The Doctor

No, Patches was decidedly not there. Neither was the valise of crisp bills, nor the emergency overnight bag he kept by the door, stocked with his more interesting weapons, the priciest valuables, and fresh socks and handkerchiefs. Patches wasn’t there, and wouldn’t be for some time. The locked door and freshly-flaming foyer should sort the vampire, and wipe out his tracks – and his increasingly popular address.

No matter; obviously any enterprising tabby has a hidey-hole or two, and Patches was no exception. He was limited in speed by his luggage  and current form; this wasn’t the part of town where one could trust a cab. He muttered to himself, trying to decide which safe house he could arrive at with most haste and least effort – the old butcher of a surgeon ought still to be up. Unsavory, yes, but fate had conspired against poor Patches this night, and he couldn’t be too choosy with the rented inferno lighting the whole damned district.

Darting into, yes, an alley, and pounding on a – that’s right! – rickety door, Patches stole a nervous glance at his fetid surroundings. There was no telling where that stench was wafting from; crates and drifts of debris fleshed out the scene. It might even be coming from Doctor Hogmany’s surgery. The interior smelled of an apprentice gamekeeper with astonishing regularity. The door creaked open, and the ancient half-blind “professional” stepped out, blinked blearily a few times. “Ah. Mr. Penny. I presume this is no social call?”

“Indeed not, Doctor Hogmany. Do you happen to still have that vacant area under your eaves?”

‘”Your storage space? Why yes, of course! You’ve paid in full, I trust?”

“Naturally.” A banknote changed hands, and the surgeon stood aside. “Right this way, Mr. Penny.”

They ascended the stairs at the back of the reeking room, Patches generously turning a blind eye to the patient bound to the chair and the gutter of blood leading to a drain, the clutter and chaos of a backstreet surgery in progress. Noting the patient, and desiring a modicum of privacy, “Mr. Penny” suggested that the doctor return to his business, heaving a grateful sigh when he did so. Stairs, a drop-down ladder, a board spaced between rafters serving as a catwalk – eventually Patches reached the four feet of space he’d earlier secured. Setting his luggage to the side, he happily shrank back into something more comfortable, and slipped into his long-delayed sleep. After all, he had a big job coming up; he needed his rest.

Below, the surgeon smirked a sinister smirk. After he was finished here – a few hours, give or take, given that he was wrist-deep in organs at the moment – he had some colleagues who would be very interested in his midnight visitor.

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