Authors: Donald F. Glut,Mark D. Maddox
“ ‘And who is the present owner of the castle?’ I asked.
“ ‘It belongs to no one, other than the town of Ingolstadt,’ Krag explained, ‘just as it was before Frankenstein ever purchased it. When he abandoned the place and returned home, the castle’s ownership reverted to us. But we want nothing to do with it. Even the police, when the place was confiscated, refused to enter the place, lest some other blasphemous creation of the devil scientists still might be lurking in the shadows of those dark catacombs. No one has wanted the place since those dark days of Victor Frankenstein.’
“A thought was now in my mind and I couldn’t keep it to myself. ‘Tell me, Mayor Krag. You said that the Frankenstein castle has reverted back to Ingolstadt. Victor Frankenstein bought the old place centuries ago. Does that mean it can still be bought today?’
“Krag turned away from me and gazed out his window toward the distant hills. “ Yes,
Winslow, that is true.’ Then his head suddenly snapped back to look at me. The look in his eyes was now like a burning fire. ‘But surely,
, You don’t wish to imply ––’
‘I imply nothing, Mayor Krag,’ I said quite matter-of-factly. I have money, a great deal of it, Money that could benefit your town. What would it cost me to purchase Castle Frankenstein?’
"He shook his head to give me his answer.
" 'I can pay cash ... on the spot.’
,’ he said.
" 'Then I’ll have to find out from the townspeople how to go about purchasing the old place.’ I glimpsed the look of shock on the mayor’s face and saw him walking around his desk, toward me.
“Krag stopped me before I reached the office door. ‘
!’ he exclaimed. ‘You may purchase the castle. Then leave my office and do not return. You will not be welcome here,
. I only pray that, once you have taken ownership of the accursed place, you will not do something that you — that all of us in Ingolstadt — will regret.’
“ ‘How much will it cost me?’ I replied bluntly.
“Mayor Krag quoted me a fair price. Almost immediately I had that exact amount in a neat stack atop his desk. The money made a strange contrast with his collection of papers. Minutes later, the heavyset town official had prepared the deed to the castle, as if he couldn’t wait to get our transaction finished. I signed it, feeling a weird catharsis in the knowledge that I owned the very place in which Frankenstein was supposed to have accomplished his... miracle. Soon I’d know whether or not my belief regarding the Shelley tale was true. Until now, all my ‘evidence’ was either hearsay or theory. Now I would venture to Castle Frankenstein myself and learn the truth first hand.
“Reeling, I left Mayor Krag’s office with the signed document preserved in my sport’s coat breast pocket, then headed for my destination:
“The castle stood, just as Krag had informed me, atop a hill overlooking Ingolstadt. Its ancient spires and battlements still had a strength to withstand an attacking medieval army. I felt exhilarated as I stared up at the old, gothic structure, which now appeared almost a silhouette against the twilight sky, its towers a majestic monument to Frankenstein’s genius. I felt a tingle of excitement at a sudden notion that Evil Incarnate might reside within the building’s somber walls. Then I laughed, for I must have been sharing the superstitious fears of the townspeople. And then, I felt a sensation of pure and simple awe. The place was beautiful, in a grotesque sort of way, and it beckoned to me, its new and legal owner.
“The old key which the mayor had given me fit snugly into the rusted lock. With some effort, I turned the key and opened the ancient door, pushing it with a hard shove. Again I was overcome by reverence and awe, then stepped into the castle’s dark interior. What a feeling it was to think that I was probably the first man to step inside this place in two centuries!
“Night had completely fallen now, and there was no illumination inside the castle except for the rays of the moon, which streaked through the open windows. I heard the wind howl through the place, and had I been superstitious, I might have mistaken that baleful sound for the howl of some unseen spirit. Taking my flashlight from my jacket pocket, I cast a yellow beam upon the dank floor.
“The place was a complete shambles. I wondered if Victor, obviously no housekeeper, had found the place in a similar condition when
first entered it. The years had added smells of dampness and decay and I was overcome by the sensation that I had just opened an ancient tomb. Still, I wasn’t really concerned with the look or smell of the place. All that mattered was that this was Castle Frankenstein — and that it was mine.
