Definitely Alive - Read or listen to the story
(Text, voice and illustrations are my own)
Frank had a dream. A dream he'd been nurturing all his life, ever since he was a child. He wanted to bring the dead back to life. He mostly kept to himself up in his old castle outside the village.
After the great destruction, science was still evolving, but at a personal level, just like in the old days. Frank came from a family of biology engineers, as they once were called. He had learned from his father as his father before him.
He was experimenting with insects. Their cells seemed to degenerate slower, and more of them were expendable. Today he was sure something would happen, he had solved several complex issues from his last try. He had killed a beetle with turpentine, connected it to cables, injected it with liquids. A powerful battery assured energy. He pushed the button. It didn’t move. He picked up his calculations, scratching his head.
Something moved in the corner of his eye. At first he didn’t dare to move his sight, just stood there, staring at the papers.
It happened again. Slowly he turned his head. The insect moved another leg. And another. It was lying on its back, kicking the air. He turned it around. The little creature started walking, crossing the table and fell down from the edge.
He had conquered death.
After several bug experiments, he moved on to reptiles, little lizards he caught in his backyard. They moved around, but were quite clumsy and stupid, crashing into walls and falling off the table.
The first mouse was a big breakthrough. Mice had more will somehow, if such a thing existed.
But these were only experiments. His dream was not yet fulfilled. A human. That was his objective. Besides, he could really need some help around the house.
Late one night he went down to the graveyard. For hours and hours he dug. A child had died in an accident a few days ago, fresh in the dirt. Every night light could be seen in the tower. It was ready.
He looked at his creation. The little child lay on the table, all kids of cables and gadgets attached to her little head and body. He lay his hand on the lever. Pulled it slowly. Electricity made the little body jump. It shook for a while. Silence.
The child opened his eyes, looking emptily out in the air.
-Hello little one! Frank said, cheerfully. -How do you feel?
A gurgling sound.. It sounded like she was in pain. She looked like she was in pain. Horrible pain. No eye contact. Sshaking was all the movement she did. Disappointed he turned it off.
He looked through his papers again. He knew where the problem was. The brain had been dead for too long, and started rotting. He needed a fresh body.
He looked out of the window. Daylight was emerging. Down at the graveyard the gravedigger had already started working.
Ah, Frank! Said the gravedigger. Nice to see you. Could you believe someone dug up a dead body the other day? It was Jeff and Alice’s daughter, Lisa. Some people are just crazy, aren’t they? They… What’s wrong? You look… What are you doing with that knife? Nooo! Aaaahhh!! Help me!!! Ahghhh!
Frank poured out the dirt out of the gravedigger’s carriage and hurried up to his old castle with the fresh body.
All day he worked. No pauses, not even to drink water. Drilling holes in the gravedigger’s head, connecting cables, cutting skin. When night again fell, it was ready. He pulled the lever.
The gravedigger made some complaining noises. He opened his eyes. A strange, dead stare, but he focused, unlike the little girl.
-Hello! Frank said. -I eh… You had an… accident! That’s it, an accident. Now you need to rest. No. No-no-no! You need to stay down and rest!
The gravedigger was up on his feet. He took a step towards Frank. Frank took a step back.
He grabbed Frank by the throat, lay him down on the bench. Frank fought bravely, but the gravedigger was stronger. He held his hands on the gravedigger’s arm, tried to get it off his throat. He slowly choked to death.
The gravedigger held his hand to the wall. The room was spinning. His eyes were blurry, like the air was full of smoke. Or was it his brain? It didn’t work the way it should. It was… Diffuse. Strange. Like if there was some kind of fog, some kind of… death. He couldn’t think straight. He couldn’t feel. He felt nothing, knew nothing. At least not much. Some blurry memories, but he wasn’t sure what they were. He wasn’t even sure if he was dead or alive.
Coming out the big castle entrance he saw the village further down. He remembered something. Some… person. Eyes. A touch. Soon it was gone.
He ran outside the path, through the bushes. Came out between two houses. He saw people on the street. Some greeted. Others ignored him. He didn’t understand why. He didn’t care. They were things, moving around.
Martin was on his way home. It had been a long day, so much to do down at the workshop. Someone came towards him, staggering as if he was sick.
-Hello, Jones! I didn’t recognise you. Jones the gravedigger passed him, ignoring him completely. He must be drunk, Martin thought. So unlike him.
Jones stopped in front of a house. He knew it somehow. What was that, deep inside him? Feelings? Memories? He needed to know. He needed to feel, to remember. He needed something to show him he was real, that he was alive.
His shady eyesight made it hard to see inside the house. Some sound came from another room. He couldn’t tell what it was, his ears were full of noise, a background summing without meaning. He tried to think, but his thoughts were too slow. Nothing made sense.
Darcy came out of the kitchen. -OH hello, darling. Finally home, I was worried about… you.
He was standing there, looking at her. She’d never seen him like this before. He looked… empty.
-What’s wrong, Danny…? She looked at him with a worried look. He didn’t answer.
-What’s that you have on your head? There were cables and metal tubes sticking out on one side.
Something was wrong. She took a step back. He followed her. She turned to run.
He caught her. Pushed her down. He wanted to feel something. Anything. He bit her. Bit her in the face. She screamed, hitting him. He could feel the punches. A little bit. Not pain. Not even molest, just something hitting his skin. It felt good. Alive. Real. He started hitting her back. In the face. Again and again. He felt something. A strange pleasure of violence. She didn’t move any more. He punched her face some more. It wasn’t the same when she didn’t move. He bit her head.
Martin came running in the open door.
-Darcy! Is everything… He stopped. Her husband was lying over her. Chewing on her.
-Help! Help, someone!
The monster got up on his feet. Walked towards the noise. Out the door. The villagers came out of their houses.
-He’s killed Mrs Jones! He’s killed her!
-But it’s Mr Jones? He wouldn’t...? One of the villagers exclaimed in disbelief.
-It’s not Mr Jones. It’s a monster! Kill it!
They all stared at the man standing in front of the house. His head was hanging to one side. His eyes lifeless and strange.
The villagers picked up weapons. Axes, spades, whatever they had at hand. More came running.
Jones looked at them. Their weapons. They wanted to hurt him. Fear? Maybe. Something strange deep underneath the clouds in his mind. Danger. He turned and ran. Down the slope, over the field and into the forest.
The farmers came running after him. Shouting. Dogs barking. One bit his leg. He fell. Two others were biting his arms. Fear. Definitely fear. A farmer hit him with a spade. Another stabbed him with a trident. Pain. He was alive. He was definitely alive.
He looked up on the branches above, the sky and the clouds. Now he was dying again.
(This story is inspired by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and H.P. Lovecraft's Re-animator. All rights reserved. Please share)