frankensteincover

This is the second part of the preview to my novella Frankenstein: The Illuminatus Complex.

Part one of the preview is here.  A direct sequel to the story is here.

Cover by David Ellis.

Part Two

After reading this I knelt down and wept, but more tragedy was to come. It was as if Shakespeare himself had written a horrid play of my life, torturing me with his feathered pen. Mother received word that my father also had died. The details were strangely vague, but he and several other people had perished in some sort of laboratory accident. It was a shock almost too great to bear. Although our relationship had been strained, my mother and I both loved him. Two tragedies side by side were simply too much.

Mother was comforted to know I had no desire to follow in my father’s footsteps; instead I followed in my grandfather’s. Using some money my father left me I hired a ship’s crew and before I knew it I was a captain of my own ship. Being young and courageous I was anxious to see the world. In time I ran shipments to various places in the Americas, Africa, and the mysterious orient. On my journeys I sometimes took one of Grandfather’s logs with me, retracing some of his footsteps, reading his memories. Though I did not finish them all, they brought great comfort to me when I read them. They brought his presence close to me when sailing the Mediterranean, or when watching the sun set over the Atlantic.

Then the day came where I set out to do what my grandfather and others could not, cross the Northwest Passage. The day I left was a fine day. Mother greeted me at the docks. We both endured much tragedy, but she stood firm and proud of her son. Naturally she held some fear for my journey, the Franklin expedition still fresh in people’s minds. We embraced and spoke of our love for each other. “I can see your grandfather in you.” she said. That may have been the proudest moment of my life.

It was here the curtain raised on the third act of my Shakespearean tragedy. Like my grandfather, my voyage was not successful. Neither the ship nor my crew was sturdy enough to endure the arctic ice. Upon bearing the chill of the northern winds, I knew that neither was I. Soon I returned with a shame that tore at my very soul, I had failed. Worse news came upon returning. During my travels my mother had fallen into poor health, and died very suddenly. My entire being was wracked with grief and guilt. My father had abandoned my mother in pursuit of personal glory, now I had done the same, and she was gone.

Such a lonely creature I was now, my closest family gone. I couldn’t bear to look at the sea again. I sold my ship and became adrift on land. Misfortune continued; bad investments and ill luck got the better of me. Soon I found myself indebted to many with little resources of my own. Life had hit me hard, and I took to the bottle to wash away my sorrows. My time at sea was done I thought, and I became just another lost soul drifting in the streets. In youth we all dream of becoming someone great, but the cold truth was that now I was no one.

My last day in civilization was dark and dreary. I was wasting away at the local tavern. It was a rough rowdy place filled with brawls and debauchery. I sat near the door in my own drunken world. Suddenly A large hand slapped my back, a voice followed, “Victor, you know who we are?” I turned to see two large men standing before me. Misfortune had caught up with me again.

“Mr. Worth wants his money, and he wants it now.”

I was indebted to so many that I couldn’t even recall which one Mr. Worth was.
“We can do this the easy way, or the hard way.” one of them said.

I answered, “Don’t worry I have your money. I have it right here.”

I reached into my coat feigning to get some money. The two hesitated, fearing I’d draw a pistol. Instead my other hand gripped a bottle and struck one of them on the head. I threw up my chair knocking the other one down and dashed out the door. “Schultz, let’s get him!” I heard one of them yell as I ran out into the rain.

I wish I could spin a better yarn of an exciting chase, but truth is in my stupor I was lucky to get this far. Soon I stumbled into an alley and tripped over a pile of debris. Through the rain I could see my pursuers catching up to me. One had a gash on his face, the blood mixed in with the rain pouring down. His partner behind him said “Well, Schultz, I think he doesn’t have our money.”

“I think you’re right, Remus. We’re just gonna have to take what we can.” An evil glint flashed in his eyes as he pulled out a blade. Coming closer he leaned down to me, pointing the knife at my face smiling. “I’m gonna gut you like a pig!”

And this is how I thought my miserable life would end, killed in a dingy alley over a minor gambling debt. In my mind I could do no worse. Resigned to my fate I looked up at him hunching over me. The blade was approaching my face when I heard a small popping sound. Schultz arched back and let out a wet gasp. A pool of blood emerged from his stomach, and he fell dead beside me. Over his body I could see a short man covered in black behind Remus. He held a tiny gun in his hand. A whiff of smoke rose out of the barrel and disappeared in the rain. Then he put his gun away. I had no idea who this was. For all I knew it was different criminal I owed money to who wanted a piece of me for himself. Shultz lunged at him. This mysterious man lifted a gloved hand in the air and grabbed Schultz’s chin. Schultz convulsed violently, the smell of cooked flesh filled the alley, and soon Shultz lay dead beside his partner. His eyes burned out of his sockets. Who on earth could this be? Was I imagining things through drunken eyes? Was this man some sort of super-being? I learned later he had an electric device in his glove, which ran a current through his victim, frying him from the inside.

“Who are you?” I called out.

A peculiar voice whose accent I couldn’t quite trace spoke. “I saved your life. That’s all you need know for now. Come.” He turned away and began walking out of the alley. I was in an almost a dreamlike state as he led me out of the alley to a large black carriage. I remember its horses were so enormous, with the deepest black manes. “Get in, Victor, all will be explained in due time.”

“Where are we going?”

He turned to me one last time. His face was pale and he had dark sullen eyes. “Would you rather stay here and see who else is looking for you?” I said nothing more and entered the carriage. In the back compartment I sat alone, while my companion sat in the front. He was silent when I asked his name or how he knew me. All I could do at that point is sit back and try to settle my spirits. Looking out over the rainy streets I’d passed out from exhaustion.

When I awoke I looked out the carriage to see a large metal gate in front of a stone mansion. The rain had let up and the moon illuminated the night sky. I let myself out of the carriage and asked “So where are we?” Again he did not answer as he opened the large oak door and directed me inside. He finally spoke to me as we ascended the marble staircase.

“Your benefactor will explain everything, but first you must get cleaned up. A hot bath has been drawn for you with a clean set of clothes set aside. You are probably famished so a meal is being prepared. After that you will meet your benefactor, and all will be explained.” Had I been in a better state of mind I might have been more cautious in accepting such strange hospitality, but earlier in the day my life almost ended, so I did not object. Even if this was some form of trickery, I was just as well prepared to live it up, and live it up I did. After a hot bath and a shave I found the new set of clothes. There was a comfortable pair of shoes, a fine cotton shirt, and a dinner jacket of better quality than anything in my wardrobe.

Next was dinner. Not since my mother was alive had I such a fine meal. I feasted on all variety of meats, the finest cheeses and freshest vegetables the earth had to offer. This nourishment brought me back to my senses, and now I wanted to know what was afoot. My quiet companion came in and said “It is now time.”

I was led from the dining hall into a large library. It was a maze of huge oak bookshelves filled with books on every subject imaginable; the arts, science, literature, history, religion, the forbidden arts, and more. While walking across the fine carpeted floor I even recognized a few books on ocean life, including two volumes of Mysteries of the Great Submarine Grounds. Scattered throughout were large tables accompanied by many chairs, enough to host a large audience for reading sessions or whatever pursuit’s intellectuals did. Only one man waited to greet me, a small frail man with a few wisps of white hair. Around his neck was a strange medallion of a crescent moon. Great wisdom hung from his eyes. My first impression of him was pity. He sat at the head of two rows of chairs; at his table was a glass lamp. To one side hung a peculiar painting of a bird-headed man standing atop a sun. He laid eyes on me and spoke.

Now Read the rest of the Story!

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