“At once, I started to explore the castle, hoping to find some positive clues that would prove what I had come here to find. I didn’t have to explore too far, for soon I came upon a very large chamber. Stepping inside that room, I cast my flashlight beam upon what remained of an impressive set-up of eighteenth century laboratory apparatus and realized, to my utter delight, that I was actually standing in the room where Victor Frankenstein had done his experiments!
“For a full minute I could do nothing but stand there, flashing my beam in every possible direction, trying to see everything that I could in that meager illumination. It was the closest thing to a religious experience I had ever felt. Finally, I regained my composure.
“The laboratory was not the electrical amusement park that the motion picture industry would have us believe. Nevertheless, it was, in fact, a scientific marvel for its day. Some of the apparatus was far advanced for its time, more so than I’d ever imagined, and for a while it was difficult to grasp the fact that these devices — primitive though they might appear — were actually in use in Victor Frankenstein’s day. Mary Shelley had briefly passed over the particulars in the Monster’s creation, implying that both chemical action and electricity had been used to give the creature its immortal spark of life.
"Much of Frankenstein’s equipment was damaged or corroded or both. The great engine, which occupied a prominent place in the laboratory, was beyond repair. Not that it mattered, or its principles were easy for me to decipher, and I could easily replace the machine with more modern and efficient equipment. Already I felt certain that by combining Frankenstein’s techniques with my own I could easily restore the laboratory and bring it to full life once again.
"But what good would the laboratory be if I could not first obtain the remains of the Monster?”
It was then that Pierre Dupré finally interrupted. “But, if the novel’s account is true, as is what Krag told you, you’d surely not find the Monster in Germany.”
“Ah, how true,
Dupré,” said Winslow. “But don’t let me get ahead of myself. In the center of the laboratory, I saw a large table, complete with primitive electrical hook-ups and large restraining straps, that indicated that it was once used to accommodate a veritable giant. Mary Shelley described the Monster as eight feet tall — in its bare feet, I’d imagine. I kept searching...
“In one of the warping bookcases, I pored through the many moldy-smelling volumes, hoping to find something actually written by Victor Frankenstein. The volumes by Paracelsus and Cornelius Agrippa must have been priceless in value, but I wasn’t concerned with the writings of the alchemists. With my heart pounding, I finally came upon the great leather-bound volume, its pages inscribed by a hasty hand. The cover boasted, in raised lettering, its title,
The Journal of Victor Frankenstein
; and on its yellowed pages was the
, the step-by-step creation of the being that Frankenstein had made and brought to life. It was all there — how he violated the graves and gallows, even used animal tissue to give his creation size and strength, how he worked for two years assembling the giant which he’d hoped to be virtuous, physically perfect, immune to disease, and the recipient of eternal life. The book told how, on one stormy November night, he brought his creation to life with the power of the lightning and his own chemicals and devices.
“The rest of the puzzle was easily fit together. By now, I knew the events in Mary Shelley’s novel almost word-for-word. I remembered how the Monster, after Victor Frankenstein had refused to grant him an artificially created female, had killed his maker’s loved ones, culminating with Victor’s bride Elizabeth, and how Victor had chased the Monster through Russia, across the Mediterranean Sea, and finally to the North Pole. Captain Walton actually saw the being after Frankenstein perished from overexposure to the elements. He watched as the Monster promised to destroy himself in a blazing funeral pyre, then jumped off his ship to his waiting ice-raft. Walton, of course, was instrumental in recording the facts that eventually became Mary Shelley’s
“The important fact here is that I had proven that there was a Victor Frankenstein who had, apparently, created a living giant man... in a laboratory in Ingolstadt. What remained for me to do was to prove the existence of that so-called Monster and that it did, in fact, attain life.
“And that, my friend,” said Winslow, “is what brought me here.”
* * *
Pierre Dupré's face seemed to grow wider as his mind digested the facts in Winslow’s narrative. He stared at the younger man, seemingly trying to decide whether or not to believe him.
