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I consider myself a skeptic, at least where the supernatural is concerned. I've never been scared by ghost stories because if you don't truly believe that those monsters exist, it's hard to feel one way or another about them -- not just fear, but even basic interest. Show me a photo of a ghost, and my first reaction is "Photoshopped." Show me a video, and I immediately think of all the effects programs that are available to even the most novice of amateurs. But I'm telling you that, even with my skepticism, what happened to me on Christmas Eve of 2001 still gives me nightmares to this day.

My servants had taken off for the night, having recently been fired for walking behind me during mirror time. Their personal belongings crackled in the fireplace as I stretched out for a relaxing, silent evening, alone in front of my Christmas tree -- a rare Bois dentelle, of which there are only two in existence. I had it uprooted and imported from Mauritius, threw it on its side in the corner of my living room, and meticulously decorated it with my urine. I threw a Bois dentelle branch from the other remaining tree on the fire and settled back under my Amur leopard blanket.

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Head and all.

Dido played softly in the background, my eyes growing heavy under the weight of her angelic voice. As I faded into sleep, I envisioned the joy on my face as I opened the gifts that my employees were required to buy me, then one by one looked them in the eyes as I stomped those gifts into tiny shards of wasted time and money. I drifted ...

When next I opened my eyes, the world was lit only by the faint red glow of fireplace coals. The sweet melodies of Dido caressed the room as I fumbled for my phone. I swiped the screen and blue light pierced the darkness. 3:14 a.m. With a grunt, I sat forward, turned off the phone, and waited for the grogginess to fade enough for me to get up and find my bed.

Something's not right. You can feel that, John, can't you? Something heavy. Something ... watching.

Suddenly, I was wide awake, scanning the dim blue room for intruders. Nothing.

No, it's not nothing. Look. Think. This isn't normal.

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Is there a blue paw print somewhere I'm missing?

I squinted at the fireplace. Nope. Just a smoldering pile of coals. The tree? No, that's exactly as I left it. Nothing in the corners of the room. Nothing behind me. Nothing on the floor. My phone is right wh- My phone.

That's right. You just turned it off. That screen is as black as your assless leather pants. So where's the blue light coming from?

I reached for the fire poker as my eyes frantically darted to random spots. I grabbed the handle, reconsidered, and then picked up my sword instead. Then I saw it. A face in the window -- blue, lucid, and peering at me with deep sadness. My heart raced, and I bolted out of the chair. Dido screamed and dropped her guitar.

"Get out of here before I call the cops," I yelled. "I have a sword!"

It spoke, and I suddenly realized that it wasn't outside looking in. It was behind me, its face merely a reflection in the glass. "I am the Ghost of Christmas Past, John, and I am h-"

I wheeled on the creature as he stretched an arm toward my shoulder. In one swift swing of my katana, I severed three of his fingers. They hit the floor and bounced like Vienna sausages, and the ghost let out a deafening howl.

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"MOTHERFUCKER! Oh my GOD, you cut my fucking fingers off! I'm the Ghost of Christmas P-"

Dido blindsided the monster with her acoustic guitar, screaming, "I want to thank you!" It snapped loudly against his skull, ringing out an off-tune open E, and the ghost crumpled to the floor. I saw my opportunity and swung the sword down hard onto his neck.

"Stop it, you idiots," he screamed, as I realized I was holding the blade sideways, so it only caught him on the flat side of the steel with sort of a slapping "thud" sound.

Dido did not stop. As Christmas pushed himself up onto all fours, she laid a Size 14 directly into his gut. He puked, and she ran away, screaming, "Ew, gross! Ghost chunks!"

"Nice move, Ghost of Christmas Ass," I mocked. "But right now, I have to sword you a question!"

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I swung again, but he was ready. Holding out his good hand, his own blade materialized. It was beautiful, glowing blue with ethereal flames -- hungering to reap the unclean souls of the mortal world. My steel clashed against it, lighting up the room in a strobe of sparks. The force knocked me off balance, and I felt the pressure let up as he pulled back his weapon. He was swinging back at me, but I was too far off center to block.

