* * *
Dr. Blake had very strange dreams. She was being led through her house by several midgets. It was dark and stormy out and she realized, in the strange logic of dreams, that she didnâ€™t actually live there. They led her to her own guest room in her house but they didnâ€™t leave, just walked around the room and stared at her. It was unsettling.
* * *
Zippy dreamt about the trees. He was peeking out of the windows of the house they were staying in. He kept going to the windows to peek outside. However, every single time he looked out and saw a tree in a flash of lightning, when the light next came, the tree was gone. He went from window to window, trying to see a tree that wouldnâ€™t disappear. Then he found himself running through the corridor looking for a gun. The corridors just connected to other corridors however, seemingly endlessly.
He found bedrooms, one with their smashed up car within.
Theyâ€™re coming! he thought. Theyâ€™re coming!
* * *
Nurse Daughton dreamt about being back at the altar near Aylesbury, the man wrapped up in vines atop it. However, it wasnâ€™t him wrapped up suddenly, but the little girl who theyâ€™d saved. She didnâ€™t think that happened. Instead of just watching her die, she tried to stop it, pulling at the vines and trying to get her free while 10 versions of the child molester sheâ€™d watched die on the altar circled around her, holding hands. She tried to find her gun but couldnâ€™t, so attacked the man. She punched him but didnâ€™t seem to hurt them. She went back to save the screaming girl and suddenly saw a river going through the altar. Then she saw a chair leaning sideways against the altar.
She realized she was not dreaming anymore. Her eyes had opened but some kind of liquid was flowing under the door of the room. It appeared to be a soupy mass about the size of a cat with a consistency that varied between smooth and slimy and thick and chunky.
She leapt up and went to Zippy, waking him up.
â€œThe trees!â€ he called out, thrashing around as he woke. â€œThe trees!â€
Dr. Blake also awoke, looking around.
â€œWhere did the midgets go?â€ she asked sleepily. â€œThere were so many of them â€¦â€
Nurse Daughton pointed at the door, unsure if she was still dreaming. The others all saw the slime sliding into the room. Zippy drew his pistol.
â€œUh â€¦â€ Dr. Blake mumbled.
They all felt their stomachs turn as the horrible stuff slid across the floor in the candlelight, meandering in their general direction. It seemed to move with, if not purpose, at least intelligence. Nurse Daughton snatched up the candle. She noticed it had shrunken appreciably and guessed she had fallen asleep for about an hour. As Dr. Blake stood on the bed, Nurse Daughton ran to the bureau and stood atop it, knocking off the gutted candle.
â€œDonâ€™t touch it!â€ Nurse Daughton said. â€œDonâ€™t touch it. Donâ€™t touch it. We donâ€™t know what it is. Get up here. Please.â€
Zippy ran to the bureau and climbed atop it. The slime didnâ€™t move directly towards them, Nurse Daughton realized. It was just moving around the room. She waved at Dr. Blake and watched the slime as it moved somewhat aimlessly in their direction. It oozed in and out of the darkest corners, moving throughout the room in a strange fashion. The trail of slime it left behind evaporated fairly quickly.
It finally went underneath the bureau Zippy and Nurse Daughton were standing upon. It did not come back out. Nurse Daughton put a hand on the manâ€™s shoulder as he started shaking and looking around desperately. The thing didnâ€™t come back out into the room, making Nurse Daughton a little more worried.
â€œThis might be a good time to get out of here!â€ Dr. Blake whispered.
Nurse Daughton pointed underneath herself at the bureau.
â€œShould I shoot it?â€ Zippy whispered.
â€œIt doesnâ€™t seem to be doing much,â€ Nurse Daughton whispered.
The two of them watched the floor near the bureau. Nurse Daughton looked at the wall behind the piece of furniture.
â€œI donâ€™t know what to do,â€ Dr. Blake whispered. â€œI got no weapon. Unless thereâ€™s a way to trap it.â€
Zippy looked around the room as the women watched the base of the bureau. He didnâ€™t see the thing anywhere. Thunder and lightning crashed outside. Nurse Daughton looked to see if anything was coming up between the bureau and the wall.
