Daughter of Frankenstein
“Yours is a world that rejects the Sermon on the Mount and embraces the dark glow of the atom with the same adeptness as a toddler with Crayolas! Yours is a world that rears its sons like daughters and denies them manhood and treats your daughters as sons and denies them the robust supremacy of femininity!” He grabbed her cage and began to shake it violently. The much smaller but taut woman bounced around like a marble in a jar. “And you dare to come to my home and call me monster? What hubris! What childish, pointless, infantilism!”
“Frankenstein! You’re the monster!” she yelled holding onto the cage bars in fear of her life. “You murdered Elizabeth and William! You cause an innocent girl to hang for your crime!”
“And that’s more than your world has done?” he responded and violently pushed the suspended cage away from him, causing it to swing around the basement layer like a pendulum. The monster turned and walked away from the contraption, he stopped by a bookcase and examined one of a plethora of volumes positioned on an eye level shelf. He retrieved a volume and opened it. He leafed through the pages thoughtfully before continuing. “I suppose now you’ll use that justification for your own murderous impulse?”
“I use morality as a justification for your murder!”
“Morality as a justification for murder? You realize that contrary to popular misperceptions of grammatical contradiction…or intellectual adequacy that’s the first clever thing you’ve posited since you’ve been here.” He shut the book and carefully placed it back on the shelf and walked back to the cage that swung slowly enough now, that the occupant no longer needed to hold on. He stood there and slowly examined her with a softening gaze. She watched his eyes pass over her form and stop on her hands.
“I’ve been in my home, for thirty years now,” he held his hands out shoulder length as to encompass his surroundings. “You know, at one time the Penn McKee was a five star establishment. Now no more than a burned out hulk that a pedestrian eye is blind too. I keep my library and laboratory here in the basement not only because of the architectural amenities but because it allows me freedom of movement with a premium of anonymity. Now my captive pet I will retire to my penthouse and sleep for a time. When I return we’ll continue our dialogue.”
He began to walk off toward a distant stairwell and stopped. Sympathetically he returned to the cage, after another short pause, fumbled about the basement, and provided her a large bowl with water. While the lip of the bowl contained a chip and a mild crack, it was clean.
“Until later pet, of course you’re welcome. As a point for future references my father Victor never named me.” He chuckled and disappeared.
They, her people, the Sisterhood of St. Elizabeth of Schonau, tracked him for almost two centuries and she failed, failed as the other teams sent to eradicate this monstrous crime to nature. They succeeded in lifting curses, running the lycanthropes into the abyss of extinction, eradicating the therianthropes and generally were adept in keeping the dead, dead. They then learned that the creation of Victor Frankenstein, the last of the classical brutes, inhabited the McKeesport area. After years of having survey teams prowling the dark recess and back allies, they found him. It fell on her to set things right. After years of training, she went to the Penn McKee fully, in her own mind, prepared to destroy him. Instead, she found herself his captive, strung up in the basement in a crusty cage. In disgust, she threw the bowl of water against the cage shattering it.
He built a table ergonomically, at waist level to encompass the bookshelf that radiuses the three walls facing the cage door. Her backpack, with its contents was, splayed across it. She eyed her revolver, a huge Smith&Wesson, and her knife. She tried to swing the cage back and forth hoping it would come close enough so she could reach them. After giving it the best shot she had, she slumped back exhausted.
In the morning, he woke her by shaking her cage and bouncing her around violently.
“For a big thing you move quiet!” she bit and unfolded herself from a fetal position. Sleeping on the steel floor of the pen left her stiff and sore to the bones.
“A century of practice my pet,” he laughed. He went to the bookshelf and began to scan the spines, and after he pulled three off the shelf, he walked into the laboratory that inhabited another part of the basement and began to turn on his contraptions. She could her glass clinking, and things shuffling around. He returned with a plastic dog bowl of water and a loaf of pumpernickel.
“Shall we continue?”
She tried to lunge at him as he opened the cage door and deposited the sustenance. Blithely he pushed her against the far wall of the cage and slammed the door. He walked out again, returned with a wooden spool for telephone cable, and used that as a stool.
“Now I assume that’s out of your system, shall we continue our dialogue?”
“What could I possibly have to say to you?”
“You came to commit a heinous act of murder and you decline to expound on that? Didn’t your misandric pendants inform you why you were to kill me? Or did they give you that feeble piece of steel and allow your instincts to run amok?” He motioned to the tabletop that had the heavy large caliber revolver it.
“Thanks for the food,” she said, not fully understanding what he asked of her.
He sat there and watched her eat, his countenance changing from a cold harshness into a reflection of reminiscence. She didn’t like it, the softness. It seemed obscene somehow, as if he saw more than her actions, something completely different.