My mind, a supercomputer of hand-to-hand combat strategies, quickly calculated my only move, and I obliged. With one swift jerk of my upper torso, I back flipped onto the fireplace mantle. The beast used the momentum of his swing to spin 360 degrees, changing the angle of his sword to aim for my ankles. The motion was fluid and unwavering, as if he had planned the fight centuries before it ever happened.

With 6 inches left until his blade met my legs, I front flipped over him. Then, in midair, I threw in a half twist and finished with another full back flip, landing in a really cool three-point landing. Keeping the pose, I slowly tilted my head up to him and said, "Sorry, I didn't mean to flip out on you."

"You don't have a ghost of a chance," he retorted. He dropped into a deep kung fu stance and readied his defenses, his sword arcing gracefully over his head like a martial arts rainbow made only of blue.

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Like this, but with more ghost and blue.

"Something's wrong with your tactics," I smirked, running my hand along the ground. "But I can't quite put my finger on it!"

As I finished the sentence, I threw a handful of his own fingers at his face. Two of them poked him in the eyes, and the third one flew into his open mouth, lodging in his throat. He gagged and swung blindly, missing my face by inches. I back flipped to my feet and caught his next swing with my katana, but the force was too much. My weapon was stripped from my hand and went sailing across the room.

The ghost coughed up his finger and inched toward me, his sword moving ever closer to my throat.

"You fool," he growled. "I am the Ghost of Christmas Past. I was sent here by a power far greater than you can possibly imagine. I was sent here to help you."

Dido cowered on the floor behind me, shielding her eyes from the puddle of ghost vomit. My sword was at least 20 feet from me, more than one-tenth of the way across my living room -- there was no way I could get to it in time. Cautiously, I crept backward as the spirit approached.

"You have lived your life in wicked self-indulgence long enough, John Cheese. It is time you saw the terrible ways you've affected others." He reached out most of a hand. "Come. I have many things to show you, and not much time to-"

While his defenses were down, I grabbed Dido by the ankles and said, "Sorry, ghost. But it's time to die-do!"

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That's the smile of impending beatdown.

I swung Dido at him, full force. She slammed into his chest with a sickening thud, sending him hurling through my living room wall. Utilizing the few seconds of separation, I made a quick dash for my sword. He was already sprinting back to me when I dove and grasped the handle. Rolling through the dive, I back flipped up to my feet -- my sword in my right hand, Dido in my left.

He skidded to a stop, studied my defensive stance, and then smirked.

"You want to play this game?" he asked through a sinister chuckle. "Fine. Let me introduce you to my uncle."

His weaponless arm twisted and contorted as a large body formed in its place. Christmas grimaced as the skin bubbled and reshaped, until it was finally replaced with a full human hanging upside down, its knees connected to the spirit's shoulder.

The ghost finished his sentence, "Uncle KRACKER, that is!"

We charged at each other, clashing at the center of the room in a magnificent explosion of sparks and fire. Sword met sword. Dido met Kracker. My house was a thunderstorm of back flips and spin kicks. Then, just when I thought he had the upper hand, I remembered the time bomb I had set earlier that day to go off roughly at this time.

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I also set all of my clocks back several hours so I don't oversleep.

As Christmas drew back his sword for the final blow, I grasped the time bomb in both hands and jammed it into his gut, saying, "Not this time. You da bomb."

With that, I punched him through my roof. And just when his body was too high to see anymore, a brilliant explosion lit up the early morning sky. As we stared up at the glimmering brilliance, Dido said, "You know, John, I've learned something tonight. You are the most awesome person in the whole world."

"I know," I replied. "What do you say we smash a few presents?"

She smiled and nodded. But as I bent down to get one, I realized they had all been smashed during the battle. I fell to my knees and screamed "no" like Darth Vader. And from somewhere far beyond the mortal plane, a nasally Uncle Kracker laugh echoed throughout the land. I still have nightmares to this very day about not being able to stomp those presents.

John is an editor and columnist right here at Cracked, with a new article every Thursday. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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