Day 29 – Installment b. Mountains

The second installment of day 29.  And only a little past the halfway mark.

Victor started his journey a month after his attack on Anton Leclerc.  The thought of the impending trip was apparently enough to keep him in bed at night for there were no more reports of his wandering.  And during the day he was often about the house writing letters and making his arrangements.  His conversations were mostly rational, although he remained agitated and would jump at the slightest noise.  And he continued to call Agatha, Belle, though nobody dared correct him.  When she asked Elizabeth about it she seemed to think it an understandable mistake as “the resemblance is not far off, if Belle had managed not to age in the last dozen years.  I suppose he sees what he wants to see.”

The family saw him off in the morning wishing him a safe journey and making sure he had not forgotten anything.  He held Elizabeth tenderly, assured her he would be fine and asked that she find a way to lift her own spirits and to watch for demons.  She assured him she would.  He then mounted his horse and was away.

The moment he left the city gates behind him he felt a great weight lifted.  He was a scholarly fellow it was true, but there were times when he required mountains and nothing and no one else.  He picked his way along his beloved alpine roads and admired the scenery.  Summer was now at its height and the trees danced about him in their full glory.  His gloom, though still present at the edges, could not withstand the majesty that surrounded him.  He and his troubles felt insignificant when confronted with the eternity of the mountains.

He went by horseback as far as he could and then switched to a more sure-footed mule as the trail became more treacherous.  The scenery was amazingly unchanged since his boyhood.  He would turn a corner and it was as if the last years had never happened.  He had not unleashed a monster onto the world.  William was still living.  Justine was never hanged.  These moments were brief and then his guilt would swell and he would be forced to stop and collect himself.  He looked at long abandoned castles, waterfalls, ancient glaciers and the ever present snowy peaks of the Alps.  None of these could be marked by his small troubles.  He was as insignificant as a buzzing insect, unnoticed by geological history.  He went on.

When at last he reached the village of Chamounix, he was exhausted in both mind and body.  He ate heartily and slept well that night.

The next morning he wandered the valley and continued to distract from his troubles.  The ramble did wonders for his ruined body.  He had not exercised it properly since his first year attending Ingolstadt.  The memory of his dreaded college and all that had gone on there brought a momentary pang, but the glory of the surrounding vista quickly banished such thoughts.  Once again he went to bed exhausted and slept well.

It was his plan to climb to the summit of Montanvert the next day.  When he awoke to rain he considered resting instead and tackling it on the morrow, but he was far too restless to stay and rain is only wet and what was that to aa man as himself.  He had his mule brought and started his trek.

The zigzagging route was a tricky one and perhaps unwise to take when wet, but neither he nor his mule slipped and the solemnity of the weather added to the atmosphere.  Ruined trees marked the trails of avalanches.  Rocks fell.  Trees shrank as he went higher and snow appeared in ribbons across his path.  It was all of it breath-taking and terrible.  He stopped at the magnificent ice field that wrapped the peak and felt joy enter his heart for the first time in many years.  He let the mountains absorb his insignificant being and thought die now or go on — there was hope for him still.

And then he saw it.  His peace was shattered.  A man approached him.  He was immense in proportion and going at an inhuman speed.  It seemed he was not ever to escape his abomination, for leaping effortlessly along a path that had taken Victor hours to negotiate, was his monstrous creation.

 

 

 

Advertisements

29th Installment – a. In the Open

One day left after this one and still plugging away.

After William’s dreadful murder, the creature retrieved his few possessions and ran as far from the location as possible.  He barely stopped to rest so determined was he to disappear.  He was afraid that if he was discovered they would not find the true monster, so he hid — he returned to the mountains.  He felt safer there.  He found comfort in their majesty and blank stare.  The hardness of rock does not judge or mock in the way the softer, prettier elements of nature appear to.

