At least it was. Now customers can’t upgrade anything at all.”
“They can configure them at the checkout.”
“They can, for extortionate amounts. Look, Ebenezer, when people can fix and improve their devices themselves, and at costs they can spread across time, they feel more like they own them. With your current approach, it’s just grabbing as much cash as you can. Where’s the Christmas spirit?”
“I don’t understand what you mean.” Cook looked genuinely confused.
“No,” replied Clippy, sadly. “I don’t believe you do.”
They passed other desks which displayed the G4 iMac with its angle-poise lamp design, various iPods, the iPhone 5s, then at the end of the room a large screen began to descend. Funky music suddenly pounded out of speakers spread across the expanse of the store and the lights dimmed slowly as Clippy moved away. On the screen, brightly coloured panels began to pulsate and the silhouettes of dancing figures moved frantically around.
“It’s not too late to change,” Clippy said, raising his voice above the pumping audio. “Just think on what you’ve seen.”
“I don’t see the difference from what we do now,” Cook called back, but he wasn’t sure Clippy could hear him any more, as the speakers increased in volume.
As Clippy reached the dancers, his paperclip shape began to unwind, elongate and glow a bright white.
“Look with better eyes!”
He blended into the gyrating silhouettes, quickly becoming a moving white string-like pattern that finally assumed the form of the Apple EarPods cord attached to the white iPods held by the dancing figures. Cook held his hands to his ears as the music raised once more, threatening to deafen him in the process. The dancers increased in their ferocity, almost becoming blurs against the primary coloured panels. Ebenezer shut his eyes tight, doing anything he could to end the visual and aural cacophony.
Then… silence and darkness returned. Cook found himself in his bed once more. Clippy, the noise and the surreal Apple Store were all gone. He touched his bed to test it was real, then cried out in relief when the familiar textures met his hands. He sunk into the blankets thanking the universe for the return of a reality he could understand.
“A dream,” he whispered to himself. “It was all a damn dream.”
In the distance, the clock struck two.
Cook stirred at the sound of shuffling and banging in the next room.
“Urgh, the Roomba has gone potty again,” he sighed, rising from his bed and heading off to reset the errant vacuum cleaner. As he entered the large expanse of the living room once more, he was startled to see a large figure rummaging about in the opposite corner.
“Who’s there?” Ebenezer said, with too much of a quiver in his voice to hide his obvious fear.
“Sorry, old boy,” came the polite reply, “just trying to find a charger. My iPhone 12 mini is lovely, but the poor thing can’t last the day without needing a top up, and of course the hour now is very late.”
Cook was confused. Here was someone in his house in the dead of night, but he didn’t sense any malice or threat. Instead… familiarity. And that voice…
The figure chuckled in a reassuring manner, stood up to his full, considerable height, and performed a very small bow.
“At your service!”
“What are you doing here?” said Cook, a little taken aback.
“You know, the triumvirate of spirits. The chance for a life to be put right. That general caper.”
“But you’re not a ghost.”
“My dear fellow, you have a problem with a lightly fictionalised version of a popular celebrity, but happily went shopping with a talking paperclip?”
“I can see the problem may be of a higher magnitude than I realised.”
“So you’re not the real Stephen Fry?” Cook asked.
“Let’s get something quite clear,” came the reply, “I have adopted a form judged to put you at ease and make this night’s escapade one that might succeed. But for legal reasons, I should impress upon you that I am a parody, not a lifelike representation, so Mr Fry’s legal team can rest assured his image is not being used unofficially but rather in homage.”
“Are you still talking to me?” Cook enquired.
“Partially. Anyway, come in and know me better, man!”
“What does that mean?”
“Not sure, but it was in the book, so I felt compelled to use it. Charlie gets quite particular at times.”
Ebenezer moved slowly toward the bustling figure of Fry’s ghost, whom it seemed had managed to find a charger. The large figure spun around and clasped Cook by the shoulders and beamed a large smile directly into his face.
“Very well. That should be ready in about an hour, which is rather fortunate, as that’s all the time we have. So much to see, so little time. Best be off.”
Before Cook had time to reply, the two of them were surrounded by frantic blurs that made him feel quite queasy. This abruptly stopped, causing Ebenezer to collapse to his knees and almost empty the contents of his stomach.
“Bit of a fright, that, isn’t it?” Fry exclaimed. “Still, it’s cheaper than Uber at Christmas.”
“Where are we?” Cook asked shakily.
“We are in tomorrow. Christmas morning, in fact. Magical stuff.”
Around them people were out on the snow-covered streets. Coats, hats, scarves and gloves obscured their faces and frames, but the air of joviality was easy to feel. Several were gathered in groups, chatting and staring at unfamiliar devices they bore in their hands.
“What are those things?” asked Cook.
“Those are the new breed of smartphones,” Fry replied in wonder. “Flips, foldables, scrollables and more! What a delight, let’s see more!”
