I’ll never forget the first time I met the doctor.
It was a dark and stormy night. I had just walked into the doc’s office for an inspection, but room 34C was dark and empty. Too dark. Too empty. I pulled my torch from the pocket of my trench coat and shone it over dusty bookshelves and infernal contraptions spattered with what could only be blood – whether human or animal, I didn’t know. My gaze fell upon a wall safe that had been left ajar. A portrait of the Mona Lisa. Seemed like that must be an inside joke around this place. I reached for the frame and pulled it open far enough to look inside. Empty.
I turned to the desk, messy and covered with dusty notices of incarceration and psych evals of patients buried in the 1800s. An eyeball floated in a jar, macabre and menacing. I could have sworn it was looking right at me. I rifled through the files, feeling all the while that the shriveled thing was watching me, judging, waiting to report my presence to its master. I shook it off and turned the jar around. The eyeball didn’t move. Bloody thing. I took my hat off and covered it, suppressing a shudder. I always did hate biology.
“Whitechapel, Liddell, Manson… what are you up to, doctor?” I murmured to myself as I sifted through the case reports and yellow photographs. The older sketches were on faded parchment. Then I found it. The doctor’s notebook. Dissections, formulae, star charts. The doctor was planning something big. Perhaps several things. Realizing I was in way over my head, I tucked the book in my jacket and made for the door. I was halfway down the hall before I realized I’d forgotten my hat.
Just my luck.
Before I could double back, I felt the doctor’s presence behind me.
“Mr. Naissance, I presume? Why don’t you come on in?”
Curses. He’d been in the inner office the entire time. I reached for my Model 29. The click of a Thompson stopped me.
“Come, now, no unpleasantness. I believe you have something that belongs to me.”
“And I believe you have something that belongs to me.”
“The book for the hat.”
“Do I have a choice?”
“I’m afraid not. It’s time for your appointment.”
I dropped my Smith & Wesson. It hit the hardwood floor with a heavy thud.
“And now, if you’ll be so kind as to come in for your examination? I’m quite afraid that it might take a while, so you’ll want to let your charming secretary know that you’ll be working late.”
I stepped into the room with mounting apprehension. I’d seen all manner of foul implements in the doctor’s cabinets, and knew the stories people told about his various experiments. He closed the door behind us, then tossed me my hat, stroking the jar that had been beneath it.
“There, there, my sweet, did he hurt your precious feelings?” he asked. It swiveled, glaring at me, and I jumped higher than my Aunt Helga doing the polka.
“What manner of foul creature is that?” I exclaimed, and the doctor only chuckled, an evil, menacing laugh that raised the hair off the back of my neck.
“Sit down, Mr. Naissance. I’ve got a job for you.”