I got an idea as to where the creature may have gone. I ran out of the room into a foyer filled with angry men. Many of them were talking about stringing Dr. Aldini up, while others were already working on having him ousted.
The young man who’d pulled me out of the room came up to me with a smug look on his face. “Madame,” he announced, pulling on his lapel, “I must ask you hand over your notebook as evidence. We are going to have Dr. Aldini arrested and will need your notes to make our case.”
It was then I realized I’d forgotten to pick it up. I had to think quickly. “Well, I’m afraid that won’t happen.” I raised my head and looked him dead in his eyes. I don’t think he was expecting that as he seemed to lose some of his composure.
“Excuse me,” he asked with a slight tremor in his voice.
“Thanks to your pulling me out of there, I dropped my notebook and one of the assistants has already picked it up. I was informed that they’d be keeping it and I was dismissed. I do hope you’re proud of yourself.” Without waiting for an answer, I turned and marched out of the building. I couldn’t let them know that Mr. Foster was on the loose.
Once I’d made my way outside, I looked for the opened window the creature had escaped from. I walked around the corner and found it. As I looked down, I noticed a couple of wired pins and the headpiece lying on the ground. I picked them up, then studied the air for any signs of the beast.
I knew the river wasn’t far from where I stood, so I headed in that direction. I knew I was on the right course as the air seemed electrified the closer I got. I tried to stay within the tree line so as not to be seen by any passersby. I didn’t know what I would find, but I didn’t want anyone else finding him either.
When I came to the clearing just above the bank, I could see the creature standing in the moonlight. He seemed to be shaking, but I couldn’t be sure. One thing I did know, was that whatever was in front of me wasn’t George Foster.
I tried to take a step forward but found I’d begun to sink in the wet sod. The creature turned and looked my way. It knew I was there.
“I smell you, human. Show yourself.” The voice that came from Mr. Foster wasn’t of this world. Something had taken possession of the creature’s body.
I pried my foot free and stepped out where I could be seen. A sinister smile crept across the creature’s face as the sounds of howling dogs echoed in the distance. It gave me a clue as to who I was dealing with.
“You look like a tasty morsel, my dear.” The creature faced me head-on, looking as though he were about to pounce. As he did so, three black dogs came up from behind him and stood by his side. Now, I was sure I knew who he was.
“Oh, shut up, you old fool. We both know you’ve no intentions of eating me.” I stood firm with my hands on my hips. Though it was the face of a dead convict, the look in the creature’s eyes was almost laughable.
“You know me,” he asked with a tilt of his head.
“Aye, dead man. I know you. You’re Arawn, god of the dead.” My words didn’t quite get the response I’d expected.
“Well played, my dear,” he said with a hearty laugh. “And who might you be, if I may ask?”
“My name is Kate Rhodes. Perhaps you know my grandmother. Does the name Hekate ring a bell?”
The humor in his manner instantly faded. “So, you’re the mortal given the gift of eternal life. I understand you plan to rid this world of the likes of me.”
I was taken aback. “Well, I don’t know where you got your information, but nothing could be further from the truth. However, I do wish you to leave this human’s body. Allow him to be given a proper burial, even if he doesn’t deserve it. A man who kills his family should be left to rot.”
Arawn laughed once again. “My dear, this man did not kill his family. His wife killed their son and herself in a fit of rage. As a drunkard, he had no recollection of what had happened and he was convicted without any viable evidence.”
From behind me came the sounds of men screaming. “Find the creature,” I heard someone yell.
“Arawn, you’ve got to release Mr. Foster. If they find his body lying by the river, they’ll believe Dr. Aldini a fraud. If they find a living corpse, they will set it on fire. Is that how you want this man to be remembered?”
“They can’t kill me,” he barked, “I’m a god. I will still be here long after their souls are dancing in my halls.”
“Not to them, you’re not,” I barked back, pointing the world behind me. “In their eyes, you are a reanimated monster. They don’t believe in the old ways anymore. To them, Arawn is a fairytale told to children to keep them in line. You are the epitome of evil in this world.”
