The creatures of Dr. Frankenbush.

Dubious and far-fetched ideas.
Oct. 18 2004 3:59 PM

The Scream

Or, the creatures of Dr. Frankenbush.

Illustration by Robert Neubecker.

May 23, 1972

Since earliest youth, when first I broached the dusty tomes of Paracelsus, natural philosophy has been my chief delight. To divine the secret of the vital spark has been my sole study; my sole ambition—too bold, too unholy to speak aloud!—to bring inanimate matter to life.

Last night, my studies bore fruit.

The events of which I write were set in motion by a summons I received, yesterday morning, from the Honorable Mr. B—, Member of Congress from the State of Texas, requesting my presence in his office. Upon my arrival, Mr. B— apprised me of the situation that had caused him to seek my aid. His son, a pilot with the rank of Second Lieutenant in the Texas Air National Guard, had, that very morning, met with a misadventure of the direst nature. While cleaning the cockpit of his aeroplane, he had, in a moment of abstraction, held the nozzle of the vacuum apparatus to his ear. In an instant, his cerebrum, cerebellum, and medulla oblongata—in short, the engine of reason in its entirety—had been sucked into the dust receptacle. Though heroic efforts were made to recover the lost gray matter, so thoroughly had it intermingled with soot, cigarette ends, and other refuse that all exertions were in vain.

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The chirurgeons who were summoned to the scene spoke with a single voice: In the eyes of Science, Lt. B— was dead. His relations, however, noting that the young man was, save for the absence of a brain, in the most perfect state of physical health, held out hope that some remedy might yet be found.

It was then, the elder Mr. B— informed me, that a much-beloved family friend, Mr. C—, had stepped into the breach. Rising to a pitch of beneficence scarcely to be credited in this benighted age—and which even now fills my soul with the tenderest and most exalted sentiments—he had agreed that a portion of his own brain should be forfeit to make good the young Guardsman's loss. It may readily be imagined, dear Journal, what my feelings were on being asked to perform this undreamt-of feat of medical Art! Though my triumph (if such it should prove to be) would never reach the ears of men, nonetheless, I readily gave my assent.

The patient was conveyed by aeroplane to the capital. Here, in my secret laboratory beneath the cobbled streets of Georgetown, with rain pattering dismally against the panes; with the aid of a Galvanic apparatus of my own design and the ministrations of my faithful servant, Karl—the Promethean deed was done. As, in the flickering light of the sconces that extended from the wall like so many groping human limbs, I gazed into the eyes of the creatures I had reanimated, I felt a deathly chill traverse my spine.

October 5, 1972

Alas—the fears which crept upon me in the hour of my triumph have proved all too prescient!

The convalescence of both patients is now complete; they walk, speak, pass unremarked among their fellow men. Mr. C— has returned to his official duties, Mr. B— to the Guard service from which he was forced to absent himself. Yet both are more like fiends or monsters than like any man of woman born.

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