By: Bill The Butcher
“I tell you, dear,” said Mrs Frankenstein, “it’s getting too much to bear.”
Mrs Jekyll spooned caviar delicately on to her cracker. “You mean he’s there all the time? Maybe it’s some woman.”
“No,” said her friend. “Not a woman. A woman I could handle. It’s all those –“ she shuddered theatrically – “experiments.”
“So he stays in the laboratory all day, is that what’s bothering you?”
“All day, and half the night as well. I never see him. He never talks to me. I might as well not exist where he’s concerned.”
“And you’re sure he’s spending all the time on his experiments? As I recall it, he had a beautiful girl assistant; some Junker’s daughter from Heidelberg University, wasn’t she?”
“Oh,” said Mrs Frankenstein with a laugh, “she’s long gone. I think he turned her into a mermaid and released her into the sea last June. Now he has a man from somewhere in Asia, you know, or Africa, one of those places where everyone is black and has curly hair and big…”
“Never you mind. All I know is that he’s always in his laboratory, working on his microscopes and chemicals and things, and that sort of thing. I once went in there after him and the place was full of such sights and smells, my dear! Unnatural, that’s what it is. Anyway, he got angry and told me to get out.”
“Men!” said Mrs Jekyll. “The things they get up to! If you just remember about my late husband –“
“Yes, my dear,” said Mrs Frankenstein eagerly. “I know, and that’s just what I was going to ask you –“
“What exactly did you do to your husband, I mean, you know, that he, er…”
“Well, now, I’ll tell you, but I don’t think you’ll be able to do the same thing with yours. You know, well, my husband, he was experimenting with all those nasty powders, and turning himself into that terrible young man, and…” she glanced around and leaned across the table, “I saw where things were going, you know, and one evening I decided I would stop it however I could; so I went into his laboratory, you know, and changed some of his powders around.”
“You – what?” Mrs Frankenstein gasped slightly with laughter.
“Yes,” said Mrs Jekyll. “That’s what I did, changed some of the powders around, and mixed some of his liquids together. I never knew, you know, that it would have such a calamitous effect on him, but it turned out all to the good, didn’t it?”
“Well, yes,” said Mrs Frankenstein doubtfully. “But the problem is, I don’t know if my husband is experimenting with the same powders as yours, so I don’t know what to do, and there are other problems too, you see, because he is always in the lab, or his assistant is.”
“My dear,” said the other woman, sipping at her tea, “why don’t you simply leave him?”
“Oh!” said Mrs Frankenstein, “I couldn’t do that!”
“I don’t see why not, if he’s always neglecting you.”
“I just couldn’t.” Mrs Frankenstein blushed slightly. “You see, my dear, it’s different for you. You’re rich enough to be comfortable for the rest of your life, and it must be – you know – nice to be old, like you, so nobody looks at you a second time. I wish it were like that for me. You must be so happy.”
“Why, thank you!”
“Yes,” said Mrs Frankenstein, “you’re so lucky. Now if you’re young and pretty like me, of course, it’s a problem if one has no money. If I leave him, I won’t have anything to keep myself in the style I need to stay looking all young and pretty. It’s such a problem being young and pretty, isn’t it?”
“I’m sure it is a problem for you. But then, for someone as young and pretty as you are, surely it won’t be long before you can find someone to take good care of you. Somebody rich who likes pretty young women with – you know – flexible morals.”
“Yes, but to get noticed, I need money, and, you know, I’d rather have my husband anyway – he’s rich and keeps me in fine style. I just want him to look my way once in a while, to take me to London or Paris or Rome. I’m so sick of being stuck in this ridiculous Scottish castle so far from anywhere, with only that dreary lake to look at!”
“Well, then, my dear, all I can suggest is that you find some way of stopping his experiments.” Mrs Jekyll wiped her mouth daintily. “And now I must leave. My carriage should be at the door. Tonight I sail for Amsterdam. And from there I am going to Berlin and further to Vienna and Florence.” She smiled. “Don’t you wish you were coming with me?”
Letter from Dr Viktor Frankenstein to the Count Vlad Dracula:
My Dear Count,
Events in recent days have transpired that have made it difficult for me to write to you earlier – events that have not filled me with pleasure, you can be assured, because I cannot report to you the success in my endeavours I had so confidently predicted in my last missive.
The fault, I assure you, lies not in my technique, nor in my concepts; indeed, I am convinced, beyond all possibility of doubt, that my science was right and my success would have been assured, given time – ah, but I did not have that time. I was within an ace of success, and were it not for the stupidity of a woman – but I get ahead of myself. Let me explain.
As I told you in my last letter, Count, my experiments have had to do with the creation of artificial life, to bring back from death such parts and organs as may be amenable to such a revitalisation; indeed, to agglomerate and arrange them in order to create from them a new and hopefully better man, a Man, as I might say, who would be a first step – but, oh how necessary is that first step to any journey! – to Superman.
