Cover image for Frankenstein: the legacy
Frankenstein: the legacy
Schildt, Christopher.
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Publication Information:
New York : Pocket Books, [2001]

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193 pages ; 18 cm
Three scientists find Frankenstein's notes on a ship frozen in the Arctic. They embark on a quest to recreate his experiments.
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Central Library X Adult Mass Market Paperback Central Closed Stacks

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Did I request thee,
Maker from my clay to mould me man?
Did I solicit thee, from darkness to promote me?

-- Milton, Paradise Lost

Two centuries ago, a man named Victor Frankenstein succeeded in his quest to create life from lifelessness. But the result was a hideous creature that wrought havoc on the world, coming to its end in the frozen wastes of the Arctic, leaving a trail of corpses in its wake, and a legend that would not die.

Now, three scientists travel to the North Pole searching for the truth behind a ship that has been found frozen in the ice. When they arrive, they are stunned to discover Frankenstein's notes on the creation of his monster -- notes that will lead them on a deadly quest to re-create the experiment begun so long ago. A quest to create life....



Chapter One In the beginning (Daniel said) there was a young man with a position on the faculty at Princeton University. A licensed physician, he had a family in Waterford, Connecticut, with whom he kept in semiregular touch, a few friends -- mostly colleagues on campus and one or two old comrades from his time in the service -- and a quiet, respectable life. A life that was turned on its ear on the eighteenth of June in 1971 when he was summoned to the naval shipyard in Anchorage. As you may have guessed, Father, I speak of myself. It seemed innocent enough. I had served for six years in the U.S. Navy, primarily working in research and development, and someone there remembered me and my work enough to request that I be detached to the USS Granger for an expedition to the Arctic. No details were forthcoming, only that I had been highly recommended by Admiral LaManna, my former CO. Having frankly had my fill of the quiet, respectable life I'd lived post-Navy, I decided to accept. I saw it as an adventure. Upon arrival in Alaska, I was handed a manila envelope. It was sealed, and stamped DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. There were approximately fifteen photographs inside that were taken from space by the Apollo command module, with images that resembled a frozen alien world. A place without life, but not without a certain degree of beauty. What concerned the government was a black dot that appeared on each picture -- an anomaly that no one could explain, not even NASA. Someone suggested that it might be a downed aircraft the size of a Boeing 747, though no such planes had been reported as missing. The government must have considered that a biological hazard caused the anomaly, which would explain a great many things, including my being asked to join their expedition. Anyway, that was the Granger 's assignment and the reason for assembling our research team. We were to investigate the object, then report our findings to the Department of Defense. The thought occurred to me, of course, that it could have been a Soviet plane -- they would hardly tell us if they were missing a plane, naturally -- but that was, no doubt, why the Granger was going in the first place. It was a fully armed submarine. But they wanted to be prepared for all possibilities, hence the bringing along of three scientists. Admiral LaManna introduced me to the other two: Dr. Linda Kauffman, a physicist attached to the DOD, and a NASA man named Dr. Andrew Novelli. I swear, Father, that until the day I die I will never forget meeting Linda for the first time. She had large, serious blue eyes and long, straight blond hair that she kept neatly tied up in a bun. The same height as me, she had long fingers on an elegant hand, marred only by bitten fingernails -- the true sign of a scientist! I had to admit to being surprised at seeing a woman physicist, much less one who had gained any kind of respect with the DOD, especially at so young an age. She was only twenty-eight years old. Obviously, she was quite an impressive woman. But what I remember most is her smile. It seemed to brighten the entire room like a Christmas tree. As for Novelli, he created almost no impression whatsoever. A short, stocky fellow with dark hair and darker eyes, the only thing I recall specifically from meeting him was the odor of cigarettes that seemed to hover around him like a rain cloud. He barely uttered two words. The base had barracks for each of us, and I spent the night going over what little information was in the file. The next morning at dawn we met at the dock and were introduced to Captain Henry McKernin, in charge of the boat, and Lieutenant Thomas Chelsea, who would be leading the expedition once we reached the coordinates of the strange black dot. I still remember looking out on the sea that morning. There were mountains in the background, with snow-covered ridges by a shoreline unaffected by the thoughtless touch of man. A single bird in flight could be seen from a distance, its lonely cry heard from miles away. It was the very sight of something much greater than ourselves, and certainly much greater than we could ever hope to be. Then, nearly lost amidst a vast, dark ocean, was a boat tied to a weathered dock...the Granger . I used to complain about how small my apartment in New Brunswick was, but that was before I boarded the Granger . To say that it was cramped does little justice to it. Not only that, but special