Frankenstein: The Last Man Part 7, Dreams of Someone.

Posted: July 29, 2013 in Frankenstein: The Last Man, Hard Coal Studios
Tags: , , , ,

Our hands were bound and a rope connected the three of us at the waist. Mother and daughter called out to each other as Sophia carried little Michelle off to the carriage. It was no use resisting. We were hopelessly outnumbered. Before Sophia boarded her carriage Michelle reached out her tiny arms to her mother who cried “It’s ok baby. It will be all right.”

“Mr. Aliquis!” Michelle called out. Aliquis let out a slight grunt, but he was too weak and in to precarious a position to do anything.

That day we marched maybe ten kilometers. It was exhausting, and we were not allowed to speak. Maybe halfway into the journey everyone stopped to rest and we then had a small moment of privacy.

“Aliquis.” Mary whispered. He turned his head. “Will you be strong enough to fight by tomorrow?”

“I must rest.” he said quietly. “But by morning I should have some of my strength back.”

Then she turned to me and asked “If Shelly and I can get us out of these ropes, can you fight?”

“What are you thinking? You’re going to get us killed?”

“Yes or no.” she said impatiently, almost raising her voice.

“It’s been a while.”

Back to a whisper she replied “Well try to stay out of the way then.”

“That girl.” Aliquis said. He still looked very weak. “There’s something about her.”

“I know.” Mary said. “She’s my baby.”

Late in the afternoon we went through the town of Vohburg and finally stopped outside the Durnbucher forest. Sophia spied a small hillside and said “We’ll camp here.” The group stopped and began unpacking their belongings. May and I noticed the few men that were in the group set up camp apart from the women. I recalled from my time in Paris that there were more women in the group than men. Such was still the case, and they evidently still lived under very strict rules. Sophia approached us and undid the ropes at our waste. Looking around further she said “Tie Aliquis to that tree.” Two men took him to a tree atop the small hillside. Solomon followed eagerly behind. He smacked Aliquis in the back of the head and hurled some insults at him, and found great pleasure in seeing him tied to the tree.

“Where is my daughter!” Mary demanded.

Sophia approached her answering. “Mary, I know these are impossible circumstances. Please believe that I still consider you a friend.” She lightly held her cheek. “I could never separate the two of you. We’ll all eat together, like a family, like it used to be.”

“Just last night you tried to have us killed!”

“You ran away! I didn’t want you killed I just wanted you back!”

“You sent armed men and women after us. They shot at my daughter. MY DAUGHTER!”

“Dammit Mary I didn’t want you killed! I just wanted you to tell us where the survivors were.” She then began lowering her voice. “You know things are starting to fall apart. The men are getting restless. We need fresh blood among our members.”

“Fresh blood that you can order around. That’s always how it was with you!”

“I’ve heard enough of this.” Sophia waved her hand dismissing her. “Take her away.” Two women took her by the arms to the women’s camp.

“Even after the world ends you’re still trying to run it.” Mary yelled defiantly.

Sophia took a moment to collect herself, then ordered “You two,” Sophia pointed to two women on horseback, “scout the area, tell anyone you find to come to this hillside tomorrow morning. Tell them we have a miracle!” The two men rode off on horseback as the sun went down.

Now alone with Sophia she asked “Now you. You have to tell me about this friend of yours. What is he?”

“You dammed vulture! Why don’t you leave that woman and her child alone? What is the matter with you!”

Sophia answered patiently “Mary and I both know I would never harm that child. Now enough games, what of this Aliquis?”

The truth was bewildering to me, though I had no time to ponder it. “If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me.”

“You heard how he spoke to me. Put together, walked before our grandparents were born. I’d thought Solomon had gone mad when he’d come back. I almost couldn’t believe him.” Looking up to Aliquis tied to the tree she continued “But just looking at him I can tell, There’s something ungodly miraculous about that creature. Now tell me where did he come from.”

“I swear to you I’d found him just the day before.” After briefly telling how I believed to be the Last Man, and how I’d found Aliquis under a pile of rubble she replied.

“I believe you, I do. What your saying is so impossible, but I know you’re telling me the truth.”

“You’re former leader was lying!” I responded angrily. “When I saw him in Paris he was hiding the effects of the plague. If there are more survivors out there, and they come here tomorrow, they’re going to find out the truth, that you’re fraud just like that he was.”

