Summoning Chuck

The story dates back to 1892. At that time, as a young medical graduate, I headed for a practice as a district doctor in one of North Carolina’s counties. One day, I was called to the estate of a wealthy landowner, Mr. Garfield, whose elderly cook had fallen ill. The house was a grand colonial-style mansion, typical of the region before the Civil War, bustling with servants. An elderly black woman led me to the patient’s room, where I was greeted by Mr. Garfield himself.
“Tell me everything,” I said as we entered.
“She started having a fever on Monday,” he began, “We steamed her and gave her cactus tincture. She seemed better on Tuesday. But today, her condition worsened significantly. The fever spiked, and she became delirious. I realized it was time to call for Chuck.”
“You need to call a doctor,” I remarked, checking the woman’s pulse, “and fast. But who is this Chuck?”
“A former stableman.”
“A stableman?” I was surprised, “Why call a stableman in this situation?”
“Well, they were quite close before.”
“You said ‘former’. Where is he now?”
“He died. About ten years ago.”
I removed my stethoscope and looked at Mr. Garfield, who was utterly serious.
“Why would you send for a deceased stableman?”
“Someone has to be the guide to the shadow world.”
“Like a skeletal old woman with a scythe?”
“Believe me, Chuck is far more real than any skeletal old woman!”
“If things are that serious, shouldn’t you have called a priest?”
“Well, it’s either the priest or Chuck. They’re incompatible together.”
“I don’t understand these nuances…” I began.
“They always hated each other. Chuck was a militant atheist.”
“Hmm,” I said, “If it’s not a secret, how did you send for Chuck?”
“I left it to the servants,” Mr. Garfield simply replied, “They know better than I do.”
“I see. And did Chuck eventually show up?”
“If he had, you wouldn’t be here now.”
“It’s logical,” I stood up to gather my medical tools, “Now, she needs time and complete rest. And let’s hope the crisis is behind us.”
As the owner walked me out, the housekeeper, visibly agitated, informed us that Chuck had arrived.
“A bit late for him. Would you like to stay?” Mr. Garfield asked.
“I would love to,” I replied, “but I’m already late for my next patient.”
We said our goodbyes. The next day, I learned that Mr. Garfield’s house had burned down with everyone inside. No survivors. This shocked me so much that I couldn’t stop thinking about my conversation with Mr. Garfield for days.
But after a few months, these thoughts faded. Only temporarily, as it turned out. I was urgently called to the parish priest’s house. His state wasn’t as frightening as the delirium he was in.
“Chuck, Chuck will come for me!” he mumbled in a rush, “he always hated me.”
I did my job, trying to calm him, but suddenly his eyes widened, his face turned red, and he stared at a point through me.
“He’s here! He’s come for me!” the priest rasped.
I must admit, I was scared for a moment and reflexively turned around, but of course, there was no one behind me. When I turned back, I saw his eyes had glazed over, still staring through me. His face turned blue. What I feared happened—a catastrophic stroke. Minutes later, I declared him dead.
This incident stirred my recent memories. Ultimately, I concluded that inhabitants of remote provincial places tend to indulge in the most astonishing superstitions, taking them very seriously. And a few months later, this thought was confirmed.
I was called to a house where a boy was sick with tonsillitis. He was being fussy and wouldn’t open his mouth.
“If you keep this up, I’ll call Chuck!” his mother sternly warned. I inadvertently raised an eyebrow.
The boy turned pale with fear and caused no further trouble.
“And who is Chuck?” I asked innocently after the examination.
“If you didn’t know about him before, it’s better you don’t know at all! Heard about the Garfields or the parish priest?”
I admitted I had. Then, without further prompting, she told me several more incidents involving Chuck’s appearance. To my surprise, she took it all very seriously.
“But if he’s dead, how can he be summoned?” I finally asked.
“It’s quite simple,” the woman replied, “Just say his name three times with the word ‘appear.'”
“And how should it be said? Loudly or in a whisper?”
“It doesn’t even need to be said out loud. He’ll appear even if the words are thought.”
I admit, since then, I couldn’t get Chuck out of my head. Of course, I didn’t believe in his existence, I only believe in the triumph of reason and science, but an unhealthy curiosity plagued me.
One evening, realizing I couldn’t sleep and pills no longer helped, I decided to do what I had thought about for months. Just in case, I tucked a revolver under my pillow, lit the lamp brighter, and loudly called for Chuck to appear three times. Instantly, the door opened as if someone had been waiting right behind it, although I knew for sure all the doors were locked, and the house was empty, and an elderly man in worn clothes appeared on the threshold. Shaggy sideburns and a horse collar under his arm identified him as a stableman. I was genuinely frightened, but the firmness of the revolver’s handle under my pillow gave me some confidence.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“Known, who,” he replied. “But I haven’t seen you before.”
“What are you doing here?”
“Known, what. You called me yourself.”
“I didn’t call you.”
“What nonsense, sir. Who are you deceiving, me or yourself?”
“What do you want?”
“Known, what. To take you with me.”
“I won’t go anywhere with you!”
“Everyone says that. That’s why I always carry this,” the man pulled the collar from under his arm and approached my bed.
In a panic, I grabbed the revolver and emptied the magazine into the stableman. But it didn’t stop him. He just smirked, putting the collar around my neck. At that moment, I realized my legs weren’t obeying me anymore. I stood up and followed him. The road turned out to be very long among swamps and mist. As we walked, I managed to write this short note. With only one purpose: to warn and caution you. Never, I mean it, NEVER even think about saying aloud or even in your mind the following words: “Chuck, appear! Chuck, appear! Chuck, appear!”