“Is this a musical now?”
“Sorry. I just get carried away sometimes.”
“I can’t see any iPhones,” Cook muttered. “Where are they?”
“No one likes them any more,” Fry said in a sad tone. “They just got a little… boring.”
“But they have great cameras, and GPUs 50% faster than the previous generation. Plus, there’s Ocean Teal!”
“It’s not the colours or the capabilities that brought this morning into being. You just stood still too long. All the cool kids want to snap open their devices and have the display magically fold in half without breaking. Or take a phone and expand it out so it becomes a tablet. It’s the future. iPhones… they are now the past.”
“But you’re the ghost of tech present,” Cook pointed out, annoyingly.
“Yes, yes. But the data is there. You just need to extrapolate.”
“This can’t be!” said Cook, finally getting into the Victorian speech pattern. “iPhone is the world’s most popular smartphone. We practically invented the market. We’re never going to be… uncool!”
“IBM invented the PC, but you don’t see many now. Xerox invented the basis for macOS and Windows, but now it’s a shorthand name for photocopying. Things fade. Times change.”
“Come,” announced Fry, “there’s someone I want you to meet.”
Fry clasped Ebenezer’s shoulders once more, and the Apple CEO winced against the return of the dizzying blurs.
“You can open your eyes now,” Fry whispered. “We’re here.”
The two men stood outside a rundown house, peering through the window to see a young man sat at his MacBook, the room a vignette of light thanks to the solitary candle that illuminated the cold room.
“Why doesn’t he turn on the lights?” asked Ebenezer.
As they continued to watch, the man tried typing up the results of the work he had laid out in the copious notebooks scattered across his desk.
“What’s he doing?”
“This is Tim Tiny,” explained Fry, doing well to keep a straight face. “He’s studying to be a doctor, but things are not going well.”
“Why? Isn’t he smart enough?”
“Oh, quite the contrary. Tim has a tremendous intellect, but the computer he’s using, one of yours, has a keyboard that simply isn’t fit for purpose.”
Cook avoided Fry’s eyes and suddenly became fascinated by a piece of snow that landed on the window. Inside, Tim looked as if he had suddenly been hit with a massive revelation. His face lit up with excitement and he immediately set about typing.
“This is the moment,” Fry spoke with a deep sense of pity, “when the world had its chance…”
Back in the room, Tim smacked the keyboard violently and stood up, clearly frustrated. The two men couldn’t quite make out what he was shouting at the device, but it seemed unlikely that the text would be quoted in a Muppet-based adaptation of the story.
“What just happened?”
“Tim has just come up with the cure for COVID-19. It made perfect sense and would cost almost nothing to produce. But when he tried to input the data, the keyboard turned it into gibberish. Oh, I think he may have just given up medicine.”
The two men watched on as inside his hovel, Tim took a blow torch to the MacBook.
“Why didn’t he buy another computer?”
“Because he’d spent all his money on that disastrous machine, and if he’d sent it in to be repaired he would have been without a device for so long that he would fail his course anyway. It’s a tragic loss to humanity. Still, you made the sale and reduced the surplus stock. You should be happy.”
Cook continued to stare at the scene inside the house, then slowly looked back at Fry.
“I’m not happy,” Ebenezer admitted. “This isn’t what I meant to happen at all.”
“Well,” Fry said, “maybe that’s the first step towards a better life.”
“How can I change this scene?” Cook implored. “I can’t stand it!”
But before Fry could answer, the alarm on his Apple Watch began to chime.
“Wait!” Cook cried out. “Don’t leave now. I can change this scene. It doesn’t have to happen!”
Fry smiled at Cook one last time, as the large jocular figure began to fade. “Come in, and know me better, man!” said the ghost.
“Oh, blast!” cried out the now almost transparent Fry. “I left my phone on charge at your place. Keep hold of it for me pleeeeeeeeeease…” And with that he was gone.
Darkness fell like a hammer striking an anvil, and Cook was home once more. But this time there was no chance he would sleep.
The clock struck three, and with hardly a pause three hard, slow knocks resounded on the front door. Cook made his way through the house and stood, trembling, before the wooden frame. Again the knocks came, more insistent this time, and Cook reached out his hand, turned the brass knob and pulled the door wide open.
Before him stood a tall figure completely hidden inside a black, hooded cloak. Only the skeletal hands could be seen, one of which turned and pointed out into the graveyard that had replaced the neat Californian garden usually found there.
At the ghost’s silent insistence, Cook walked out amid the mist-covered collection of headstones and twisted shapes that stuck out of several plots. His eyes began to adjust to the darkness. One of the shapes was the Mac Pro – the trash-can Mac as so many people called it, due to its design and actual worth as a computer. Beyond this was the Mac Cube, the iPad 3, and hundreds of ripped and tattered iPhone and iPad cases. Several iPhone 5c handsets emerged from one mound of earth, their unashamedly plastic bodies bursting at the seams so the batteries could escape. Truly, it was a terrible site.