“What you’ve never seen a person eat before?!” Her retort to his gaze resounded with an adolescent vapor of indignation.
“It’s not mastication that charms my intent; it’s you hands that allure my gentle attentions.”
“My wife would’ve had hands as beautiful as yours. In your response I have to ask why the revulsion? I believe it would be considered normal for a man to find the female of the species attractive.”
“You’re not a man!” She yelled and hid her hands under her armpits.
“Correct again my pet. I encompass seven men, but I suppose for the purpose of convention the singular should suffice. Now going off on a tangent would my attraction to your hands make me guilty of bestiality?”
“I’m right you are a pervert!” she yelled then halted. A realization of an insult, directed not at her but from her from herself, surfaced in her thoughts. The affront, being foggy in form she quickly dismissed it as an aberration.
The monster laughed. “According to my friends that are well versed in the passing science of psychology it’s not a paraphilia, though I fear that contention releases the animal in all men or at least validates it.” He took a deep breath and exhaled.
“You have friends?” she mouthed almost under her breath. The chewed lump of pumpernickel nearly dropped out of her mouth. He associated with other people. Why did S-2 miss it? How could anyone fail to notice a seven-foot tall, three-hundred and fifty pound behemoth in their living room? Her head swirled with fantasy, of the monster dinning in posh settings in a tuxedo surrounded by intellectual elites.
“Allow me to introduce you to my friends!” He smiled wildly while laughing. He guided his hands over the books that surrounded him naming the authors. He seemed to dance in front of the books as he went. “Meet Mr. Stephen Hawking, Plato, Socrates, Mr. Leo Tolstoy, and my favorite Mr. Samuel Clemens, who by reputation is known by the pseudonym Mark Twain! Oh and let us not be ignorant and forget Mr. Jack London. This is but a few of my fellow travelers. They last longer than dogs. I kept a dog once, but she didn’t travel as well unfortunately.”
The concept of having a book as a friend puzzled her. She stared at him blankly not knowing what kind of mind sat before her. A bell rang from the hidden laboratory as the monster responded, he said, “In every book lives a man.”
He got up from the makeshift stool, took the knife and the revolver off the table, and walked into the laboratory. Her heart sank as she watched him leave she needed those tools. There really wasn’t anyway now to stop him. She sank into the corner as a cacophony of machine sounds rushed from the laboratory. Then silences, followed by hollow shuffling footsteps as he returned to the cage. The monster tossed in her revolver, the barrel had been bent around, and the knife blade ground down to a stub.
“Toys for my pet,” he chuckled and sat down on the stool. “So pet, in your academic training did they give you religion?”
“My names Jill, not pet,” her raspy tawny voice echoed as she examined the destroy weapon. If it didn’t explode in her hand, she’d end up shooting herself. His ironic sense of humor she found abrasive.
“Personally pet I think the King James Version is one of the most beautiful English translations. Glittering, and in fact, I think that bedazzlement confuses the less than cerebral and it looses its substance on the masses. And you…?”
“My names Jill,” she barked more forcefully. “The KJV is the only approved text. Considered most accurate.”
“So you’re saying Young’s Literal Translation isn’t the unerring word of God? Alternatively, the Douay-Rheims is what? Wrong?”
“No what I’m saying is that it won’t give you a clear picture of what God said and did.”
“So man can change the word of God to suit his needs at the time?”
She said nothing to his query, not knowing how to answer that. Even if she did have an answer, she felt he’d just reply with another question.
“I’ll elucidate my sophistry for your rumination. If a man reads one book, he knows one thing. If he reads two books, he knows two things and so on. Now if you read two books about the same thing, then you’d have two perspectives to weigh against the other. The most common agreement is this method only serves to confuse the novice. Whereas, I would propose that once this technique is fully employed, the novice is no longer a novice. Therefore, those that would dissuade a person from reading more than one book on a subject are doing so only to guide the mind of the student toward a given, specific end, as opposed to producing a truly educated personality.”
“My pet, truly you aren’t as vacuous as your response indicates. It would be a shame to have such pretty hands wasted on such and empty head.” He looked toward the far wall with a distant stare for a moment and then stood up as another bell rang.
“My names Jill!” she yelped as he left again. She spastically hid her hands under her armpits. Wondering what exactly he did in his laboratory she leaned back against the walls of the cage causing it to rock slightly. She tried to see what transpired in the laboratory, the labyrinth of the basement allowed her only to see a dancing electric blue flash against a dirty gray wall. Occasionally a watery shadow divided the electric indigo and blue flashes. The ghostly light pulsed in tempo with humming and fluttered with grinding echoes.
