See? You can actually LEARN something on Short Story Mondays! Like the fact that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote more than just Sherlock Holmes and Professor Challenger novels! Honestly, I thought that was it! But today's Short Story is called The Parasite by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was originally published as a 'novelette' in 1894.
Austin Gilroy is a man of science. He studies physiology at the university and believes in only the things he can prove. His friend Professor Wilson studies the Occult and is always trying to "prove" it's existence to Austin. But nothing is ever legitimate and Gilroy writes them off as shams.
But one evening Austin and his fiance, Agatha, are invited over to Professor Wilson's to meet a friend of his wife. Miss Penclosa is a native of the West Indies, and according to Wilson, a bona fide phenomenon. When Gilroy is introduced to her, he is shocked. She is nothing like he assumed she would be. She is older, frailer, and even crippled in one leg. She claims she has the power to control another person. Gilroy refuses to believe her claims until she puts her power to the test by using Agatha as a subject. She mesmerized Agatha and told her to break off her engagement with Austin, which she does (although she has no recollection of even doing it). Austin is excited about the possibility of being able to "study" Miss Penclosa's powers and agrees to be the subject of her mesmerism.
But as the weeks progress, Austin starts to realize that Miss Penclosa is developing feelings for him, and is using her power to exploit those feelings. When Austin awakens from a trance, he is holding hands with Miss Penclosa and is about to profess his love....something that is FAR from actuality. He tries to break all ties with Miss Penclosa, but she has wormed her way into his brain....like a Parasite.
This story is written in the form of Austin Gilroy's journal entries. I love this form of writing because it seems to give the reader a closer look at a person's feelings than just reading dialogue. The story is well-written, and intriguing. The downward spiral that becomes Austin's life is actually kind of disturbing. What is the old adage.....Hell hath no Fury like a Woman Scorned?? It definitely is accurate in this story!!
And I loved it....until the very last sentence. I almost threw the book, I felt the ending was such a cop-out. I finished it this morning....and gave myself the day to think about it. And I don't quite hate the ending as much. I still think there would be better ways to end it. But I also think Doyle wanted to put a "happier" touch on the end. Personally, I think a dark ending for a dark story would be the way to go. Oh well.....Bygones.
Till next Monday!