Disclaimer: As you can probably guess, I lay no claim what-so-ever to the wonderful characters, settings, and plots of either the Nick Dear's play adaptation or the original novel by the renown Marry Shelley. I do however express my creative license as a FanFiction author to borrow and to bend those aforementioned features, as well as my ownership over any original characters, settings, and plots I so choose to add in.
Icy rain fell in sheets against the outer walls of the Frankenstein house. Like some horrible beast seeking entrance, vicious gales rattled the windows and doors. But while they held fast, no amount of barricades or gilded latches could contain the storm that raged within.
Victor Frankenstein stood in advance of his bride, trembling—intoxicated by his own might.
"I have beaten Death!" He very nearly shouted. "I have done it. I have made a living thing." Yet Elizabeth could hardly credit what she was being told. To have built some sort of a man and animated him? A functioning, brute of a man, he'd said. One that pursues him.
In the time that she had known Victor, Elizabeth had never once doubted his brilliance, but this was absolutely preposterous! Were it not for his urgency, the mere suggestion would have made a stuffed bird laugh. Nevertheless, he swore that he had somehow used the cumulative power of his genius to…to construct a creature: a monster.
What had Victor done? And why had he done it? "But if you wanted to create life—"
"Yes, that's it! That's exactly what I wanted!"
"Then why not just give me a child?" She demanded with a force that had him rearing back. "We could have married years ago."
"No. No, that's not—"
"Because that is how we create life of our flesh and bone, Victor. That is the usual way."
"I am talking, about science!" He snarled, looking very much the savage he so claimed his monster to be. It left her quite shaken, enough that Elizabeth felt the need to search his eyes for some semblance of the usual fondness in which he held her. There, she found only a coalescence of soot and self-obsession.
"No." She asserted, "You are talking about pride. You've been trying God's work, is that what you have me understand? And it has gone awry."
Awry indeed, who was this man standing before her? He could not be the same Victor who in their youth had brought her cut wildflowers then proceeded to pull them apart and explain to her their inner workings; so endearingly eccentric, he was.
No, sometime in those six, long years spent in Ingolstadt, when he'd been bewitched by the occult musings of Cornelius Agrippa, Paracelsus, and Albertus Magnus, another man—a stranger—had come and stepped into his place. One enraptured with the idea of playing God.
She was beginning to fear this man.
Her thoughts must have shown on her face, however, for his ire seemed to cool, if only a little. Victor took another step, furthering the distance between them. "In you, I found Paradise." He said. "But the apple is eaten. I cannot go back." I can only go forwards—The words she'd heard a thousand times over, the dictum by which he lived, echoed unspoken in the silence as he marched past without sparing a glance.
Elizabeth remained unmoved. "You've meddled with the natural order, brought about chaos in your wake, because you worship the gods of electricity and gas. What manner of madness has possessed you?"
Victor ignored her, taking up his pistol from the vanity. "There are guards all around the house." He said. "I will kill this thing that I so foolishly made and then I will come back to you." But in what form, Elizabeth wondered, for it was the old Victor who she so desperately wished to return.
She tried once more to appeal to his sensibility. "Please don't go. Hold me, please—"
"There's time for that when this is done." He declared as he made to leave, but hesitated upon reaching the entryway. "I do love you, Elizabeth." He spoke, his voice soft and familiar, barely above a whisper. It made her want to draw him back and embrace him—but he was already gone, tearing into the night after his beast, and all she could was pray. For him, for them both.
She locked the door behind him, taking heart even as yet another barrier fell between them. Then suddenly, as a flash of lightning forked across hot, silver clouds, she felt hands grasp her round her waist and mouth, hauling her back towards the bed.
"Don't scream." Said a voice in her ear: low, rough, and sepulchral. She trembled. "I will not hurt you—don't scream. I need your help."
Her captor held her tight against his chest. She felt the puffs of his breath disturb her hair, and his nose brush against the shell of her ear as he spoke. "Can you guess who I am?" She nodded her head in affirmation.