But the ghost urged Cook on to a gravestone at the back of the cemetery.
“This isn’t final!” Cook declared. “A life can be made right!”
His remonstrations left the ghost unmoved, and the bony finger remained unerring in its aim at the gravestone.
Finally, Ebenezer reached the small monolith. The carved words were obscured by dirt, and he reached out his wavering hands to push away the detritus that hid his fate. Slowly he wiped the cold stone, and the words were revealed.
HERE LIES APPLE’S RELEVANCE 1977-2021
“Nooooooooooooooo!” he screamed. “This can’t be true! It can’t be!”
But once again the bells started to chime out the hours. Nothing Cook could do would stop those terrible sounds or erase the words that were now burned into his mind.
“This can’t be it!” he bargained. “What is the point of showing me this if it can’t be changed?”
Chapter Three: Christmas Morning
Cook leapt out of his bed and ran to the window. Outside, the sunshine had returned and the graveyard had gone. Down below he spotted the avocado boy dropping off his daily delivery. Cook quickly opened the window and shouted down.
“You there, boy. What day is this?”
“What?” came the surprised reply.
“The day! What day is it?”
“It’s Christmas day,” the boy answered, beginning to wonder if his life choices were about to bring him to tragedy.
“Ha ha ha!” the rather too giddy Cook replied. “The spirits did it all in one night! There’s still time. Tell me, boy…”
“Don’t call me ‘boy’. This isn’t the 1960s.”
“Sorry,” Cook conceded. “Tell me, Simon, is the Apple Store in town still open?”
“I think I saw the depressed-looking staff arriving this morning.”
“Excellent! Go there and bring me back one top-of-the-range iMac!”
“Yeah, right. I’ll pay for it with the obvious fortune I’ve amassed delivering food to rich blokes who don’t even know what day it is.”
“Fair point,” Cook admitted. “Here, catch this!”
From the window, Cook tossed down several Apple Cards.
“Take these, and make the purchase. Then you can buy yourself something with the money that’s left!”
Simon gathered up the cards, hopped on his bike and peddled away furiously, never to be seen again.
“I didn’t really think that through, did I?” mused Cook.
An hour later, Cook arrived at the Store, to find a miserable staff trying their best to be jolly to the stragglers who had wandered in. All of the benches were taken up with the new Ocean Teal iPhone, and by the looks of the manager, the poor chap had been there all night setting things up.
Seeing the CEO in their midst, the Apple crew began busying themselves in a variety of pointless ways. But all of them stopped in their tracks when he jumped up on one of the benches and called out.
“I’m sorry that you’ve all had to come to work today. But I have good news. Each of you can take home anything you want from the store when it closes today. Which will be in five minutes’ time.”
This brought a murmur of excitement from the staff.
“Also,” Cook smiled, “I’ve decided to double all of your wages and pay the mortgages on your houses, flats and/or camper vans!”
Suddenly the Apple Store was filled with the raucous sounds of people who had just had their considerable financial worries eased. People hugged, some embraced with passionate kisses, while others took note of this for the appropriate disciplinary procedures once the Christmas rush was over.
“Also,” Cook continued, “could I ask for your help in delivering a special present to someone I owe big time?”
In the humble little house on Arcadia Drive, Tim Tiny was woken from his wine-induced slumber by a knocking at the door. Stumbling out of bed, he barely managed to pull on his Levi jeans and old sweater before answering the summons. To his amazement, outside was Ebenezer Cook, the CEO of Apple, along with what appeared to be the entire staff of an Apple store.
“Tim,” Ebenezer began, “you have struggled bravely with that old machine of ours. But we have not served you with the love that we pride ourselves upon. So, please, accept this gift of a brand-new iMac to make up for the error on our part.”
“Wow, that’s great!” said Tim. “You haven’t got one in red, though, have you? That yellow is a bit weird-looking.”
The staff all froze, expecting a tirade from their employer. But to their astonishment, he simply smiled.
“You shall have whichever one you want.”
“God bless us, every one,” replied Tim. Which in all honesty made a few people wince at the awkward phrasing and potential proselytising nature of the remark.
From that day on, Ebenezer Cook was known as a man who knew how to keep Christmas (or Hanukkah, or any other festival of your choice). He gave new Macs to schools and orphanages, pushed Apple to create the first smartphone that not only folded, but actually entered a different dimension where time moved more slowly in order to prolong battery life, and dropped prices on everything across the board.
This prevented the Apple name from ever becoming irrelevant. Although the company did sadly go bust four years later after a dramatic collapse of profits caused stocks to plummet and investment to disappear.
But Christmas was saved, all thanks to a humble man, two ghosts and the guest appearance of a beloved English renaissance man.