DR. WHO AND THE MIDNIGHT DOOR
By J.A. Prentice
The children all said the house at the end of the lane was haunted. At night it made strange noises: wheezing and groaning. Sometimes, it wasn’t there at all, leaving an empty lot full of thorns and wild roses.
That Halloween, the house was besieged by monsters. Aliens and metal men and ancient horrors pounded the midnight blue door, shouting their demands.
“Trick or treat!”
Dressed as Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Who dispensed candy from his food machine. He never needed to ask the children what they wanted. The food machine knew.
When Dr. Who watched the last trick-or-treaters wandering away, their bags heavy with the night’s loot, he thought of his children and grandchildren and nieces. They were gone now: Barbara, Louise, John, Gillian…
Little Suzie was off at University. She’d sent a picture last month, but he’d hardly recognized her with those elfin features and the short dark hair.
Dr. Who was feeling his age tonight. “Wearing thin,” he murmured.
A shadow moved, out in the night, and Dr. Who looked up to see a tall man walking up the path to the door. He was dressed as Dracula, with a cape and fangs. His beard was streaked black, his forehead was high, and his eyes were dark and twinkling.
“Trick or treat,” said Dracula, his voice like stained glass: magnificent, gothic, and sharp.
“My old friend!” Dr. Who shook Dracula by the hand. “I wasn’t expecting you.”
Dracula frowned. “I didn’t think you’d remember.”
“I’m not senile, you know,” Dr. Who said. “Though sometimes I get mixed up between things that happened and things that will. And things that won’t happen to me at all…” He smiled. “Won’t you come in? I’ll make tea.”
Dracula entered the home of Dr. Who. There were wires everywhere—and banks of instruments, and bookcases, and bubbling chemicals. Dr. Who traipsed through the wild interior of his living room in search of the kettle.
“A social visit, is it?” Dr. Who asked.
“Just wondering how retirement was treating you,” Dracula said, sitting in a black vinyl chair.
“Since I left the University, you mean? I traveled for a while, with the children. We went all sorts of places. Skaro. Rome. The Moon. I have snapshots from our trip to Cornwall somewhere. Dear Arthur was kind enough to hold the camera.” He shook his head. “But after they left… Well, I settled down. I’m not as young as I used to be.”
“None of us are.”
“All I need is a change. But I keep putting it off. I’ve grown to enjoy this quiet life.”
“I’m glad to hear it.”
“But it would be nice to know I carry on.” Dr. Who sighed. “Sometimes I can’t remember if I’m First or Last or somewhere between. And most times I can’t remember what that means.” He poured the tea and tutted. “I suppose I’m afraid I’ll be forgotten.”
“Nonsense,” Dracula said. “I’m sure they’ll remember you.”
There was a knock on the door. Dr. Who turned, and made his way through the tangled living room to the door.
On the doorstep was a little girl with yellow braces and a striped shirt. “Trick or treat!”
“Hello,” Dr. Who said. “And who are you?”
The girl beamed. “I’m Dr. Who!”
“Well, of course you are!”
Dr. Who smiled, and handed her a custard cream.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN FROM US AT
Released October 2021
Artwork by Alan Camlann
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