Friday, August 22, 2014

The Journal of Frankenstein's Brother, Part 2

as transcribed by Zorikh Lequidre
(part 2 of 2, continued from yesterday)

When I reached the creatures, I was able to see them in greater detail, as if they now allowed themselves to be revealed to me. I was now within their reach and had no chance of getting away, even if I turned and ran with all my speed (a course of action, that, upon reflection, a reasonable man should not have considered unreasonable, but which, for reasons beyond my ken, was completely outside my realm of consideration). I saw that they were not quite human, but their eyes revealed an intelligence and depth of feeling as deep as any man, perhaps even beyond.

My first thought was to introduce them to my creature. I tried to speak, but found myself incapable of aught but the hoarsest of whispers. With only such a meager attempt at verbal communication available to me, I decided to forgo words altogether and gestured to them to follow me, and they did.

When we approached the creature's cabin, I found him standing in the doorway, as if he was expecting visitors. My mind now swims with the implications of this. Were my creature and these beings of the North American woods communicating on a level of which man was incapable? If so, how long had these creatures been standing in the clearing, and what had they said to each other? My mind boggles with the possibilities, but I must get on with my report of what happened.

Unlike the human inhabitants of this region, these beings met my creature with solemnity and restraint. They touched each other on the shoulders. My creature hummed softly, as if attempting to vocally reflect the sensation that had woken me up. I started to feel small and insignificant beneath them, as if this was a moment of great import and significance. To think that such a small, frail, temporary creature as I, a member of a species only but recently occupying this land, this planet, this universe could ever accomplish anything as momentous as this would be an act of great hubris on my part. I was merely an incidental part of the environment, no more relevant than a small mammal in the trees, whose only concern for the creatures now communing was whether they would interfere with his gathering of nuts for the winter.

But still, beneath all this, I felt a swelling of pride, for I had created this creature. With my own mind I interpreted the work of my brother. With my own hands I constructed the being that now stood before me. With my own initiative I had brought him to this place. Without me none of this would have happened, and we humans would have gone on living, concerning ourselves with our petty squabbles, fighting over our metaphorical nuts for the winter, never knowing that the secrets of life and nature lie there before us for discovery, if only we could look past our confounded prejudices and selfish desires to find them.

The next thing I knew I was back in my own bed, the sun leaking through the trees, through the window, and into our cabin. Had I dreamed it all? But the sensation was so real! Sometimes dreams can be so real we accept them as fact until the moment of awakening, and then try to deny their ephemerality in the face of reality. But then they fade from memory like wisps of smoke or ripples in the water with nothing, literally nothing, to prove that they were ever there. In fear of this phenomena of forgetfulness, I immediately sat to write down the experience, which is the only way I can report it now, for it faded from my mind in much the same way.

I chose not to share it with my colleagues. They had come with me this far, had witnessed my success in the laboratory and were accepting of the premise of the experiment, but somehow I knew that to reveal this experience to them would cause them to doubt my sincerity as a scientist. It had been an experience that was unquantifiable, unverifiable, one that bordered on the spiritual. I sought out footprints, or any other visible sign of the incident I had experienced, and found nothing. Was I mad? Were these creatures in such harmony with nature that they could move among it without being detected or leaving a sign? Was there more to the universe than the realm of human experience allows? Are there truly more things in Heaven and Earth than is dreamt of in our philosophy?

On the evening of that day the natives came forth into the clearing by our cabins. It had been less than a month since we had arrived, and it was the first full moon we would experience there, and I supposed that this is what the natives were celebrating. As the sun went down the natives lit a bonfire and started dancing in a big circle. They played music with primitive drums and pipes. As we stood and watched we were invited to join the circle by the natives, and soon we were welcoming the full moon with all our hearts. We were fed with the most delightful of foods and drinks, presumably made from the local fruits and vegetables, nuts, roots, grains, and berries. I thought it curious that there was no meat, particularly considering the animal skins the natives had worn in our previous encounter, but I assumed that these innocent savages had found a way to live in harmony with the local fauna, and resigned to pursue the question of the origins of the hides later. In any event, certainly from the taste and volume of the food at this celebration, they had found epicurean satisfaction in a vegetarian diet.

