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.
Dear Mr. Piers.
Your recent newspaper article speculated on the supposed ‘myth’ of Frankenstein’s Monster, which you have stated is an absolute impossibility as and I quote, “Only God can bring forth life.” That is an utterly preposterous supposition, with no basis in fact. You have further stated that Frankenstein’s Monster, if it were to be real, would have been destroyed within weeks of its creation, adding that it would not have had the intelligence to fend for itself after expulsion from its original locale. You Sir, are very much in error.
We are Frankenstein’s Monster and we are not a happy man. Consider if you will, the origin of our particular branch of the species and also consider if you will, that we had no say in our creation. You may say that you had no say in your creation either, and that much is an undeniable absolute. However, suffice for us to state that whereas you are the result of some degree of sexual passion in your conception, we are otherwise. We are the result of a different passion, that of a violence of mind, an impermeable insanity, that of decades of acquired knowledge, of arcane practices and arbitrary evils. We are the culmination of all that is ugly in the soul of man and as such rightly deserve our label of ‘Monster.’
Miserable beyond all things, it was once the case that we were simply ‘I,’ but now it is with a much greater enlightenment that we write this letter to you today. It was never considered in the initial phases of our creation that we could ever be significantly more than merely the sum of our parts; indeed, it was our creator’s hope that exceeding such a sum by margin enough to instill life in the patently dead would be little short of miraculous. Victor Frankenstein himself was astonished at our stature, as well as the superhuman speed and agility we possess, and yet never once did he assume that what he had stitched together and jolted into re-animus was somehow ‘more,’ an augmented being so very much greater than the sum of our parts.
We are, as Theological scholars may have it, Legion, for we are indeed many, and it is only in these modern times that ‘I,’ the core ‘I,’ have listened to the ghosts within me and given credence to their histories. We are composite; our brain is merely matter, a blancmange of organic material supercharged with in excess of a billion volts of pure electrical energy, the initial introduction of which caused fusion of the many souls in part inherent in my various robbed pieces. It has been so postulated for centuries about the nature of the soul, and whether it can indeed live on to whatever degree beyond the death of the individual. We can attest to the fact that it is so, that the corporeal is merely a shelter for something far more spectacular, we are all to a greater extent made of stars. What of physical corruption? It is a simple notion, that of the body being destroyed and the soul or life energy if you will, continuing, yet it is assumed that when the life energy leaves the body it will do so as an intact form which it maintains. That I have found to not be the case. Were it indeed so then surely my right hand which was once that of a wheelwright and firmly attached as such would upon death and the evacuation of the life force have no life force inherent in the limb. Again I can confirm that is not the case. It was with no small surprise that I found new vocabulary entering my knowledge, and with such, new skills. A voice, distinctly different from my own, gave dialogue within me. I began listening, treating this voice as another entity, enjoying the discourse and memory of the life once owned by the aforementioned and previously living wheelwright, who as it transpired was somewhat bemused at the current fusion of his hand to the amalgam of spare parts infused into my cadaver. It was not a long time in passing before other such voices vied for my attention, and we soon learned from where Victor had acquired our independent yet united organs.
Were this in fact some psychiatric evaluation, there would be little discussion required as to the nature of our schizophrenia, and we would most assuredly be institutionalized were it not for the simple facts of the situation. In the modern day we would be heavily and most thoroughly administered to, and the discovery of our rather advanced physical attributes would no doubt be taken much into consideration. We have a heart with wholly different DNA to the bulk of our other tissue; it has a beat far slower than the average human heart, slow enough in essence to trick those listening into believing there is no heartbeat if they were to not have listened long enough. Our blood flows, yet does so slowly, we do not require as much oxygen as mortals and as such our lungs are not required to work as hard as yours undoubtedly must. We are faster, stronger and of a much superior intellect. If a situation arose in which we were to be inspected in such a manner it would soon become entirely apparent that we are as we say we are, which in turn would also result in much studying in ways which would not be particularly beneficial for mankind. We are immune to temperature variations; we can survive way beyond human physical extremes, and have no impairing of functions. We are very much the ‘super-soldier’ which the modern military strives to create. We fear… if fear is the right word, that should our existence and condition become known we would be captured and cut apart into our constituent components and subjected to enough tests to finally discover how we were in fact created. We believe we may even survive the ordeal and either be recombined, or spend the remainder of our history as separate entities in an assortment of glass jars awaiting the wide eyed stares of the disbelievers and future white-coats, who will no doubt prod at us with ever more technical instruments until someone can replicate our existence.
Over the centuries, things have improved for us and we are no longer quite as concerned in regards to our appearance; indeed with the marvels of modern surgical methods there are many people amongst you of whom it could be said offer a much more frightening visage. Victims of accident and incident with injuries of a most extreme nature, who have been reconstructed to retain life at the expense of their appearance, we fit well into the world amid such people, and it is fair to say that they are approaching the commonplace, giving rise to the occasional stare, sometimes pointing, sometimes jeering, yet not, as was prevalent in our early years, being chased over the moors with pitchforks and burning torches. We had learned in those days to keep our distance from the populace, to hunt and fish out of view or at night. Perhaps you may wonder at why we hunt and fish? We do not physically require food and yet we crave, not for blood or human flesh, it is true we are a monster; however we are also humans and not a single one of us were cannibalistic. We eat more as a vestige of our former selves, as a ritualistic passion, than out of necessity. We have taste buds, we have senses, and we derive pleasure from the crunch of an apple or the dripping juices of roasted meats. Should we not be entitled to some humane pleasure? To you, even with modern sensibilities, we are still the monster, still shunned. For all of the advancements of these times, the ugly and monstrous will always be the ones who never catch a break.
