Today’s Halloween-inspired tale comes from Val Muller, author of the Corgi Capers mystery series. If you like spooky tales, check out her horror novel (for grown-ups), Faulkner’s Apprentice, also available as an ebook for just $2.99.
Elenora Trantridge sat on the vinyl bench in Dr. Ferrier’s waiting room. She jiggled her knee and bit her lip, trying not to remember her last trip to the dentist. She’d needed three cavities filled, and the Novocain coupled with the grinding pressure of the drill had left her pale. She’d wavered as she tried to stand from the dentist’s chair that last time.
“Don’t rush it,” Dr. Ferrier had told her. “It’s a strange experience, having a tooth drilled. Just lie back and wait until the blood returns. You’ll be feeling better in no time.”
She wasn’t feeling better in no time, but she did manage to pull herself out of the seat and hobble down to the reception area, wiping drool from her the numbed right side of her mouth. That’s when the receptionist reminded her that Dr. Ferrier needed to see again to fill the three cavities on the left side of her mouth.
“Aw-right,” she said, mumbling over numbed lips. “I’ll come by nexth week. Give me the lathest appointment you’ve goth.”
The latest appointment was today, October Thirty-First, at 6 p.m. Dr. Ferrier always stayed late on Wednesdays. Elenora glanced outside. The large picture window of the waiting room revealed the coming storm, which brought twilight earlier than usual. People were already crowding into the outdoor shopping center for the Halloween festivities. In fact, her group of friends had reserved several tables at the Italian eatery just down the block. Elenora grabbed a three-month old copy of US Weekly and pulled it up over her face, hoping that if her friends did arrive, they wouldn’t look in and see her.
“Elenora?” called the young, blonde receptionist.
Elenora peeked over the magazine and swallowed hard. It was a major embarrassment, for someone of her stature to have to see a dentist so frequently like this. What would her friends say? She hurried down the hallway into the exam room, glancing behind her to make sure no one she knew was looking through the window. But what could they expect? It wasn’t like her diet was calcium-rich, and she was too embarrassed to admit to them that she used the calcium paste the dentist prescribed—every night.
Still, the paste wasn’t enough to prevent these three cavities.
“Teeth just get worn out as they get old,” Dr. Ferrier reminded her, as he waited for her to lean back in the dentist chair. “Now you remember the injections from last week. It will only hurt a pinch…”
He brushed some topical anesthetic onto her gums, and she shuddered, knowing it wouldn’t be enough to hide all the pain. She waited for it to take effect and listened to the people in the next room over. A mother and her two sons—one speaking through a series of dental instruments—discussed plans for Halloween. The younger boy would go as a ghost. The older one, a vampire.
As the doctor jabbed Elenora’s gums with the Novocain needle, she wondered if the tiny, cool prick felt the same way as a vampire’s tooth piercing the neck. As the numbing medication pumped through her veins, she watched Dr. Ferrier’s neck and wondered what he would look like being pierced by a vampire’s fang.
The image made the rest of the afternoon more bearable.
For the next hour, Elenora tolerated the shrieking drill, the grinding pressure, the violent chipping away of the compound pressed into the large chunk taken out of her teeth. She tolerated the way the drill pressed just close enough to the root to create the slight cool sensation of pain, just for long enough to create a panic.
No matter how old she got, Elenora would never get used to such things.
“This last cavity is between two teeth,” Dr. Ferrier stated. “I’m going to stick this wedge in between your teeth to protect the gums.”
His assistant handed him a small implement, which he wedged into Elenora’s mouth with a force that resonated through her skull.
“Dang!” he said, pulling back his gloved hand. “I snagged it.”
He covered the bleeding finger in gauze, and the assistant left the room to secure first aid supplies, but it was already too late.
A drop of blood from his cut had dripped onto Elenora’s tooth. It fell onto her gums and mingled with her saliva before it could be whisked away by the vacuum with the rest of her spit. She tasted it almost immediately. The saltiness was distinct—much different from any other tastes of the dentist’s office.
Her eyes opened in rage, and she sat up, ripping the vacuum and gauze from her mouth. “This last cavity can wait,” she said.
The doctor, still in shock from his injury, watched her as she rose. Soon she was standing above him, pushing away the hanging light and the tray of implements. And then she was grabbing him by the shoulders with inhuman strength.
“I’m sorry, Miss—”
But she would hear no excuses. His bleeding hand was pulsing, the blood-scent permeating the room, making her salivate even through the Novocain. She lifted him from his chair, and he dropped the bloody gauze. She wanted to lick his bleeding finger with every cell of her tongue, but she forced herself to hold back. That would have been undignified, after all. What would the others say, if they heard?
And they would hear.
Instead, she lifted him from his chair and placed him supinely in the patient’s chair on which she had just been prone. “If you’ll just relax,” she said. “It’ll go much easier.”
She ripped off his face mask and tore back his white lab coat. His neck was pulsing now, the fear and adrenaline caused by her actions making the blood course quickly. Then she smiled, and popped her pointed incisor. The left side was too numb, and the tooth would not budge. No matter. She could accomplish it with just the right side.
She brought her finger to her lips, dabbing a sticky bit of saliva, which she rubbed onto the doctor’s neck.
“It’s a sort of natural topical anesthetic,” she explained. “It works much more quickly than yours. Still, you’re going to feel a little pinch.”
Her fang sparkled in the light before plunging into the dentist’s flesh. The ordeal of the afternoon had left her quite famished, and she drank greedily, ultimately having to stop herself before she was completely satiated. But she couldn’t kill the guy, after all.
She was feeling much less woozy than she felt the last time she was here, and she glanced at the clock, noting that her friends would probably be at the eatery by now. “I’ve got to go,” she said. “Maybe we can schedule a follow-up, though. I rather enjoyed this. And, Dr. Ferrier, I think my teeth are in pretty good shape, considering they’re over three hundred years old.”
She looked down at the man lying limply on the chair. He looked up at her with glazed, horrified eyes, his mouth hanging open, and his chest rising and falling as if taking breath required all his concentration.
“Don’t rush it,” she told Dr. Ferrier. His skin had drained to a pale blue, making his eyes look bleachy white. She took a paper bib from the counter and wiped a puddle of drool from his right cheek. “It’s a strange experience, being drank. Just lie back and wait until the blood returns.” She licked the last of it off her lips and her pointed incisor before retracting it back into her jaw. “You’ll be feeling better in no time,” she said. Then she flashed him a smile and smoothed her hair in preparation for joining the Halloween festivities with the rest of her coven at the restaurant down the street.
The Spot Writers- our members:
Catherine A. MacKenzie