“Mister Garret, I’m Doctor Ben Goldman.” He began. “You must have a lot of questions. I’ve been watching you on the security cameras, and I must say, you’re handling your…”transition” much better than I thought you would. Now, I’d like to answer those questions, fill in any blanks you have. Why don’t we go back to your room and we’ll talk?”
Seemed like the thing to do to me. The mooks looked at the doc with body language saying they were disappointed they weren’t going to get to “engage”. They departed, probably to go masturbate to a Rambo movie. So I went and sat on the end of the bed, and the doc pulled in a chair from the nurse’s station.
“So, is this a government facility?” I asked.
“Not anymore,” he replied, “a few doctors like myself who used to work here when the government ran the center put together a medical research company to buy the facility, and take care of the unique patients that this place was built for. You’re still in Illinois. In Manteno to be exact. I know that’s a good deal south than what you’re used to.”
“I’m not following you.” Damn! Why is my voice so odd? I thought. It was like something from the grave.
“At the end of World War Two, as part of Operation Paper Clip, Nazi scientists were being smuggled into America to keep them and their work out of Soviet hands. Now, everyone knows about the rocket scientists and how they helped shape the space program. What isn’t generally known, nor is it advertised, that scientists working on projects that today would be called genetic engineering, mutation, and cybernetics were also brought to the US. The Nazis wanted super soldiers, and so did the Americans.”
“So, what happened to me, I’m a mutant? I know I’m not a super-soldier. They all look like Chris Evans. Am I a cyborg?”
“No. You’re not a mutant. In a way, you’re a cyborg.”, the doc said with what sounded almost like disappointment in his voice.
“I don’t remember signing any authorizations. How is this an good?”
“No, what happened to you, well, sometimes to fix a wrong, you have to commit another wrong.”
“Well, that is not too encouraging,” I said. “Look , doctor, whatever it is, you can tell me. I’ve become used to bad news lately.”
“You ever watch monster movies, as a child maybe?” He asked.
“I watched monster movies until I became homeless and lost my TV.”
“The Nazis discovered that there was a great deal of truth behind Mary Shelly’s story of Frankenstein.”
“Frankenstein? Oh, come on, you’re rubbing my rhubarb.”
No, it’s true. It begins in 1706, when a German alchemist named Conrad Dippel, who was widely rumored to be the illegitimate son of the Baron of Frankenstein, well, he allegedly produced a reanimated corpse thru unknown means. Apparently in 1797, one Victor Frankenstein, inspired by Dippel’s work, created an artificial man from body parts allegedly thru some weird combination of science and alchemy. Now, piecing together recovered journals, the odd newspaper story here and there, and some of that Nazi research I was telling you about, we’ve pieced together that that monster may well have existed, although his trail goes cold soon after World War One.”
“And how… exactly does this pertain to me?”
“We are getting there, patience. Now, I know all this sounds insane but it’s true. You can understand why no one would broadcast material to the general public. Now, this obsession of reanimation seemed to run in the family. The monster had killed Victor’s father, the Baron, and his younger brother Willie. When Victor died in the arctic while pursuing the monster, the Barony went to his uncle Beaufort. His son Wilhelm, in 1849, created his own monster.”
“So there’s two monsters?”
“More than two but we are only concerned with one. Wilhelm’s monster was the source of a lot of local legends, but it moved around quite a bit in the company of others. It started in Frankenstein, then to Ingolstadt, from there to Goldstadt, and finally to the Vaseria region of Austria.”
“Why does that sound familiar?” I asked.
“Because those legends and murders were picked up on by screen writers and formed the basis for the old Universal Frankenstein movies.”
The doctor pulled out a cigarette and lit it.
“I’m sorry. Would you like one? He offered.
“No, that’s OK. I gave up cigarettes. You wouldn’t have a cigar, would you?”
“Unfortunately not. So, thanks to the Nazis back tracking this, and the US confiscating it, we actually know how this monster was created. There’s not a bit of alchemy or the occult anywhere in Wilhelm’s monster. It’s all science albeit science Wilhelm didn’t fully understand. We have all of Wilhelm’s notes, formulae, his journals, and his diary. We know he had two partners. An Austrian biology researcher named Strauss, and an English scientist named Pym. Can I get you anything, a coke or…?”
“Now that you mention it a coke would be great.”
Doctor Goldman walked to the intercom on the wall, pressed the button, and said “Please bring a coke for Mister Garrett.”
“Strauss had been working with Pym for some time. Strauss’ work, among others, would lead to the science of genetics. But Pym, he’s the man behind the real breakthroughs. Per Wilhelm’s diary, and bear with me here, it gets crazier, Pym had invented a machine that could create what we today theorize as an Einstein Rosen bridge to warp time and travel to other time periods’”
“The Time Machine? The book?”
“I said it would get crazier. Ah, here’s your coke.” The screaming nurse timidly came in holding a can of Coca Cola. Nervously, she handed it to me. My God, my hand dwarfed hers. Now, I’m no dummy. The story was as crazy as crazy gets, and I was starting to not like where this was headed. She quickly left.
