Inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
The two of us stood there in front of the thick metal door to the walk-in chiller in Francis' basement, even with the door firmly closed the room was bitterly cold.
“So why did you ask me here again?” I questioned, my breath forming clouds in the frigid air.
Francis smiled and gripped the handle tightly.
“To show you this!” he replied, wrenching the door open with a flourish.
I pulled my coat tightly around myself and tentatively stepped into the cold-room and Francis followed
“Well?” he asked, “What do you think of it?”
My first thought upon seeing the grotesque installation before me was to run but Francis was directly behind me, between myself and the door. I summoned every ounce of self control and remained calm.
“I-Interesting.” I responded as I stared at the repulsive collection of severed limbs and body parts that had been wired together to form a kind of human jigsaw hanging from two large meat hooks; a complete body composed of various parts of several corpses. Judging from the advanced decay of some pieces it had taken a long time to construct.
I turned to Francis; his wide smile expressed utter admiration for what he had created.
“How did you manage this?” I asked.
“Oh, you know, just found the odd bits here and there just lying around.” His smile remained with an eerie tranquillity
“Yes, on hospital beds and things; I mean I had to remove them from the owners obviously, but they weren't using them.”
“You took them from corpses?” I continued, astounded and revulsed.
“Oh god no, that'd be weird. I took them from people awaiting surgery, y'know when they were knocked out.”
I eyed the exit behind the clearly unhinged Francis Stern while he continued to marvel at the carnage suspended from the ceiling of the chiller. I nervously edged closer to the doorway.
“So..... you're a surgeon?” I pressed on, hoping to maintain the good humour.
“Oh dear me, no!” He scoffed, “Have you seen how long it takes to train? And the fees? I'd be bankrupt. I just got one of those fake doctorates online.”
“Why?” I was nearly in the clear, a step or two more and I'd be free to get help. Francis turned sharply to face me, fixing me with his calm but penetrating stare; I froze on the spot.
“Have you tried getting into a surgery theatre if you're not a doctor?”
I stood transfixed, Francis in front of me, freedom to my left.
“But why do this at all?” I questioned further, gesturing to the gestalt cadaver.
Francis mused for a moment, thinking before he replied.
“You know, I'm not that sure any more. It's taken so long to finish I don't actually recall why I started.”
Before I could form another word the moment was shattered by a slimy thud from the hanging amalgamation, Francis and I turned to look in unison. The left forearm of the creation was badly decayed and had fallen away; Francis looked crestfallen. I took the opportunity to sneak closer to the exit.
“Oh, really?” He muttered to himself “I'm going to have to replace that now!”
I was just one more step away from freedom, my foot ready to alight outside the disturbing scene when Francis gripped my shoulder, surprisingly tightly for a man so thin.
“You couldn't lend me a hand, could you?” He asked.