“I know he was a fraud!” I was stunned to hear this. “We were sent out on a scouting mission. I pleaded with him to allow my husband to accompany me. Since our son fell to the plaque we’d promised to always stay together, but the rules were strict. When we came back, it was too late.” She looked down and clutched her blade. “If the dammed plague hadn’t taken that impostor, I would have killed him myself.”

Trying to reason with her I said “We’ve all lost people. I lost my sister, all my friends. Please, don’t punish Mary for our losses. Ruling over more people under the same falsehoods won’t bring your family back.”

Looking up again at Aliquis she answered “Are you sure about that Lionel? Surely you saw how sick Shelly was, and today she is full of life! I confess that even I had doubts of the nature of this world, but seeing that creature, it simply cannot be explained!” The sun was setting as we stood in silence for a moment. Solomon approached and she ordered “Enough of this. Take him to the men’s camp.” Solomon grabbed me by the color and took me away.

Before we got to camp he motioned toward the top of the mount. There was Aliquis tied to the tree as if he were a criminal in a barbaric age. “Don’t think your friend will get you out of this one.” I could see the blood stained on his machete. “He’ll be lucky if he lives by morning.”

“Sophia won’t like that.”

He answered by spitting on the ground. “You think that concerns me? I’ll be running things soon. And that pretty thing you got your eye on, you’re gonna watch me take her. The rest of the men can have what’s left of her and her daughter.”

‘No!” I struggled to break free from his grip but it was useless. He drug me back to the men’s camp and tied me to a tree. “There you are, you can be just like your friend.” he said mockingly. He left me there not far from the campfire, that I was visible in the firelight so they could keep an eye on me. Apparently they took what was left of the deer Aliquis caught yesterday. The group used it to make a stew. They shared it together and for a moment were laughing and being jovial. It was as if I wasn’t even present. It burned my heart to have the companionship of other men so close, yet still unattainable. The hunger pangs in my stomach made the situation all the more dire.

“Well you do it then!” Solomon shouted.

“I’m just saying, Sophia ordered us to take care of him.” another voice replied.

“Well you go do it then!” Solomon shouted again.

“Ok I will I don’t mind at all. Good heavens you don’t have to shout.”

A man approached me with a small bowl in his hand. The meaty smell made my mouth water and my stomach cry out in desperation.

“Here you go friend.” Finally a spoon reached my lips. I gulped down its contents without taking a moment to savor them.

“Thank you.” I said after hurriedly swallowing another spoonful.

“Don’t rush now I wouldn’t want you to choke.” He was much kinder than the rest of the group.

Now more in my senses I took time to savor the third spoonful. “He’s always like that I’m afraid. I’m not much of a fighter myself but I couldn’t stand to see you starving here.”

“Thank you again.” I savored another spoonful.

“I’m John. Before the world went to hell I was an actor. Not much of an audience to act for now I suppose.” He gave me another spoonful as he said quietly  ”I have to ask you something. Who is this Aliquis friend of yours? He’s got everyone all riled up.”

“I wish I knew myself. I…”

“He’s had enough!” Solomon shoved John down before snatching the bowl away. Greedily he emptied the remaining contents in his mouth and licked his lips as he looked at me with a smile.

“Now there’s no need for that” John protested “I was just feeding him.”

“I said he’s had enough. You got a problem with that you can join him against that tree.”

“Who put you in charge anyway.”

“I did.” The other men behind him watched. “Tomorrow if anyone shows up, they’re gonna see that too.”

“You’ve been doing a lot of talk lately.” A shorter stouter man approached. “Don’t forget who’s hauled your crippled ass around today.”

“Is that right!”

“You’re not ready to take charge of this outfit. You never were.”

“And I guess you are Jake!” You always said you could take me with one hand. Let’s prove it.”

Just like that the men gathered around in a circle. The stouter man raised both his hands. I recognized his form, he’d obviously boxed as a youth. He darted around in the night throwing a few jabs. He was doing well against him, landing a few combinations I remembered from my more violent youth. But as an adult it was not a pleasing sight to me, even if Solomon was the recipient. “Stop fighting!” I desperately pleaded. Maybe Aliquis was right, that we were doomed to this fate. Perhaps by the sunset of the next day I will be the Last Man again.

