This story is paired with Chapter 5 of Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. For best experience, download the LithoReader for your iPhone or iPad and get NonBinary Review for free.
With nimble fingers Dr. Frankenstein tied off the coarse black thread before snipping it close to the knot. Another stitch finished. He moved on to begin sewing up another one of several gaping wounds.
“My poor boy,” he murmured, pausing to pat one of the powerfully-muscled arms of the huge form, stretched out and twitching, on the great dark-stained oak table serving as a surgery platform in the laboratory.
Bleary eyes peered out from blue-veined half-closed lids. The sharp scent of ether mixed with the bitter aroma of herbs and other substances hung in the air, drifting up from a discarded wad of cloth and a damp sponge sitting on the table to one side of a beetle-browed head.
Thin discoloured lips parted to reveal large chalk-white teeth. “Hurt.” The word rumbled up from deep in the massive chest.
Dr. Frankenstein nodded. “Yes, I know. Damned ignorant peasants!” The long needle stabbed down as anger overcame for a moment clinical detachment.
The monster moaned. The body jerked in reflex. His creator’s grim visage softened immediately. “Sorry, sorry, my poor fellow.” The doctor snatched up a stained towel and wiped at the dark blood oozing up. “I am sorry, my creation, I did not mean to add to your pain.”
Avoiding the mournful look from the watery eyes, Dr. Frankenstein paused in his surgical administrations to check the restraints holding his creation down on the table. Despite all his faith in the innocent spirit he believed dwelt within that child-like mind, he also was cautious against the inhuman strength his creation possessed.
Cleansing and repairing the many wounds inflicted by those cursed superstitious village louts was taking longer than he had anticipated. The morphine he’d tried first to reduce the pain of surgery had burned through the preternatural vitality of the body faster than expected. Spatulate fingers had dug deep grooves in the wood surface of the table as the monster had passed in and out of consciousness. In the end, the doctor had tried first a soporific sponge mixture of opium and herbs, then an ancient alchemical recipe for oleum dolce vitrioli, which accounted for the ether stench now pervading the laboratory atmosphere. Even then, his subject had remained half-awake much of the time while the doctor cut and stitched.
Drawing a deep breath, the maddened doctor once more resumed his monstrous needlework. “They will pay,” he vowed, reaching to take up the scissors again. “Oh, how they will pay for what they did to you.”
!Snip! went the steel blades. The doctor paused. One last wound to deal with now. He grimaced. A very delicate matter that one. A pitchfork stab which had, instead, slashed across the upper leg, passing close to the groin. One of the tines had almost nicked the femoral artery.
Slowly, carefully, Dr. Frankenstein stitched the wound closed. Breathing a sigh of relief, he picked up the big shears that had served as surgical scissors for cutting the thick coarse thread. “Just one last snip now,” he said, turning to offer the creature a comforting smile.
A sudden spasm shook the giant frame. It shuddered and jerked beneath the doctor’s hands just as the big blades of the scissors snapped shut.
Dr. Frankenstein stared aghast into the now wide-open eyes of his creation. A shrill falsetto whine whistled from between the lips of the monster just before the watery eyes rolled up in their sockets and the creature passed out.
After a moment the doctor shrugged. With a sickly smile, he took up his scalpel once more.
“Well,” he muttered to himself, “accidents will happen.”
Gregg Chamberlain is a community newspaper reporter four decades in the trade and looking forward to his retirement so he can focus more attention on fiction. With a half-dozen published short fiction pieces of sf, fantasy and horror, plus another half-dozen pieces pending publication, he is happily occupied exploring weird and wonderful worlds in his imagination. He lives in rural Eastern Ontario with his missus and a half dozen cats who allow their humans free run of the house.