The following story is a part of the Doctor Travian’s Supernatural Orphanage multimedia project.
Excerpt from Dr.Travian’s journal, circa 1884:
Housing a growing collection of creatures that feed upon human beings was becoming increasingly difficult. It was no small task to find ethical means of sustaining them, newly deceased bodies were not easy to acquire. Vampires especially are very fastidious about the quality of the blood they consume, it must be fresh, and it must be human.
One night Delphine and I were discussing possible solutions after earlier that day she had attempted to reanimate a corpse using voodoo to little success for our purposes. It is merely an imitation of life, a puppet on parakinetic strings, its heart no longer beat and its blood was stagnant and inconsumable.
‘If only’, I mused to Delphine, ‘there were some way of truly bringing the dead to back to life and sustaining it indefinitely.’
‘That would be tampering with darker magic than even I would practice, life and death hang in a delicate balance, they cannot be altered without great sacrifice. Hell, we’d be better off just resorting to murder.’
‘If magic is not the answer, then we must turn to science.’
My mind immediately revisited the tale of Doctor Victor Frankenstein, a story that had frightened me as a child, and yet by equal measures, fascinated and inspired me also. He was a Swiss scientist who had created a man from the bodies of the dead, or so the legend goes. To this day the truth of the matter is a subject of great debate, no evidence exists, not even the name of Frankenstein belongs to any living person any more. It had been years since I had given the story any thought, but now it had my full attention, to possess Doctor Frankenstein’s journal would be invaluable to me.
My search began with Ernest Frankenstein, Victor’s younger brother and the only member of the family to survive the events of the narrative. My research uncovered that he had joined the army and was killed at a young age, though he was survived by a wife and a daughter whose name after marriage became Elizabeth Berlinger. Elizabeth had four children, but only one remained in Geneva in the house of Frankenstein, Conrad Berlinger, who was not much older than myself. He was much accustomed to people enquiring about the famous story, even allowing tours through his home on occasion, and was most cooperative in aiding me in my search. The whereabouts of the journal by the end of the novel is somewhat ambiguous, and Conrad had himself invested some time is searching for any remaining examples of Victor’s work. He showed me a few pages he had in his possession but there was nothing substantial.
Somewhat disappointed, although not entirely surprised with this outcome, I none-the-less remained convinced that Victor wouldn’t have been able to bring himself to destroy the journal, it was too important to him, at the same time he would not have wanted it to be seen by anyone else. So where then could he have hidden it?
Perhaps it was all this thought of the dead that I was struck with the idea that Victor may have buried the journal with his family. Fortunately the Frankenstein’s shared a tomb, and under the cover of darkness I began my attempts to try and force it open. The tomb was divided into five doors, each marked with a different name, those of Victor’s parents, his two brothers, and Elizabeth. Below her name was a plaque that displayed Victor’s name, though he was certainly not buried within. Selecting the final door as the most likely to contain the journal, I set down my lamp and searched through my bag for the tools I required. And that’s when I saw him. Standing at the edge of the light, the finer details of his visage were unclear to me, but there was no confusing his hulking silhouette. I could not help but be visibly startled. How is it that this creature, The Creature, was alive after almost a century?
‘Are you going to try to stop me?’ I asked.
‘Far be it from me to stop one whose actions have provoked a sense of intrigue that I have not felt in years innumerable. By all means, speak of your grim endeavour. Be rest assured you will hear my retort.’ He spoke with the deliberacy of one who had not spoken in a long time.
I took a moment to consider whether or not I should tell him the truth, this was one monster I was not so sure I wanted anything to do with. He was the only one of his kind and all I knew about him came from a book that was written based on accounts far removed from the source, a book that described him possessing an intellect every bit as fearsome as his appearance. However if anyone could assist me in this endeavour, it was the Creature, so I explained my intentions while omitting as much as possible. I then, cautiously, turned the conversation to the matter of his surviving his self-immolation out in the Arctic. Even after a century, his body bore signs of burns in addition to his original scars.