It was not easy, indeed, Count, to assemble the organs I needed, for they had to be of the best, and so recently dead as not to be decomposed beyond my purposes. And as I put them together with the most careful surgical skill at my command, I had to keep them alive in a nutrient broth of my own devising, a broth that included – among many other things – snails and fish oil.
With great effort I continued gathering my organs – in secret and, I admit it, at great expense – and I would find that of every five that I gathered, three would be unusable for one reason or another, and of the other two, only one would finally meet my standards for the superior quality required for usage in the Man I was out to create. And when I found a better one, I discarded the earlier organs and put in the new. All of them were kept connected, in the nutrient bath, and enclosed in a tough rubbery protective skin of my creation.
It was a labour of love, Count, more than anything, and every day, from dawn till late into the night, my assistant – M’jambo his name is – and I would watch the instruments and adjust them, increase or decrease the galvanic currents required to keep the organs alive and healthy. We would never leave them alone, not for an instant. One or other of us would be there always. We would take it in turns to sleep.
Of course, I did not only seek to create a Man. I wanted to create a Superior Man, the sort of Man who could be but a step to Superman, and I would not but fail to be true to my purpose if I did not include such improvements as I thought necessary. To this end, early on, I included in my Man fins, and to free him of the tyranny of breathing only air, I gave him gills. Ah, I would have given him wings, too, to soar like an eagle – but you will know what happened if you will only read on:
I told you that I was keeping these organs in a nutrient broth of my own preparation, and in order to regulate how well they stayed and how large they grew, we had to control the elements that went into the mix. You can understand all that, Count, I am sure, from your own experiences in keeping your victims alive. Suck too much blood and they will die on you, drink too little and they give you no nutrition. You know all this, Count. So you will understand what happened…
I said that we kept constant watch – M’jambo or I – over my creation, at all times, round the clock, and so we did. However, one day, I was called away unexpectedly with news of a pair of eyes that were available – good eyes, eyes better than we had ever been offered; and such eyes were something I had been seeking a long time. I had to go down into town and get the eyes, which had belonged to a recently deceased master marksman; and even as my carriage took me along the road down past the lake, a messenger arrived with news of a magnificent pair of lungs – late of an opera diva – that would be available for us, but only briefly. M’jambo, as much a devotee of the project as I, at once set out for the lungs – for you recognise, Count, that such organs deteriorate so rapidly after death that we have to get hold of them as quickly as possible. Also, since I had not anticipated that he would be away, I had not taken a key with me; and he, not knowing how long I might be away, could not leave the laboratory locked. So, for the brief space of three hours, the laboratory was unoccupied, and unlocked.
I trust you remember my wife, to whose buxom charms you had taken such a fancy when we had visited your castle on our honeymoon. You had expressed a wish to dine on her, and I, lovestruck idiot that I was then, had refused. How I wish now that I had delivered her throat to your fangs with my own two hands!
For mark what that she-fiend did: driven no doubt by some foul impulse from her diseased and rotting mind, she took the opportunity to enter the laboratory, and there she mixed all the chemicals she could find and poured them into the nutrient bath, after which she turned the galvanic current full on.
I can scarcely express to you the horror of what must have happened – immersed in that broth, energised by that electricity, the organs in their protective skin grew and grew. Animated by mindless impulses from the twitching muscles, the Man I had been creating – now no more than Creature – broke the bounds of the bath, and, rampaging through the laboratory, burst out through the door and made its way down the garden path. I returned just in time to see the last of it vanish through the trees.
I shall, of course, try again, and already my efforts have begun. And this time I shall succeed. My laboratory is now furnished with apparatus specifically designed to avert the sort of contretemps we have had, and the new and much stronger door is fitted with a great mortised lock for which there are only two keys – one of which is in my possession, and the other, in that of my faithful assistant.
What of my wife? She has left me, and I hear of her in the fleshpots of Europe, always in the company of various rich but depraved men. You are welcome to have her if you wish. Drink her dry, make her your eternal slave. She means nothing to me.
And of the Creature we had created, and which my wife’s foul deeds caused to escape? Ah…we searched for it, you understand, Count, we hunted for it with torches and shotguns and dogs, but of it we found no sign. To this day we hunt for it, and perhaps someday we shall find it, grown possibly to gigantic proportions from what happened to it. But we have heard nothing of it from the woodsmen and the farmers of these lonely hills, and in my mind I am certain there is but one place where it can have gone. It had gills and fins, and it would have found a natural home – where I am convinced it still resides – under the waters of this lake, which the Scottish people call a Loch, and which, in this instance, goes by the name of Ness.