After two nights outside he found a suitable cave to move into.  Once concealed in his lair he allowed himself to grieve, sobbing and howling at the cold walls in despair, his cries echoing through the rocks.  Those below occasionally heard his inhuman wails and paused wondering if it was some sad ghost or just the wind.  He remained this way for three days until his hunger would allow it no longer.  He came down and skirted a nearby village, managing to pilfer some new greens from an outlying garden and to remove a nicely wrapped half-eaten lunch from a large rock.  He wasn’t sure which he enjoyed more, the meat and bread or its clean white handkerchief.  He had noticed that some men tied such things around their necks and so attempted to do the same in order to cover the jagged scar that ringed his poor borrowed neck, but as he had neither mirror nor experience the knot defeated him.  He put the cloth in a pocket and put his scarf back on, although it was too warm.

Feeling nicely fed and enjoying the late spring sun he found he had no wish to skulk back to his cave or linger in dark woods.  He wanted the light and warmth of the sun.  He dared a more open and meandering route.  He was beginning to notice that there was greater variety in human beings than he had initially thought, though some were looked upon more kindly than others.  He would risk a confrontation.  Whereas beatings and bruises had not killed him, he felt that loneliness just might.  So he kept walking, deliberately slowing his pace and occasionally clapping his hands and giggling with the excitement of it.  He was almost giddy.  He was on a path in open sun.  He wept only a little that night and slept soundly, dreaming happy dreams.

The next day he took another trip down from the mountain taking his same open route and humming a tune remembered from Mr. DeLacey.  He had met no-one on the previous occasion so he still could not know if this was a safe course of action but he had been emboldened by his experience.  As the area was sparcely populated he still met no-one.  He thought of walking to the village itself just to see what would happen, but decided the idea foolhardy.  As he didn’t wish to call attention to his presence by thievery he returned to his home, going through forest this time in order to collect wood.

It was on his third trip down that he met two men on his same path.  He said hello and they stared and nodded, but there was no violence, just a comment he managed to overhear:  “That I think is the strangest thing I have seen come off that mountain yet.”

It’s true that doors and windows were locked after his appearance.  But that was because the missing lunch had been remarked on, not for fear of physical safety.

Day 28 – b, Arrangements

Elizabeth and Agatha conferred on the incident involving Victor before lunch.

Agatha was very clear in her opinon.  “I am afraid, Elizabeth, that you are going to have to drop the matter of Justine, no matter how deeply felt.  I am not saying you must denounce her, just do not dwell on or bring up the subject.  I know that it is often a topic the two of you discuss.  Clearly, Victor is looking for the monster that killed his brother, a monster he believes is still out there.  And, judging from what you told me of this morning, anyone walking at night he condemns as the guilty party.  You don’t want this infatuation of his growing worse.”

“I fear you are right,” she said.  “But it is so hard.  To lose two that we loved so dearly.  I too am often caught up in the thoughts that this fiend still walks the earth, perhaps inflicting the same pain onto other families.  My heart breaks with the weight of it.”

“I am sorry, Elizabeth, but some of us are simply not allowed the same luxury of grief that is afforded to others.  And you, my dear friend, are one whose job it is to be stronger than others.  You have as much as said so to me in the past.”

Elizabeth had no choice but to agree with her friend.  She would let go the issue and find other topics when with Victor.  It seemed both their sanities rested on it.

 

When Mr. Frankenstein arrived home that evening he had news.

“Well, I have been to see the Leclercs to discuss the events of this morning and all has been sorted out.  They can see how Victor may have been startled by the sudden appearance of a man of Anton’s stature at that hour, especially given the terrible circumstances of this spring, and I have admitted that Victor should not be wandering about at that hour.  I have consented to compensate the young man for his pains and he for his part shall withdraw his complaint.  I have also agreed that Victor will remove himself from Geneva until he is in better health.  I think somewhere more rustic would lift his spirit.  Don’t you agree?”

Elizabeth was uncertain.  “But father, was that not rash?  We haven’t even spoken with Victor about the incident.  There may be a completely rational explanation for what transpired.  It may not have even been him.”

“I think we can be fairly certain that it was Victor and that he was in the wrong.  He has been behaving most irrationally and raving about monsters.  And he arrived home this morning with blood on him.  Your loyalty to him, Elizabeth, is most admirable, however, let’s not be foolish about it my dear.  But the situation is dealt with and we need not speak of it again.”