The festival happened in such a whirlwind of activity that I did not have the opportunity to invite my creature to join, although I would have been concerned at introducing him to so much excitement so soon. But before I was able to collect my wits I had danced, dined, and drunk so much that I had to retire to our cabin to recover.

I must have dozed off, for when I awoke the full moon had risen and the sounds of celebration had died down. I ventured out the door and saw the mysterious creatures from the previous night sitting around the dying embers of the fire. The natives were nowhere to be seen. I approached the creatures with caution, wary lest any sudden movements or loud noises disturb them. They now seemed real to me, almost common place, as if this was a natural way for them to exist in a relaxed state.

I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to bring forth my creature and see if he would commune with them as he had the previous night. If that had been a dream, I thought, what would happen now, in the light of reality? I tried to whisper to the nearest one, but as in the previous night, my whisper was so hoarse it could barely be said to be a sound at all. Yet the nearest creature did hear me, and turned, slowly, to look at me. I felt that the only other sound I could make than a whisper was a full-throated shout, but my respect for the mood of the moment did not allow it. These creatures seemed so large in my presence that the only way they would be able to understand me was if I shouted, but what business had I, a mere human, to do that in their presence? As a scientist, dedicated to observing natural phenomena, how could I do something so disruptive to the natural state of these strange beings?

But somehow the nearest creature, the one who had turned to me, understood what I was trying to say. He did not respond in any obvious, direct manner, but simply turned back to the fire. Was I being ignored? Thought insignificant? Allowed to leave? The meaning was inscrutable to me, but at least I was obviously not a threat. I got up and ran to my creature's cabin. The path seemed longer and more overgrown than I had thought it to be. I found myself out of breath when I arrived. I opened the door to find the plants that had been gathered to fill the cabin had nearly overgrown it, forming a jungle of almost Amazonian dimensions. The ceiling seemed higher than it had originally been built. His table was in the middle of the room, and on it was a plate with a slice of toasted bread with some form of sauce or preserve spread upon it. I looked for my creature but saw no trace of him. Perhaps he was hiding in the undergrowth, The idea that he could have left the cabin did not occur to me. I picked up the toasted bread and examined it. I noticed a smell on the spread. It was unfamiliar to me as being of any form of spread or preserve of which I'd had experience. Then my eye wandered past the bread, to the table, to the base of a large plant-pot but a few feet away. I saw an...object. A thing, sticking out from behind it. The thing was white and had the distinct shape of a bone, a thighbone, perhaps. I was intrigued by the curiosity of what sort of thing could have that shape and been brought into this cabin.

I approached it cautiously, growing more certain with each step that it was a thighbone, and more trepidatious about what that might mean. I turned the corner around the small tree inside the plant-pot and found a sight that will chill me until the day that I die.

The thigh bone was connected to a hip bone. The hip bone was connected to a back bone. The back bone was connected to a skull, and the skull was resting under a pile of bones higher than my own head.

What have I done?!? What have I created!?! My blood froze. My body chilled. All the cliches of the Penny Dreadfuls came alive in that moment of realization of the abomination that had come forth from my laboratory, from my own hands!

I retched. I collapsed. I crawled to the door and ran back to my cabin. I searched for my colleagues to no avail. I ran out of the cabin and saw the giant creatures of the forest standing near the remains of the fire, facing me. Amongst their number, central among them, was my creature. They started moving towards me. I envisioned my bones on that pile in the cabin. Grotesque images of my creature's mastication of my flesh flashed before me. I turned and ran.