â€œCover me,â€ Zippy said, touching her shoulder. â€œCover me.â€
He climbed off the bureau and slowly made his way over to the opposite wall. He noticed the chair was laying on the floor and pushed away from the partially opened door. He wondered if Nurse Daughton had done that. He looked around himself for the slime once again and then walked over to the door to close it.
As he grabbed the doorknob to push the door closed, there was a flash of lightning that partially illuminated the hallway. Just for a moment he saw the midget standing just outside the door with a large knife in his hand, smiling at him. Zippy let go of the door handle and shot the little man, the bullet striking him in the right hand and sending the knife flying. The little man screamed and raised his left hand as if to block but Zippy fired again and sent the second bullet through it. The midget shrieked again and ducked off to the left.
Zippy swung around to his left and saw the door at the end of the hallway slam shut. There was a lot of blood on the doorknob. He went back into the room.
â€œHe had a knife!â€ he hissed at them.
â€œWhat?â€ Dr. Blake said. â€œHe had a what?â€
â€œHe had a knife!â€
â€œAnd he was standing right there?â€
â€œMy surprise is illustrated by the fact that I shot him twice.â€
â€œI know. I heard you. Okay.â€
Dr. Blake got off the bed and walked to Zippy.
â€œDid you see where he went?â€ she asked him.
â€œYeah, he went down here on the left out the door,â€ Zippy said.
Still on the bureau, Nurse Daughton thought she heard a door open out in the hallway.
â€œHeâ€™s back!â€ she hissed.
Zippy pushed himself and Dr. Blake back against the wall and watched the door.
â€œHello?â€ a voice they didnâ€™t recognize called. â€œIs someone there?â€
â€œUh â€¦ who are you?â€ Dr. Blake called.
â€œWho are you?â€ the voice replied.
â€œWe were invited by this little â€¦ man,â€ Nurse Daughton said.
They all heard footsteps approach down the hall. A man appeared in the light of the candle. He was of average height and wore round glasses and pajamas and robe. He had a mustache and goatee. His hair was short, brown, and tussled as if heâ€™d been in bed. He was a little stout.
â€œWho are you people?â€ he said again.
â€œWe were invited to stay here by Mr. Norris,â€ Dr. Blake said.
â€œIâ€™m Doctor Norris,â€ the man said.
â€œDoctor Norris,â€ she corrected herself.
â€œWhat?â€ Zippy said.
â€œWait,â€ Dr. Blake said.
â€œThatâ€™s me. Iâ€™m Dr. Norris.â€
â€œHey, wait, hold on!â€ Zippy said.
â€œWait, youâ€™re Dr. Norris?â€ Dr. Blake said.
â€œWhoâ€™s the little guy!?!â€ Zippy said.
â€œThen whoâ€™s the midget?â€ Dr. Blake said.
Dr. Norris looked uncomfortable for a moment.
â€œI think I have more a right to know who is in my house and why,â€ he said.
â€œWe were invited by yourâ”€â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œMy name isâ”€â€ Dr. Blake said.
â€œâ€¦ little Dr. Norris,â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œAll right. Our car crashed,â€ Zippy said. â€œOutside. We walked up. Came in. Little guy comes in, says heâ€™s Dr. Norris. Letâ€™s us in. Next thing you know, midnight, he comes into our room with a knife, grinning at me.â€
Nurse Daughton nodded as the man spoke.
â€œAnd there it is,â€ she said. â€œOn the floor.â€
The man looked at them. He seemed confused.
â€œYour car crashed,â€ he said. â€œI see. Well. And you sought shelter here. I â€¦ understand. Yes. Thatâ€™s â€¦ fine.â€
â€œBut if youâ€™re â€¦â€ Dr. Blake said.
â€œSo, I suppose I should let you spend the night,â€ Dr. Norris said. â€œWhy do you have guns? Why do you have a gun?â€
Nurse Daughton pointed at the knife on the floor.
â€œIs this a robbery?â€ Dr. Norris said, raising his hands.
â€œNo!â€ Zippy said.