Winslow grinned. “I told you that you would not believe me.” He crushed out his smoldering cigarette butt in the seat’s ashtray. “You probably think I’m mad. If you do, I won’t hold it against you.”
The Frenchman still looked puzzled. “Mad?” he replied. “No, I don’t think so. Somehow this ‘madness’ seems to make some strangely convoluted sense. Maybe I’ve been hypnotized by the sound of the train wheels or perhaps I’m just gullible. Whichever it is, I’m afraid I believe you. Ha! Perhaps I am the one who has gone mad!”
The American laughed.
“But your story is not, obviously, finished,” said Pierre.
“Not quite,” said Winslow. “You’ve probably guessed by now why I’m here. Yes, I’m going to find that so-called Monster — bring it back to my castle in Ingolstadt, and bring it back to life.”
Dupré could not remain silent. “But,” he started, “I mean, wasn’t the Monster destroyed by his own hand here in the Arctic? Didn’t he burn himself to death?”
“He promised to,” said Winslow. “But we don’t know that he did, according to Mrs. Shelley. Somehow, I feel that he would somehow know just how precious his life was — even his artificially bestowed life — and maybe decide to hold onto it, before striking the match that’d doom him forever.”
“All right, then. Given that the Monster did not commit suicide, as he promised to do in the book, then you must still realize that the Arctic is quite a big place,
. You Americans have an appropriate expression, something about a haystack and a needle. How do you propose to find your Monster?”
“First of all, according to Frankenstein’s journal, the Monster simply cannot die, unless he is literally destroyed. That means the cold of the Arctic should do little more than freeze him solid. I believe that the Monster is out there someplace, frozen in a state of suspended animation, waiting for someone to find him. As to just
I'll accomplish that seeming impossibility, that’s where the
will come into play.”
“Legend?” asked the Frenchman.
“There is a legend in these parts,” said Winslow, “that there is some mysterious Ice God who watches over the Eskimos . . . from a tomb of ice.”
“Ice . .. God?” Dupré's eyes opened wider.
“A being, or deity if you prefer, so awesome, so enormous, so terrible to behold that no one dares even approach it. A god that has been there, never moving, for longer than any generation can recall. A god who will someday emerge from its icy tomb to unleash his vengeance against anyone who has not loyally served him during his confinement. Sure, the natives have added their own details to the legend. But I believe that this... Ice God, which holds the Eskimos that worship him in a grip of fear, is none other than the Frankenstein monster.”
The look on the Frenchman’s immovable face told Winslow that Dupré believed him.
* * *
There was still a ways to go before the train reached its destination, and Winslow had grown weary of talking. He let the Frenchman ponder his words while Winslow himself tried to catch up on some much-needed sleep. Going over the Frankenstein notes had left him tired and, for the first time since he had stepped aboard the train, he was able to think thoughts unrelated to the Monster.
How long had it been since he had thought of Lynn?
His eyes closed, his thoughts brought him back to the apartment they had shared these past few months back in the United States. Specifically, his imagination focused upon their last night before he had set off on his journey north. She was waiting for him, sitting on their bed like some sun-tanned goddess, her thick blonde hair like silk waves caressing her smooth shoulders, full, naked breasts, and sleekly long legs. Their love-making had been very special that night, and it was then that he had realized that he had been devoting less and less time to this woman who had come to share so much of his life, so many of his secrets.
For a while, they were together once more — in his imagination — their lips joined in savage passion, bodies pressed warmly against each other — as Burt Winslow dropped off into slumber. But even as the remembered scene became a wondrous dream, Winslow could feel himself looking up from Lynn’s lovely face, toward an image that shimmered in their bedroom.
The image was taking on form in the corner of the room. It towered above these two people in love, raising its arms so that Winslow could see the crude stitching that joined the enormous hands. The face of the creature had not yet come into focus, as Lynn seemingly vanished from his embrace. But it was the train’s conductor who spared Winslow from actually beholding the apparition’s countenance, for his shouting of the name of a town was enough to save the young scientist from his dream.