I ran through the woods, heedless of the million bits and pieces, twigs and branches, rocks and stones, leaves and insects in my path. As I ran I had a thought that was terrifying in its comfort to me: That as his creator, my creature wanted me to join them in their abominable, inhuman culture, to be one of them, feasting of the flesh of lesser men! To imagine that I would be comforted by being welcomed into such a fellowship! Was my attachment to humanity, to human virtue so tenuous that I would join a brotherhood that gained nourishment from consumption of my fellow human beings, beings as capable of thought, of feeling, of creation as I?

Sheer exhaustion and the denseness of the undergrowth slowed my progress, but did not diminish my ardor for exit from that nightmare, now too real to dismiss. Dawn came. As the sun climbed my flight continued. Fear and desperation overcame hunger and weariness and I continued to plunge forth through field and wood, across river and stream. Somehow I found my way back to civilization in the form of a fort by a lake manned by soldiers of the British Empire. I dared not tell them of my plight, my shame, my horror, and allowed them to believe that I had been captured by natives and struck dumb by being witness to some inhuman ritual that I now would have thought tame by comparison to my true experience. I write this journal in the desperate hope that it will somehow purge me of these feeling I have, these visions of horror, this realization of my folly.

My only endeavor now is to seek the undiscovered country from whose borders no man returns. My only hope is that I find a dreamless sleep, an eternal forgetfulness that will wipe clean all memory of what I have done. If however, I face some form of eternal damnation, I pray only that it will be my own to suffer, and that Humanity will not suffer from my hubris in thinking myself capable of achieving that which is only for nature or God to achieve. If would-be Prometheii continue to tamper with forces beyond their control they risk not only the ruination of their souls but the destruction of all we have achieved.

These were the last words of the journal of Dr. Nicholas Frankenstein. His body was never found.

On the grounds of a prestigious university in the British Empire stands a monument to learning and the pursuit of knowledge. The inscription is poetically worded, describing how only through the tireless pursuit of knowledge can man ever hope to improve himself.

Somewhere else is a small headstone on which reads the name DR. N. FRANKENSTEIN.


Here are some more versions of the original story to enjoy:

...and just for fun:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Journal of Frankenstein's Brother Part 1

A couple of nights ago I had a dream. This dream affected me so much that not only did I feel inclined to write it down (as I have several other dreams in this blog), but to write a short story based on it. This story expands some of the experiences of the dream and builds upon it. I will be posting it in two parts. Here is part one:

as transcribed by Zorikh Lequidre

I was determined not to repeat the mistakes of my brother.

I and my learned colleagues ventured into the North American wilds to find a secluded spot where we could educate my creature while gradually acclimating him to human contact. I told him that we were going to investigate the local flora, a project that seemed to interest him. With this in mind we built two cabins in the woods a reasonable distance apart. I wanted him to have his own space, to which he could retreat and have the benefit of privacy and the dignity of possession. His cabin was large, and he took to filling it with plant specimens, until it was nearly as foliated on the inside as the outside. I took this as a sign that he liked our choice of environment, and congratulated myself on what I thought was my correct instincts.

After some days a local tribe paid us a visit. They had a curious command of the language, which I attributed to their isolation and limited contact with the civilized world. They were bundled in unfamiliar skins with decorations of long hair and fur, which I took to be of the local fauna. Being as this region was so remote, I attributed my unfamiliarity with them to an assumption that the wildlife of these woods must be uniquely adapted to the environment and had not yet been collected in sufficient quantities to fill the zoologial gardens and natural history museums of my acquaintance.

I informed the natives that I had a friend who wished to met them. Using the broadest of gestures and the simplest of words, I brought forth my creature from his cabin and introduced him to the natives. They smiled at each other, touched hands, and made eye contact with genuine delight. They were quite welcoming to the creature, a far cry from the ironically uncivilized treatment given to my brother's tragic creature by civilized man. I felt this was a very good sign, and again felt confirmed in my belief that I was doing the right thing.

