I will admit that I go through life with a mind that likes to wander. There are times when I make connections that are not there or hear things differently than they are actually said. This seems to happen so that my cognizance can form the story of the situation in my ever running fore-brain.
Yet, when my new son, Whitley, fought harder than ever against sleep a few nights gone and my ever observant wife found the white fungal substance growing upon his tongue and in the pockets of his cheeks, I did not think it that amiss.
Our daughter had suffered from the Thrush when she was an infant.
The Northwest doctor filled her mouth with the dying purple potion called Gentian Violet and we fought the festering white spores until they were eradicated. It took weeks, but we prevailed and the terror of the Thrush was destroyed. Or so we imagined.
Safe now, away from the infection that caused the white terror to grow inside our daughter, we brought our son into the world with no fears of a return. Hence, we were blinded to the curse of folly when, from the darkness of night and the worry of gaseous vapors, came the cakey horror of the Thrush once more.
Our now three year old, Kenley, had woken in the early night crying and complained of her mouth hurting. Only now do I suspect that the creature had lain dormant in her pale cheeks, biding its time, and waiting for the perfect moment to transfer into a new and more susceptible victim.
I imagine Kenley’s agony caused by the dislodging of the white daemon. She must have cried out as it slid wickedly out past her teeth and lips. Once on the ground, it crossed the faux-hardwood floors of our dwelling until it found the gapping and drool filled mouth of the weakest of our number.
By early morning, Kenley was back to her old self and had no real memory of the pains in the night.
Yet, Whitley’s fate wore a more gruesome façade. His small mouth was covered in the thick, cakey layer of living white—its fungal tentacles boring down into the tongue and causing the spotting of blood at the merest touch.
My wife begged me to call in experts, men of science who could assist in this fight against such an ancient evil. I phoned our Pediatrician, but he was unavailable. I asked if there was someone in the office who would see and help my son. The nurse assured me that the on-call doctor could see him later that day.
I was elated until I heard his dreaded name. She called the man, “Dr. Eldritch.”
My eyes roamed the room frantically as I struggled to hold the phone to my ear.
I asked her to repeat the name. “Eldritch,” she spoke once more.
My sockets landed on a volume of ancient lore that rested on the dining room book shelf. A large and ominous volume of Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft.
The nurse heard my gasp for breath and asked if I would like to wait until my usual physician returned, but I assured myself that this scientist could not be who or what my mind had warned of.
“No,” I replied. “We will be there.”
I hung up the phone and rushed to my wife with the news and my feeling of dread. She guaranteed me that only horror stories started in the way I was describing. That was my fear, but I accented that we must press forward regardless. “Either the Old Ones take us all or that shambling white infestation takes our son,” I told my wife. Her look of questioning indignation could not deter me and I started to form a list of enquiries that would help fester out the true nature of this Dr. Eldritch. The appointed hour was quickly upon us and we sat in the offices of the dread doctor. As we waited, my wife laughed as she asked a question of import, “How will we know if the man is evil?” “Or even a man,” I thought as I formed my answer. “According to the lore, he will be ancient and decrepit. Watch for movement under his coat—a third or fourth appendage—one that is slick and tentacle like.” His servant, a young woman who claimed to be a student entered the room. When she found that Whitley had been in the NICU of the local hospital, she announced that she sometimes worked there. The plot was starting to become clear in my mind. They had stalked my son since his birth, their plans for him involved watching him, infecting him, using him to bring back the reign of ancient and vengeful gods. The woman looked at the Thrush and announced with a morbid joy in her voice that it was indeed the affliction that we had diagnosed. I was about to ask after Dr. Eldritch, when there was a slight knock at the door, and the man himself entered. He was everything I believed he would be. His ancient skin, pockmarked and pale, was pulled taught over his boney frame. He wore a lab coat that was too large for him and I imagined limbs that should never dwell upon the frame of a man, limbs that no human is ever born with, writhing under the thick fabric. He turned toward us for a greeting and I saw that the name stitched into his coat was not his own. He was wearing the coat of a Dr. Elson. Had the woman on the phone been trying to warn me with the changing of the name? Had she known that my son was the chosen sacrifice of the foul creatures that slinked in the back halls of her work place? I tried to remember if the woman behind the counter had the same voice as the one on the phone. Had she been caught and disposed of before we ever walked through the doors? Dr. Eldritch moved to my son and started his examination. Whitley screamed in terror as the thing touched his face and placed a small piece of wood into his mouth. The questions were on the tip of my tongue: “Did you graduate from Miskatonic University?” “Do you also work with the reanimation of the dead?” “Have you signed in your own blood the book of Azathoth and taken a new secret name?” Yet, I could not get my mouth to move. I could not even move to comfort my crying offspring. “It is definitely the Thrush,” the creature said with ancient, clicking vocal chords. He looked at his assistant and told her to, “Start the regular medication and dose.” My lips finally unlocked and I asked, “What about the initial covering of his mouth with Gentian Violet?” “Ah,” the thing grinned through white, squared off teeth, “An antiquated and quite messy practice.” He turned toward the door. “I have never done it myself. It is not worth the…the mess.” With that he was gone. We were handed a prescription and told to keep them informed of the results. My wife would not allow me to get rid of the foul yellow paper with the few lines of prescription. We have since filled it and, against every fiber of my sanity, are applying the potion to our son’s mouth. My wife rejoices as it and the other treatments she has tried seem to be working. Yet, I wonder on the verge of mystified terror. As I hold my son in the late hours of the night and watch as the white evil recedes from his mouth I have to wonder, “Where is it moving to? Will it bide its time and return for our third child or will it shift and shape my son into as evil a monstrosity as the cruel Dr. Eldritch?” As he cries out once more for sustenance I look to the shelf by the dining room table and see only shadows. My Lovecraft is now banished to under the cats’ bowl. My wife believing that the large tomb is put to better use assisting in the digestion of the gaseous creatures.