“Morticia? Cara?” Gomez paused at the door to the conservatory. Cleopatra swiveled in his direction and Gomez would have sworn that the plant looked, well, nervous. It went back to looking at the exterior door to the room and Gomez frowned. It was swinging slightly in the breeze. Gomez shuddered. It was a gentle warm one, not a proper gale. It was sad and unnerving to him, as if a harbinger of bad news.
“Cleopatra, where is Morticia?” He pulled his La Glorias cigar from his mouth and tucked it away in his pocket.
The plant, of course, couldn’t answer, but it looked down at the ground and Gomez started. The dish that Morticia used to feed Cleopatra was on the floor, its contents spilled on the stained concrete. Gomez strode to a bell pull and yanked on it. The responding gong was enough to shake dust from the rafters. He welcomed the feel of it against his skin.
“You rang?” Lurch appeared quickly. It seemed impossible that something that large could move than quickly and quietly, but Lurch was, after all, Lurch.
“Yes, Lurch. Did Mrs. Addams go out this morning?”
Lurch rumbled in the negative.
“No appointments, say at Wednesday’s or Pugsley’s school?” It had been nearly a month since either had been given detention and they didn’t want their children coddled.
Again, Lurch shook his head.
“How odd. If you would be so good as to finish feeding Cleopatra while I find Uncle Fester. Is he still in the Iron Maiden?” He didn’t wait for a reply. It was ten o’clock, why would his brother be anywhere else? “Oh, and be a good man and call the Doctor. I hope he still makes house calls.”
Rose grabbed onto the nearest console and held on. “Doctor, you drive like you’re on the Autobahn!”
“Aw, great thing, the Autobahn, that whole system is miraculous!” He spun a dial and pumped something that looked vaguely obscene. “Course, we’re going way too fast for it.”
“Like there’s a speed limit.” With a sudden whump, the TARDIS came to a bone-jostling stop and Rose squealed as she was tossed in another direction and into the Doctor, knocking them both to the grated floor.
“Oof, Rose, get off.” Yet the Doctor was smiling.
“Serves you right!” She took her time disengaging herself from him. She got to her feet and brushed off her clothes. “So where are we?”
“Back on good old Terra Firma.”
“Earth? London? Do I have time to visit Mum?” Rose ran to the TARDIS door and yanked it open. Almost immediately she was drenched by the monsoon outside. She immediately ducked back inside.
“Um, not quite London.” The Doctor offered her a towel and she took it gratefully from him.
“Course not. Not with that outside.” She started to dry her hair.
“We’re here to visit an old friend of mine. Gomez and I go way back.”
“A charming man. His family is a bit, well, eccentric, I guess you’d say.” The Doctor produced an umbrella. “But generous, loving and truly devoted to each other. Shall we?” He offered his arm.
Rose’s enthusiasm lasted only until she saw the house. “It looks like every haunted house I’ve ever heard described.”
“Oh, it’s not haunted…” The Doctor trailed off and made a face. “Well, maybe just a little haunted…” He sighed. “What is haunted, exactly?” He used the door knocker and the house shuddered in response.
The door swung open and was filled by a huge presence. It rumbled something and Rose gasped. “That’s haunted!”
The Doctor grinned. “That is Lurch. Lurch, how are you?”
The man nodded and his lips twisted around into a grimace. “Not good.”
“Gomez?” There was a responding nod and he turned to permit them to enter the house.
“Follow me, please.”
Rose clutched the Doctor’s arm, anxiously looking about at the definitely eclectic choice of furnishings. The Doctor pointed to a swordfish with a man’s leg sticking out of its mouth. “Cousin Widgett. I was there when it happened. He was really better off without that leg. Always got him into trouble.”
“Oh my god, Doctor, the tortoise,” Rose said, without letting go. “It has Anthony loves Cleopatra written on its shell. Is that THE Anthony and Cleopatra?”
“Tortoises do get around and those two were wild for one another.”
“Doctor! So good of you to come.”
