Is There Something Beyond This?

Chapter One: House Guests

Sally sat on her bed in the dark, deep in thought. She wasn't entirely sure why she was locked in her room…or why the doctor had taken the bottom portion of her legs away from her for the day…for that matter. She had only been asking questions…and although she knew he got rather frustrated with her sometimes when she asked too many, she didn't think he would get so angry that he would punish her in this way. And he had seemed rather angry before shutting her in her dark and lonely room. Since then she had been pondering what had set him off.

"Let's see…" Sally said to herself, quietly so that the Dr wouldn't here her making any sound. "I asked him about the colorful vials on the shelf…that can't be it…about the book he was reading…I don't know why he would get upset about that…about his new experiments…" Sally sighed in frustration. "No…I don't get it…why did he get so upset with me?" Still thinking, she gazed out her window. From where she was sitting she couldn't see much, just the tops of the crooked buildings that lined the town, the pumpkin shaped sun, and… "Of course!" Sally cried triumphantly. Before he had gotten so angry with her she had asked about the long tower jutting out above the other buildings. She had been curious about it because it was the best thing she had view of from her dingy window, and dark and less than cozy room. Suddenly she frowned. Why would that make him angry? She had only asked him what it was, and who lived there. She had asked because sometimes in the night after finishing all of her work for the doctor, she would see a trim figure against the light, pacing about the tower. She knew he hated it when she asked him about the town. She often asked about the people who lived their, what they did, why they wondered about in such a hurry all of the time, why the Dr himself didn't join them so often, when it seemed that so many of them were in each others company all of the time. Why should her questions about the strange figure who dwelled in that strange yet intriguing tower be any different?

She was still pondering this when she heard a mechanic whirring sound outside her door, and then the thump of the lock on her bedroom being pulled up. Dr Finklestein appeared in the doorway. "Sally…You can come out now if you want." He rolled towards her carrying her legs. "Sit up now and let me sow these back on." Sally grinned. "I can do it, I've been practicing." The doctor gave her a dark look that wiped the smile off of her face. She shouldn't have offered, she knew he didn't like that either, when she showed any sort of independence. She supposed it went along with what he constantly said about her being his. For some reason it made him rest easier when she couldn't do anything short of what he made her for, to walk, breathe, and do all of the things he himself didn't feel like doing. "Sally, I don't want you wasting your time doing things that are unneccasary." Dr Finkelstein said, while sewing her left leg back onto her thigh. "But, my chores were done, I did it in my free time!" Sally argued. The Dr gave her a dark look and began on her right leg. "No more, understand?" Sally sighed. "Yes master…" She said halfheartedly. "Good…in time you'll understand, your just not ready for so much responsibility." The doctor gathered his yarns and needles and wheeled himself out the door. "You'll be wanting to start on dinner now Sally, if it's going to be ready by eight…I have some experiments I need to do, but I expect to be very hungry when I finish." "Yes, sir." She said in a melancholy manner.

How could he say she wasn't ready for responsibility? What was learning to sew up her own limbs compared to all of the other things he had her do around the house. She did every difficult chore, short of the ones that would take her outside of the house, which he did himself, while he fiddled with various experiments within his lab. She understood that he was busy, but wasn't that even more of a reason for her to learn to take care of herself?

She stood up and walked shakily to the door. After sitting on her bed for the last six hours, she was finding it a bit difficult to move her legs, which was always the case when she was separated from her limbs for too long. By the time she had walked down the long metal stairway and into the kitchen she was walking fine again. Or, rather, she was walking as fine as she could, being a rag doll.

Sally opened the cabinet, stepping back and letting out a gasp as a few bats flew outward when the bit of light touched them. After the bats had departed she looked throughout the cabinet for something she could serve the Dr on this evening. Since she had upset him, she decided to brew him something special that took a bit more work then the ordinary type of stew she served to him, which usually consisted of wormswort, asphodel, and occasionally frogs breathe, which she rarely used, not because the doctor didn't like it, but because she could only bare using it every once in while, for it was the foulest smelling ingredient she had ever come by. Tonight she thought she could handle it.

She began mixing several odd ingredients in a pot, deciding to make a sauce to put over some type of meat, though she had not figured which type yet, and was deciding between either snake tails or roasted newt when the doctor barged in. "Sally!" Sally jumped and dropped a pot of dahlias on the floor, sending sweet smelling nectar across the dusty wood of the doctor's kitchen. "New plans." The doctor paused and sniffed the air. "What is that awful stench?" Sally blushed a little. "It's your dinner." "Well…" started the Dr. "It smells disgustingly sweet. I can't have that for my guests, start again!" Sally was snapped out of her embarrassment and shame for a moment, and looked at the doctor with a curious excitement in her eye. "Guests?" "Yes, the mayor and a few others are coming over to discuss my contribution to this years celebration." He turned and began to roll at the door, but turned back as Sally began picking the dahlias plant off of the floor, and mopping up the nectar. "Don't disappoint me Sally, you've already tested my patience once today…I expect to taste something absolutely horrible this evening." He sniffed the air again and shook his head, mumbling something of a curse to the sweet healing herb's horribly rich smell.