She heard chains dragged and then from the shadows he walked in and dropped manacles onto the cable spool. She pushed herself back away from the cage door as he opened it. Lunging at him, growling like an animal her assault fell to nothing. Beating on him wasn’t any different from beating a heavy bag. He just took the impacts, smiling merrily all the while. He waited until she exhausted herself before speaking.
“Time for your walk pet,” he laughed. The shackle chained her ankle to her neck and a chain from her neck went to a leather loop in his hand. She struggled against the chain. It didn’t matter in the least. When she sat and pulled against the chain, both feet against the floor, shoulders back, double handed grasp, it meant nothing. He just dragged her on her arse across the flooring.
Being dragged up the stairs hurt.
“So have you determined what principles can excuse killing me?” he asked as he threw her into the cage.
“That wasn’t very nice! Dragging me like that!”
“You should’ve walked.” He casually shut the door and locked it. He wiped a smattering of rust off his hands as he sat on the stool. “So still want me dead?”
“More than ever!”
“Because you’re a crime against nature! And you’re an animal…” she halted in mid-sentence. She realized she was the one in a cage. A spark of understanding flashed in her mind. Turning over and facing him she said, “That and being caged really pisses me off! Maybe we can work a deal…eh Frankie?” It was worth a shot.
“Correct me if I’m wrong but the Sisterhood of St. Elizabeth of Schonau is a cloistered affair. Living behind walls, cut off from the world. I thought the cage would be, forgive my English, but cozy?”
“Cozy? At least there I had a bed and nobody watched me piss on a wall!”
“And before we lose focus why do you want me dead? You claim it is moral to kill me because I am a monster and a murderer. After three-score and ten decades, of being hounded I can tell you finding my fate at the end of a rope would’ve been lenient. However, considering the elapsed time from the moment of the crime and today I believe you can’t justify vigilantism.”
“There’s never an end to protecting the world from evil!” she lunged at the cage and began shaking the bars.
“Aren’t we the feisty one?” he laughed again. The more he laughed the angrier she became. “Protecting the world from evil? So has the Sisterhood of St. Elizabeth of Schonau put an end to autocracy? Or the cancer of secularism?”
“Not my department!”
“Avoid responsibility to your fellow man? Which verse do you find more appealing the King James, ‘And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?’ or the Tyndale version. ‘And the Lord said unto Cain: where is Abel thy brother? And he said: I can not tell, am I my brother's keeper?’ Do you have a preference?”
“Both sound pretty much the same,” she hissed, slumped back realizing he had her beat again.
“So much for your assertion the King James, as literarily bedazzled as it is, is the only worthwhile study. However, you have to admit, you are your brothers keeper.”
“Oh Lord forgiver her, she knowest not what she does!” he laughed. “In the world you defend they claim a secular humanity with respect to religion. Never once has anyone pointed out that if the theocratic method isn’t inspired by God but a machination of man by man for man it holds the same promises as the secular school of thought, of man for man by man. So why are you here? Defending a world that denies the truth of divinity, that would discriminate against your beliefs. Me? I killed because I knew not better and I have been punished as well as any for that crime. Yet you come in the night to kill me, steal my life, for what?”
“You speak in riddles. Just do with me as you will and get it over with!”
“I am doing with you as I will!” He bellowed, stood up, and menacingly leaned over the cage. He opened his mouth and stopped before he could speak. Considering his words, more carefully he then softly said. “My pet named Jill, you came here armed with morality, a desire to set the world right against what? In your world you let evil grow unabated and focus on the misfortunes of a man named Victor Frankenstein.”
He smiled his annoying, condescending smile again and lumbered off.
“Hey! Why do you sleep? You shouldn’t have too!”
“It my pet, allows me to dream,” he replied. His countenance lessening as he lumbered off.
The monster wasn’t as the Sisterhood describes him. He wasn’t the animal stupid automaton driven by raw passions they made him out to be. He may have been at one time, but now, when he talked, he seemed educated, and a bit polished. In addition, there seemed a deep sadness in him, but Jill couldn’t put a finger on it. She wondered what he worked on in his laboratory and how exactly he acquired the plethora of equipment. How did he power it without attracting attention? Those and many other questions fluttered around her psyche as she slowly got over the shock of being captured.
Her belly grumbled with hunger. Did he eat? Obviously, he didn’t know anything about taking care of his pets. His dog most likely starved to death. She then realized he truly won, he was inside her head. Jill wondered exactly what he had in store for her. If he wanted to kill her it would’ve been over already, and he would’ve been justified in it. Considering that, maybe he wanted to play with his food, metaphorically, and that would explain the rusty cage and the mind games, she played with the notion.
