almost ten on that wet and stormy evening as Dr. Charles Goodman
pulled his old battered Ford into the overgrown driveway, which
was three miles outside of town, and half a mile from its closest
Goodman who had quite recently graduated from medical school
had always longed to be a doctor, ever since he was a child; even
then he realized that the towns only physician, Jeremiah Green,
was far behind modern times. When he heard that Dr.Green had finally
decided to retire he considered it was serendipity and promptly
invested all the resources that he had into a modest property and
modified the downstairs into surgery. However, upon his arrival,
Charles discovered to his dismay that old cantankerous Jeremiah
had reconsidered his decision to retire - at least for the time
being. Now Charles had to make the most of what ever business he
could muster up; which wasn't much, as small towns' folk are always
very reluctant to change, unless it is forced upon them.
house call. I can't believe I got talked into making a house call,
he contemplated as he climbed out from the warmth of the car and
into the cold downpour. He pulled his raincoat tight about him,
"and on a wicked night such as this to boot."
at once the coal black night sky became illuminated by a powerful
streak of lightning and a roaring round of thunder seemed to shake
the heavens themselves. Charles, somewhat startled, glanced up at
the large Victorian house and managed to glimpse briefly the gargoyles
perched high up on the roof whose terrifying faces appeared to be
mocking him.Scowling in disgust at his over active imagination he
hastily walked over the crumbling cobblestone pathway to the cover
of the entranceway. Wiping the rain from his eyes he studied the
over sized mahogany front door for a moment; then finally suppressing
his trepidation he shrugged his shoulders and rang the bell. Haunting
chimes instantly echoed throughout the house once more rattling
his frayed nerves. Rampant images formed in his avid imagination
as waited for a response; images created from the multitude of wild
rumors about Mrs. Higgins - the houses owner - that had prevailed
throughout the small town ever since he was a young child.
Mrs. Witchy Higgins," they had nicknamed her. That had been
almost twenty-five years ago and she had seemed ancient even way
back then. None of the children would dare venture to close to her
house, afraid that she might catch them.
a few moments, he heard the door being unbolted and the door unhurriedly
creaked open...He found himself trembling.He took a long, deep breath
before he was finally able to speak, allowing himself time to carefully
examine the seemingly frail old lady that was now in standing front
of him smiling.
harmless, he concluded to himself , ashamed that such an educated
man as he had been so very vulnerable to such childish superstitions.
he said with a new found assertion, "I am here regarding Mr.
Higgins' expression suddenly transformed from a gentle smile into
a warm welcoming grin.
please come in from that horrid rain and cold," she urged,
ushering him inside. "What a truly dreadful evening this is."
obliged and soon discovered himself in a dark hallway which had
to have been almost seventy feet long. The paneled walls were covered
with dozens of wonderfully detailed oil portraits.
take off your wet coat and I will take you directly to Mr. Carrington."
She pointed to a coat stand. Her voice was buoyant and sounded as
if it belonged to a far much younger woman.
see, it was really most very naughty of him," she continued,
"he fell out of the tree wh ile trying to escape. He is such
a mischievous boy you know and the poor dear hurt himself rather
bad I am afraid. This way please. He is just through here."
cat! Charles thought to him self dismayed, She has called
me out for a stupid cat.
Higgins led the now bewildered doctor along the hallway and as he
cautiously walked along he could swear that the meticulously painted
eyes in the paintings were desperately trying to tell him something.
at once Mrs. Higgins swung about and there was a sudden flash.
on Earth?" Charles yelled as he rubbed his now dazed eyes.
a photo my dear
You see I am a painter and I like to paint
from photographs. They are a sort of keepsake you see, a way I can
forever remember your wonderful act of kindness towards my beloved
they arrived at the end of the passageway which met the grand double
stai rway. Mrs. Higgins stopped.
here?" Charles queried, wishing now he had never come.
down here," Mrs. Higgins said as she pulled open a door underneath
is a new low, he reflected to himself as he stared down into
the dark ominous cellar.
is right," Mrs. Higgins enthused as she rubbed her hands together
with excitement. "Mr. Carrington is injured down there. There
is no electric light I am afraid
But here, use my flashlight."
wanted desperately to turn and leave but he saw how hopeful Mrs.
Higgins eyes were.
cat is probably her only companion and it might kill her if anything
happened to it, he thought to himself as he tried to sum up
the courage this was going to take.He smiled at the old lady and
reluctantly Charles turned on the light and began to climb the steep
stone stairs downward. The flashlight that she had given him barely
gave off any light and a disgusting, pungent smell of rotting flesh
filled his nostrils.
must be dead rats down here which the cat has killed, he reasoned.
All at once there was a hideous piercing sound, and he became aware
that something rather large was rapidly moving towards him. He frantically
shone the light up just in time to catch glimpse of an enormous
claw as it ripped at his cheek.He hastily attempted to race back
up the stairs.
thought it was a tabby cat down there!" he screamed in horror
as the sweat beaded upon his now bloodied face as he tried desperately
to clamber back up the stairs.
whatever made you think Mr. Carrington was a cat?" Mrs. Higgins
said giggling as her faded eyes now sparkled. She then slammed the
door shut and bolted it.
time Mr. Carrington," she cooed lovingly. "Come and get
Higgins, a month later, was proudly hanging her new painting amongst
the others in the hallway when she heard a familiar rumbling from
under the stairs.
think I should order a pizza to be delivered," she whispered
to herself as she began to cackle uncontrollably.