It’s a compete honour today to welcome Barry back to Bart’s Bookshelf, he stopped by back in February for an interview about the previous book in the series, The Crowmaster. This time however, he’s brought a gruesome little treat. The final part of The Rise of Doc Mortis, a short story he’s written exclusively for this blog tour!
If you haven’t yet started on the story, or need to catch up, click on one of the links below to read the first four parts, if you’re caught up, then prepare yourself for the last part…
Part 5: Prepped for Surgery
Doc backed out of the room, Dan Dan held in front of him, the ragged blade of the saw still pressed to the boy’s throat. Adam and Lori stood back, watching helplessly. The other children – bless them – screamed and screamed and screamed.
‘Do not be attempting to follow me,’ Doc warned. ‘Or the boy loses his head. Slowly. Do you understand?’
‘You’re not going to get away with this,’ Adam hissed through gritted teeth. ‘I won’t let you hurt him.’
‘I will be walking backwards up the stairs and all the way outside. If I see anyone else emerge… Well, I had best not see anyone else emerge.’
Doc’s arm was across the boy’s throat. He could feel him trembling; feel every sob that wracked his frail body.
‘Tell him again that everything’s going to be OK. Tell him not to worry,’ Doc said. ‘Lie to him.’
Lori moved to lunge, but Adam put an arm in front of her, holding her back. She gave a growl of frustration, but didn’t make another move forward.
‘You’re a monster,’ Adam said, quietly, his eyes locked on Doc’s. ‘I’m going to kill you, first chance I get.’
Doc dragged Dan Dan backwards, out through the wreckage of the door. ‘Yes, I am sure you will try,’ he said, as he led the boy up the narrow steps, through the crumbling shell of the building above, and out into the darkened streets beyond. Nobody moved to follow.
‘Alone at last,’ said Doc, his voice a scratchy giggle. ‘You know what we must find now, of course?’ He licked his blubbery lips and leaned closer to the boy’s ear. ‘Somewhere to operate.’
Doc looked down at the tray in front of him and gave a sigh. He’d been forced to leave his medical bag back in the basement, with all his precious tools inside. Now all he had was the hacksaw and the scalpel. No drill. No hammer. No little barbed hook he’d never discovered the name of. A saw and a scalpel, and that was that.
Still, it was a poor artist who blamed his tools. Drill or no drill, he’d come up with something spectacular.
Padding across the charred floor, he approached what was left of the electric chair. He carried the tray before him, the tools laid out on it as best he could. It was important to make the right impression.
The execution chamber hadn’t been completely destroyed in the fire. It had help up quite well, considering. The stone walls were blackened, but solid. Much of the ceiling was gone, allowing moonlight to pick away at the room’s shadowy corners.
They had passed the body of Bubba on the way in. The brute hadn’t died in the flames, and much of the smoke would’ve escaped through the hole in the roof, meaning he hadn’t died from smoke inhalation either.
His death was no mystery, though. Most of his insides were outside, and a carpet of black feathers lay all around him on the corridor floor. Another friendship turned sour, it seemed.
Dan Dan was strapped to the chair, his arms and legs fixed tightly in place. Much of the wood now resembled charcoal, and some of it was uncomfortably hot to the touch, but it was solid enough that the boy couldn’t break free.
A ragged piece of cloth was tied across Dan Dan’s mouth, gagging him. Yes, Doc wanted him to scream, but not now, not yet, not until the time was right. The boy’s wide eyes followed the tray as Doc carried it over.
‘You will have to forgive me,’ Doc said. ‘I am usually much better prepared. This is a poor offering, I’m afraid, but we make do with what we have, yes?’
He reached into the pockets of his tweed coat and produced a thin rubber glove from within each one. He pulled them on with a snap.
‘Now,’ he breathed, ‘what to do? What to do?’
He paced around the chair, pausing to examine the back of Dan Dan’s head, or look inside his ears. He placed his thumbs on the boy’s cheeks and pulled his eyes wider. As he studied the bloodshot whites, a thought occurred to him.
Doc turned and looked at Bubba’s body, slumped just beyond the doorway. He looked back at the boy in the chair. ‘Hmm,’ he said, quietly. ‘I wonder…’
Doc Mortis sat on a folding chair outside the prison entrance, listening to the chaos of the world around him. This new place, this Darkest Corners, was what he always imagined Hell to be like. And a person like him, he knew, could do well in a place like this.
He pulled off the blood-stained gloves and slipped them back into his pockets. No reason to be wasteful. There was no saying when he’d find another pair.
A figure was skulking across the street towards him, trying to stay out of sight. Doc knew he was there. He had known for the past three minutes.
He looked up as Adam emerged from the darkness. Then he smiled. ‘There you are,’ he said, jovially. ‘I wondered when you would find me.’
‘Where is he? Where’s Dan Dan? If you’ve hurt him, I’ll—’
‘Hurt him? Come come now, I’m a doctor. I don’t hurt people, I make them better.’
Adam caught Mortis by the jacket and hoisted him into the air. ‘Where is he?’ he seethed, pushing bubbles of spit through his teeth. ‘Where’s Dan Dan?’
‘I would not do that if I were you,’ Doc said, quietly. ‘He will not like to see me manhandled.’
In the shadows just inside the prison doorway, something moved. Adam peered into the gloom, and to the monstrous figure that lurked there.
‘What… what is that?’
A leer spread across Doc’s face. ‘Guess.’
Adam released his grip, letting Doc drop back down into his seat. Cautiously, he took a step towards the door. He shook his head, trying not to believe what he knew, deep down, to be true. He swallowed, his mouth suddenly sandpaper-dry.
‘He does not go by that name any more,’ Doc said. ‘Now he is simply, Patient Zero.’
Something that was not quite Bubba and not quite Dan Dan pounced. Thick, scarred arms wrapped around Adam. There was a scream and a snap, and both figures returned to the darkness inside the prison walls.
Doc reclined in the chair, his hands behind his head, as the sounds of tearing flesh and splintering bone filled the chill night air. He sang below his breath, savouring the moment, and dreaming of all the moments like it to come.
‘If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise…’
He would travel. That’s what he would do. See the world, and the monsters that inhabited it. One day, he would settle down, find a hospital of his own and continue his life’s work.
Yes, a person like him could do very well in a place like this.
Very well indeed.