Chapter 8 Page 1
Posted October 14, 2022 at 02:37 am




        “I’m afraid, Mr. Maxwell, that your arm is totally super broken.” Doctor Davy Jones let out a theatrical sigh of sympathy

        Max’s dad exhaled its earnest counterpart soon after. “...Right. Gotcha.” He scratched at the scruff left unshaved amidst the worry that had led them here to Mayview General, despite his son’s insistence he was fine. “I should have... I can’t believe I didn’t bring him sooner. How bad is it?”

        Max looked up from leering back at Zoey’s I told you so glare to glimpse his father's face. As much as his dad’s goofy side annoyed him, seeing him serious like this was way worse.

        “It’s no big deal,” Max interrupted. “I’ve broken bones before.”

        “That’s the PROBLEM, Max!” Zoey looked and sounded like a little boiling teapot, letting off concern as fuming steam.

        For as long as Max could remember, he’d always hated having the spotlight of sympathy trained on him. “It doesn’t hurt,” he shot back, scowling.

        “Goodness me, I don’t see how!” lied Doctor Davy. He glanced at the doctopus still perched on Max’s arm. “You’ve got yourself a nasty fracture there, young man.” Seeing the spirit when the Pucketts had arrived at the clinic had piqued his interest. Seeing the black spectral energy that plumed from Max had turned that interest into this impromptu medical meddling.

        Max fearlessly turned his scowl upon the immortal vampire overlord sitting backwards in a swivel chair before him. “...Are you even a real doctor?”

        Zoey gasped, Max’s dad retroactively lost an additional hour of sleep, and Davy grinned a wide and gleeful grin.

        “I’ve sunk my fangs into a diploma’s worth of textbooks in my day, yes

        Max gave him a look of utter skepticism, which only served to widen Davy’s smile.

        “It’s been a long time since med school, certainly—I’m older than I look—but I’ve retained enough to find a vein, or... read a clear as crystal x-ray.” He held up Max’s chart, pierced through by his gleaming hook. “It’s no fun to lose use of a limb, I know, but as you can see, Mr. Maxwell, them’s the breaks. Why, I’d stake my heart on such a pinpoint diagnosis... since my reputation, it would seem, wouldn’t suffice?” Davy scrunched his face into a pathetic little leading puppy dog pout, which made him look like an unctuous minister two scenes from attempting a coup in a Disney movie.

        “You were at my school,” Max said flatly. “I was told you were a local business owner.”

        He was also told by a very nervous Student Council lieutenant Serge to stay away from him, or something like that, but right now Max’s main concern was venting his frustration. This was a terrible time for his arm to be out of commission, and this Davy weirdo was the closest punching bag.

        “By summer’s end, this town will be destroyed.” That’s what the spirit had foretold, give or take an adowable mispwonunciation or two. If the Sphinx of Truth was telling the truth—Max briefly paused his train of thought to see the hopeless humor in that concept—he’d need all hands on deck... and neither in a cast.

        “Well I do own this hospital, among a few other humble ventures here in town,” Doctor Director Davy offered helpfully. “And healthcare’s quite the booming business.”

        Max’s dad began to blink more than was biologically necessary

        Davy gave the elder Puckett his best reassuring smile. “No extra charge for the man in charge, fear not! I just like to do my rounds—get my hands dirty for nostalgia’s sake.”

        “Pretty sure your hands are supposed to be sterile,” mumbled Max, “unless you’re older than you look enough to be nostalgic for the operating theater.”

        Max’s dad put a hand on his son’s shoulder in lieu of covering his mouth. “Sorry! Sorry, Doctor... Max has his mother’s candor and my—well, his own sharp sense of humor.”

        “No offense taken, though I suspect I may have earned some.” The blood-sucking businessman fixed a searching squint on Max as he rose up from his chair. “I bumped into you rather rudely yesterday, didn’t I?” Davy flashed an easy smile.

        “Yes,” replied Max, flashing back a very hard one.

        “Mea culpa,” Doctor Davy crooned, pressing hand to hook to heart in feigned contrition. He was having so much fun that it was getting difficult to keep his spectral energy suppressed. “I’ve a son your age myself, and you caught me in a flurry of concern!” Despite addressing Max, his audience was Mr. Puckett, whom he approached with a simpering bob. “You understand, of course. The rush to reach a child in distress! There was some trouble in my little Cody’s gym class, you see—”

        Max’s scowl was overtaken as his eyes slowly went wide.

        Mr. Puckett, meanwhile, was similarly stumbling through surprise, if only because he was unused to being so utterly out-hammed. “Oh! Er... Hm. That trouble’s why we’re here as well, I think.”

        “No...!” gasped Doctor Davy. “My word, what are they doing in that middle school? The PTA will hear about this—I’ve some slight sway within their ranks.” He put a sympathetic hook on Mr. Puckett’s shoulder and let out a mighty sigh. Breathing wasn’t strictly necessary for Davy, being an accursed vampiric husk, but it always came in handy for emoting

        “Would that I could legally invest more than a piece of my mind into the maintenance of our crumbling public institutions... I’ve had to settle for trying to tempt my Cody to the Academy, where he could get my money’s worth! Alas, to no avail.”

        “You’re Cody’s dad?”

        Davy’s stare sprung from ambush back to Max in an instant. “Why, yes! You know my boy?”

        Max shrugged, leering suspiciously.

        Davy’s grin returned to Mr. Puckett. “He’s the closest thing I’ll ever see to my reflection, that Cody... except perhaps yourself. Single father, local business owner, proud dad to danger-prone progeny...” Those details he’d gleaned from guided smalltalk earlier in the appointment. The name of the Pucketts’ silly little Corner Store, too, just in case he had to have his minions pay a visit. He dusted a thread his hook had pricked loose off of Mr. Puckett’s shoulder.

        Davy had the threat of spectrals, of the Consortium and its brainwashed goons, well in hand. Even Richard Spender, who always posed a theoretical risk to any respectably light-fearing vampire, had been kept safely in the dark for years. The cadre of middle schoolers he was training, whom Davy had no doubt now counted Max among its number, was but a blip before threats like his old friend Master Guerra. Still, nothing could be left to chance. With the town sealed off, it was time for him and his to make their move. Not that Davy was particularly worried about a twelve-year-old spectral with a bad attitude and a broken arm... but the best fix for future problems was preventative medicine in the present.

        “He’s not like you at all.”

        Once more Davy turned to Max, this time with genuine curiosity. “What was that, young man?” he asked, smiling politely.

        Max cocked his head to the side. “Cody. He’s not like you at all.”

        The most dangerous monster in Mayview grinned a wide, malicious grin. “Well, Mr. Maxwell! I’m glad to hear that my son has a friend... and I hope you’ll get to know him better soon.” His fixed stare flashed in the room’s fluorescent light, lingered for a moment... and then surrendered its hold with a playful wink. “Maybe he can even sign your cast!”

        Doctor Director Dark Lord Davy Jones’ laughter filled the room like noxious vapor. Max silently wished that he could hit him with a baseball bat, not knowing that one day he’d do just that.