Solomon leapt up into the air and did a spinning kick to Jake’s face that sent him reeling. Another kick to the back of the knee and a punch to the jaw and Jake was down. A kick to the kidney’s made Jake roll to his side and with one swift motion Solomon knelt down beside him and wrapped his one arm around Jake’s neck, choking him till he was red in the face.

The small group of men cheered in delight, with no care for who the victor was, there applause was for the mere presence of violence. “Tomorrow we’ll see who shows up.” Solomon boasted.” They’ll see who’s boss, then we’ll take the women. He looked at me with an evil smile on his face and finished. “All of them.”

There was another lustful applause as Solomon marched proudly over to me. “Stop fighting.” he said while giving me a punch to the stomach. I managed to stop myself from vomiting my dinner as he continued. “You might as well ask us to stop breathing. And if this bothers you wait till you see what I do to that pretty little AHHHHHHHH!!!”

Sophia emerged from the darkness, her right hand squeezing Solomon between his legs . Her other hand shoved a dirty sponge into his mouth and pressed him against me and the tree. I squirmed in discomfort but there was nothing else I could do. There was an overpowering stench from the sponge. I could not contain myself any further and vomited. Most of it hit the ground, but trials of food and stomach acid dripped down the stub of Solomon’s arm.

“You think it’s funny to feed him a sponge full of Vinegar.” She shouted. “And I saw that wound you made on his side. We found something with power over the plague and you only think of your pride.” Thankfully she stopped pressing on him. I breathed in heavily as I’d started to be smothered by his frame. “Now clean this mess up.’ Solomon began wiping his arm as Sophia smacked him square in the face. “I meant him you idiot!” He stared stupidly for a second. Before I knew it she ripped his shirt off and shoved it into his hands. “Clean him up!”

Begrudgingly he used the rags that once was his shirt to clean me off. “I’d ask you to feed him to but you’re probably too stupid to do that. John fill up a bowl and bring it to me.”

“Yes ma’am.” He politely responded.

“Now get out of my sight.” Solomon tossed his shirt to the ground and walked away. Soon John was back to hand Sophia another bowl. “Thank you John. When I’m done here I must speak with you. I have a job for you tomorrow” When he left I noticed the two women Sophia sent out earlier were back. Both were armed and were watching over us. “Can’t do anything right.” Sophia knelt down beside me and picked up the dirty shirt. There was some vomit still on my feet which she humbly wiped away. Rising back to her feet she brought some water to my lips. “Rinse your mouth out.” So strange it was to see this women I knew to be so cruel appear so mother like before me. “For what it’s worth.” she said as I spit the water out. “I give you my apologies.”

After taking another spoonful of stew I replied “There’d be nothing to apologize for if you’d left us alone.”

It made chills run up my spine to write these words. What would my mother, who championed for the rights of women, think of her own flesh and blood recording such dialogue. The savagery disturbed me to the point where it affected my dreams. I had nightmares of these evil men and their cruelty, their madness affecting my sleep. But for a moment I saw something even more frightening. A brief flashing moment of my dream revealed Aliquis tied to the tree. There was this horrible creature that haunted this tale, and the worst part was, I’d seen it before.

During one summer, long before writing the Last Man, I’d spent a holiday with a group of close friends. One summer night began telling stories. We’d shared folktales and tales that were rumored to be true, stories of ghosts and vampires. I’d shared legends I’d heard of scientists attempting re-animate the dead. It is a strange sensation to find entertainment in fear, but it was not without consequence.

That evening I had a most vivid nightmare. I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. The thing sat up, it was alive! Its hideous face glared at me, hating my mind for conjuring it. It drew near me, and before I knew it a flurry of images flooded my eyes. The same creature appeared to me again and again, but each time it seemed to be in a different form. Various versions of this thing flashed before me. Some of them could speak and were very articulate, others made only grunting sounds, but I know in my soul that they had all grown from the same blasphemous seed. Just for a moment, I saw one of them tied to a tree, with a small wound to his side. Looking back now, I’m sure it was Aliquis I’d seen in my dream.

This bizarre tale has haunted me long enough. It is time for its conclusion.

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