The laughter was still ringing in his ears from his nephew’s party. But it’s high joyfully tones began to slow, becoming sinister, tormenting him as he tossed and turned. Also tormenting him were the images, his mind was a storm with them. He had been to so many places in a short time, seeing things real and not. He withered and squirmed under heavy bedding while drifting between nightmares and memories.
It was the image of that crippled child which caused the most dread. Before, the twinkle in the little boy’s eye seemed to illuminate and disperse the darkness that had always been in his heart. But now the image of the boys face was becoming twisted and the child’s smile insidious. For his body fought the toxin and the darkness was seeping back in, re-tinting his eyes to see the world as he always had before.
Somewhere, just before the first rays of morning sun, his fever broke. He sat up, shivering in his sweat soaked night clothes. The smell of pitch from the smoldering fireplace filled the cold room. He sat weary, with no idea that it was mere bread mold that had caused the visions and later the physical suffering. He only knew that he felt mostly himself again, and the prior day hallucinations no longer had any hold on him.
The hate which had only briefly left him for a single day was now back and turning to rage. He thought about the promises made and money squandered that unpleasant day. Still weak he used that anger to get dressed. He made his way out to the drafty hall and down his long creaking staircase. His strength was coming back with each step. He descended, all the while thinking about being swindled. The fury almost overtook him. He was sure it had all been a devious plot against him, his anger blinded him to the impracticalities of such an endeavor.
Downstairs he went to the kitchen and with a little effort procured the cleaver his house lady had left in the block. He went to the front door where he put on his top hat. Stepping outside he took a few steps then turned to shut and lock the door. His eyes caught the doorknocker. He remembered two nights before, of the delusion of a ghostly face appearing there.
“Bah humbug” he whispered through a crooked smile.
Ebenezer turned, with cane and cleaver in hand and retribution on his mind, he stepped out into the cold gray winter morning.