â€œNo!â€ Dr. Blake said. â€œNo!â€
â€œIâ€™m an officer of the law, sir,â€ Zippy said.
â€œOh,â€ the man said, lowering his arms. â€œDo you have a badge?â€
Zippy slid his pistol in his pocket and pulled his badge out to show the man.
â€œIâ€™m from Providence, sir,â€ he said.
â€œWell, what are the police doing all the way out here?â€ Dr. Norris asked. â€œThis is Minnesota!â€
â€œIâ€™m off duty. Iâ€™m just escorting these women to a place they want to go. They wanted some safety and itâ€™s something Iâ€™m interested in â€¦â€
â€œAnd you sought shelter here. I see. I see. Well, then you donâ€™t need the guns.â€
â€œWhoâ€™s the little man? Whoâ€™s the midget?â€
â€œNo. I â€¦ uh â€¦ I â€¦ uh â€¦ I think Hymes is plotting against me! Thatâ€™s what I think. Well, have a nice night then. Have a nice night.â€
He turned and left the doorway.
â€œNo!â€ Nurse Daughton called, jumping off the bureau. â€œNo, you come back!â€
â€œHey, wait!â€ Dr. Blake said. â€œDr. Norris!â€
The man shuffled away down the hallway. They followed him.
â€œWhatâ€™s going on?â€ Dr. Blake said. â€œWhoâ€™s Hymes?â€
â€œOh I get it,â€ Zippy suddenly said. â€œItâ€™s Dr. Norris and Mr. Hymes.â€
â€œWhat?â€ Dr. Norris said, turning.
â€œWhatâ€™s going on?â€ Dr. Blake said. â€œWhoâ€™s Hymes?â€
â€œNo. No one,â€ Dr. Norris said. â€œHeâ€™s no one. Heâ€™s â€¦ uh â€¦ uh â€¦ I â€¦ heâ€™s â€¦ uh â€¦ heâ€™s nobody.â€
He glanced down the corridor to the door at the end.
â€œHey, wait a minute,â€ Nurse Daughton said. â€œYou have some explaining to do. Who is this little man who invited us in and why is he trying to kill us with a knife?â€
â€œI-I-I-I donâ€™t know why he would try to kill you,â€ Dr. Norris said. Then he lowered his voice to a whisper. â€œHeâ€™s trying to kill me! Protect me from him!â€ He raised his voice again. â€œYou can stay as long as you need to. I see the stormâ”€â€
â€œIâ€™d rather not when your little friend is trying to kill us in our own room while we sleep!â€
â€œWell, thatâ€™s a guest room.â€
â€œItâ€™s a guest room. Sorry.â€
â€œNot your room.â€
â€œWeâ€™re staying in it. I think you know what I mean.â€
â€œOh, I understand your meaning. Yes. Yes. Thatâ€™s my room.â€
He pointed up the corridor to the room Nurse Daughton had found the diary in.
Zippy looked carefully at the manâ€™s hands. They looked fine.
â€œI-I donâ€™t â€¦â€ Dr. Norris said.
â€œBut youâ€™re aware this man is here and you think heâ€™s trying to kill you,â€ Nurse Daughton said. â€œWhy havenâ€™t you gotten rid of him?â€
â€œBecause,â€ Dr. Norris said, lowering his voice once again. â€œHeâ€™ll try to kill me if I got rid of him.â€
â€œDonâ€™t you own a gun?â€
â€œThereâ€™s â€¦ thereâ€™s a rifle. But I donâ€™t have the bullets for it. I think Hymes has them.â€
â€œHeâ€™s tiny!â€ Dr. Blake said. â€œHeâ€™s tiny! You could throw him out the door with no problem!â€
â€œNo no no,â€ Dr. Norris said. â€œHeâ€™s â€¦ heâ€™s â€¦ Iâ€™ve lived here for some time. Iâ€™m Doctor Albert Norris. Yes, I am Dr. Norris. Please, put those guns away. Thatâ€™s terribly dangerous. Itâ€™s terribly dangerous. Guns are very dangerous. I should know. Iâ€™m a doctor. Iâ€™m a doctor.â€
â€œAmong other things that are dangerous in this house, yes,â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œOkay,â€ Dr. Blake said.