“Is Victor even capable of such a trip right now, father?” she asked.  “What if he is overcome and we are not there to help?”

“Victor will be fine once he finds himself in more pastoral surroundings.  I will let him know of what has been decided when he emerges.”

 

Victor was quite excited about the idea of leaving Geneva and suggested that he would visit Chamounix.  He had not been in the valley since leaving for university and missed it.  Elizabeth was concerned about him climbing up and down the mountains, but remained silent.

He had no explanation for the night before other that he he had been quite certain at the time that he had found the monster responsible for the deaths of Justine and his brother.  He felt quite badly for Anton Leclerc and hoped that he had not been too badly hurt.  His father assured him that the man was fine and had already forgiven him  for his actions.

Victor started planning his travels, already in finer spirits.  He actually ate dinner with his family that evening and other than continuously calling Agatha, Belle, spoke quite rationally while doing so.

Day 28 – a.The officer

It was 11:00 the next morning when an officer arrived at the door.  Mr. Frankenstein was fetched although that was not who was asked for.

“What is this about?” he asked the officer.  They remained standing in the hall.

“There was an incident last night, sir,”  he explained.  “An attack.  The culprit is said to be your son, Victor Frankenstein.”

“My son!?  What are you talking about man?”

“In the early hours of this morning, sir, a man was walking home…”

Mr. Frankenstein interrupted.  “What man?  I thought you said it was last night.”

“At about 2:00 this morning sir,” the officer said slowly and carefully,  “a man, Mr.Anton Leclerc, was walking when he was attacked and beaten with a large stick, a walking stick the victim believes, and was very badly bruised and bloodied before getting away.  He claims it was your son, Victor, that performed the deed.”

“Anton Leclerc?  Mr. Patrick Leclerc’s son?”   Mr. Frankenstein feigned astonishment.

“That would be him sir.”

“But the man must be a foot taller than my son!” exclaimed Mr. Frankenstein.  “How could a man of my son’s slight frame batter and bloody a specimen such as Anton Leclerc?  And what was the man doing out at such a time?”

“I cannot speak to why your son was out and about at that hour,” replied the officer, “but Mr Leclerc was simply walking home after a late evening with friends.”

“This all seems most suspicious to me,” grunted Mr. Frankenstein.

“Be that as it may, sir, Mr. Leclerc is quite clear that it was Mr. Victor Frankenstein that committed the act and I will have to speak with him.”

“Well you can’t speak to him.  He is in bed.  Ill.  I do not wish to wake him.”  He dare not allow access to his son until he first spoke to him.

“Can you speak to the whereabouts of your son at or around 2:00 this morning?”  asked the officer.

“Well, obviously he was in bed.  Which is where all respectable people should be at that hour.”  He was indignant.

“Can you say that for certain?”

“Clearly, I cannot say for certain as I too was in my bed.  But I can assure you that Frankensteins do not wander the streets of Geneva in the wee hours of the morning.”

“It is said that your son is often about at those hours, sir,” the officer informed him.

“Said by Mr. Anton Leclerc I assume,” Mr. Frankenstein snorted.

“By many people, sir.”

“Yes, well, as I said.  Respectable people are in their beds at those hours.  Those who find themselves about at that time I would think highly unreliable witnesses.”

“I will still need to speak with your son to clarify matters, sir,”  the officer said in his most reasonable tone.

“We will attend you at your offices when he is well enough to leave his bed.  Therese will show you out.”

The officer did not argue with the old man, but paused and turned when he reached the door.  “I  will need to speak to him.”

“I understand.” Mr. Frankenstein.

Elizabeth entered from the library after the officer had left.  “I could not help but hear, father.”

“Don’t worry yourself, Elizabeth.  There is obviously some misunderstanding.”

“But Victor did arrive home around two this morning covered in blood.  Blood that was not his own,” explained Elizabeth.  “I have yet to receive an adequate answer as to why.”

“Why was I not informed?”

“I didn’t wish to worry you and I did not know what happened,” she explained.  “I was hoping that perhaps Victor would be able to clarify things after he had rested.  He has been often walking late at night.  Though, this is the first night I have been aware of anything untoward happening.”