Remembering the exhortation of the Abbess of the Sisterhood, she closed her eyes and prayed for guidance and protection. She prayed until she fell asleep, something that when she opened her eyes in the morning she didn’t remember. For her it was a hard deep sleep, waking she found the plastic dog bowl filled with water and a loaf of pumpernickel and a hambone with sloppy gnarled pieces of pink meat and fat on it.
Her hips hurt from sleeping on the cage floor, a deep numbing cold froze her joints. Every joint cracked and snapped as she sat up and went for breakfast. Her captor wasn’t seen, but the same mechanical humming and electric flashing seeped down the hallway into her portion of the grotto. She pushed the rat’s nest of shoulder length brown hair out of her eyes and ate. As she chewed on the ham bone, she played with her imagination. She tried to figure out what exactly occupied him in that part of the basement. What ever it was, she couldn’t make heads or tails out of it by the equipment. Part mechanic’s garage, part laboratory, part junkyard, what ever he had going on either was very complicated or the results of insanity.
After a five-minute silence, she heard dragging, hammering and thumping. This cacophony went on for an hour. The monster then entered the area with a steamer trunk and packed up his library. Despite her loud protests, he ignored her and seemed to be leaving the Penn McKee. The only thing she hoped for is that he’d at least be decent enough to let her go and not leave her to meet her fate hanging in a crusty cage. Eventually he returned with a large pet carrier and exhaled before he addressed her.
“Good news, my work is nearly done and I’ve nearly succeeded. However, because of your Sisterhood, I have to move my operations from here to there. You’re coming.”
“Why? Can’t you just let me go…eh Frankie?” she bargained.
“What? And not share the success with my pet?”
“What success? I have to admit I really don’t know what you have going on in there. What’s this about the Sisterhood?”
“Addressing the later first, you’ve been here two days and your people have a recovery team in-transit. Naturally I’m able to keep a few steps ahead of them, been doing that for decades. As to the former, if I told you it wouldn’t be a surprise. I like surprises, don’t you?”
An hour later she, in her pet carrier road in a personal storage container along with boxes of this, that and the monster. He of course, dressed for the occasion in formal traveling attire that belonged on the costume rack of a bad off-Broadway stage play. His sense of humor showed itself again. As the fork truck loaded the container on a flat bed, he magnetically attached a flat LCD screen to the bulkhead and through a DVR had a looped scene of a train tour of Europe. With a battery light affixed to the overhead, he leaned back on a modified recliner reading. Like a typical traveler of the nineteenth century. With the aroma of sandalwood and few other notes tickling her nose, she stared at him.
“You smell. What is it?”
“Creed Bois du Portugal,” he replied and turned the page.
“Very,” he replied again, not looking up from the book.
“What’ya reading?” she asked drawing out the syllables.
He looked over at the pet carrier door. He could only see her eyes, and the bridge of her nose peeking out at him from the shadows. He paused a moment and went back to reading, then looked up and could still see her beady brown eyes staring at him, wanting beady eyes.
“Spaying Your Bitch Made Easy,” he answered her flatly. He knew it was a joke, in actuality he read a leather-bound copy of Mark Twain. What could be seen of her face slowly and warily receded into the shadows. The ‘pet’ carrier vibrated with a baritone thump as she backed into the far end of it. He didn’t laugh but produced a wide grin while holding his breath.
The pod containers was delivered to a construction site in Uniontown, and then taken a day later to an abandoned state mental hospital. Jill was allowed to live in the drained and crusty indoor swimming pool. While she decided she could probably climb out of the shallow end, he locked the doors so she accepted her confinement as the only logical course.
He explained to her how he did his thing; in a word ‘microchip’. According to the monster, since the inter-net came into existence he could order material and have it delivered to his chosen site. Paying for it? He didn’t, he created his own virtual monster on-line and charged a fictitious entity. He himself boasted that he related to Microsoft Windows in the same way his father related to Igor. She gave him credit for being a genius but would never tell him. Jill didn’t see him except for when he came to feed her and generally treat her like a darling novelty. As she sat in a corner staring at a tile wall, she wondered what exactly is happening back at the Penn McKee.
“He’s not here,” the thinner of the trio announced as he folded up the antennae on his hand held scanner. All were well dressed, in full-length trench coats and fedoras, over impeccably tailored business suits with a classic air. The give away, that they weren’t actually G-Men from the 1930’s were the fully suppressed Hk sub-machineguns and the thermograph goggles.
“What’ya expect, the largest of the trio replied. “We have a patron saint that’s a transvestite.”
