"all ye holy"
Genre: Drama, Horror
Time Frame: Pre-post Novel
Characters: Ensemble Cast
Summary: When you create a shadow of your reflection, the image returned to you is as monstrous as the pride that made a Prometheus out of you.
Notes: This year I am playing around with the 50 sentence challenge over at another site - which prompts one to write four stories a month based on a set of fifty prompts. The fifty prompts result in one sentence each, and then a whole story is formed from the snapshots provided in those sentences. Obviously, this challenge will slaughter grammar, and bring out the seldom seen fandom from the muse - but is a fun and curious thing that has already been incredibly interesting. If you wish to, you can track my progress in my profile.
For Table III of March I decided to try to write for something different again, and this is what came out. I hope you enjoy my humble offering to a truly breathtaking work.
Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, but for the words.
In his latest letter to his sister, Captain Robert Walton found it most difficult to choose his words, still unbelieving as he was of what his search to the far north had yielded – the knowledge of the disgusting and truly disquieting deeds those of the human race – and those not – were capable of, those very acts having just transpired on the decks of his very ship.
"Brother," Elizabeth winked at him, and Victor had to hide a blush at the way her voice hugged the tone of his name, too young to understand why her words stole through him so, and just old enough to watch the shape of her mouth as she uttered them.
The works of Agrippa, Paracelsus, and Magnus – it was these alchemists of old who shaped his belief and views of the sciences of the future, their words planting seeds in the fertile and genius soil of a young and creative mind.
The road to Ingolstadt was long and hard, but when the white steeple of the university town arose in the distance, Victor felt his hope soar as he gazed upon what was to be the fertile playground of his academic mind.
In Belrive, the storm above them seemed to be a force of divine anger – the tempestuous power of the lightning that struck the ancient bows of the oak tree violent enough to kill, even as much as it had the potential to grant life to the wide wonderment of his thoughts.
His childhood heroes were nonsense in the eyes of the modern scientific community – stale and outdated – and yet, it was with a hunger unparalleled that he trod upon the paths that those before him had already cleared, anxious to unfold the deepest mysteries of nature – those hiding places that mankind was not to understand, nor pursue.
Superstition had never tickled his fear, neither had fear of the dark made him tremble at apparition or spirit – a churchyard was not holy ground, but merely a bounteous feast of knowledge awaiting in the silent secrets of the bodies in repose.
It was a simple idea that held the heaviest of ramifications; and his mind tackled the possibility of reanimating dead matter (after seeing the way the worm rotted the brain, and the body turned to dust – he knew of the waste of an artist's palate in decay all around him) the same as one would decide to wear a brown coat or a blue.
Distracted from his all night endeavors, he read over Elizabeth's latest letter, a smile just daring to ghost his face as he closed his eyes and saw her like a distant dream in his mind's eye – fair haired and gaze like the sky at high noon, with the grace of the mountain goats that patrolled the peaks in the early hours.
His work was secret – done in the uppermost apartment, and far away from the eyes of his fellow students, but eventually, he found himself jumping at the turning of a leaf upon the ground or a glance of a branch upon the window – sure that nature herself was judging him for his crime, and finding him wanting.
After two years of work and toil, the beauty of his vision had departed from Victor somewhat, and as his journey came to completion he couldn't help but feel a tremor of fear and disgust as the dead white eyes of his creation followed him from their still sockets, pursuing him past his lab and into the sanctity of life outside before invading even his dreams.
A mummy given life, a Nosferatu infused with the night's splendor – even the denizens of Hell as related by Danté - could not have rivaled the wretched hideousness of the creature whom he had given life.
In the morning the creature was gone, as if he were merely an apparition or dream, and Victor let loose a cackling laugh as he turned to Henry, his eyes alight as one mad as he felt himself bounce between elation and despair, rapture and disappointment, over the strange turn his life had taken.
"He is here – he has eyes to see, and watches me even still," Victor hissed in a mad whisper, his hands clasping his head as he imagined the shadows as specters, and the rays of light insidiously smiling things as Henry tried to restrain him from doing his body harm at the fit his mind was inflicting on him.
It took the Creature little time to realize that those who were like him, but not – it was wise to stay away from them, knowing that searching for food and other basic needs unerringly resulted in loud cries and sharp weapons pointed his way, without fail – each and every time.
Sensation was a mass of feeling and emotion – sounds and scents and noises all cast upon a creation who had no guide but the orb of the moon above as he struggled to come to life from the dead matter that had spawned him.
It was simple, unthinking instinct to aide the drowning girl – a human's reactions in a monster's body – but it was that act of kindness that taught him pain when he was rewarded with a bullet in the shoulder.
"Just what are you running from, my friend?" Henry asked in concern as he took in the dead cast to Victor's eyes – a secret hidden within their depths that he would never be privy to.
In those months after the disappearance of his creation, his fall into ill health and his recovery, Victor could almost shake off the thoughts that had at one time consumed him – and only look forward to returning home, and to the peace that that it promised him..
The great cathedral of his mind was now as shallow and empty as a lone pew in an abandoned country church; the horror of his thoughts sickening him as he saw the bruises on his dead brother's neck – knowing of only one creature with such a grasp - the ramifications of that thought resounding through him as he wondered at what kind of horror he had unleashed on the world.
His years away from home had not prepared him for the staggering beauty of Elizabeth as she walked to him, her grief only intensifying the almost holy radiance about her as he drank in the sight of her as if he had seen nothing else but the interior of a monk's cell in all of their time apart.
