Sitting there in the dark, I started thinking of Doctor Goldman and the hospital.
They didn’t have a gym, but they let me run laps around their circular driveway. I became very fast. Later, at the agency, I would be clocked at forty miles per hour. They didn’t have free weights, but they did let me do reps with an old Volkswagen Beetle.
Because of my time working as an EMT and working at Brookfield Zoo, they let me help in the care of the other patients. They were a very odd bunch. Besides Lisa, the atavistic little girl, there was Otto, a disagreeable male with a roundish form covered in warty purplish hide. Security needed to be present when he was receiving his meals or being bathed. Sarah and Rose occupied a single room between them, with twin beds. They never spoke, never showed any sign of emotion, and frequently made eye contact with one another. I could swear they were using telepathy. Down one wing, behind another security door, were “the kids”. They were all small slight children with fine white hair, and big eyes like in a Japanese cartoon. There were seven of them, each brought in at different times after their parents gave them up. They didn’t look dangerous but all security personnel had to be present at feeding time for them. Then there was Rover.
Rover was brought in after I’d been up and about for some time. He was brought in in a cage. Rover wasn’t his name, just what I called him. Rover looked for all the world like a big black wolf waling upright, tail and everything. They transferred him into one of the secure rooms, pushing him out of his cage with poles, and then locking the door behind him. Doctor Goldman and the other doctors stood looking at Rover thru the observation window. I could hear them talking in hushed tones. “What do you think he is?” “Is he a severe atavism?” “When will the DNA analysis be done?” “A chimera maybe?” “Is it possible he’s a new species?” I was going to ask what the hell Rover Was, but they didn’t seem to know. I thought he might be a werewolf. Hey, I’m Frankenstein. I can’t discount anything. But day or night, regardless of the moon, Rover remained Rover and never turned into a man. Rover never talked, and didn’t understand the questions asked him, in several different languages. He wasn’t housetrained, and he was dangerous. Security held him at bay with cattle prods when his food was delivered. The DNA was inconclusive.
I never found out what Rover was. He got out, and security had to put him down.
I was at the hospital another two months. During that time, the DNA overwrite completed itself, and my voice sounded more like my old one. I was ready to leave. The doctors announced to the press that not only did I survive, the spill had “mutated” me. They introduced me to the press. They were shocked at my appearance but doubted the story. Considering it was a bald faced lie, who would blame them. But the press had the police check my finger prints against my old arrest record. They matched. Fox News talked my brother into providing a DNA sample to check against me. Thanks to the DNA overwrite, that matched too. The family still stayed away from me. I got paid for some interviews I did, which allowed me to get a room. I needed a job. That was going to be a problem. So, taking stock, I got a job bouncing at Diamonds Gentlemen’s Club (let’s face it, it was a strip joint and most of the girls turned tricks).I was there 2 years, during which I had a bit of notoriety, winning the “Greatest Bouncer” competition. They call it the Mister T award.
And then the vampire snatched Connie, I went in pursuit, and my life path was changed.
Morning came, and the small restaurant across the street opened for business. I walked over, intent on some coffee. I waked in, and the lady who owns the place and her two waitresses screamed. I’ve found approaching screamers and trying to calm them down just makes the situation worse. So I sat down at a table and began reading the menu. After a couple of minutes, they were all screamed out and short of breath.
“What, what do you want?” asked the owner, cowering behind the cash register..
“Coffee, please. The flapjacks look good.”
They continued to stand there staring at me.
“What?” I asked. “Oh, I get it, look it’s OK. It’s because I’m gray, isn’t it?”
And then, one of the waitresses got the joke. She snorted a semi-laugh. Slowly, the lights went on in the other two. So I got coffee and flapjacks. I asked the three ladies about the disappearances. They’d heard the stories and were mighty glad they lived here in town. They were born here and never heard of anything like this before. I explained who I was and why I was there. They were at last at ease, oblivious to my appearance. I paid my bill, left a tip, and walked out. The constable’s squad car was parked next to my Denali, so I crossed the street and went in.
The constable looked up from his coffee and shock seized his face.
“Jesus Christ!” he exclaimed. I pulled out the letter and held it out to him.
“Officer Grover, my name is Jim Garrett but most folks know me as Johnny Frankenstein. Your son wrote me. Here, here’s his letter. I’ve come here to help.”
“It’s alright. I know I’m a little… alarming the first time you meet me, but it’s going to be alright. Constable, I’d like to talk to you about what you saw.”
