The Curse of the Manor


Ghosts danced across the stone walls: red spectres cast from the crackling fireplace. Dr. Aldous Haskell, retired, gripped the syringe shakily. “Mnemoline,” he verified the drug label. “What dosage?”

“Two milliliters, intravenous,” his robodoc replied dispassionately.

The aged doctor sighed heavily as the drug entered his vein. “My apologies, James,” he suddenly remembered his visitor. “I find I’ve developed a tolerance for mnemoline. I need more and more.”

“Is this healthy, Aldous?” asked the man sitting in the plush armchair, half in shadow.

“In controlled doses, it keeps my mind sharp,” Haskell reassured. “I need be cautious, though. Too much causes vivid hallucinations, even death. Too little, and the curse may claim me.”

“Curse?”

“The curse of the manor, my friend. Every inheritor has died within a fortnight of entering these walls.”

“Indeed? Then why stay? This curse does not frighten you?”

“It terrifies me, old friend.” Haskell quickly glanced over his shoulder. “But imagine. What force could be behind this superstition?”

The robodoc stuttered. “I am not programmed with that data. My role is medical diagnosis and–”

“Quiet, you obsolescent pile of memristors,” Haskell snapped at the device. “I wasn’t talking to you!” Dr. Haskell turned again toward his friend, but found the armchair empty. “James? Where did you go?”

The robodoc spoke again. “Dr. James Bunbury died on your operating table, Doctor. Five years ago.”

Dr. Aldous Haskell, retired, stared at the empty syringe in his hand. The curse of the manor had perpetuated itself once more.

A “Hound of the Baskervilles” inspired story written for Flash! Friday vol. 3-35. Photo prompt is Lyme Park House & Estate. CC2.0 photo by Purpura Mare Asinus.

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