"It was with these feelings that I beganthe creation of a human being."
1- How to Despoil Graves
Always wave as you pass through town heading towards the cemetery. Despite the bloat of sausages and pale beer, a bloat rapidly diminishing due to the twin troubles of plague and starvation, the villagers are not idiots. They are well aware you are in service to Herr Doktor, and mistrust your lurking motives. They
know Herr Doktor has unusual ideas, and so he does, because Herr Doktor is insane. He’s also a miser, and, as is often the case with cheap lunatics, he suffers from constipation, chilblains and doldrums.
Commiserate, then, with the villagers. Shake your head at the strange doings in the castle. Grumble, piss and moan; squint at the clouds and pestilence and hopelessness. Should anyone stare too long at the hump, stretch and rub it, saying “Oh my aching back.”
Keep in mind that later, in the rank, river mists, you’ll be stealing body parts from the graves of their loved ones. Due to the epidemic, it will be exceptionally easy to play the ghoul. It’s the very reason your master moved his elaboratory to the castle, for abundant material. The young go as fast as the old. The digging is recent, the earth newly turned, and the parts high quality. Granted, the smell isn’t rosy, and the work can be tough on your hump -- a
lumpen mass of gristle, muscle, bone and sinew -- but this ensures you don’t dawdle on the job. It takes some bottle to do the thing right, quickly but never rushed.
Do not scavenge. You are not a jackdaw, you are a servant. If a left foot is required, get the left foot and don’t muck with ears, even if they are especially dainty.
Pennies on the lids are yours to take or not.
If a-feared of being caught out, count on the villagers’ superstition. They will not be berry picking among drizzly graves at midnight. Remember, you are armed with a pick, shovel and burlap sacks.
Braining unwonted witnesses is an option.
If someone looms suddenly from the fog and shadows, it’s usually just a stone angel. However, should you spy a gypsy or Jew, leave immediately. Dark works will be afoot in the graveyard that night.
2- How to Exist Peacefully
with the Neighbors
As I said, smiling helps. Stunned with hunger and grief, the villagers do not care to notice much of anything anymore. Still, they dislike Herr Doktor, as he refuses, despite his vast medicinal knowledge, to assist against the epidemic. “To intercede in such
matters,” he once proclaimed while dissecting a throttled tabby cat, “is to interfere with Nature’s reductive mechanisms, and thus invite calamity.”
The villagers’ glum aspect matches the region. Bound on one side by the river and its pestilential fens, on the other by dense coniferous thickets stretching far into the lands of Poles, Lithuanians and assorted heathen, the town and castle are remote. We are not entirely cut off however, and receive news from our
upstream neighbor, another doctor, who’s well-famed for the successful sale of his soul to the Devil. From Dr. Faust, we hear of revolutions tearing asunder the whole world except America (which I do not believe exists). We also hear explosions from his keep, as he continues his grim experiments despite the obvious
outcome of any endeavor: doom and blackened damnation.
On some nights, both doctors are at it, and the cliffside shudders from the sparks, cackling and curses inherent to great experimentation.
After such nights, do not go to town.
3- How to do the Morning Chores
Besides graveside dismemberments, your most important duty is the flying of kites. Herr Doktor learned of the benefits of electricity and kites through the experiments of an American lotus-eater, and it is with this idea that he intends to animate what has never been animated. So, each morning you must climb stair after stair, then scuttle like a humped bug up a slick rope in the belltower in order to emerge onto the wind-blasted battlements. Once there, run in circles like a dunce in love until all the kites are flying. Skeleton keys glint and tingle on the lines, which reach far down into the elaboratory and are attached to the Creature.
This is the best part of your day. The kites are fashioned from the negligees and French chemises of Lady Elizabeth, the only other resident of the castle besides the Doktor, the Creature and yourself. On any given day, there are 20-30 kites in the air, waiting
for lightning to strike, the gauzy scarlets and fawn silks fluttering above the river mists.
Live for this. Linger if you must.
Because the keys have all been used to this purpose, most of the rooms in the manse are locked shut, their treasures forgotten or unavailable, You will need your ubiquitous pick to hack holes in the doors to know what’s inside. By peeking through the splinters and dust, you can keep track of the good china and extra sheets, as well as the ongoing physical alterations performed by the master on Lady Elizabeth, though that room rarely, if ever, has been locked.
4- How Not to Lust Overmuch
for Lady Elizabeth
Remember: she is all too similar to yourself and the master, desiring transformation above all. As Herr Doktor would become a God, and yourself human, so she would be made creaseless and ceaseless forever, living eternally as she and the Doktor once were, in a walled garden as youths, promised to each other and fucking bloodily.
In short, become sickened.
5- How to View the Creature
Laid on an immense table, the Creature awaits animation at a tilt approaching 40 degrees. The entire elaboratory is suffused with the stinging reek of nightcrawlers, steam, formaldehyde and cloves. You will need to saw grooves in the pitted wood so that
excess fluids can drain into the trough below. Strings from the kites are attached and tied to every conceivable appendage of the Creature.
