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:

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