“Explain that Colan,” the medium sized man barked. His fedora is an ivory straw affair, where as the other two wore black with blue striped bands.
“St. Anastasia the Patriarch. Here we have a woman to avoid marriage to a wealthy powerful man runs off and lives in a monastery with a bunch of monks dressed as one of them. Transvestite by definition.”
“What the boss meant is make the connection between our patron saint and the fact he absconded,” the man with the scanner replied.
“And we took the money anyhow,” the man in charge interjected. “Rather be killing lycanthropes. Not running down old Frankie boy.”
“We pushed the lycans over the precipice into the sweet oblivion of extinction,” Colan replied as he motioned to the exit from the basement. “As far as the patron saint goes well I think like this. She ran away and hid as something she wasn’t and that’s what he’s doing. Runs and hides as something he isn’t. Check out the story line. First, this mad man makes this huge lug of a beast and of course he goes on a rampage and gains a soul and according to the late Capt. Walton, this beast sets off to destroy himself. Now according to the Van Hesling Reports he let ‘Frankie’ drift off after that nasty vampire incident. For quite awhile it was assumed that the beast met his end in the depths of the ocean until now….”
“Get back to the saint part you’re drifting yourself,” Quinn the man with the scanner said as he pushed Colan out the back door.
“The patron saint is his, not ours,” Colan replied.
“Your hats on too tight,” Chris replied as he walked away.
Jill paced around the bottom of the empty swimming pool thinking about everything and nothing simultaneously. The only time she saw he captor is when he came to fed her or walk her around the over grown grounds of the abandoned hospital. When she tried to pry from him his doings the only answer is it was a surprise. She wondered what exactly the Sisterhood did to rescue her, if they sent in the normal three-man team from Patriarch they’d arrive days late. She didn’t hold out any hope, the monster seemed three or four steps ahead of them. The ancient hospital is remote, and even if they did locate her, the manpower necessary to clear the grounds and the buildings exceeded the capacity of the organization.
“Trapped due to budget cutbacks,” she muttered and decided to waltz toward another wall of the pool.
She jumped as two doors swung open with a hollow bang and a screeching dragging sound emanated from the deck. Grasping the top of the pool, she pulled herself up to see the monster pull a couch across the floor and position it by the shallow end of the pull. He looked at her and didn’t say anything as he walked out of the area and returned minutes later with dinner.
“My heartfelt apologizes for neglecting our rapport,” he huffed as he collapsed on the couch. “However, the institution required more modification than I anticipated and my surprise is at a critical stage.”
“Intellectually draining. In a few days I have to tell you our relationship will be changed.”
“For better or for worse?” she asked looking up at the soles of his boots. She wondered exactly what he meant, did he mean he’d let her go or did he have something revolting in mind.
“Different. As far as the quality of it that depends on one’s view point.”
“Tell me!” Jill pleaded, pulling herself up to chin level on the pool wall. She looked up at the monster, and realized he actually wore his heart on his sleeve. He didn’t seem strange and atrocious now, the vexed expression, the staring off into a distant emptiness, gave him a certain flavor of humanity. He remained quiet, and the strain of hanging on the wall caused her to slowly drop back onto the floor.
“In a few days I’ll show you. As a side note, do you like the saxophone?”
“Saxophone? You play the sax?”
“Sub contrabass saxophone,” he smiled.
“Excuse me genius,” Jill chirped and pulled herself up again. “No such animal.”
“Really? And just how would you know?”
“I know you think I’m a hollow hand puppet and upon reflection of your previous observation I tend to agree. The instrument you speak of is a contrabass tubax. Adophe Sax never built a sub contrabass, as it is a technical impossibility. Furthermore you oversized galoot I studied music at CCAC South Campus so there!” Jill spat and smiled with a fair amount of sass. She had him, took some effort on her part, and the oratory taxed her faculties but she knew she had him.
He leaned forward off his couch, stared her dead in the eye, and smiled. “Pet you impress me. Your loquacious vocalizations give rise to the faint glimmer of hope that you do have potential. Of course, this begs the question. Just how did a musically inspired maiden of your caliber come to me as an assassin? The distance from a Smith&Wesson forty-four and such a cultured familiarity is for lack of better English…hugeous.”
She stared at him blankly as a sinking stone of emotion fell on her. The decisive moment arrived as the realization that his diatribes came with an intent that exceeded the initial impression of sadism. The monster wasn’t bored and needed her as a pet, as an object to talk to or was using her as a toy for his own amusement. The whole point of his act brought her to face herself. Jill didn’t like it.
“Why are you doing this?”
“Talking to me like this? Why didn’t you do this to the other teams?”
