© Copyright 2012 - Daviddrb6 - Used by permission
Storycodes: Machine/f; hybrid; kidnap; bond; electro; naked; laboratory; insert; sex; hist; nc; X
Lake Diodati, Switzerland, June 1816
Mary Shelley stood on the shore of Lake Diodati looking up at the sky. The setting sun was casting an orange light on the low clouds, highlighting cotton like layers. Silhouetted against them were little wisps of cloud blown by the cold wind that chilled her. Part of the sky was still a light blue with tinges of white while overhead it was turning into a deep blue heralding twilight.
"If only I could put this into writing," Mary thought then her depression settled on her again and she thought about that ghost story. She'd sat listening while her husband, Percy, and Lord Byron had discussed the ghost stories they had been reading and that they should write one each. As an after thought Byron had then asked Mary if she would like to take part; perhaps even collaborate. She would rather collaborate in pushing him in the lake.
There was so much pressure on her now she thought. Byron wanted her to fail so he could proclaim in that pompous manner of his that women couldn't write, while Percy wanted her to succeed. She loved Percy but he was easily dominated by Byron. She thought of her parents: both gifted writers. To be seen as their talentless progeny would be humilating not just to her but to them. Her father who'd disapproved of her elopement with Percy would finally disown her.
Mary felt cold even though she was wearing a pelisse over her afternoon dress. It would soon be dark and she would have to get back to the Villa Diodati even though she detested the tense atmosphere there. She'd been hoping her walk would provide her with inspiration but nothing had come. She'd also had the feeling throughout her walk that someone had been following her. It was bad enough that those hypocritical English tourists spied on them with telescopes from across the lake. Now they were following her to point and gossip before fleeing into the trees behind her.
She stopped suddenly and swung round catching a glimpse of something darting into the trees. Maybe just a bird. "Stupid!", she swore. Everything was stupid: her marriage, the tiresome ghost stories. Her depression was giving way to anger now. She wanted to shout at somone, even hit them.
There was movement among the trees and Mary saw it was a figure. She glared at it and the figure ducked behind a tree trunk.
"If you have nothing better to do than follow me then go away!" Mary shouted. She turned her back and started walking away.
She heard a frantic crunching on the gravel behind her then she was grabbed from behind and a hard, calloused hand was placed over her mouth. At the same time her head was pulled back and she felt something wrap round her throat and pull against it. Mary started retching as her throat was tightened and then heard a singing in her ears that grew louder.
"This is what it's like to die," Mary thought. Then she lost consciousness.
Mary woke up.
Her room was in darkness. She needed to focus on something as the dream she'd had of being killed was still fresh in her mind and it frightened her.
Where was the stone urn-shaped washbasin? If she could concentrate on that then it would reassure her that it hadn't been for real. There it was to her left, some distance away. Why was it on it's side. Had it fallen over?
Why was it moving?
Mary could now hear a rhythmic clanking accompanied by an occasional hiss of steam. She looked at the upturned washbasin and saw it turn into the top half of a large rotating flywheel driven by a piston. The wheel cast a huge shadow on the wall behind it by the orange light coming up from below. Now she realised that she was not lying in her bed but on a table. She was spreadeagled and was fastened to the table by leather straps around her wrists and ankles.
She was also naked.
Mary struggled against the straps but they held her down. She was about to scream but stopped herself. She'd obviously been abducted and taken somewhere remote so no one would hear her.
Mary shut her eyes tight then opened them slowly so she could get used to the light. She saw that she was in a vault with squat columns and low, overhanging arches. She saw large spheres connected to the walls by brackets that gave off the same orange light. Mary sniffed the air. The lights weren't oil nor were they gas. They must be electric she concluded and the flywheel was part of an electrical generator. That was better, she thought, if she could observe and reason then she wouldn't panic. Craning her head Mary saw that behind her was a panel containing dials and large levers and suspended overhead was a metal device of hoops arranged horizontally with large metal spheres at either end. There was a metallic smell thoughout the chamber and it was also hot as Mary felt sweat on her whole body. Looking to her right Mary saw a long bench on which were scattered papers, pieces of machinery, surgical tools and among them were her dress, pelisse, bonnet, shoes and even her stays. Mary shuddened at the thought of her captor undressing her.
No!, she told herself forcibly. If you show the fiend you are frightened then he's won. She would confront him and show she was not afraid.
"Hello", she called out. "Is there anyone here?"
