Marley was dead: to begin with. Or his brand was, anyway. His Twitter avatar was an egg, and his only tweet read, “Hello, #world. Still figuring out this #twitter thing.” He had no LinkedIn profile. Did Scrooge know Marley’s brand was dead? Of course he did. How could it be otherwise? He had forced Marley out of the counting-house, citing his failure to promote the business on social media as an abrogation of his duties.

Scrooge never painted out Marley’s name on the door, nor paid for a broader rebranding package. The business continued to be called “Scrooge and Marley.”

One Christmas Eve, old Scrooge stood busy — for he worked upon a standing desk, having heard it would improve productivity tenfold — at his business. He had a virtual desktop window open that he might keep an eye upon his clerk’s internet use.

“Cratchit” — for that was his clerk’s name, Bob Cratchit — “come see me,” he Gchatted.

Being so summoned, Cratchit crossed the open-plan office, arriving at his boss’s desk.

“You’ll want all day tomorrow, I suppose?” said Scrooge.

“If quite convenient, sir.”

“And you’ll want a day’s wages for no work, I suppose?”

The clerk smiled faintly.

Scrooge grumbled and gave him a withering scowl.

“Cratchit, have you heard about this new program, Clerkr?” Scrooge said. “Evidently, it does nearly everything a counting-house clerk does. It’s a 99-cent app.”

“I have not, sir,” said the clerk.

“How much do I pay you?”

“Thruppence an hour.”

“Quite!” snorted Scrooge. “This princely wage, and I gave you a Golden Fistbump award just last month, did I not?”

“That you did, sir,” said the clerk, looking down. Scrooge had seen a TED Talk about how millennials like Cratchit loved gamification in the workplace. Why, digital trinkets might as well be currency in the new sharing economy! — that was Scrooge’s thought, anyway.

“Well, I suppose I might give you Christmas Day at your regular wage,” Scrooge said, all of the sudden remembering himself to be a job creator whose Glassdoor rating might get dinged were he to put Cratchit out for good. “But be here all the earlier the next morning!”

The clerk promised that he would.

The hour came to close the office. Scrooge looked down his long nose at Cratchit to oversee the clerk’s nightly duty of extinguishing the single coal Scrooge allowed him and returning it to the coalbox. Before the two men could go out into the evening, however, Cratchit spoke.

“Sir?” he said. “There is the matter of a Christmas bonus I wanted to raise with you.”

Scrooge wheeled upon his clerk.

“I say, Cratchit! Do you not remember the app we discussed? The very cheek!”

“Yes, I know, sir. But sir, my son, Tiny Tim. He’s quite sick, as you know.”

“Have you not got a GoFundMe set up for him?”

“Yes, but—”

“Do you not have your side job as an Uber driver?”

“Yes, but—”

“Can you not just as easily sign up for Lyft?”

“Yes, but—”

“Do you not have several cupboards and a garret in your home that could all be rented out through Airbnb?”

“Yes, but—”

“Then it is decided. We shall speak no more of this, Cratchit,” said Scrooge. “Why, from the sound of it, you have more prospects than I! The entitlement of your generation shall drive me to an early grave, by jingo.”

Scrooge spun round and walked out the door. He took his melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern and went home to bed.

Now, it is a fact that the Twitter account belonging to Marley, Scrooge’s former business partner, had lain dormant for seven years. So it should be no small surprise to learn that Scrooge’s phone, as he arrived home, lit up with a notification for a DM from that very account.

“You will be haunted,” read the message, “by Three Spirits.”

Scrooge saw the message as he climbed the stairs to his bedchamber.

“I must have taken my Ambien too early,” he sniffed. Scrooge dismissed the notification, undressed, and got into bed.

He flicked on his white noise machine, donned his Smart Hat Sleep System — $129.99 from Sharper Image — and slept through the night. He awoke Christmas morning filled with good cheer, as he thought about the glorious, automated future that awaited.