There was a time, in the 1990s we believe, when we considered plastic surgery in an attempt to blend in better with society, so that we may no longer find it necessary to live so far removed from that which we have come to know and love. We are, if truth be known, lovers of the theatrical, and attended many a playhouse in our days, yet in those days we were most assuredly helped along by the fashions of the time, as it was not unusual for a gentleman to have a cape and often a cowl of some description. Nowadays the very idea of a cape is laughed at and the only people who seem to wear them without ridicule are the ‘Superheroes’ in moving pictures.
We stand corrected, after a fashion, with no pun intended. We do upon occasion venture out amongst the populace, those occasions are on Halloween, when monsters are everywhere to be seen, and when we are aware of ‘fan conventions’ where people dress up as all manner of creatures and attend moving picture shows or book signings. It is all rather fun to be able to see so many others enjoying themselves, and it does come with something of an extra thrill attached for us to know that we are in fact the only true monster there. We decided against plastic surgery due to the uncertainties involved in the whole procedure. For us to have a successful surgical procedure would involve medical professionals with scalpels trying to cut into our exceptional flesh and should they succeed in excising previous scarring and restructuring our face they would also have to ensure healing, which judging by the state of the stitching Victor did, is not entirely likely. The man was exceptional when it came to reanimation, but would definitely not get a job as a seamstress. We are often amazed that he could perform such intricate micro-surgery as required to attach organs, yet had only a fundamental grasp of aesthetics. We had heard once upon a long ago that our face was for the most part fine, but Victor at some point after our completion had damaged his hands and no longer felt competent to suture. He had hired an assistant for menial duties, who at some point had damaged us when our brain had already been transferred and installed. The assistant apparently took it upon himself to stitch the damaged skin together, but was not proficient with a needle. Victor was no doubt horrified. Several of our teeth are that of the assistant, removed post-mortem, of which I will say no more.
Do we consider ourselves a monster? Of course we do, as there is no point in avoiding it or indeed lying. Were we in fact naturally created, we would still be a monster owing to the murders we have committed throughout the centuries. Monsters are not simply resigned to those with scales or horns or some other such demonic appearance. Many monsters are as normal looking as any random person you walk past daily without looking twice. Victor, for instance, was a rather handsome individual; yet within him dwelled such horrors as nightmares are made of, and we are one such nightmare. It is not a normal mind that envisages a creature constructed of cadavers and brought back to life with lightning. That is the stuff of horror novels and television, and yet there he was, a young man full of the Devil, who used his gifts in the pursuit of greatness with no thought as to the consequence of creating an abomination such as us.
The murders we committed were initially those of diminished responsibility. We were new, we were somewhat raw in our emotional capacity, and as you may realize from what we are saying here, we were not of one mind but several, and when there is an inner turmoil something somewhere has definitely got to give. We were not in control and we wanted revenge, it was really as simple as that: an animal biting back after being kicked, nothing more.
Later, our murderous indiscretions were of a more deliberate and sinister intent; we killed for gain, usually food and clothing, or transport. Often it was the case that we were confronted, and the risk of exposure led to extreme measures. We never killed for the sake of it, never for the sport. The last person we killed was outside of a bar in Quebec around eight years ago, a drunkard who tried to rob us at gunpoint. We hit him a little too hard, crushing his head into a stationary vehicle. The one before that was a police officer in Dusseldorf; he pulled us over for speeding in a car we had stolen. His was something of a mercy killing, putting him out of our misery. The last thing we need is to be arrested, as that again would lead to us being investigated, and there is no scenario in which we come out of that one on top.
Where do we see our future? We drift, staying forever at least one step away from the wealth of evil that you call humanity. We appear incorruptible; our body doesn’t age or fall foul of putrefaction. We are our own best company and require little to nothing that we cannot readily get from the world with increasingly minimal effort. We have a home, and are looked upon as the disfigured hermit who lives in the hills. We cause no problems and get no problems; we grow vegetables and raise chickens. Of course as decades roll on we roll with them, moving to new locations as it would only be a matter of time before some bright spark figures out that it would be impossible by their standards for us to have lived for so long in one house. For some, it would be a dark cloud; and yet for us it is something of a blessing, we have seen much of the world, lived amid many of the nations and enjoyed the finest that life in those countries has had to offer.
We have seen the rise of many nations and the fall of many others, we have been witness to the greatest surges of military power and humanity’s most incredible advancements, we have also witnessed technological revolutions beyond imagination, we have seen the evolution of manned flight from balloons to spaceships, and yet we remain as always, the single greatest achievement of any man.
We believe we have now clarified our existence for you in such a way as you may see fit to publish a retraction and apology in your newspaper at your earliest convenience. If proof is required we would entertain the idea of video conferencing as even a dumb creature such as we are is capable of using the internet.
We stated earlier that we are not a happy man; however, we very much are a happy Creature.
Book illustrator and writer Joe Young is an Englishman living in Frankfurt, Germany. His artwork or short fiction is in Morpheus Tales, Wordland 2, Nat.Brut, Haunted Waters Press ‘From the Depths’, Goblin Mire by David A. Riley, and in the Journal of the British Fantasy Society. He loves his job.