Nothing except the clank of the flywheel.
"Whoever you are I demand to see you," Mary called out again.
Silence. Then Mary heard footsteps on metal. They were coming from near the flywheel and she saw a figure rise up beside it. Obviously the main body of the machine is down below Mary thought, but it's as though he's ascended from hell.
She raised her head and looked firmly at the figure. "Perhaps you can explain why you've done this to me!" she demanded. The figure said nothing but stood silhouetted against the light. "At least you can be civil enough to speak to me!" Mary added angrily.
The figure moved into the light and Mary saw it's face.
The face was that of a woman's but the head was shaved and wore a ridged skull cap. Mary saw that the eyes were wide and brown in colour. The creature's front was covered by an iron box with flaps that opened and closed rhythmically. Rubber hoses from the box ran to the back over the shoulders while more hoses ran down his arms and legs. The arms were bare and muscular with hairs on them. Around the thighs was a metal doublet and the legs were bare and covered in a latice framework. There were braces around the neck and shoulders.
Mary stared at the creature. She thought of Pierre Jaqet - Droz's automatons that she and Percy had seen at Necfchatel. But this appration seemed a combination of man and machine. Eventually she asked: "Who - who are you?"
The creature's mouth opened slowly. "I - I - I..." it said. Mary saw while the mouth was open it didn't move and the speech was accompanied by a flapping sound. She saw it was coming from the flaps on the box as they were opening in time to his speech. "I - I - I am ... Vik - Vik - Vic-tor ... Frank ... enstein. Victor Frankenstein!"
Mary raised her head. "You seem have me at a ... disadvantage - Herr. Frankenstein", she replied, then added: "I am Mary Shelley."
Frankenstein's mouth dropped open again. "I - I know who you are," he said and Mary noticed he seemed to talk abruptly as though getting each word out was an effort. He went on and his voice started to adopt a sing-song tone. "I - I found ... papers on you. You are ... the child of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft."
"Much good that's done me," Mary said. "But what of you Herr. Frankenstein?"
"I was from Geneva," Frankenstein answered. "I studied biology, anatomy and galvanic science in Ingoldstadt. I wished to find out the mechanics of life: how a body lives and decays and whether dead matter could be re-animated. In doing so I conducted experiments in a cell at the top of the house where I lived. One night in November when I thought I had achieved success a fire broke out from which I barely escaped."
"You were badly burned?" Mary asked.
"At first I wanted to die," Frankenstein continued. "I returned to the ruins to search for poisons but in doing so found these leg supports which had escaped being burnt. I managed to attach these to my lower limbs that enabled me to walk. I thought of using these to return to my home in Geneva but when I got here I realised that I was in no conditon to confront any man, woman and child. Even dogs fled from me. At that I sought sanctuary in the old catacombs under the city. Among the worm and the rat I made my home. My parents were dead and I could not bear to visit my cousin as she would be repelled by my destroyed features. It was then I realised that I could continue my experiments on myself and perhaps find a way to restore my body."
Mary looked at the patchwork apparation. She was beginning to feel nervous and an uneasy thought was creeping into her mind. She hesitated before asking: "Were - were you successful?"
After a moment Frankenstein said: "I found that a complete replacement of skin and bone was needed. The grave and charnel house only had materials that eventually decayed. I - I was forced to look elsewhere", he added quickly.
Mary remembered that there had been a spate of disappearances in the area before they'd arrived: a woman, a woodcutter, a child. She looked at Frankenstein and suddenly realised: "You murdered people".
She saw Frankenstein look away as though in shame and pitied him for a moment. Then remembered that she was lying on the table where he had butchered his victims. He turned back and Mary looked into his wide child's eyes. They reminded her of the eyes of a dead fish. "It was not something I wanted to do," he said eventually.
"Have you forgotten your Commandments?" Mary asked. ""You Shall Not Kill!""
Frankenstein replied. "Millions have died in the war with Napoleon. Does that not count as murder?"
"Against a tyrant no!" Mary retorted. "But to kill for no other reason is wrong".
"It is for survival," Frankenstein stated. "I need to - I must live!"
"And what is to become of me?" Mary asked. "Am I to become materials for your experiments?"
Frankenstein leaned over Mary, forcing her back down on to the table. "I must see whether I can procreate in this form. If I can father a child than at least my lineage will continue. You are of the age when you can bear children perhaps this will be successful". He stood up and with his woodcutter's arms pulled the metal device down the table so it was suspended over the girl.