â€œJust avoid him,â€ Dr. Norris said. â€œYes. Thatâ€™s what I do. I avoid him.â€
â€œOh, we tried,â€ Nurse Daughton said. â€œHe pushed the door open and somethingâ”€â€
â€œOh. Well, you should have locked it.â€
â€œSome hell â€¦â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œThere was some sort of slime thing,â€ Dr. Blake said.
â€œâ€¦ slime â€¦â€ Nurse Daughton said. â€œLike a soup. Moving around.â€
â€œI â€¦ uh â€¦â€ Dr. Norris said.
â€œYou donâ€™t know anything?â€ Nurse Daughton said. â€œNo?â€
â€œNo,â€ Dr. Norris said. â€œYes!â€
â€œDo you have a car?â€ Nurse Daughton asked, realizing the man was very off and possibly even deranged.
â€œYes, I have a motorcar out front. It is a Cadillac. It is quite a good automobile.â€
â€œMay we borrow it so we can get to where we need to go?â€
â€œOh! Well â€¦ why yes, of course. It has an electric starter. Thatâ€™s electric. That way you donâ€™t have to crank it. Like certain motorcars. That I know of. But you were in a car accident. I donâ€™t know if youâ€™d want to get in another automobile. Especially with this â€¦ weather.â€
â€œWeâ€™ll take our chances.â€
â€œOf course, if you promise to â€¦ but who are you? What are your names? Who are you people?â€
â€œMy name is Dr. Alison Blake,â€ Dr. Blake said.
â€œAre you from â€¦ heâ€™s from Providence, you say?â€
â€œI remember this. And what is your name?â€
â€œYou can call me Zippy,â€ Zippy said.
â€œI would like your name, sir, if you are going to borrow my automobile,â€ Dr. Norris said.
â€œAnd you, miss?â€
â€œAbigail Daughton,â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œAbigail Daughton,â€ Dr. Norris said. â€œWell, if you need to get to town â€¦ one canâ€™t live in a world where one doesnâ€™t trust people â€¦ in peril. Thatâ€™s not the right word. In distress. Thatâ€™s the right word. Yes. Distress. Distress is a good word. If you canâ€™t trust people in distress, who can you trust? Correct?â€
â€œRight,â€ Dr. Blake said. â€œRight. Sir.â€
â€œBut of course you may borrow my autocar. Itâ€™s right outside the front door.â€
â€œMind, the drive is probably very muddy. Iâ€™ll never get back to sleep after all this noise. Iâ€™m going to go to the study.â€
Dr. Norris wandered past his bedroom door, heading further into the house.
â€œWell, I say anything is better than staying in this terrifying house with these people!â€ Dr. Blake whispered to the others.
â€œI agree, but now he knows our names,â€ Nurse Daughton said. â€œIâ€™m not comfortable with that.â€
â€œWhat could he possibly do with them?â€
â€œHe doesnâ€™t seem to be in his right mind.â€
â€œOkay, I could tell that.â€
â€œI donâ€™t want to put my back towards him.â€
â€œWhat do you think, Zippy?â€
â€œHereâ€™s the thing,â€ Zippy said as Nurse Daughton looked at her watch. It was after midnight. â€œWhoever that midget is, heâ€™s dangerous.â€
â€œHeâ€™s also hurt,â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œHeâ€™s proved himself that heâ€™s willing to attack us,â€ Zippy went on.
â€œIâ€™m going to go ahead and take the knife so nobody uses it against us,â€ Dr. Blake said, stooping to pick up the large knife.
â€œWhat are we going to do about our luggage?â€ Zippy asked.
â€œAw, itâ€™s still in the car,â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œWe could try to go get it,â€ he said.
â€œUh,â€ Dr. Blake said.
â€œLeave it,â€ Nurse Daughton said. â€œWhenever we leaveâ”€â€
â€œI got big guns in there,â€ Zippy said.