They turned as a disheveled man came down the staircase, flourishing a cigar. He went straight to the Time Lord and hugged him. The Doctor laughed and hugged him back. “It’s been too long, Gomez.”
“Always too long between visits. And this charming young lady?” There was a glimmer in the man’s eyes and Rose felt herself blushing.
“Oh, forgive my manners. Rose Tyler, may I present Gomez Addams. Gomez, Rose.”
Gomez bowed eloquently to her and she smiled. “Welcome, Rose. Pardon my state, but I’m lost without my cara mia.”
The Doctor shoved his hands into his pockets. “Lurch said that Morticia was missing?”
The little boy lost look was back in Gomez’s eyes. “We’ve looked everywhere. The swamp, the mausoleum, even her favorite getting-away-from-it-all spot.”
“Her bath?” To the Doctor, Rose added. “I love a big bubble bath when I’m stressed.”
“The rack.” Gomez corrected.
“Remind me to put in a bathtub.” The Doctor grinned at Rose. “Gomez, you said there was a clue.”
Rose turned and squealed. There was a bald headed man standing there. He was wearing a deerstalker cape over his ulster and carried an over-sized magnifying glass.
The frown was replaced by a cherubic grin and the man’s entire face lit up. “Doctor! Gomez didn’t tell me you would be here. We’ll have this cracked in no time now.”
The Doctor withdrew a magnifying glass from his jacket pocket. “Indeed we shall. Lead on, Macduff.”
“Charming family, the Macduffs,” Gomez said to Rose as he stuffed the cigar back into his mouth. “Scheming, underhanded, quite without redeeming characteristics and great fun at a dinner party.”
They followed Fester and the Doctor to the conservatory and to the fallen plate of food.
“She was having her breakfast out here?” Rose jumped as thunder clapped.
“She was feeding Cleopatra.”
“Her man-eating vine.” He gestured to the plant, which had drooped but perked up at their approach.
“Hello, Cleo, old girl, how have you been?” The Doctor walked up to the plant and it started chirping. “You don’t say!”
Rose frowned. The TARDIS automatically translated all alien language, but all she was hearing were chirps and coos. Suddenly she squealed as a tentacle wrapped itself around her waist. “DOCTOR!”
“Calm down, Rose. After all, she’s a man-eating plant, not a woman-eating plant.”
Rose swatted the leafy vine and it retreated. “You mind your manners, you!”
“She’s just lonely. And possibly ravenous. It’s often hard to tell.”
“Where’s Morticia, Cleo?” The Doctor held up his sonic screwdriver and scanned the area as the plant swayed. “Uh huh? Three, you say?” He listened and frowned. “Well, that’s just not right.”
“What’s she saying?”
“Three men broke in and took Morticia by force.”
“The cads!” Gomez pulled the cigar from his mouth, his eyes blazing. He walked a few feet from them. “I’m the husband. That’s my job. I’ll beat them into plant food with my own hands. I’ll run them through. I’ll put them to the rack.”
Fester interrupted. “Ah, Gomez, the rack’s being repaired? Kitty used it for a scratching post – again.”
“Oh, right you are, Fester!” Gomez looked at Rose. “Cats will be cats. No rack.”
“According to Cleopatra, they snatched her and left by that door.” The Doctor pointed to a wall.
“That’s a wall, Doctor.”
He walked to it and depressed a delicate and wood worm-eaten cornice and twisted. The panel slid back and Gomez laughed. “That little minx. I wondered how she…”
“No time for idle chit chat, Gomez.” Fester headed for the hidden tunnel. “The game’s afoot.”
“Indeed.” The Doctor joined Fester and looked at him with a slight grin. “Shall we?”
They vanished into the darkness and the panel slid shut behind them.
“Doctor!” Rose shouted and raced to the spot. She twisted the cornice, but nothing happened. “What do we do?” she asked Gomez.
He grinned manically at her and pulled a bell cord.
THE NEXT CHAPTER – THE GAME’S AFOOT!