"No, no. You cannot". Mary protested. "I had a child. She died. She wasn't strong. Please do not this. It may not live!" She saw an elongated reflection of herself in the spheres; her eyes wide open in terror, her hair spread out on the table and her naked body glowing from the orange light. Frankenstein looked down on her. "This machine is a Galvanic Generator". "It stores and generates the electrical currents needed to animate and maintain this body. To provide the neccesary nurient and oxygenation I must infuse you with galvanic energy". He paused then added: "I am sorry Mary Shelley".
Mary spat: "People such as yourself never know the meaning of sorry!" Her anger had come back and she strained against her bonds. "If you have any of your humanity left Herr. Frankenstein then please release me!" She craned her head to look behind her and saw Frankenstein at the panel pulling one lever after another. She turned back to look up at the Generator which was giving off a faint crackle and the spheres were starting to glow white. The light became brighter until it hurt Mary's eyes. She shut them only to see the light through her lids.
"Percy, I love you," Mary whispered. "Please come for me. Please come..."
She heard a metallic tearing as the full electrical energy stabbed down on her. She felt her whole body shake and jerk and opening her eyes, Mary saw lightning coarsing all over her body. She felt that she was in the middle of one of the storms Percy loved so much. He saw it's romance, she felt it's pain.
Mary dreamt of her dead baby. She was sitting by the fire with it in her arms. She rubbed it and the baby came to life. She watched it grow into a little girl with gold ringlets. They went out walking with Mary holding it's hand. It ran away from her laughing and as it ran it grew into a golden giant with masculine features and limbs and a high, bald forehead.
Then she saw Percy: wonderful Percy who called her "the child of love and light" as he bent over to kiss her. Then he pulled back horrified. Mary held out her arms to him and saw they were glowing. Her whole body which was naked was blazing with electricity and shooting off lightning. Now she felt anger towards Percy who preferred Byron to her. She put her hands around her terrified husband's throat and throttled him.
Mary now felt her body tense and being pushed back and forth. She thought she was in a carriage going over a rough road. Then she remembered she was still lying down and the movement was when she and Percy had sex. "Percy...stop...stop!" she said and tried to push him off her. Mary opened her eyes and saw Frankenstein's woman's face looking down on her. The mouth was hanging open and the dead eyes were fixed on her. She felt something hard and metallic between her legs and realised what was happening.
Mary cried out: "No Frankenstein no. It hurts!" The Galvanic Generator overhead was still sending down it's electrical discharges on them that was still causing her body to spasm. Looking to her left she saw the flywheel was spinning round: it's rotations pounding in her ears. The whole vault was lit up with the electric lamps glowing brightly.
This is what hell is like, Mary thought. Noise, heat, pain and monsters torturing you. Once the creature had raped her it would kill her and use her body as though it were bits of planking. No one would know what had happened to her. Percy might miss her but then he would become wrapped up in himself again and look for another pretty girl to impress.
Mary screamed. Not in pain but in anger. She raised her head to confront Frankenstein. "Monster, Fiend, Demon - go - away!" she gasped. Frankenstein's hands grasped her head to force her down.
Mary head butted him.
She gasped from the sudden pain and saw Frankenstein's head flop against it's neck brace. She head butted him again and felt his jaw crack. Frankenstein rose off her and hit his head on the Galvanic Generator. There was a metallic shriek and Mary saw his skull cap explode in sparks. She strained against the leather straps. She felt she was stronger now, whether from the electricity that had been pumped into her or just her anger. Leather was strong but it could be torn she thought. If she could break at least one then she could escape.
Then Mary realised the Galvanic Generator was still discharging electrical energy. It was swinging on it's supports and now directing the energy at Frankenstein. He was still kneeling up right on the table; holding his head in his huge hands. His mouth was opening and from it Mary had a loud, rattling gurgle. She saw lightning strike his skullcap again which exploded again. The flaps in his chest box were hanging open.
"Frankenstein stop this," Mary shouted. "Stop this now."
Frankenstein fell off the table. Mary strained against the straps again. She felt a tingling throughout her whole body and saw sparks were coming from her bare flesh. She started pulling at the straps that held her wrists down and felt the one on her right start to loosen. She kept pulling and felt the strap finally tear. Pulling her right arm free Mary undid the straps on her left wrist and ankles.