"There is no way that Justine could have killed poor William," Victor stammered, knowing of the woman's innocence, but unsure how to clear her name by telling of his own atrocities – as he worried, the shadow of a single crucifix above the mantle mocked his mental anguish.
"I would have given her the bauble – there was no reason for theft," Elizabeth protested, her fervent words doing little to sway the judges in Justine's favor, no matter how moving her tears were.
The grave soil was fresh and turned, holding souls who died empty deaths; and with a queasy feeling, Victor reflected that where quests ended, they also began.
Justine was sustained by her innocence and her absolute hope in divine salvation as she was led to the executioner; Victor was torn apart by the fierce fangs of his guilt, and the unbearable curse of divine retribution awaiting him.
When he had first torn asunder the boundaries between life and death, he had envisioned a species grateful and loyal to him – after all, what father could claim such devotion from his children as Victor could from his creation?
But that was the idealistic dream of a young man awed by the single ray of light he had shined into the dark of nature's secret hiding places; the reality before him was not even half what the dream had been.
His increasing melancholy and dark thoughts led him to traveling, hoping that pure unsoiled nature would lift his spirits; the summit of Montanvert providing him with a view that surely only God and the Angels above could hold over Earth.
"Thou who plays so easily with life and death – how does thee threaten what he has created, for as men hate the miserable then I am hated – for I am miserable beyond comparison," the words of the hellish Creature spoiled the serenity around him, tearing to shreds the peace he had just been struggling to regain.
The Monster's words were eloquent as he implored him, and yet Victor could feel no pity for the lamentations of the miserable wretch – as eager as he was to break the most sacred covenant between creator and created, and end the life of the Creature who had destroyed his own.
"I am thy creature – and I will be docile to both my lord and maker if thou had but the will to hear my tale – then, thou can judge whether or not to console or abhor righteously."
The first time the Monster viewed himself in the still water, he felt horror and revulsion as compared to the admiration he had held for the perfect forms of the humans he had observed – if even he could not bear to look on his own form – if his creator could not bear to look upon him – then how could he expect the world at large to?
There was a family in the woods from whom the Monster learned to speak – and learned to speak well - for these souls he also aided, collecting wood and doing other useful things by night's cover until he finally deigned to reveal himself – being accepted by the blind man, and spurned by the siblings who were possessed with the curse of superficial sight.
As the Monster spun his tale (his speech elegant and his sensibilities refined) Victor had a closing between the abominable specter in his mind and the actual, sentient being before him – the contrast once again turning his world until he fought with understanding what was up, and what was down.
The tragedies of that small family in the cottage also taught him the disgusting habit of human vice and insensitivity – as ugly within as he was on the out.
"Thou should have seen in thy an Adam, and yet, I am a fallen angel – cursed as Satan to the view of thee."
The Monster claimed it was loneliness and vengeance (creating him with passions and human sensibilities where he could never connect to either) that drove him to murder (to ensure that Victor knew his pain in the only way he knew how), and it was one simple request (breathed like a prayer) that would set both of them free from the other forever.
The Monster left him that night with his promise and his threat, and once more Victor began gathering his supplies to him – to create a spouse for, and end the loneliness of the creature that he had cursed.
Smiling with bloodless lips at her worries, Victor pulled her close to him as if they were still children, and innocent in their hopes and their affections, saying, "Elizabeth, believe me when I say that the thought of marrying you is the only small light in my life at the moment."
The cold Scottish weather, and the toils of his labours made Victor not recognize the look of himself in the mirror – so altered and aged was he – wearied and burdened by the dark things he once again tasked his hands with.
The female monster growing on the table, just struggling to draw her first breath suddenly filled Victor with a fresh wave of apprehension, for should she hate and resolve to spurn man even though her other said they should retreat to some deserted part of the world – how could he in good conscious create another like the first?
Stealing his heart against any emotion at all, Victor set his blade to the shuddering throat of the woman before him, feeling the Monster's enraged eyes bore into his back as he freed humanity from his ignorance even as he sealed his own fate.
His few moments of almost Elysian peace and elation after ending the second monster's life immediately retreated to worry and despair as he thought of how the Monster would take his vengeance – what was left of his family no doubt waiting to fall to the miserable game they played.
He spent months in a barely lucid cloud of madness and despair; his mind finally unable to take all that he had subjected it to.
As Victor had murdered the Monster's bride, so Elizabeth now laid dead on the night that she took on the name of Frankenstein – the lure of vengeance and a most acute infliction of pain too poetically just to pass by.
William, Justine, Henry, Elizabeth, and his dear Father – they were the staggering tole that the Monster had taken from the realms of man, and it was for them that Victor set out on his mad hunt, not knowing or caring if he came out alive at the end of his journey – only knowing that as he had sown, those innocent had reaped.
It was this way he met the good Captain – hunting the Monster up into the north, past where any other mortal would dare to travel – sick and shivering, and lost with delusions on the unending sea of ice.
The Captain watched with wide eyes as the Monster (for he could be described no other way) tenderly reached out, and closed Victor's dead eyes, something almost like remorse in his gaze – as if the murder had been a reckless accident rather than the final act of vengeance sown from the deepest seed of hate.
"The bewitching idea holds one in thrall," the Monster whispered upon noticing his audience, "the means to end pain and gain the unattainable; these are what I stained my hands for, and yet fear not – for these stained hands shall soon no more hold life in them to steal from those who first stole, anymore."
With a trembling hand, Walton slid the quill over the last character in his letter, blowing on the ink to dry it; scarcely believing the horrible tale had had been told . . . and had seen firsthand, before turning and ordering the ship home.