arrangements had to be made for Linda, since she was the only woman on board. She was given the first officer's bunk, with the first and second mates sharing a space that I would've thought too small for one. I shared with Novelli, who continued to say nothing in my presence -- or in anyone else's. He simply stared at people, unblinking, until they were forced to look away. Any attempt at conversation was met with grunts or the lighting of a cigarette. He rolled his own cigarettes, and they were unbearably foul, made worse by the stale air of the submarine. I quickly learned my lesson and did not look at him, nor speak with him. And I tried to breathe through my mouth in our quarters. Soon enough, the sound of thrashing propellers vibrated through the steel hull of the Granger . We were underway. Slowly we began to draw ahead, plowing our way in the swell. The white foam hissed from her bow, the flag of the United States flapping to a wind that none of us could feel, except for those on the conning tower. The second day of the journey Dr. Novelli actually spoke to me. He was lying on his bunk while quietly drawing a breath from a cigarette he held between the tips of his fingers, and he called my name. I asked him what he wanted, but he said nothing in reply at first. He just lay there. I only knew he was still awake from the thick cloud of smoke he blew into the air. My mouth was terribly dry, and my eyes were burning from that damned cigarette smoke. I rubbed my eyes, then coughed pointedly to let him know that I didn't care too much for the smell of cigarettes. But he just continued to lay there in silence. I had tried to complain to the captain about the smoking, but since McKernin was a three-pack-a-day man, my protests fell on deaf ears. Finally Novelli spoke again. "We're to meet with the rest of the landing party at oh six hundred hours. You'll like them -- the crew, that is. Quick thinking men. Daring, not afraid to take a chance. Admirable qualities in a man, wouldn't you say, Doctor?" I didn't know what he was getting at, but I was beginning to suspect that Novelli knew more than the rest of us about that thing at the pole. Then he told me that I was a damn good man. After that, he went silent again. I told him that there wasn't anything that he couldn't tell me. And if he had so much as a theory, if we were in any possible danger, then he should speak up. I let him know that he could trust me. "God. That's what's up there, Doctor," he finally said. "God, and His most precious secret." Silence again, and after a few minutes I heard snoring. It was quite some time before I myself could follow suit. The next morning the Granger was brought to the surface as the conning tower was rammed through the weakest point of the ice above us. We were summoned to the conning tower by the chief of the boat, and then introduced to Lieutenant Thomas Chelsea, who would be leading the landing party. The chief had outfitted us with heavy white arctic suits. I felt like an Eskimo out of a bad old movie. Novelli looked like a teenager in a snowsuit, as his was a bit small on him. The six sailors in the landing party, including Chelsea, all looked completely natural, and certainly more professional than I was feeling. Linda -- Linda looked as elegant in the arctic suit as she did in a lab coat. From the Granger , we headed in a northeasterly direction and toward our objective. Through the cold and seemingly endless sea of ice, a dark object eventually emerged in front of us but was still too far off to see clearly. That's when our line came to a halt. Chelsea requested that we three civilians remain behind, with two armed members of the crew, while he and three of his men made an initial investigation. They would contact us by radio to either join them or return to the Granger at once. I assumed that this was in case the object belonged to the Soviets or the Chinese or some other hostile power. Linda and I sat down on the ice together as we waited, but remained perfectly quiet. I used the time to study Novelli, who stood by himself some twenty feet away from us. And the first thing that I noticed was that he didn't seem the least bit interested. Novelli appeared bored, actually. He never once checked his watch for the time or tried to look through his binoculars to see what was happening with Chelsea and the others. Novelli gave me the impression that he was somewhere that he didn't want to be, doing something that he truly didn't want to do. But it was just an act, and he stood there, with an expression of indifference. He raised his yellow-tinted goggles to take a casual glance at the scenery, saw nothing of particular interest...apparently...then pulled the white hood of his parka down even lower over his face. A good fifteen minutes had passed this way until we heard a squelched voice vibrate through the headphone sets that each of us wore. It was Lieutenant Chelsea. "You're never going to believe this...." "What do you have?" Linda asked, slowly rising to her feet. "You really need to come see this for yourselves." I thought it extremely odd, but Novelli still showed no interest. He just waited for Linda and me to start walking, then quietly followed behind us along with the two soldiers. As we neared the object, we beheld a sight that could only be described as a graveyard, with a headstone, some two-hundred feet long, marking the spot where more than a hundred men perished among the frozen waste of the North Pole. It was the stern of a sailing vessel -- an old sailing ship, just lying over on its side on the ice. The front of the ship was missing, probably torn away by the shifting ice that had pushed it up on the surface. But other than that, she was perfectly intact. Even the sails remained, rolled up and secured by rope as