“Wilhelm had already built his subject, again from different bodies. He wanted an actual living being, not an undead thing like the two creatures that proceeded his. Unfortunately, he had no way of knowing that tissue rejection would tear the body apart even if he could reanimate it. Pym returned from an “excursion” with several things that would solve that problem. An enhancement serum, probably military, sort of HGH but boosted to superhuman levels. Self-replicating nannites that over write DNA allowing donors to be universal, as well as repair damage at incredible speed. It also maximizes certain things, like sight and hearing. These are, well, incredible things, not just from their future, but from our future. They intended lightning generated voltage to work like a giant defibrillator and jump start the creature. I guess it worked. It’s too bad the brain they used was from what today we call a serial killer. Pym disappeared, Strauss went into hiding, and the monster escaped before the nannites and serum could finish their work. Once the monster disappeared moving east, Wilhelm and his family moved to England..”
“Something tells me the Nazis found the monster.”
“Yeah. They’d found Wilhelm’s papers but since it doesn’t explain in detail what the serum was, and since the nannites are microscopic, suspended in a saline solution, it looked to Frankenstein as another serum. Frankenstein, Strauss, and Pym would have all been dead by this point. They found the monster in 1944, and by their account, lost quite a few SS goons before they could convince it to come in. The monster was at full power, and it cost the Reich a small fortune to keep it placid. Finally in 1945, they came up with a tranquilizer strong enough to overwhelm the nannites long enough for them to remove the brain, and get blood and tissue samples. But the War was over. Paperclip picked up the scientists and the monster’s body.”
I had finished the coke, and out the can on the counter.
“So… what happened? They find another brain?”
“No. They didn’t understand what the nannites are or do. They didn’t have the surgical expertise to try it. They couldn’t synthesize the serum. It just lay in a freezer, an anomaly that was forgotten in a world of Red Scares and H bombs. Now, as time went on, the government found themselves dealing with more and more anomalies they’d prefer the public not know about. The genetic effects of radiation, real mutants, hybrids, all stuff to sweep under the rug. This place was built to house them, take care of them. When the military finally lost interest in the monster, it was moved here and held in refrigeration There were other facilities, and they and this one were all decommissioned in 1990 due to funding cutbacks. Since the government had stopped nuclear testing and experimenting on the public, fewer and fewer anomalies were appearing. The staff was released and they paid the doctors, myself included, quite a bit to keep quiet. But, there’s individuals like Lisa, the little girl in the dark room you met. Abandoned by her parents. Unexplainable body wide atavisms. Others like her. My associates and I bought the facility, and reopened it. There’s 4 other doctors, 12 nurses, and security. You met them. Some of our patients are antisocial, violent, and powerful.”
“So, doc, what happened to me?”
“The trucks going thru Saint Charles were carrying various chemical warfare agents. They never used to transport that stuff thru population centers, but they removed regulations on moving it. The compound you were sprayed with causes proteins to break apart and dissolve. Basically, the flesh melts off the bones. You fell into the river, which slowed it but didn’t stop it. Nothing can stop it. The government wanted to cover it up, so they made arrangements to move you from the hospital to us. They expected us to let you die here away from the public. That and keep record of the chemical’s breakdown of your body. To be honest, we’ve helped various government agencies with this sort of thing before. They’d clean up the mess while announcing that you drowned. They’d pay off your family to accept the story, and tell them not to worry about the burial. I’m led to believe you and your family aren’t too close.”
“Not especially. Since I’ve been homeless, well, let’s just say things have been better.”
“We decided to try and save you. We were ashamed of our previous actions. We didn’t like the government treating us as janitors or you as expendable. There was only one thing to do.”
That took a minute or two to fully sink in. I guess they found they’re new brain. When you get really bad news and the only other option is really bad news, emotion shuts down. Everything becomes incredibly lucid.
“How long was I out?”
“Four hundred and twelve days.” He sighed. “It took a lot to keep you down so the DNA from for body would over write and the nannites to make sure the nervous systems were operating correctly. The DNA over write guaranteed that your brain wouldn’t be rejected. It sometimes has other side effects. Your old fingerprints have replicated on your new hands.”
I looked at my hands. “I don’t see any stitches. Do I have a flat head or electrodes? There’s no mirror in here.”
“No”, he smiled, “the nannites healed any scars and sutures a long time ago. Flat heads are just in movies. You have two small electrodes, one on each temple. Your hair covers them.”
“I kind of expected you to be all cryptic and evasive. Give me not much of an explanation.” I rumbled. “Why give me the whole story?”
“It’s not my job to bullshit you. You’ve already been thru hell, so why lie to you? I had our attorney, Mr. Dallas, contact your family to let them know you’re alive, that you survived the spill. That was over a year ago. They’ve never called. I’m sorry. The government knows you didn’t die as well, but they’re not apprised of how you survived. I’m hoping you’ll stay with us, at least until we work up a cover story for your appearance. And to give you time to learn to control your new body.”
I stood up, still amazed to be looking at the world from seven feet. I could have really used some Crown Royal right then. It was a lot to wrap my head around. Fiction is reality. And I’m in it. It was so nuts. Guess I was up to my nuts in nuts. I wondered if I was nuts. Now, you can call me warped, but I was going to drown myself in the river. This, however, this looked like it could be fun.