“The other teams really believed in their mission,” he answered while standing up and stretching. “You didn’t. At the moment of truth, you collapsed. That told me I could get inside your mind and apply myself. I’ll illuminate for the sake of expediency. War is a test of will power like politics is. Imagine two wrestlers, each apply a strategy through the intention application of force to convince the other to see things their way, to bend the will of the other, to their own. That’s war, and that’s the politics of the game you’re playing. The goal of the Sisterhood is to ostensibly remove evil from the world, to sweep abominations against the nature they perceive, they desire, away and make a world of controlled evil. Of an evil they can comprehend or at least blame on human nature or Lucifer. Then there’s my personal favorite an act of God,” he laughed caustically and paused for a moment. “You weren’t a true believer in the cause. So at the moment of truth, when you could’ve succeeded you hesitated an in that hesitation lost. Now I have the opportunity to bend your mind to my will and at this point so close to my personal victory over my real adversary I’ll allow you into my world another inch. If my change, the surprise I promise you works, and I have full faith it will, the Sisterhood of St. Elizabeth of Schonau and that sorry mutation St. Anastasia the Patriarch will implode. Now bear in mind, war is a diversion. Destroying those sorry dupes is a side effect of the plan. Not the cause, a symptom. Now, allowing you to witness this is the ticker tape parade of my own ego. It, you’ll tell them what happened at then they’ll realize their malfunction. Oh, I could’ve gone quietly into the night and obtained my victory without fan fare. Now why don’t you tell me why you became an assassin? Nice girl such as yourself!”
She stood there dumbfounded. She thought about how to answer him, she felt she owed him that, after all he is coming clean with her. She stood there trying to formulate a response. She knew she couldn’t give him the standard lines, he knew them, she didn’t want to lie, he see through that. Her moment of truth arrived and she didn’t like it. Before she could get a word out a bell in the background, from outside the poolroom rang. The monster smiled, commented she was saved by the bell, and admonished her to think about it some more as he walked away.
What to tell him? The more she played it out in her head the only answer she could come up with is the truth. She swallowed and tried to put it together as she began to pace the walls. She wanted to escape, not because of any threat but to get away from herself. Before she could, he returned with an armload of UPS packages and dropped them on the deck above her. He told her she should dress for the surprise and the boxes contained the appropriate clothing.
“How did you get UPS to deliver here? Where ever here is?” she gaped.
“Microsoft!” the monster giggled. “I made the front office to the institution resemble a construction site. Great diversion. Put up a sign that said ‘drop deliveries’ with an arrow over a desk. Have drywall scaffolding and the appropriate tools lying about, even hung some dry wall myself and ran electrical conduit out of the ceiling. As far as anyone knows, this will be a retirement community. Remember this use to be a state mental hospital, and in those days, the lunatics were kept far out of sight so there you go.”
“Genius,” Jill muttered accepting the scope of the operation. “I have to really give you credit for that.”
“Thank you my pet. No why did you become an assassin?”
“You’re not letting me get out of it are you?”
“Not on your life.”
“I got tired of prostituting myself on Carson Street. That’s when I met Father Conley, and before you get any idea’s he’s the real deal. He put me up in a half way ran by the Sisterhood…”
“Just tell me, what drove you to that level? Surely there was another alternative.”
“Crack. I picked up that habit at a party. Lost the education in music. Lost my job and my apartment, couldn’t go home, found myself a professional cocksucker, and trapped with no way out. So after a time at the Sisterhood and after seeing a pack of lycans chow down on a stray dog in Frick Park…I took their offer.”
The monster stood there and thoughtfully stared at her. She felt good getting it off her chest. That story she wouldn’t want anyone to know.
“Well if you told anyone that they’d assume you’ve lobotomized on the cocaine. I on the other hand believe you. Here, I hope you like hats,” he threw her a box. “It’s a purple cloche with a floral band. I know it’s a bit dated for you but consider the source. Oh, I did consider the accessories.” He threw more boxes at her and then a dropped a box with toiletries. Another bell rang.
“Now for the surprise! By the time you’re done, I should be changed. Oh, and be a dear, and wait. If you don’t see me after a reasonable time please,” he threw down a small stepladder. “Get out of the pool. I just would hate myself leaving you here all dressed up and now place to go.”
“How do I find you?!” she yelled as he began to walk off.
“Out the door you’ll find a yellow stripe on the floor. Follow that!”
Jill stared at the ladder and held her breath as he disappeared. Half of her wanted to run right now flee and call the sisterhood. The stronger part demanded that she stay and learn more. She also wanted to know what the boxes contained, and why he toyed with her. Too many questions to leave unanswered, too many questions would be asked and she wanted to go along.