if the ship were anchored only a week ago, instead of the two centuries that had actually passed. I would guess that it was originally a three-masted frigate, although only two remained. The name HMS ARCHANGEL was emblazoned on her bow. Originally, she was a British frigate, under the command of Captain Robert Walton, reported lost at sea during the latter part of the eighteenth century. And no, I didn't know that just looking at it, Father, I found that all out later. For the moment, though, all I knew was that it was the Archangel . Everyone slowly moved in for a closer look, feeling an eerie sense of dread at the sight of a death ship -- everyone except for Andrew Novelli. It was obvious that Novelli was up to something, so I decided to confront him. While the others started investigating the old craft, I pulled Novelli aside and asked him what was going on. He lied at first -- he said that he was just as surprised as the rest of us. Then his face actually softened. "No," he said, "you're right. I should come clean. But only to you -- only someone with your background will understand the enormity of what we've found here!" Novelli, it turned out, was the one who first noticed that mysterious dot recorded by the flight cameras from the A pollo 7 's command module. He brought the matter to the attention of the Pentagon, raising false concerns, knowing all along what it really was. He had matched the photographs from NASA against an old Army Air Corps picture of that same vessel taken by a B-29 in 1947. Novelli admitted that he had been secretly looking for the Archangel for two years. Then he reached into his knapsack and showed me a very old journal, after glancing over at the others to ensure our privacy. Novelli said that he found it buried away among the archives at Oxford University. And it read: It was on a dreary night in November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet. It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs. How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavored to form? His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of pearly white; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, which seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shriveled complexion and straight black lips. Oh! No mortal could support the horror of that countenance. A mummy again endued with animation could not be so hideous as that wretch. I had gazed on him while unfinished; he was ugly then, but when those muscles and joints were rendered capable of motion, it became a thing such as even Dante could not have conceived. A signature appeared at the bottom of the page, followed by the name of a city and a date. And it read: Victor Frankenstein, of Geneva, April 15, 1792. Unfortunately, the other half of the journal that would give the details of this experiment was missing, making all of this nothing more than a story. Novelli turned away from me to stare at the ship. He pointed at the wreckage and told me that he was sure he knew where the other half was. You see, legend had it that Frankenstein had died aboard a ship named the Archangel at the North Pole. Though there were many ships by that name, this Archangel was the only frigate believed to have sailed here. Walton was obsessed with being the first man to reach the Pole. Now, that's not legend. The information about Robert Walton was well recorded. When you put all the facts together, you have Novelli's interest in the Archangel . What Novelli feared -- and why he would tell only me but not anyone at NASA or on the Granger -- was that the journal, if found, would be seized by the government. When I threatened to tell Chelsea and the others, Novelli dropped the other shoe: He was dying of lung cancer. He said that he had to find the journal as soon as possible because his life depended on it. Frankenstein, he said, had learned the secret of creating life. I thought it was insane. I thought he was insane...this ridiculous story about a man who was able to accomplish two hundred years ago something that's unheard of by our technology now. It was just a fairy tale, and that's what I told Novelli. Still, I was sympathetic, telling him that I would mention this to no one -- letting him think I would preserve his secret, when in fact I simply wanted to preserve the poor man's reputation. He didn't deserve to die being thought a lunatic. I suggested that we join the others by the vessel...take a few notes...some photographs, and never mention our conversation to anyone. Yet he begged me for help, looking so damned defeated -- desperately pleading for his life. He had gone from enigmatic to pathetic, pointing at the vessel, and saying, "It's right there, dammit, I'm telling you, I -- I don't want to die!" That last he said while grabbing my shoulders. "Fine," I said, "we'll search the ship." It was, after all, what we'd intended in the first place. So we searched through the wreckage. It took us a while, about an hour of rummaging through the piles of wreckage down below. Several items went into sample cases the sailors were carrying. At one point Novelli excused himself, taking his backpack with him. One of the sailors offered to go with him, but he declined, saying he'd only be a moment. And then, miracle of miracles, we found it. Shortly after Novelli returned from his errand, we actually found the missing notes. Novelli was right. The legend was true. We were down in a lower cabin aboard the Archangel -- a truly eerie place to be. There were about five bodies that had survived the centuries lying on the ice-covered wooden floor. They had been preserved by the freezing temperatures, with an expression of sheer horror still on their faces. The heavy, knotted beards. Their ragged clothing. But as I said before, the ship was a