I kept the meeting brief, as I did not want to push my luck, and escorted my creature back to his cabin. His face revealed an amazement, as if he had not expected such an encounter. He seemed almost a little confused as to what to make of it all. I attributed this to the differences between the natives and my colleagues and myself. I expected that he had not realized that humans came in such varieties.

Again I congratulated myself. The species of man comes in a wonderful variety of shapes, sizes and colors, and we must learn to recognize and appreciate the unique values of each of them, or we are doomed to destroy ourselves. The xenophobia of the unenlightened masses comes from lack of contact with the varieties of the world, and plays to the fear of what is different. This is a logical fear, as our simian ancestors justifiably feared the unknown. Therefore we must raise our children in an environment of diversity and understanding. That is the hope of mankind.

With this revelation warming my heart, I settled in for the night's sleep. This confirmation of my natural inclination was an unexpected result of this experiment. I drifted off to sleep wondering what other discoveries I would make, to what new visions into the human psyche the creature would introduce me.

I failed to sleep through the night, however. Some sensation, like a premonition, or perhaps an intuition, awoke me. There was something present, not quite stirring but definitely present, outside our cabin. I rose from my bed and cautiously peered out the window. The night was brightly lit by the nearly-full moon, and in the clearing I saw about eight or nine creatures, each one a height that rivaled that of my creature, standing perfectly still.

Had I never seen the clearing before I would have assumed they were some sort of stunted trees, or other natural formation, standing, loosely grouped at the edge of the ground, their stillness being so perfect. But there was a sensation emanating from them. It was not quite a sound, but more of a wave, a vibration, that affected me in a most curious manner. One might think that this was merely the natural feelings of fear, uncertainty, and trepidation, but no, I was quite familiar with those feelings already. This was rather more a feeling of comfort, as if I was drawn to them. I approached them and found myself before them faster than I thought I could traverse the distance. I wondered if they were capable of moving without my noticing, or if perhaps my perception of time and distance were being somehow affected.


Here are some versions of the original story to enjoy:

...and just for fun...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What should I do about my knee?

OK, here is the story with my right knee, and I will need some pros and cons: The ACL is completely torn, disconnected. There is a little tear in the rear meniscus, and some arthritis beginning to kick in. I am a perfect candidate for ACL repair, which would take one day, outpatient, have me on crutches for a couple of weeks, and then therapy, and I would be back to full strength in about 9-12 months. I have insurance that will cover it, with Dr. David Pereira, one of the best-reviewed doctors specializing in ACL repair at NYU-Langone, doing the work.

Here is the video that shows the original injury:
If I don't get this work done, I could spend the rest of my life simply doing things that do not require any twisting or pivoting at the knee, like elliptical machines and bicycles, and I could wear a knee brace at any time that I feel risk. So no more swing dancing, basketball, soccer, BJJ, sword fighting, armored combat, and even stage combat would be limited.

I am currently unemployed, and will start receiving benefits this week. I have some part-time work opportunities that will help me extend the benefits (performing at birthday parties, working for a comic convention, etc). I have a plan to use my unemployment period to train for work in film production that (if all goes will) will start early next year. If that falls through, my back-up plan is to go back to work in an office job in the insurance industry when the open enrollment season begins.

Of course no surgery is without risk, so I have to consider these risks before jumping into the surgery.

Some options being presented to me are:
1. Get the surgery done right away. This would limit my birthday party work for a few months, so I would be living mostly on Unemployment, but the work would be done sooner.
2. Wait until I get a "real" job, so I can take sick leave to get the surgery and recover (at one hour of sick leave earned for 30 hours of work, it would take me 1200 hours of work to earn one week off. That's 30 weeks of full time work).
3. Never get the surgery and live a careful life, using a knee brace for anything risky, and changing my physical activity to those that don't twist or pivot at the knee.

So what do you think I should do? My Facebook friends have never been shy about sharing opinions and I have found a wealth of new information that I would never have found on my own without you. So now I need to hear some pros and cons so I can make the best decision.