Book I of THE LEGEND OF FRANKENSTEIN!
Once, a clever little boy named Victor dreamed of making things move and live. And when he grew up, he achieved his dream.
But that dream became THE NIGHTMARE OF FRANKENSTEIN!
This, the first part of THE LEGEND OF FRANKENSTEIN series, is a collection of short stories about the most famous Monster of them all. While many adaptations of Mary Shelley's classic story have been told, precious few have attempted to chronicle the later adventures of the nameless creature. This book does just that.
THE NIGHTMARE OF FRANKENSTEIN begins with Victor Frankenstein as a child, pondering the secrets of life and the mysteries of death. As he grows up, his researches lead him to the most amazing—and horrifying—creation of all time: a living Monster assembled from the dead!
Then, beginning at the very moment that Mary Shelley's novel ends, we follow the Monster of Frankenstein on his epic quest, traveling across the world, seeking the means to do what his creator refused.
THE NIGHTMARE OF
In his quest to learn the secrets of his creation, the Monster of Frankenstein seeks out various eccentric scientists and mad doctors such as Adam Weishaupt—the founder of the Illuminati, the murderous duo of Burke and Hare, and Andrew Crosse, a real-life researcher who created life in his laboratory. Along the way, the Monster battles ghouls, witches, and mad scientists! See him captured by madmen and forced to battle other monsters in the arena of death!
By Perry Lake
I traveled with the Romany people thoughout 1819, their covered vardos rolling from town to town. The dwarf Grando christened me “Chikno,” a name that I was told meant “tiny” in the Romany tongue. They supplied me with new clothes and even made for me a new pair of leather shoes and this I much appreciated. Also I had been fitted with a mask of green silk to hide my deathlike features, but still men were awed by my size and gaunt limbs. Few men wished to challenge me alone, but when the hetman Karlo offered any two of them the chance to compete with me in a rope pull or other contest, they readily accepted. I always won and Karlo collected coins for my efforts.
The Roma saw me as an attraction, a means to greater crowds and more purses to empty, but that was all. The witch Molga and Abedin, the former strongman, plotted against me daily, to no avail. Grando however, remained my only true friend. I often let him ride about on my shoulders and he laughed to see himself towering over all.
When, at last, the Hungarians tired of our displays of horsemanship and dancing maidens and fortunetelling and even of us freaks, we once more packed up the vardos and sought richer pastures. Some of the men suggested a venture into Prussia or Bavaria or Austria or even France where fresh riches lie but the dangers of war were greater. The majority opted for the relative comfort of Transylvania and Bulgaria.
I convinced Grando to urge the others to make their way to Bohemia in Austria. This was not well received, for in the past the Bohemians were especially cruel to the Gypsies, even mutilating their women. But when at last I promised to go on alone, depriving them of their main source of coins, they reluctantly agreed.
We arrived at the gates of Prague in full winter, and like so many other towns we had visited, the city guards did not want to let me enter masked like a bandit. As always, Karlo was quick to present their sergeant with a challenge.
“It will be a contest of strength of our giant against as many of your soldiers as you wish to pit against him. What do you say? Are you true men? Are you afraid to pit your strength against only one man, no matter if he is a little bigger?”
They muttered amongst themselves a moment. Then the sergeant agreed.
All five guardsmen took their place on one side of a slush-filled, cobble-stoned street with a crevice that served as a sewer and I stood on the other. Karlo handed us the ends of the sturdy rope he used for this purpose. We all took our grip.
“Heave-ho!” the sergeant suddenly ordered, hoping to take me by surprise.
I had a firm grip but not firm footing. The snow and mud conspired to form a slush which gave way under my feet causing me to slip first one way then the other. In an instant I had toppled into the muck. The soldiers laughed.
Karlo and the other Gypsies grumbled something about a rematch, but the sergeant refused. He demanded that I unmask. I stood before him and did as he ordered. His smirk vanished. Immediately, there went up a cry, “Leper! He is a leper!”
They backed away, all of them, until their sergeant cried out a command.
“You take him, sergeant! I’ll not touch him!”
The sergeant cursed, then ordered, “Fix bayonets! We’ll prod him out of the gates! The whole lot of them!”
The first soldier drew a bayonet and began to fix it upon his musket. I foretold the outcome of this and I did not care for it. Instead, I rushed him and wrenched the weapon from his hands. Barrel in hand, I swung it at the others. They were too far away to reach, but they scurried away.
I had then the opportunity to escape inside the city or out and I chose in. I hurled the musket at the guards before they could aim a shot and they either fell or gave ground. I ran and darted within the nearest alleyway and no man attempted to stop me.
“Wait for me! Wait for me!”