“Perhaps they’re right,” he said with a bit of remorse in his tone. “Maybe it’s time I reminded them of just who I am and what I’m capable of doing.”
“No,” I demanded. “You’ll only reinforce their opinions. Leave Mr. Foster’s body and let them have it. You’re not an evil deity, or perhaps my grandmother wrong about you?”
Arawn stared at me for a moment. Then, the creature’s hands went up into the air and its head leaned back. A wisp of grey mist escaped its mouth and the body fell to the ground. The mist reappeared in the form of a horned skeleton draped in a tattered cloak. A dark mist came from the trees on the other side of the river, forming into the shape of a skeletal horse. Arawn mounted his stead, his dogs loyally by his side.
As he was about to leave, we heard a cacophony of voices coming up from behind. I wouldn’t have time to get out of there without being seen.
“Climb on,” I heard Arawn say.
I was a bit apprehensive but knew I didn’t have much choice. He helped me onto the back of his horse and we disappeared into the darkness. Within moments, we stood just outside of my cottage. I dismounted the horse and bowed toward Arawn.
“I do hope we have the chance to meet again, my dear,” he said with a deep growl.
“No offense, my lord, but I don’t. However, should we meet again, I hope we’re on the same team.”
He bowed to me, then turned into a mist and disappeared into the forest. I went into my house, removed all my clothing, and threw them in the fire. It was the only way I could get the stench of death out of my nose.
The next morning, I made my way to the newspaper office. I had my apologies all ready to go when I entered as I knew my editor would be furious with me for not getting the story.
“Sir,” I began as I entered the room, “I had the story in hand when…”
“Kate,” my editor yelled, “no time for talk. Grab your notebook and get down by the river. It seems they’ve found a body and I want that story. Now, go.”
I knew better than to look a gift horse in the mouth, so I ran back to my desk to grab a fresh notebook. It took me about fifteen minutes to get to the river’s edge, but once I was there, it was hard to get in for a closer look.
There were doctors and policemen swarming all about. Men were pushing past each other for a closer examination, but I was determined. I needed to get this story to save my own hide. Finally, I was able to grab a constable for a few words.
“Sir,” I quipped, “Kate Rhodes with the Newgate Calendar. Can I get an interview?”
The constable glared at me but decided to talk with me. “You know, Madame, this is no place for a lady.”
“I assure you, good sir, I’ll be fine. What can you tell me? Do you know whose body was found?”
With a deep sigh, he began his story. “Yes, we’ve determined that it’s the body of George Foster. In his quest to be proven right, Dr. Aldini had one of his assistants place the body down here, then claimed it had come to life and jumped out the window and made it to this spot. However, we have proof that there was someone else down here.”
I wrote as fast as I could, making sure to get in all the details. “Proof? What kind of proof?”
I could tell the constable wasn’t happy about speaking with me but continued on anyway. “We’ve found a deep shoe imprint in the wet sod just above the riverbank. Once we find the shoe, which will be covered in mud, we’ll have our accomplice.” My blood ran cold.
“And what of Dr. Aldini,” I inquired.
“Of that, I cannot comment. He’s been taken off by the royal guard. I am not at liberty to discuss his case from there.”
“In other words, you don’t know, correct?” I chuckled just a bit but the constable didn’t see the humor. He gave me a fowl look, then just walked away. I found that even funnier.
I spoke with a few others, took a quick look at the body as they placed it onto the back of a wagon, then headed back to the office to type up my report. Once completed, I handed it off to my editor who had it on the printing press by lunchtime. By the time I was ready to go home, my story was on the front page.
After that, I headed home. It had been a long couple of days and I was ready for a break. Besides, I had some unfinished business I needed to take care of. I had a pair of shoes I needed to burn.
And there you have it, my friend. The real story of Frankenstein’s monster. Or should I say, Aldini’s monster? Oddly, Dr. Aldini was never imprisoned for his crime. In fact, he was applauded by the emperor of Austria and made a chancellor of Milan. Yet he never tried to bring the dead back to life again.
Oh dear, you look tired. What say we call it a night. Next time you come back, we’ll discuss another of my many adventures.