Mary slid off the table and ran to the panel. Behind her she heard the Galvanic Generator hit the table and explode. The explosion knocked her to the floor but she got up and reaching the panel pushed all the levers back. There was a loud hiss of steam and she saw the flywheel slow down and stop. Turning to the table Mary saw the Galvanic Generator smashed and on fire.
Where was Frankenstein?
Mary saw him sprawled by the bench. She padded over to him in her bare feet and saw smoke coming from his chest box and skullcap . The rubber hoses had become detached and were sprawled on the floor around him. His mouth was shut and his right eye stared ahead. His left had almost turned inwards. Mary's foot brushed against an object nearby and she saw it was a metal proboscis broken off. It glistened at one end and Mary realised that was what he'd used to rape her.
"You were an evil man Frankenstein" she said softly to him.
Frankenstein raised his head. "Mmm - Mmaa - ree ... Shh - Shell - lee," he drawled as his mouth fell open. "I - am - sss - soo -ree".
"It is hard to justify abduction, murder and rape" Mary said.
"I - do not - bbbeg for - give - ness. I thought I could ... help ... mankind. But I was selfish and - I have...I have paid the price for my ... ppp - pppride".
Mary knelt down and after hesitating took Frankenstein's hand and squeezed it. "Were you like Prometheus who thought you could take fire from the sun?"
She felt Frankenstein squeeze her hand in return. "Pppeeerrr - haps I was," his voice rattled. "I can make - no excuses. Nnnooow I am dying ... I must face the con - se - quencessses of my actions".
"God is forgiving," Mary consoled him.
She saw Frankenstein's head flop on it's neck brace to face her. "I - think - you - are - too - gen - er - rous - of heart Maree Shell -ley," Mary noticed his voice was getting weaker. "I have hurt - too many - including my cousin - Elizabeth. She wanted ... me to ... marry her. I wish yyyoouu - happiness - Mary Shell - ley..."
Frankenstein's voice trailed away and Mary knew he was dead. She didn't cry but continued to kneel beside him, holding his hand.
It was dark when Mary returned to the Villa Diodati. She'd dressed and to her surprise had easily found her way out of the catacombs by the fading electric light. Once back above ground she'd found she was not too far away from the Villa.
As she walked Mary thought of Frankenstein alone in the catacombs. She'd covered him with an old sheet and said a prayer for him before leaving. She felt sorry for him and this brought back her depression. She seemed right back where she'd started.
As she walked Mary realised that her body was still tingling from the discharges of the Galvanic Generator and she could feel little shocks and even sparks coming from her hands. Her depression was also starting to lift and she felt more positive, even happy.
Mary skipped up the path to the Villa, singing to herself. She danced through the doorway and into the lounge where Percy and Byron were sitting. "Percy my love" she sang, and kissed him.
Percy kissed her and started back as he felt the static on her. "Mary," he exclaimed. "Have you being consorting with the Gods that they enfused fire into you?"
"Not the Gods but possibly one God," Mary laughed. "And it is not Lord Byron". She twirled round and Percy took her hands and danced round with her. "Could it be me then?" he asked.
"Possibly", Mary laughed again.
She heard Byron clear his throat and turned to face him. "So I take it from your jollity that you have thought up a ghost story?" he asked.
She went over to him. "It is ... a dream I had. It will be about a pale student of the unhallowed arts who creates a thing which he brings to life by some powerful engine. He is appalled by what he has created and rushes away in the hope the fiend will expire. It does not and comes after him".
Percy applauded. "Bravo".
Byron snorted. "Will it be as good as my vampire story?" he declared.
Puffed up peacock Mary thought. "I already have a name for my - Modern Prometheus", she told him. She flicked Byron's nose with her finger and smirked as Byron jumped back startled from the static. "I will call him "Frankenstein".
NOTE: Mary Shelley (1797 - 1851) wrote "Frankenstein" when she was nineteen after staying in the Villa Diodati in Geneva, Switzerland in June 1816. She always claimed her novel was inspired by a nightmare but some people have alleged that wasn't telling the truth. Mary also had an illegitimate and premature baby with Percy Shelley in February 1815 which died after a few days leaving her grief-stricken. Lord Byron never got any further with his vampire story and it was later expanded by his physician, Dr John Polidori, as "The Vampyre" and published in 1819. If you want to imagine what Mary was wearing then think of "Pride and Prejudice": either the Colin Firth or Keria Knightley versions.