‘My creator’s frail body burned much faster than my own gigantic frame. I had ample time to ponder my circumstance as the flames endeavoured to consume me. My thoughts drifted towards Dante. Was there a special circle of hell put aside for an abhorred monster such as myself who had extinguished innocent lives for the sake of vengeance? Was my father right to chastise me for my crimes? All I ever wished for is a companion. A similar and understanding being who would share my condition and grant me the opportunity to present my true nature. And yet I am alone once again. Forced into the shadows. Drawn to the former home of my master where I am doomed to forever haunt its inhabitants. Intently watching each movement, but infinitely incapable of making amends. Has fate brought you here to stir me from my torpor? You must, of course, be aware of the secrets that his journal holds. Secrets that he has long sought to bury from curious hands such as your own. In my master’s eyes the experiment was a failure, an embarrassment, but for my part it still holds the hope of salvation. You intend to use it, and if you do indeed possess the ability to unlock its deepest mysteries, then I humbly offer my assistance. I have long watched my master toil upon one such creation, and although he cruelly refused to fulfil his bargain, there are undocumented parts of his procedures that I may lend my knowledge of. All I ask in return is, that should you find success, that you complete the conditions of the promise once made to me. Build me a companion so that I may put aside my torment and finally find peace. But deny me and I shall use my considerable power to wrest that journal from your hands and return it to the earth whence it belongs.”
Conditions clearly defined, we agreed to a partnership, though I was not exactly in a position to deny him anything. He opened the tomb with ease and stepping inside lifted the lid of the coffin, I approached and looked within, sure enough, upon the breast of the skeletal remains of Frankenstein’s bride was the leather bound journal, pages yellowed but readable, it appeared to contain everything I needed.
Returning to the Orphanage we began our work as soon as possible. The Creature would collect the corpses, I could not help but notice they were most often females. He would instruct me through the procedure as much as he was able. Though my brother is the physician of the family, I acquired much knowledge through osmosis, I was also familiar with dissection from studying under Van Helsing.
The Creature believed that my interest in reanimation was simply for the sake of scientific curiosity, and so did not question my intentions further. However there came a point where he became suspicious and impatient. We had successfully reanimated six bodies, they possessed only brainstems to power their organs. They felt no pain, experienced no thought, this was the most elegant solution to my problem. These bodies, I claimed to the Creature, were merely prototypes, he never witnessed what I did with them after reanimation. I would stow them in what I refer to as the Harvesting Room, where they were laid upon beds and hooked up to a life support system of my own devising. Much like the Creature they were hardy and perhaps incapable of death. I experimented with the amount of blood I could take from them each day and they appeared to survive with ease on very little.
I would tell the Creature I was not yet ready to create his companion, that I must build more prototypes first, but he was convinced that my work exceeded Frankenstein’s and he saw no reason to delay further. True, I was more than confident in my skills, but I feared that once the terms of our agreement were fulfilled he would leave and frankly he was too valuable to me. In addition to still needing a greater supply of blood, I was just uncovering a world of medical possibilities and I needed him to provide me with the test subjects. I did intend on keeping my promise, but it had to be on my time. Unfortunately that decision was taken out of my hands. The Creature was not so easily controlled as my other specimens, he eventually discovered the Harvesting Room and flew into a rage that I could hear from my office on the second floor. I raced down to the basement but could not bring myself to descend the stairs, as from my position I could see the Creature destroying my work, and for the first time in more years than I could recall, I felt fear. I locked the heavy metal door and hoped it would be enough to contain him.
When he eventually calmed down, I explained, whilst remaining behind the safety of the door, the entirety of the situation. He conceded to my logic, but he could not forgive my deception. To make amends, salvaging what I could of the bodies, I had no choice but to finally build his companion. Now the Creature was the one in control, for days he made me work almost constantly until the grim task was complete. By the end I was so exhausted that after my creation took her first breath I withdrew upstairs and sealed the door behind me, I fell into a deep sleep almost immediately without a single care as to what happened below.