graveyard. All of a sudden I heard an explosion on the starboard side of the Archangel -- from the very area Novelli had wandered off to. The ship jolted, knocking Novelli, me, and the sailor to the deck. The damn fool had set a charge on a timer! The sailor was unconscious on the deck. I was all right, but my radio was destroyed. I grabbed the journal and tried to run, but Novelli jumped me. A fight broke out between us, as Novelli tried to grab the journal from my hands, then to make his escape up a broken staircase. And as we struggled, timbers started to tear away from overhead. The sound of cracking lumber was almost deafening. One of the beams of the ship collapsed on top of Novelli, pinning him to the floor on his back. I tried to pull it off him, but it was just too heavy for one man to lift. So I climbed through the rubble, over the corpses on the floor, trying desperately to get to Chelsea for help for both Novelli and the poor sailor. Novelli was fully conscious. Blood trickled out the sides of his mouth as he screamed for me to help him. I climbed up two flights of broken staircases on my hands and knees until I reached the main deck. I found Chelsea, who was trying to evacuate his men to the ice. I told him about the two men trapped below without explaining that I knew who was behind the explosion. Blame could wait until after everyone got off the deathtrap the Archangel had become. As we started to move, the ship jolted again. The Archangel was now floating on its own in the freezing waters. The ice underneath the ship had cracked open and was moving away from the sides of the vessel due to the explosion that Novelli had caused. I could hear Novelli screaming for his life through the portholes. But Chelsea demanded that we get off the ship immediately. He said that there was nothing we could do, as the ship was sinking fast! Everyone was yelling; Linda, standing on the ice, and the Granger 's captain ordering us to return to the sub at once. I heard them both via Chelsea's radio. I turned away from the lieutenant to make my way back to Novelli, but Chelsea forced me over to the side of the ship, and we made a desperate jump to the ice. We crawled on our stomachs over to Linda and away from the waters that formed around the Archangel as Novelli screamed. I can hear him to this day, Father -- calling out my name, begging for help, cursing me for leaving him behind. I left him there aboard that ship to drown. And he cursed me. Novelli had damned me to hell with his very last breath! But I swear to you, I couldn't have saved him. And as we ran in the direction of the Granger , I turned to look over my shoulder. The old vessel was now underwater, with only the tips of the two main masts showing. The ice continued to creak underneath our feet as we ran. It was a desperate flight for our lives -- to reach the safety of the Granger . But what we didn't realize was that the sub had been hit just as hard by the shifting ice as the Archangel was. She was mortally wounded. The Granger 's hull was compromised and had taken on water -- too much for their pumps to handle. The five of us who remained -- Chelsea, Linda, two of the five sailors in the landing party, and myself -- watched in horror as both the two-hundred-year-old frigate and the state-of-the-art submarine submerged beneath the frigid waters. So there we were -- trapped on an ice floe the size of a football field. Lieutenant Chelsea had set up three small devices, each the size of a pack of cigarettes. They were strobe lights, a distress beacon that could be seen from miles away. Our arctic suits were fairly warm, but Chelsea thought to use some of the flares as a fire. As I knew from my own time in that service, the Navy trained its officers well. Then, from a distance, we saw a flashing light. Next we heard the sounds of whipping blades from a helicopter, launched from a Coast Guard ship patrolling near the Pole. Chelsea fired off a flare. It shot through the dark skies, leaving behind an orange trail, then burst into a fireball. Soon the helicopter was hovering over our heads, lowering a line to bring us aboard. But there was no sense of excitement showing on any of our faces, considering the men who perished with the Granger and the Archangel . And their deaths were slow and agonizing, taking into account the many water-tight compartments that would have certainly prolonged the inevitable. Some drowned, while others surely suffocated. I'd heard horror stories about such things during my time in the service, but I'd never experienced anything like it -- until then. It was a horrible way to die. At the time I thought it the worst way to go. I had decided not to say a word to anyone about the journal, which I had hid in my knapsack. I told no one. At first I didn't want to sully Novelli's memory. That idea fell by the wayside in short order, as it was obvious to everyone who was responsible for the explosion on the Archangel and the murder of the Granger crew. Then, upon our return to Anchorage, and after the sad debriefing with Admiral LaManna, I began to read the journal. Novelli had been right. Much to my abject shock, Victor Frankenstein's journal, preserved intact in the ice for two centuries, did indeed contain the secret of creating life from lifelessness. As I read, I realized that Frankenstein was not just an eighteenth-century lunatic. He was a genius. I found myself stirred by Victor's work. It had awakened something inside of me that had lain dormant. I was possessed with the unfounded delusion that I could cure that most irreparable evil...death! Copyright © 2001 by Chistopher Shildt Excerpted from Frankenstein: The Legacy by Christopher Schildt All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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