Sally finished cleaning up the mess she made and emptied the meal into the sink, thinking it an awful shame to get rid of something that had actually turned out quite good. On a normal occasion she would have been upset at the doctors rude remarks and criticism, not to mention embarrassed and ashamed of her own pathetic behavior. However, on this evening she was finding it absolutely impossible to feel bad. The doctor was having guests. The only two people she had ever been around with were Dr Finklestein and Igor. Of any of the other residents of this strange and mysterious town she had not seen in the least. The thought exited her. Of course, she wasn't fool enough to believe the doctor would let her speak to anyone, but just the idea of catching a glimpse of them filled her with wondrous curiosity.

She started again with dinner, this time making one of the doctor's favorite stews. The whole time she was imagining what Dr Finkelsteins guests might be like, or look like, or act like. She barely noticed the time pass.

An hour later the doctor wheeled back into the kitchen, this time struck by a much more pleasant odor, meaning, of course, a much more horrible odor. "Ah, much better, I'm sure it will be adequate for my guests." Sally smiled a little, taking this as a compliment coming from the Dr. "When shall I serve it master." Sally asked curiously. The doctor fixed her with a stern gaze. "Actually, Sally, I've decided to give you the evening off." Sally's own smile faded. "What?" "I'm giving you the evening off Sally, as thanks for doing such a wonderful job." "But, I don't mind, I can serve dinner for you and your guests." The doctor's smile faded completely. "Nonsense." He wheeled a ways. "I want you to stay in your room tonight. I'll get Igor to serve dinner for me…" Sally stood, feeling very upset. "But…I want to serve dinner tonight, why wont you let me see people!" The doctor stopped in the process of fetching Igor and turned to Sally with a bitter look. "Your not ready to meet people yet." "Yes I am! I can do it I know I can!" The doctor interrupted her as she began to protest further. "You will wait in your room like a good girl, and not make a sound until I say it's alright and let you out! Any more protests and I'll take your arms away as well as your legs and see if you like laying helpless all night!" Sally fell silent. "Sally?" The doctor said, still angry. "Yes, master." Sally replied sadly. She slowly walked out of the kitchen and up the stairs to her bedroom, and after closing the door behind her, fell on her bed, and began to cry.

An hour later the Dr' doorbell rang. Dr Finklestein, who had been busy straightening up the dining area and locating a few more seats from various places around the house, which had been rather difficult considering his utter lack of house guests, stopped in the process in brushing off a bit of dust from a particularly old looking recliner. "The doors open, come in Mayor!" The doctor called. From behind him he heard the door open, and a couple shadows fell on him, giving him a most upsetting feeling of responsibility to greet his houseguests. He hated entertaining. He turned with his chair to face the two Halloween residents. "I hope the seats are well enough for you given this most upsetting hour you've chosen to barge in on my…" He was stricken silent. The mayor stood sporting his worried face, one of the two he was able to display, but it wasn't the mayor, or his less then joyous attitude that had silenced the doctor in the middle of his complaint. "Oh!" The doctor said, surprised and more then just a bit peeved at Halloween Towns elected official, for not bothering to let Dr Finklestein in on who he was bringing for dinner. "Jack Skellington!" the doctor said, his bitter attitude seemingly obliterated. "I didn't know YOU we're joining me this evening. Of what do I owe this pleasant surprise?" Standing next to the mayor, towering above him was the Pumpkin King, giving the doctor a pleasant smile. "It's actually a bit of a last minute thing doctor, I'm sorry if I'm causing you any inconvenience by coming." The doctor's smile broadened, but never reached his eyes. "Of course not, my boy, no trouble at all. If you'll excuse me, I need to check on the dinner really quickly, make sure it's finished, please make yourselves comfortable." The doctor wheeled out of the room, his smile fading immediately, after he got out of sight of the Pumpkin King.

Sally was sitting at her window, staring out into the night. She eyed the tall tower, and felt a dropping sensation in her heart. Dark tonight. Either the person who lived there had gone to sleep or stepped out. This disappointed her. Suddenly from behind she heard a peculiar and familiar sound. "That's odd…it sounded like…" Sally's eye's widened; she got to her feet and ran to the large wooden door. Feeling terror in her heart she grabbed the handle and pushed. The door didn't budge. She had been locked in her room for the second time that day.