Excerpts from journal of the Creature- June to July 1884
In my naivety I had allowed myself to trust Doctor Travian, for months I had dedicated my nights to the macabre task of grave robbing for her cadaverous experiments. I expressed only patience as she applied herself fully to perfecting the art of reanimation. In truth however, and without my knowledge nor consent, she had been utilising these prototypes as a source of sustenance for the other monsters she keeps captive in this asylum. Had she told me this to begin with I might have tolerated it. It is an indignity, that these beings, the rarities for whom I can rightly call kin, are treated as less than livestock. It matters not to me that they lack a mind or higher reasoning, there is the spark of life within them. There is some ineffable quality of reanimated life that only I can but scarcely approach comprehension. Perhaps it is for the best that my kin have been denied the capacity for thought, that they should serve only as unwitting wet nurses for beings as caught between the realms of life and death as they are.
I was devastated to have made this horrific discovery on my own, there locked away in a room of the basement I found the prototypes, all in a line of beds, kept animate by a series of tubes, while the walls contained jars of their freshly harvested blood. What on earth was the doctor attempting here? My attempts to remain calm were futile, once anger seizes me, it as if fire were coursing through my veins and I felt compelled to destroy everything within my sight, including the bodies I had so carefully picked in the hopes that one of them would become my companion. None of it mattered in that moment, I was beyond logic and reason. But after the fire was exhausted I was left standing amongst the destruction I had wrought and regretted it deeply. I wished next to confront Doctor Travian, that I may have some answer to this deception. I climbed the narrow stairs only to discover that she had sealed me within the basement. From the other side of the door she begged for my forgiveness, but I have been betrayed too often in my life to be capable of forgiveness anymore. I scarcely cared to hear her justifications, all that mattered to me was that I finally had her word that she would at last dedicate herself to the creation of my companion. Her word does not carry much worth to me, but I believe my recent display of physical power had been quite persuasive. The woman timidly entered the basement and assessed the damage. She claimed the prototypes were all at least partially salvageable. Had I any trust left in the doctor I might have gone in search of a new corpse, but I imagined it unlikely that she would simply wait with doors unlocked, awaiting my return.
So fate has decided, my bride, my Eve, who could have been beautiful and perfect in every way, shall instead be a patchwork creature like myself. Perhaps that is what I deserve.
Doctor Travian’s methods of reanimation were far more efficient than those of my own creator, she was able to complete the prototypes within a week. I had in the past left her to her own devices, under the false assumption that we were working towards similar goals. Now with a complete understanding of her motives, I was going to observe her entire process, I would not allow her any distraction and she would rest only when I would permit it. She would soon know who is truly in control here, if she was not wise enough to have determined it already. I would not be denied what I deserve yet again.
The surgical portion of the process is the most time consuming, for three days Travian assembled the parts of my choosing, and once complete, the body was fitted into a harness consisting of a series of straps and tubes and lowered into a large glass tank filled with an artificial amniotic liquid. Here she would incubate until she was ready to awaken, in the meantime, it was vital to keep her under constant observation. A task I took the sole responsibility of, trusting no one in this vast and unfamiliar house. A task I did not once find displeasing. Here before me separated by mere glass was the woman I had dreamt of for as long as I could remember.
It was upon the third day that my Eve’s eyes opened, I looked upon her with hushed awe, but before she could take in her surroundings she began to seize. An unfamiliar panic gripped me, I pulled the lever to purge the fluid, and forcefully opened the tank to unhook my bride. Despite the cold touch of the amniotic fluid, a warmth spread through me, finally, I silently rejoiced, she was here in my arms. That which I had been so long denied, a companion, a right bestowed upon all men. Tears fell freely down my worn and scarred cheeks. When her mismatched eyes locked onto my own, I wondered what she thought of me. So frail and shivering was she, barely in control of her limbs, that I had difficulty keeping her in my arms as I carried her over to the bed. Had I been the same upon my resurrection? I watched her for an immeasurable moment, uncertain as to what I should do next, this was all I had ever wanted and yet so profound a joy I felt I was convinced I was not presently in reality. I tried to remove her harness but she rejected my touch, she writhed and groaned so I left her be. Much like a newborn she rocked gently on her back for some time before disappearing once more into the realm of sleep. Scarcely do I recall my first moments in this life, all that remains are the imprints of sensations, the smell of chemicals and rotting flesh, vague colours and shapes danced before my unfocused eyes, signifying nothing. Most of all I felt cold, a deep penetrating chill that remained in my bones for days until the last remaining touches of death had been purged from me.