â€œI see,â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œYeah, that could be useful,â€ Dr. Blake said. â€œI just want to get out of this murder house.â€
There was a crash of thunder.
â€œHe said it was around front,â€ Nurse Daughton said. â€œWe could leave right now and be safe.â€
â€œYeah,â€ Dr. Blake said.
â€œOr we could hit another dog,â€ Nurse Daughton quipped.
More thunder roared.
â€œIs anyone more experienced at driving?â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œDonâ€™t get in the car,â€ a voice whispered from the darkness.
â€œWhat?â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œWhat?â€ Dr. Blake said.
The voice came from the doorway at the end of the hall. Nurse Daughton pulled the pistol from her purse again and pointed at the door.
â€œYou little bastard!â€ Nurse Daughton whispered.
â€œDonâ€™t trust him!â€ the voice of the midget came through the door. â€œAl is unstable.â€
â€œAre you kidding me?â€
â€œI carry a knife to defend myself!â€
â€œYou came at us with a knife!â€
â€œHeâ€™s the unstable one?â€ Dr. Blake said.
â€œWhy are you trying to kill us if heâ€™s the problem?â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œI have to defend myself,â€ the voice behind the door whispered. â€œI have to defend myself.â€
â€œSo, why were you coming at us?â€ Zippy said.
â€œI was coming to warn you!â€ the voice replied.
â€œWith a knife!?!â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œTo be careful,â€ the voice said. â€œHe could come out at any time. He-he-he-heâ€™s going to try to kill you! Heâ€™s insane!â€
â€œWhoâ€™s he!?!â€ Dr. Blake said.
â€œWhatâ€™s his name?â€ Zippy said.
â€œHis name is Al,â€ the voice said. â€œHe thinks heâ€™s a doctor! Heâ€™s crazy!â€
â€œWhy did you introduce yourself as him?â€ Nurse Daughton asked.
â€œI am Dr. Norris,â€ the voice said. â€œIâ€™m Dr. Albert Norris. Heâ€™s Al. But he thinks heâ€™s me. Heâ€™s crazy! Heâ€™s crazy I tell you!â€
â€œWhat?â€ Dr. Blake asked.
â€œWhy did you shoot me?â€ the voice asked. â€œIt hurts so bad!â€
â€œBecause you had a knife!â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œYou came into our room â€¦ with a barricaded door â€¦ and a knife,â€ Zippy said.
â€œAnd some soup,â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œSoup?â€ the voice said. â€œI donâ€™t know what â€¦â€
â€œThat slimy thing on the floor,â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œThe slimy thing,â€ Dr. Blake said.
â€œDonâ€™t â€¦ donâ€™t trust him!â€ the voice said.
â€œGive me my handkerchief back!â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œDonâ€™t trust him,â€ the voice said. â€œHeâ€™ll kill you all. Heâ€™s just waiting for you to come looking for him so heâ€™ll have a chance to ambush you.â€
â€œHow about I put my gun up and you come out here?â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œYouâ€™ll shoot me again!â€ the midget replied.
â€œI said Iâ€™ll put it up,â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œWe promiseâ”€â€ Dr. Blake said.
â€œFool me once, shame on me, fool me twice â€¦ wait,â€ the midget said.,
â€œYou came in with a knife!â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œDr. Norris, we promise we wonâ€™t shoot you again,â€ Dr. Blake said. â€œBoth of you, put your guns up for now.â€
â€œYou came at us with a knife!â€ Nurse Daughton said again.
â€œNo!â€ the midgetâ€™s voice said. â€œI donâ€™t trust you! Terrible people. My hands! Thereâ€™s so much blood. So much blood!â€
â€œGood!â€ Nurse Daughton said. â€œDonâ€™t have a knife next time you come in somebodyâ€™s room.â€
â€œDonâ€™t trust him!â€ the voice said again. â€œDonâ€™t get in the car! He offered you his car?â€
â€œYes?â€ Dr. Blake said.