Similar to you, he seems like a marionette in the master’s hands, awaiting perfection. You view the Creature with scorn, nausea, familiarity, terror, intimacy and envy. You hate the attention the Creature receives from Herr Doktor, while the long promised
elimination of the hump, and the cause of your servitude, are delayed. Then, you hate your own hatred.
Leaning closer to the Creature, you are intimate with every aspect, follicle, organ, limb and sinew. You have known the parts before the sum; you have known them from the darkness and the grave and the dust. More, you have known them from before the Pale, from the town, the tavern, the market and the marsh. You have known the once-living sum, but you converse with the parts.
“Good morning, Mueller’s palm. Despite the rain, haying went well. But the prices, what can a man do? We should bang on some doors. I’m sorry little Wilhelmina’s lips, I didn’t bring any licorice. Your little doggy Nicholas misses you. Soon maybe you can kiss and nuzzle him again. Ah, Meister Stroehm’s prick, still tied to a string I see. The missus will ever keep you a cuckold.”
Should the Doktor catch you at this while pouring brandy down the Creature’s hand-selected gullet, do not worry. He firmly believes spirits of preservation, in any form, can only assist our progress.
6- How to Get Through an Evening
of Revelry at the Castle
Get as quietly inebriated as everyone else is loudly and obviously drunk.
Being neighbors, aristocrats, artists, fiends, miscreants and geniuses, it is fitting the master and Dr. Faust should occasionally come together to dine, boast, moan and eye each other’s women. Their conversation parades drunkenly in and out of metaphysics, politics and the low-slung gowns, while you wait at table in an ancient, rat-chewed butler’s uniform. Toss back spirits every time you go in the kitchen. Tureen in hand, reel smoothly around the
table even as the master reveals to all the latest, tiny breasts he has designed for Lady Elizabeth. Do not ogle and compliment along with Faust’s companion, a Macedonian slut named Helena whose immodest shriek is like a bird pecking broken glass. Do not become dizzy from the mingled scents of gravy, rosewater and
hair pomade. Keep the courses coming, glasses filled, and soon enough the company will repair to the salon for brandy, cigars and injections. Afterwards, do not clean any plates. Break them all, in a sink. Sweeping is a bore.
In the salon, loosen tourniquets, bring washcloths and linens, and ignore Faust’s babbling and periodic sobbing. He’s often stricken with desperate fears concerning his immortal soul. He pleads with the master to help him, to somehow save him. Open a window, so that the master can breathe the damp, November air. When the talk turns to revolution, listen carefully as it may affect you. If a republican uprising has driven the Pope from Rome, the situation
is probably serious. It is certainly serious when the wind picks up, when rumbles from the northern skies can be heard, when the fog in the master’s eye begins to clear, when he believes the signs are imminent and blue flashes rack the swaying forest beyond.
When the two lunatics make a bargain, one hoping to deceive the Devil and the other offering to conduct the surgical deception, prepare for the storm.
7- How to Stay out of Atrocity’s Way
Keep busy. Shed the drenched butler’s suit, and keep climbing. Slither and snatch at chimneys, gutters and the swirling wind itself as you set the kites aloft. Cling to every crack in the slate. Don’t look up or the rain will pelt your eyes. Don’t look down.
Become philosophical. Once the kites are up, keys jangling invisibly in the violent night, escape to shelter inside the belltower. There, shiver, clutch, feel sorry for yourself and ponder the matter. Will the storm knock the silks from the skies before the lightning strikes? Will the whole castle burn to the ground? How much money can be scrounged in less than an hour? What is the quickest, most secretive way out of town?
8- When to Stop being Philosophical
Philosophy is rational and does not encompass all that is real; order is obliviated by pain and abomination. This limit upon you, when is philosophy impossible?
When all thoughts coalesce into a single, decisive need: to get the hell out. When, above the thunders of creation, you hear the
screams and bone saws below. When you realize soul-frightened men will plunge to depths lower than Hell itself. When you know the final piece of the Creature is a madman’s brain already condemned as the Devil’s property.
9- How to Become a Human Being
First, say goodbye to the old Creature, the parts plucked from the darkness for their perfection. Wish the tainted, new Creature well.
“Goodbye, Meister Creature. Goodluck. I am sorry you might be damned. It isn’t your fault. Everything is different now, but I chose the rest of you myself. I hope I chose well. There is a dog named Nicholas who will nuzzle you. Goodbye, Meister Creature, goodbye.”
Then, before the lightning strikes, close your eyes and begin swinging from the rope in the belltower. Use the hump in your back as the clapper. Deafen yourself with bells. You will go to Paris, the City of Light, and fly negligee kites. You will not scavenge, but choose carefully what parts you want for yourself.
Whatever the sum, or the Devil take you, so be it. You will change your name, ring bells, chase skirts. You will learn the ropes.
Background by Champagne Shivers