In today’s character profile I am going to once again return to my first horror novel ‘Retribution.’ This is the one I am currently reworking. The character in question is Doctor Mathewson who plays a key role in everything which goes on within the book’s pages. He is the man Victoria Marchbank blames for the tragic deaths of her two young children Edward and Norma-Louise who succumb to the effects of the plague.
Doctor Mathewson feels the effects of Victoria’s rage when she kills his granddaughter as her first measure of revenge against him. This occurs in a sacrificial ceremony in front of a raging fire in the woods close to the doctor’s home. Victoria, in the meantime has come back as a ghost and, along with her sinister helpers The Hooded Ones, conducts the sadistic ceremony which involves Charlotte (the doctor’s granddaughter) being held aloft above the fire where she is stabbed in the chest by Victoria who plunges a knife into her young body before she is thrown into the fire while she is still alive so her flesh can be burnt away from her bones.
From this point Victoria comes back once every twenty one years to re-enact this ceremony time and time again. First it is a girl who dies then it is a boy to tie in with the fact she lost a son and a daughter. She believes each one of these children is a descendant of Doctor Mathewson.
Doctor Mathewson is well-loved in the neighbourhood and much respected. He is known as a doctor who can be called upon at any time. He is always ready to help those who are in need of his assistance. He goes out in all weathers, riding on horseback along treacherous country roads so he can deliver his medical expertise to those who require it. However, despite all of this he is not saved from Victoria’s wrath when the deadly plague claims her children.
She believes he did not do everything in his power to save her children. Indeed, she goes further. She accuses him of being in league with God as they worked together to bring an untimely end to the lives of her two children. These are clearly the views of a woman who has gone over the edge but try as the doctor might he cannot dissuade her from her beliefs.
When Lucy O’Neill and her family arrive at Oak Manor, their new home, they are much taken by the magnificence of the house and the lovely surroundings. This is the former home of Doctor Mathewson. But it soon transpires the woods which runs alongside their home are not as idyllic as they might appear. It is, after all, in this location that all of these child sacrifices have taken place throughout the generations.
Of course, Lucy is not aware of this when she first moves into Oak Manor, but thanks to the child ghosts (the victims of Victoria’s killing spree) she soon becomes acquainted with what is going on and the danger she finds herself in as the potential latest target of Victoria’s infamy.
As Lucy learns more and more about Victoria Marchbank, which she does through what the child ghosts tell her and some visions she experiences, she comes to sense Doctor Mathewson’s comforting presence. His spirit always seems to be close at hand when she most needs it. Sometimes she does not see him but knows he is there as an uplifting atmosphere surrounds her.
When first the doctor appears to her in physical form he appears to her as he was around the time he tried to save the Marchbank children. Lucy first notices his presence when she hears the sound of a walking stick striking the ground. The doctor then materialises in front of her holding this stick. The doctor looks older than he is as he has been worn down by living in the country. The lot of a country doctor at that time was not an easy one. He bore the brunt of this as he had to venture out on occasion very early in the morning or late at night to answer a summons which had been made on him by a prospective patient. This had aged him considerably. But despite his frail appearance, the doctor is able to cut a supportive figure to Lucy in her hour of need. She knows right from the first moment of meeting him that he will do everything in his power to save her from Victoria’s menacing hand.
Lucy is filled with a warm sensation whenever the doctor is nearby. This feeling is only enhanced the further into the novel we go as he is able to assure her that he is doing everything in his power to bring a halt to Victoria’s reign of terror. Indeed, towards the end of the book he leads her to believe that he can call on some individuals who will come to her aid at the last chance to keep her away from Victoria’s evil clutches. However, he makes this bold assurance in a mysterious way. He will not divulge who these individuals may be but insists they will provide her with the support she needs to save her young life.
Lucy is surprised when she speaks to Charlotte and asks her what she knows about these mysterious individuals as she is unable to tell her anything of this. It is just as much a mystery to her as it is to Lucy. She understands this may be difficult for Lucy to take on board, seeing as the doctor is her grandfather but explains to her that he is a secretive soul who keeps important matters close to his chest, even from a much-loved relative like herself. But she assures Lucy that she can believe implicitly in all the doctor says. His word can be trusted.
Doctor Mathewson has had to endure much since the Marchbank children’s deaths. He has had to endure the deaths of one child after another in the same sadistic ceremony knowing he has been powerless to do anything about it. While he knows he did everything he could to save the lives of Edward and Norma-Louise Marchbank, he also knows it was his failure to stop them from dying which has resulted in the vicious deaths of so many other children. He is now working overtime to try to make sure yet another child does not suffer the same fate. He will to all he can to help Lucy in her time of trial. Lucy’s finds a real comfort in this and the knowledge that there are some others who might be brought into the equation to save her young life is something she can really hold onto as the time fast approaches her own sacrificial ceremony.