“I see.  Well, anything could happen to a person at that time.  He may have been startled by someone, may have genuinely feared for his life.  Who knows what manner of person you might meet at such a time.”  Mr. Frankenstein stood a while thinking.  “I am going out, my dear.  I may not be back for lunch.”

Mr. Frankenstein walked to the Leclerc house deep in thought.  Perhaps Elizabeth had been right in her objections to leaving Belrive.  It was true that Victor’s soul thrived in more natural settings.  But he had been truly fearful about his son’s wanderings there.  The lake was too close, and he didn’t like the way Victor looked at it.  No, Victor’s greatest problem was not that he was in Geneva.  It was that Elizabeth was not performing her usual function.  She who could be counted on to pull Victor out of his blackest moods and force him to focus on mores sensible things was failing as she struggled with her own despair.  Worse, they each shared the same ridiculous conviction that Justine was wrongfully condemned, so rather than distract Victor from his foolishness, Elizabeth was feeding his belief that some black-hearted wretch was still lurking and Victor for his part was returning the favour and worsening Elizabeth’s own grief and fear.  The two must be separated for a time.

He found himself at the Leclerc house and knocked on the door, feeling far happier than when he left his own home.

 

Installment 27-b – Geneva

Today’s a bit of a going backwards day as I clarify a bit more about arriving in Geneva.

Geneva had not been a good idea on Mr. Frankenstein’s part Elizabeth thought.  She had argued against it vehemently, but it was no use.  So she lost her lake, which would not be so available to her, and she lost William.

The house at Belrive was full of life.  The house in Geneva was quite the opposite.  The first thing you saw sitting atop the mantel when you entered the house was a large painting of the late Mrs. Frankenstein, then Miss Caroline Beaufort, consumed by her own grief as she knelt beside her dead father’s coffin.  It was a picture that Elizabeth hated and she wasn’t sure her mother liked it much more, although Mr. Frankenstein and his two older sons admired and loved it greatly.  They felt it heroic and that it epitomized her mother’s grace and all that was to be admired in women.  Elizabeth felt it ghoulish.

William was not present in a house as dead as the Geneva house — it was not a house for children.  It was why the family spent so little time there. William could be felt everywhere around their home in Belrive.  It was wrong to try to eliminate his presence like that as if eliminating his history could lessen their grieving.  The loss of his presence left a numbness far worse than grief.

To make matters worse, a number of the staff did not return with the family.  Elizabeth blamed herself for this.  She should not have been so open about her belief in Justine.  For if Justine was innocent, then someone must have planted the locket in her dress and whoever planted it must have been present at the murder.  So suspicion nibbled away, and those whose whereabouts that dreadful day were not known, found themselves without a position in the household.  Elizabeth’s own workload went up as a result.  No one was willing to look into new staff.

The DeLaceys remained with the family.   A small out building was provided for Mr. DeLacey, but it did not have space enough for his daughter.  Agatha was now in the main house in the bedroom next to Elizabeth’s.  They each enjoyed running into each other in the hall, but Elizabeth wondered if her friend would have liked a place to retreat to away from them all.

Everyone the Frankensteins knew or were in anyway acquainted with visited upon their arrival and gave their condolences.  The house was quite lively for close on two weeks.  But after that they all disappeared and the family received no more visitors.  Nor did they receive any invitations.  It was as if they had been deemed unlucky and their ill luck contagious.  And so a family that kept primarily to itself to begin with became even more insular.  Elizabeth was truly grateful for her friendship with Agatha.  It was she who pulled her away from her duties and made her go for walks around the town or stop somewhere for pastries in the afternoon.

And of course there was Victor.  Victor of all of them should have stayed at the lake, although his father may have been correct in his expressed concern that he might just walk into that lake.  Victor required nature around him to distract him from his darknesses.  A walk in trees or a trek through the mountains could do wonders in lifting his spirits.

 

 

Day 27a – a bit of a rewrite

So, looking at what I’ve written so far and need just a bit more tension I think.  So a rewrite to the discovery of William’s body.