It was Grando, scurrying behind me as fast as his little legs could carry him. As the guardsmen turned their anger on the Gypsies, he darted between them and was following me. A glance back showed the soldiers mostly dealing with the unruly Gypsies, attempting to chase them out of town, but the sergeant followed me, his weapon in hand.
I hurled a basketful of soiled laundry at him and he toppled. “Good shot!” Grando yelled. I turned back into the alley, but Grando still followed. I turned and saw he could not keep up and thinking he might prove useful, I picked him up and carried him with me to safety. Of the other Gypsies, I saw no more.
Molga the witch, I had no doubt, would take the opportunity to turn them against me. I did not care, for here was where I wished to be. Beyond that, however, I had no plan of action. I knew not where to go in this great city, or what to do when I arrived.
Here Grando proved invaluable. Though the Gypsies live in the wilds, they earn and steal their livelihood in the cities. Though he had never sat foot in this city before, he pointed me to the poorest neighborhood.
Sloshing through the narrow, snow-covered alleys, we quickly lost the gendarmes and no one raised a hand to stop us, though many a voice did rise. I charged into a house, sending the inhabitants out the shuttered windows. I followed one of them, hopped a fence, and charged into another house, all while Grando hung from my neck.
I spied the river, fortunately unfrozen, and raced for it, fearing a mob was assembling behind me. Grando saw my intent and screamed for me to stop. When I did not stop, he tried to jump off.
“I will drown! I will drown!”
I stopped long enough to set him down.
“Meet me here after dark,” I told him.
Then I dove into the icy waters and swam under the surface until I was certain no one would spot me rise. I made my way to a clump of weeds by the shore, nearly out of the city, and there I stayed until sunset.
At that time I made my way back to the spot where I had separated from Grando. I waited a goodly time, but at last he showed himself.
“Grando, I need you to discover the Jews and where they reside and then lead me there.”
“It will be difficult,” he said, munching a purloined carrot, “The people kick me when I go by or they hurl vegetables, which is not so bad. It keeps the belly full. But I speak a little of the Czech language, which is only Slavic. Maybe I should teach you what I know.”
I agreed. During the next few weeks of lessons the clever Grando discovered perhaps the only empty house in all of Prague and we moved in. He made friends with the children of the slums and joined their games or led them on thieving raids in the marketplace. From them he soon discovered the location of the ghetto and some few stories about their most famous legend.
Also, Grando was free to depart the city as he wished and he learned the Gypsies had camped only a mile or so outside the gates of the city. With my books he brought back word that Karlo intended to camp there for another week before departing for Austria.
I therefore urged Grando to lead me to the gates of the ghetto one frozen night, carrying him when he could not traverse the icy streets. I knew the Jews and the Gypsies were not friends, but I did not care. I left Grando behind, despite his protestations and climbed the ornately carved gate, dropping to the other side. Anyone awake would have heard only his wailing.
Here the streets were clean of all but the freshest dusting of snow. The houses, tall and crooked like the rest of the ancient city, appeared in better repair than at least those of the slums on the other side of the wall.
But the streets zigged and zagged in all directions and I was soon lost in the maze. Drawing the attention only of the occasional cowering dog or curious cat, I skulked about for hours, searching for the temple of the Jews for there I presumed to find the repository of the golem of Prague.
I did at last find a large and ornate building which seemed to me must be the Synagogue. I climbed up the stone wall and looked within. There I beheld a vast lamp-lit library, where several young men sat on benches, about scroll-cluttered tables, reading and muttering aloud. Though I did not know it at the time, this building was not the Synagogue I sought, but the yeshiva, a school of religious studies.
I dropped once more to the ground and made my way to the back. I discovered a locked gate. I tested it and debated the likelihood of climbing it without raising a ruckus. Then I heard two of the young, robed men stepping out of the building and approaching the gate. I hid myself behind a corner.
When they came about the corner I presented myself to the two youths and I took hold of them by their collars. Though astonished by my presence, they begin speaking excitedly to each other in Hebrew. I understood only one word of their speech: golem.
“Where is the golem?” I asked, in such Czech as I knew. Indeed, I had made especial effort to learn this one phrase.
They went silent. Then one of them spoke again. With a tightening of my grip, I insisted that he translate.
“You-you-you are it. You are the golem.” At least I believe this is what he said. “And… and you speak.”
“I do speak. And I say, take me to thy leader.”
With so many books and movies failing to capture the brilliance of Shelly’s original novel, it came as such a breath of fresh air to discover a wonderfully written and plotted story, which only enhanced my love for the famous monster and mad-scientist.
Author of "Fourteen Days" and the "Burn the Dead" series
I think any fan of Frankenstein may enjoy this one . . . it serves as both a prequel and sequel to Shelley's novel, and complements it nicely.
Author of "Sweetgum Ridge" and the "Brackett Hollister" series