Slowly the color came back to his face. His body relaxed, and he exhaled deeply.
“You’re that guy on TV. I mean, I’ve seen you on TV, but I thought it was a joke.” He pulled a pint of Jim Beame from his desk and took a gulp. I couldn’t blame him. He’s seen two monsters in a short period of time. The vast majority never see any. “I mean, I… when I was a kid I went to a wrestling match in Portland. I saw Andre the Giant. But… but he wasn’t anything compared to you. You’re, you’re real!”
“Yeah, I’m real. I really am Frankenstein. It’s on my business card. I’m a private detective and bodyguard. Once in a while I do bounty hunting. I’ve defeated Mothman, the Bray Road Beast, and Momo and those were shown on TV. There’s been a whole lot of ghouls, werebeasts, and lesser vampires I’ve destroyed that weren’t. Now, Mister Grover, normally I don’t admit to normal humans such as yourself the existence of werebeasts and the undead. It usually scares them too much. But your son tells me you’ve seen something and your eyes tell me you’ve seen something. Something horrible. Certainly more horrible than me. It’s alright to be afraid of monsters. I’ve come here to solve this problem. Since your son, a young boy asked me to help, this is pro bono, free of charge. So, I’m going to sit down, and you take your time, and then you’ll tell me what you saw.”
I let him finish his coffee. I wanted him to relax. So I started talking to him about the area.
“Believe it or not, Officer Grover, I actually lived here a few years back. I was normal then. Lived up Alsea Deadwood Highway just before the cutback. Lived with my former fiancé, but she dumped me and I moved back to Illinois. I miss the forest up here, fishing in the river. Driving out to the coast, staying at the Overleaf.”
“Why don’t you move back here?”
“Maybe. Maybe if I ever retire. But I’m the “undying monster”, so that might be a while.” I took out a cigar and lit it. I offered Grover one. He waved it off. “Yeah, I’m kind of the king of Chicago. Good career, speaking engagements, hero to kids and that’s important. Politicians, athletes, and entertainers aint something they should look up to. And I get to be on TV all the time there. Now… let’s take a stab at this. Try and tell me what you saw.”
“OK,”, he began, “it was night. I drove over to Whit Reilly’s home. He’d called me cuz there was something circling his house. He said it was slapping the walls hard enough to shake the house. He said it would tap on the windows and scratch at the door. It would scream bloody murder. When I got there, I saw it. It was huge, bigger than you.”
“How big? Taller than say, eight feet?”
“Oh yeah, around ten feet tall. Kind of gaunt, but it probably weighed around seven hundred pounds. It was covered in hair, and had a deerskin draped over its head with the antlers intact.”
“Grover,” any chance this thing was a sasquatch?”
“I don’t know. Does a sasquatch have a long hairy tail?”
“No, it doesn’t. Go on.”
“I hit it with the spotlight, and it turns away from their door, and faces me. It’s face was like an old Indian, but with a huge mouth full of nasty teeth. And red eyes. I mean red and reflecting light from the spotlight. It was at my car in two big strides, and it grabbed each side of the car, and leaned in towards the window, and it was smiling. I hit the lights and siren and grabbed my shotgun. The noise and lights must have scared it, because it backed off and then ran into the woods.”
“Grover, did this thing look strong enough to get into the house if it wanted?”
“Yeah. Whit’s place is just two double wides put together and then built up on. Not much to it really.”
“Interesting. Why wouldn’t it just go on in? Can I follow you out there? I’d like to see if there’s still any tracks.”
“Well, it was three weeks ago. Tracks are probably all gone. But we can look.”
We went outside. I opened my package and strapped on my weapons and pocketed the flash bangs.
“What is THAT?” Grover asked pointing at my pistol.
“A magic revolver. It makes problems disappear.”
We drove about 30 minutes thru some narrow mountain roads with some tight switchbacks. Thick forest was on either side of the road. Every switchback had a steep drop alongside it. It was still raining, but much lighter now. We pulled onto a gravel driveway. I could see the ad hoc home that Grover described. This must be Whit’s. We got out of our vehicles, and right away, we could hear the screaming coming from the back of the home. I raced around the double wides, Grover struggling to keep up.
The thing has it’s back to me. It was hunched over, trying to reach into a gap under a shed. I could hear a child screaming from beneath the gap. A woman stood at the rear of the home, screaming in terror, two kids looking out the window behind her. A man lay face up, unmoving, on the ground. A shotgun lay next to him.