â€œIt has an electric starter.â€
â€œElectric. Itâ€™s electric. Donâ€™t push the electric starter.â€
â€œWhat? What will it do? Will it shock us?â€
â€œThese guys donâ€™t have a phone,â€ Zippy said. â€œThey donâ€™t have electric lights in their house.â€
â€œElectricityâ€™s what is used to blow up dynamite,â€ the voice said. â€œDonâ€™t get in the car. Donâ€™t start the car! Donâ€™t do it! Heâ€™s mad. Heâ€™s quite mad! I was just coming to warn you!â€
â€œWith a knife!â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œYes!â€ the voice said. â€œHeâ€™s mad! I canâ€™t walk around unarmed! Heâ€™ll kill me! Heâ€™s crazy!â€
Nurse Daughton put her pistol back into her purse. She asked Zippy to put his away as well.
â€œCome out here, let me fix you up, tell me what the hellâ€™s going on,â€ she said to the door.
â€œYouâ€™re just going to shoot me again!â€ the voice said.
â€œI put my gun up, just now,â€ she said.
â€œIâ€™m so scared,â€ the voice said. â€œIâ€™m so scared all the time. Really?â€
â€œYes,â€ she said.
There was a click as the key was turned in the lock.
â€œIâ€™m warning you â€¦â€ she said.
The door cracked open and she saw the little man peek out, blood still dripping from both of his hands. There was blood over him, actually. She pushed the door open and he cringed. She led the little man to the bedroom, stopping only long enough for him to lock his bedroom door behind them. He watched Zippy very closely. She picked up the chair and urged him to sit in it. He sat on the floor.
She tended to his wounded hands, bandaging them both up. The right hand was injured but not terribly so. His left hand was ripped to pieces and she doubted if the man would ever have full use of it again. He looked at the woman gratefully.
â€œDonâ€™t come at us with a knife again,â€ she chastised him. â€œThatâ€™s why you were in trouble.â€
â€œOkay,â€ Dr. Blake said. â€œSo â€¦â€
â€œI have nothing to defend myself!â€ the midget said.
â€œDonâ€™t come at us with it!â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œIf Al comes at me â€¦ whatâ€™s he â€¦?â€ the midget said. â€œHe could kill me! Heâ€™s so much bigger than me! Look at me! Iâ€™m little!â€
â€œOkay, so ... explain Al,â€ Dr. Blake said. â€œExplain who Dr. Norris is and explain who the heck Hymes is.â€
â€œHe calls me Hymes,â€ the midget said. â€œBut Iâ€™m Dr. Albert Norris. He thinks heâ€™s me! Iâ€™ve-Iâ€™ve lived here for years. My family â€¦ back in 1919 â€¦ I think that heâ€™s the one who did it. He came â€¦ he stayed with us. He was a worker. Here. He was a gardener. And he came and he said â€¦ and then I went away to school. And then he sent me a letter that said my family had all moved away and so I came back home â€¦ but-but I think he killed â€˜em. I donâ€™t have any proof, but I think he killed â€˜em. So now I just try to appease him so that he wonâ€™t kill me.â€
Nurse Daughton thought the man was very unstable and he didnâ€™t seem to be entirely truthful in his story. She realized everything in the house was built for normal-sized persons. She noted flaws in his story and his demeanor when telling it. It might have been outright fabrication. There might have been some truth to it. Maybe he thought it was the truth. She realized he was possibly as demented or at least as unstable as Al.
â€œDr. Blake,â€ Zippy said.
â€œYes?â€ Dr. Blake said.
â€œNurse Daughton,â€ Zippy said. â€œYouâ€™re experts at being doctors and medical stuff. Can you see if he matches up with his credentials?â€
â€œIt just seems very odd that you were around our door,â€ Nurse Daughton said to the midget. â€œGive my handkerchief back!â€
The little man sheepishly took the handkerchief out of his pocket and handed it to her.
â€œYou little jerk!â€ she said.
â€œI was scared he was in here!â€ the little man said. â€œHe could have been in here with you. You couldâ€™ve all been dead and he could have been in here. I had to look â€¦ before I came in. Thatâ€™s why I came in: to warn you!â€
He stood up and walked towards the door, looking nervously towards the hall. He peeked out.