As she opened the boxes, she wondered how he knew her shoe size. She cleaned up and dressed with the garments he provided. It took an hour but went she unfolded the stepladder and stepped out of the pool any anxiety disappeared. Taking a deep breath, she found the yellow stripe and began following it. The size of the hospital shocked her and it seemed her former captor made use of the volume quite well. Walking down the lonely, creepy hallway, she could almost feel the hopelessness of the former residence. Her shoe’s made a clip-clop noise that echoed mildly in the emptiness. Out of a momentary curiousness, she found a lavatory and then a mirror. He dressed her like her grandmother, or at least somebody’s grandmother. In a way, it fit in, she didn’t resemble the present, nor did her surrounds and the monster…well he wasn’t part of this century. There was a certain flavor to it all, something that fit but didn’t about everything he did.
That’s what scared her and fascinated her. The way he, despite himself made things work. As she continued walking the stripe leads her past the front admissions office. Like he said, it looked like a renovation project, the front doors were open and a hot breeze came into the lobby kicking up white dust. She stood there for a few minutes and just soaked it in, the sunshine and the air, something she forgot existed. Walking just to the edge of the doorway she could see a pod container dropped off to the side and piles of dirt and gravel artfully deposited about. She complimented him on a good job under her breath and went back to following the yellow stripe.
Eventually the stripe terminated in the infirmary section of another building. There, surrounded by machinery she couldn’t even begin to describe is the corpse of the monster. The remains on a surgical table, with electrodes attached at what seemed to be specific areas of a cranium and chest. On another surgical table, the same electrodes rested against the empty stainless steel surface.
“Consciousness exists apart from structure,” another voice echoed. She backed out of the surgery and looked down the hallway. Silhouetted against the far wall, at a ‘T’ intersection a man stood. Despite the Phantom of the Opera mask, she knew it to be him. She looked back into the surgery at the dead hulk of the monster.
She stood there gaping like an idiot.
“Your bewilderment is quite understandable,” he said and walked toward her. He dressed dated, like her. As he came closer, he tipped his black safari downward, casting a mild shadow across his face. He looked like a gangster from a bad movie. “One of the technical problems that I had to overcome is building a structure that would be alive but not have a remnant of consciousness. That awareness seems to be a function of nature, notably in higher mammalian life forms.”
“Al Capone,” she mumbled. “You dress like Al Capone.”
“Actually I aimed for Elliot Ness,” he shrugged.
“Never mind. As the case is, here I am, your monster. Still think you could kill me?”
“Let me get this straight, you were in him and now you’re in there?” she gaped, pointing between him and the remains in the surgery. The magnitude of the situation began to sink in and she could feel it clamp down on her mind.
“Correct. Now why don’t you walk with me? Time is of course of the essence.”
“What’s with the mask?” she asked as he began to walk back the way she came. He seemed to walk on the yellow line intentionally. “Where you going?”
“Please my pet, you really want to come with me,” he requested politely and ushered her toward an exit. She took a final look in the surgery before she trotted over to him. The notion that she might be able to take him out with a Kung Fu strategy crossed here mind. He still looked athletic but not the huge mass of meat he left behind.
“The mask protects my identity at the present,” he told as he opened the door. “No longer a monster in the conventional sense, I intend to walk among the rest of the human race now. Of course, when you report to the Abbess of the Sisterhood,” he paused and considered his words as the walked down a stairwell and then another passageway past a cafeteria. “Well, I wish I could be a fly on that wall!”
“I never stood a chance did I?” she asked as they rounded a corner and arrived at the entrance. They both went into the main office, in which a large dated wooden desk is a hat rack stand with a purse hanging off it. He walked behind the desk where he shouldered a packed duffle bag, picked up a saxophone case, and set it on the desk.
“None,” he replied.
“Makes me feel stupid.”
“Stupid? Well that implies a congenital low intelligence quotient. I believe a better word would be foolish.” He walked to the coat rack and tossed her the purse. “You have cash and other items a young girl would consider a necessity for travel. Consider your situation a matter of education. You were taught wrong. You assumed that being big implies stupid and ugly implies evil. Classical social conditioning that is more a side effect of being human than being intellectually defective. The old adage, ‘never judge a book by its cover’, comes to mind.”
“I’ve heard that before!” she chirped as he forced his way past her and walked out the front door. He walked faster than she did and she struggled to keep up. He seemed pressed for time, and she didn’t know why.
