Jamie, Rachel and Sally head back to the admissions unit and they run
into Peepers. The big cat crouches low in front of Doctor Hornsby's
office door hissing and bearing his fangs. When he scratches the door,
his sharp claws leave deep marks in the doors's veneer. Soon patients
and nurses gather in the hall holding their noses. The three women gag
as they force their way through the crowd. "Someone, please call
housekeeping," Sally yells trying to push back a dry heave. "And
someone please page Doctor Hornsby!"
A nurse hurries down the hall to the nursing station. She snatches the
phone off its receiver and calls housekeeping and then she pages Doctor
"DOCTOR HORNSBY PLEASE COME TO THE ADMISSIONS UNIT!" She pages. She
hesitates, gripping the counter, her face an ashy grey color. Once the
urge to vomit passes, she pages Doctor Hornsby again. "DOCTOR HORNSBY
YOU ARE NEEDED ON THE ADMISSIONS UNIT! She belts out.
Five minutes later, Doctor Hornsby shows up, grinning from ear-to-ear.
She strolls over to the crowd. "What's going on here?" She innocently
asks, not the least bit bothered by the pungent odor.
"Don't you smell it?" asked Sally looking grave. "Smell what?" asked
Doctor Hornsby with a gleam in her eye.
"Don"t you smell that freaking odor?" asked Sally. "It's coming from
your office and it stinks!"
"My, my, aren't we out of sorts this afternoon," Doctor Hornsby said
smiling. "Stop playing with me," Sally hisses. "What do you have in
"In where?" asked the doctor looking around. "You mean my office?"
"Yes, doctor, I mean your damn office," said Sally gritting her teeth.
"Yeah, what's in that office?" The crowd echoes, holding their noses.
They move to the side creating a path for the doctor so she can get to
her office. Peepers scratches the door at a fever pace, his long black
claws scraping off the paint. He flashes his fangs and the hair on his
back sticks straight up when Doctor Hornsby approaches. "Please move
that cat," she said. A nurse picks up the cat and takes it down the
hall. Doctor Hornsby faces the crowd. "I have been doing a little
experiment," she explains.
"An experiment?" The staff groans. "What experiment?" They shout
getting frustrated. "Let me show you," she said. She pauses briefly
and then she unlocks the door and shoves it open. The odor hits
everyone in the face like a ton of bricks and they back up, gagging and
coughing. One patient vomits on the floor while another patient runs
straight to the nearest bathroom. When housekeeping staff finally show
up, they too are recoiled from the pungent odor. Doctor Hornsby,
unfazed by all the commotion, goes into her office and grabs a
tupperware container off the desk. She returns to the doorway and opens
The odor is so bad, several staff throw up on the floor right in front
of her, while some cover their mouths and run across the hall into the
bathroom. Doctor Hornsby giggles like a hyena, shoving the container in
Sally's face. She recoils. "What the hell is that ?" She asked
plugging her nose.
"A brain," said Doctor Hornsby. "A brain?" Sally repeats, sounding like
a parrot, as she begins to feel sick.
"A donated human brain," Doctor Hornsby said looking proud. She sniffs
the contents of the container. "See it's not that bad," she said.
Rachel and Jamie head straight to the bathroom. The color in Sally's
face disappears, turning a pasty, pale white. "Why in the hell would
you have this in your office?" She manages to ask, trying not to vomit.
"Have you gone nuts?!"
"Now calm down dear," said Doctor Hornsby, trying to reassure her. "I
was doing a little experiment and forgot to return it to the lab this
"You forgot to return it to the lab?" Sally asked, sounding like a
parrot again, with her eyes wild. "You are out of your freaking mind!
Get this out of here now!"
"Very well," said the doctor with a sly grin on her face. She seals the
container and closes her office door. "Sorry my dear friends," she
said. "I didn't mean to upset anyone."
Then she strolls down the hall, humming to herself, soon disappearing
around the corner.
Excerpted from "The Cat on Salter's Point" by Anita Dixon Thomas. Copyright © 2017 by Anita Dixon Thomas. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.