â€œI should just hide in my room,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™ll be safer there! Just â€¦ donâ€™t trust him! Heâ€™s mad! Heâ€™s quite mad, I swear!â€
â€œI could hear you walk up and down these hallways all night,â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œDo you have any idea what the slime was?â€ Dr. Blake said.
The little man backed out of the room.
â€œIf you say youâ€™re going to be safer in your room, why did you go looking for him?â€ Nurse Daughton asked.
â€œBecause you are here and you could be killed but you have guns, you donâ€™t have to worry,â€ the little man said with a strange laugh. â€œYouâ€™re perfectly safe!â€
He pulled the key out of his pocket.
â€œHold on,â€ Nurse Daughton said, walking towards the door.
â€œHold on,â€ Dr. Blake said.
â€œIâ€™m scared!â€ the little man said. â€œIâ€™m so scared!â€
â€œDo you have any idea what that slime was?â€ Dr. Blake said.
The little man panted, obviously terrified.
â€œI just â€¦ itâ€™s an experiment!â€ he said. â€œHe experiments!â€
â€œHe experiments?â€ Dr. Blake said.
â€œIs that the blood on that bed in that one room?â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œI donâ€™t know!â€ the little man said, turning and heading off towards the left.
Nurse Daughton went after him and saw him unlocking the door at the end of the corridor.
â€œHold on,â€ she said.
â€œNo!â€ he said.
He slipped through the doorway, closing the door behind him. She heard the click of the key turning in the lock again. She sighed. From his behavior and demeanor, the little man was obviously scared of them. She was unsure of the truth of anything he said.
â€œMiss Daughton, that journal that you found in the other room â€¦ do you think you could go back and get it?â€ Dr. Blake asked.
â€œItâ€™s in the room that â€¦ oh, he actually left,â€ Nurse Daughton said. â€œYou know what? Maybe.â€
â€œGo and get it,â€ Dr. Blake said. â€œI want to see it.â€
Nurse Daughton walked down the hall and peeked into the room. She took the candle, leaving the other two in the dark. Dr. Blake followed a few moments later, taking the remaining unlit candle and banging into one of the doorknobs in the dark. Nurse Daughton peeked back out of the room and saw her.
â€œSorry,â€ Dr. Blake said. â€œCan you light this really quick?â€
â€œSure,â€ Nurse Daughton said.
She lit the other candle off her own.
â€œYou want to see the book?â€ Nurse Daughton asked.
â€œYes,â€ Dr. Blake said.
Nurse Daughton found the journal and looked through the rest of the desk but didnâ€™t find anything of interest. She looked in the bureau as well but found it completely empty. They returned to the bedroom and Dr. Blake read the journal. Zippy looked terrified, having been sitting in the dark, watching the shadows of trees on the curtains.
â€œSo, one of these people is Hymes and one of these people is Dr. Norris,â€ Dr. Blake said. â€œDr. Norris was doing something funny. He was suspended for perversion. Iâ€™m not sure â€¦ perversion of a sexual nature or perversion of another nature?â€
â€œIâ€™m thinking of a medical nature,â€ Nurse Daughton said. â€œIâ€™m thinking in that nature. Not perversion as in actually being weird to other people.â€
â€œHow many women are in medical school?â€
â€œIâ€™m considering because of these experiments.â€
â€œHumans and Others. Iâ€™m not particularly medically adept but that doesnâ€™t sound like any medical book Iâ€™ve heard of.â€
â€œâ€˜Hymes has written me heâ€™s sent the family away for a while and I can work at the estate. I canâ€™t wait to get there. Will leave tomorrow morning.â€™â€
â€œYes. At least Iâ€™m assuming that this is the estate.â€
â€œSo, whereâ€™s that family?â€
â€œBoth of these people say that theyâ€™re the same guy and it seems like at least thereâ€™s one story going around,â€ Zippy said.