“Have you ever really applied it? Of course not! Most people hear the wisdom of the ages and consistently disregard them for the sake of ego.” He quickly opened the door to a Conex box container and pushed her in. Recovering from the stumble, which scuffed up her left shoe, she realized she stood in a cabin on a cruise ship. The former monster locked the door behind her and turned on the lights. It looked like something out of the 1920’s.
“This ship have a name?” she asked and unfurled her dress.
“I appreciate art–deco,” he replied, pulled a palm pilot from a breast pocket, and checked on something. “Minutes to spare,” he then punched in several lines of code and put the duffle bag in a closet. He pointed out that the box container did have a toilet before turning on the portholes and sitting down. Jill took his cue and sat down across from him.
“If you ever get caught you’ll have some serious explaining to do,” she commented.
“I’ll tell them the truth,” he replied. Both could hear a truck pull up, the box rattled and shook as it was lifted onto a flat bed. “Then I’ll escape from the mental institution and do it again.”
“Give yourself a name yet? How’ about Frank N. Stein?”
“What would life be without corn eh?” he smirked.
“That’s a hush-hush. As stated earlier I intend to walk among humanity and I couldn’t have whoever comes after you tailing me.”
“Where to now? How come I’m not in a box like your dog?”
“Pet, you’re no longer a hazard. I’m no longer the monster. Now, we’ll travel to a rail yard in Chicago where you’ll disembark, and I’ll go onto another location.” The box rattled, the closet door opened, and the duffle bag fell out. He waited until the container began to move before securing his bag and asking her if she likes saxophone jazz. He also told her that the laboratory and all evidence of his former self would self-destruct once they were underway.
“Cold anti-neutron dissolution is really clean. They won’t find anything, not even dust!” he laughed. The technical explanation left her baffled; she did however remember it for the Abbess of the Sisterhood.
It took her four days to return to the nunnery and a week of debriefing before she had time to really digest the experience. She sat in her cell and stared at the empty concrete wall. The monster lived better than she did, or at least had more style. She couldn’t stay in the Sisterhood anymore; she put the paperwork through and now waited. Now what and where to go? How would she put this on a job application? Oh, I spent five years in a nunnery hunting monsters. She pictured herself doing that and smirked as her imagination ran with the potential response. Leaning back on the wall and folding her legs up underneath her, she decided it came time to face the music.
Time to go home and make amends. If anything, that’s what she took away from the meeting with the monster, that there came a point when one needed to quit being a rebel and grow up. She began to laugh as another sister of the order came. She looked over and saw her standing in the doorway as she split her sides.
“Yes it has,” Jill responded. “Have a seat.”
The other Nun in her habit seemed to glide to a chair in the corner and hover for a moment before sitting.
“I understand you’re leaving. Care to talk about it.”
“Anna-Mae did the Abbess send you?” Jill asked sitting up.
“No I came as a friend,” Anna-Mae shrugged. She sat there as she always did stoic almost, with a slight smile across pursed lips.
“Need to rejoin the mainstream. Not enough undead types out there.”
“Really? We just staked a bunch at the Richland Cemetery in Dravosburg.”
“Not for me anymore,” Jill exhaled. “He got to me.”
“The Abbess says they’ll need to find somebody to track his new self done?”
“And for what? Being ugly? Come on Ann, he’s not the monster right now technically.”
“What principle? We always get our ghoul?” she shook her head side to side rejecting the notion. “Now the monster is a man.”
“A man with the power of immortality…”
“You mean a monster that can be a god. Trust me he’s not all that. The problem I believe is he reminds us what we’ve become and what we can make ourselves. He’s a man with the knowledge of good and evil.”
“Like Adam in the Book of Genesis?”
“Interesting allegory. In the end, he’s a man and we can make him anything we want. What I think would be a fascinating case study is why he would want to be a man. He could’ve become anything and yet he chooses to be a man. Look at history as a whole, written at the point of a bloody spear.” She leaned closer to Anna-Mae. “Robert Oppenheimer gave us the bomb. Napoleon flooded the area around Mantau, Italy to spread malaria. Then we have the genocide brought on by Margaret Sanger.”
“Where did all that come from?” Anna-Mae stuttered in surprise.
“He let me read some of his books.”
Anna-Mae didn’t know what to say, her eyes drifted away from Jill toward a black case under her bed.
Jill answered without the question being asked. “Frankie plays the sax, he likes Latin Jazz.”
I've recently published the sci-fi novel He Came From Earth, available at Borders UK, Amazon.com among many others. Softcover, hardcover and large print available. It's selling very well in Europe and the pacific rim but not as well in the United States.
No surprises there.
Todos los derechos pertenecen a su autor. Ha sido publicado en e-Stories.org a solicitud de Scott Wahrenberger.
Publicado en e-Stories.org el 03.07.2009.