He should have left the moment he place the locket. A man that looked as he did could not be found by a dead boy and thought innocent.  But he could not bring himself to desert the  child.  He should not be left alone.  He waited a number of hours.  The path was not well used, which  was why each party had chosen the location.  Neither Justine nor the creature wished to be seen.

He kept himself close enough to the woods to escape quickly, but he had not anticipated that it was from the woods that the next wanderers would appear.  He ducked into the nearby brush when he heard their approach and hoped they spotted the corpse before they noticed him.  The group, an older man and what looked to be his three sons, suddenly stopped and dropped the wood they were carrying.  It was the child they saw first.  The creature used the clatter to cover the noise of his leaving the bushes.  He managed to run twenty-nine of the thirty metres to the cover of the trees before the youngest of their group saw him.  The boy started to run after the creature before he called attention to him so the others did not manage to see him.  He had no trouble outrunning the boy but immediately stopped when his two brothers followed.  A forest cannot be run through silently and he did not want to be found, so he crouched behind a tree, listening.

“What is it boy.  What did you see?”

“I don’t know, but he was big.  A giant with bright red hair.  He’s up there I think.”

“This way?”

“Yes, maybe a bit more to the left.  Yes, that way.”

The creature could hear the two approaching.  All four of them held still and listened, the tallest with a hand up indicating silence.

One of them started to move.  The creature could hear the snapping of twigs as he neared.

There was a call from the clearing.  “Boys!  Out here.  I need a couple of you to watch the body.”  There was a whistle.  “Come on boys.  His family needs to know.”

The creature could hear two of them leave, but the closest didn’t move.

Some sort of conversation took place by the body and then one of them came back.

“Come on Walter.  Don’t know if Joseph’s giant exists or not.  But who ever killed the boy was small.  You can see the bruises on his poor neck.  And old lady Gerber says she saw some strange young woman coming out of her nephew’s barn earlier and she wouldn’t say what she was doing there when asked.”

Walter stood in his spot a moment or two longer and then the creature could hear him walk to his brother.

“Father says it’s the Frankenstein boy.  We’re just going to let the poor souls know.”

The creature stayed in his spot until he felt all danger had passed.  Then he ran.

Day 26 – Blood

Had a busy day out of town, so less than 400 words when I need 4,000.   But still plugging away.

The creature was finding it less and less fulfilling being a solitary being and taking more and more chances coming into the open.  No longer content hiding out in caves and deserted cabins in the mountains he was edging closer to civilization.  He had acquired a taste in his exchange with his two attempts at friendship, doomed as they were.  He required contact of some kind.  No matter how small.

And he spent considerable time looking at his notebooks wondering yet again, if anything in the drawings lived.  Were there others like him and if there were, were they loved?

 

Victor now spent most of his days lying in his bed drifting between waking and sleeping.  At night he wandered the streets certain he was being watched.  The creature had found him at Planpalais — he was obviously following him.  The closed gates of the city provided him no sense of security, they could just as likely shut the monster in as out.  It seemed to him that night would be the time to find him for clearly he would fear the light of day, such as he was.  Every now and then he spotted him, but only for a moment.  He carried one of his father’s heavier walking sticks, prepared for their eventual meeting.

 

Elizabeth found herself woken from her sleep at 2:00 on a Thursday morning.  It was Therese who shook her and whispered that she was needed in the kitchen.  She got up quickly, the urgency evident.  It was Victor, Therese told her.  She went downstairs where Gerta was sitting with him in the kitchen wiping his face with a cloth.  He had blood on him.

“Victor, what happened?”  Elizabeth asked.

“He won’t say, Miss.”  replied Gerta.  “Harold heard him arrive and put him in here so as not to wake the house.”  She paused and lowered her voice.  “I have found no injury, Miss.”

“I found the brute, but I lost him.  I got him though, got him a few times.” He looked at Elizabeth, momentarily afraid.  “I think it was him.  No. No, I’m sure.  I’m sure it was him.”

No other explanation could be pulled from him.  They cleaned him up as best as they could and put him to bed in hopes that more information would be forthcoming once he had slept.