â€œI donâ€™t feel â€¦ safe with the big guy,â€ Nurse Daughton said. â€œAnd the little guyâ€™s story is not adding up.â€
â€œNothing about this place adds up,â€ Dr. Blake said. â€œTheyâ€™re â€¦ you said that they were off their rockers.â€
â€œBoth of them. Both of them are a little deranged and itâ€™s probably because of this book. Iâ€™ve seen weird books.â€
â€œWhat kind of weird books?â€
â€œYou wouldnâ€™t understand.â€
â€œHave you heard of a book with this title?â€
â€œNo. But â€¦ I kind of want to find it.â€
â€œWhat was the book you were trying to find?â€
â€œItâ€™s called The Black Book.â€
â€œThe Black Book?â€
â€œIt seemed like an interesting book about weird things.â€
â€œInteresting book about weird things.â€
â€œYou said that could help me with my â€¦ my situation â€¦â€ Zippy said.
â€œI donâ€™t know help but maybe answer?â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œI feel like this book, Humans and Others, might help tie some of this together,â€ Dr. Blake said. â€œIf we can find it.â€
â€œIf itâ€™s written in another language, I donâ€™t know what language that is,â€ Nurse Daughton said. â€œWe probably wonâ€™t understand it even if we do find it, but â€¦â€
â€œI speak English,â€ Zippy said.
â€œGosh, I feel like we need to figure out what this book is,â€ Dr. Blake said. â€œIf thereâ€™s actually pictures in it, I might be able to figure some of it out, even if I donâ€™t know the language.â€
â€œI say if weâ€™re going to look around this house, we need to be really careful,â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œI am aware of that.â€
â€œKeep that knife handy.â€
â€œAnd your gun.â€
â€œAll my other ammunitionâ€™s in the trunk out there,â€ Zippy said.
â€œYou donâ€™t keep it in your purse?â€ Nurse Daughton quipped.
â€œIt could be in the study,â€ Dr. Blake said. â€œBut Alâ€™s in there.â€
â€œRight,â€ Nurse Daughton said.
They discussed whether to explore the house or try the car out front. Nurse Daughton wanted to look at the car. She didnâ€™t think either of the men minded if they left or not. Dr. Blake wasnâ€™t sure what else they could do.
They left the room, going up the corridor to the connecting corridor to the foyer and to the front door, which they found locked. They opened the window next to it. Zippy was uncomfortable with leaving the house with all the trees around.
â€œHey â€¦ um â€¦ on second thought,â€ he said. â€œHow about I make sure nobody comes out to kill you through the front door? Because, I donâ€™t â€¦â€
â€œIs there a reason?â€ Dr. Blake asked.
â€œIâ€™d kind of like to stay inside where there are walls of dead trees: wood that people have killed already and not live ones that are gonna â€¦ I donâ€™t know whatâ€™s in there,â€ he muttered.
Nurse Daughton noticed the man had broken out in a cold sweat. He seemed to be very nervous about leaving the house.
â€œYou know what, Zippy?â€ Dr. Blake said. â€œSure.â€
â€œThank you,â€ he replied.
â€œI understand,â€ Nurse Daughton said.
â€œIf youâ€™ll feel better in here, then you can stay,â€ Dr. Blake said.
â€œIf you go into danger â€¦ itâ€™s going to be tough for me to get out there, I wonâ€™t lie,â€ Zippy said. â€œSo â€¦â€
â€œDonâ€™t worry, Zippy,â€ Nurse Daughton said. â€œStay here and keep watch. I like that idea. In case the window also closes on us. Donâ€™t worry about it.â€
Nurse Daughton gave Zippy her candle. Dr. Blake opened up the drawer on the little table and found a half dozen more candles there and a couple more candlesticks.
â€œHey, when youâ€™re out there, as a favor for me, as a person?â€ Zippy said.
â€œYes?â€ Dr. Blake said.
â€œMake sure no trees start reaching in â€¦â€ he said. â€œIf anything comes out of this window, Iâ€™m not going to be looking at it, so please â€¦â€
â€œOkay â€¦ weâ€™ll keep an eye on the trees for you â€¦ Zippy,â€ Dr. Blake said.
â€œThank you,â€ Zippy said. â€œThank you.â€