It was the monster—Victor's horrid creation—that held her in his clutches now.
"But he didn't mention what I looked like, did he?" No, he had not, and she pondered all the terrible reasons why as the creature continued. "Are you curious, Elizabeth?"
Once again she nodded, and he seemed pleased by it. "Don't scream. I will release you."
Slowly his arms came away from her, and he moved far enough away that his presence no longer pressed upon her so directly. "Turn around. Look at me." He said and slowly, quaking all the while, she did.
Almost immediately she wished she hadn't.
This…man, if one might call him that, appeared as though he had been stitched together like some sort of macabre quilt. Ghastly scars, knotted and gnarled, ran across his chest and face, crisscrossing his skull. She nearly fainted when he at last addressed her.
"I need your help. I have a…grievance."
"Victor did this?" She gasped, and his face pulled into a grisly grin.
"Do you think he is clever?"
The creature huffed a spiteful laugh. "Ah, yes. That is right." He turned away then, taking in her bedchamber and giving Elizabeth the chance to calm the heaving of her chest while she observed him further.
Once past her initial terror upon the sight of his ruined mien, she realized he wasn't so horrifically inhuman underneath all the stitches and scars. In fact, she could see how in another life he might have once been considered wholesome, perhaps even handsome. He face was long and oddly angular but not in such a way that was wholly off-putting, while his skin was pulled taught over his bones, making the cut of his cheeks so very sharp and striking.
But it was his eyes that were perhaps his best feature—some indiscernible mix of blue and green that was fascinating yet most definitely human—making her see that while yes, the alterations made to his person were grotesque in the extreme, beneath them indeed, lay a man.
With that knowledge in mind, Elizabeth gathered herself together to break silence. "It appears we have not been properly introduced." She politely announced. "What is your name?"
"My name." He said with a terribly winsome sort of smile. "What a luxury that would be—he didn't give me one."
Suddenly, he came alive in flourishing bow which seemed to either mimic cultured society or mock it, she could not tell which. "Touch." He commanded, gesturing to the crown of his head. When she did, he leaned into her palm, savoring the softness of her skin. "What do you feel, Elizabeth?"
"Heat." And indeed there was, radiating from his patchwork scalp up into her hand. Quickly, he grasped it and placed it upon his chest.
"And here?" He asked.
An unmistakable pulse fluttered beneath her fingertips, drawing her to meet his gaze. "A heart beat."
At her admittance, a strange spark of delight flared in his gaze and he touched his hand over where her own heart pounded, "Just like yours."
They stood there for but a brief moment, hands on each other's hearts, until Elizabeth suddenly grew stiff in discomfiture. "Now if you please, we'll have none of that." The creature glanced down to where his hand lay, marking that it rested more on her bosom than was proper, and yanked it back immediately. She took a measured step back, smoothing the lines of her skirt before she addressed him again. "You say you have a grievance?"
"Madame, your husband is a good man, but he does not keep his word." He stared at her—or more through her as it were, for his eyes dulled and lost focus. Painfully etched memories flickered behind his stagnant gaze like the pictures in a zoetrope, then without warning he spun away sharply.
"If you had a child and it looked like me, would you abandon it?" His inquiry was abrupt, but Elizabeth's reply came without hesitation, unwavering in her resolution.
"I'd never abandon a child."
"Quite sure?" He pressed.
"No matter how repulsive?"
"I am sure—"
"Well, he did! He left me because I look like this, because I am different."
At his declaration, Elizabeth felt anguish settle heavily in the centre of her chest, for the picture he painted of Victor was that of the deplorable villain: cruel, inhuman, and wholly unlike her own concept of his character. In fact, it gave her great difficultly even imagining, let alone recognizing her Victor as the propagator of this man's grief—so incomprehensibly vast, as it was.
Yet given the avowals made by both men this awful night, it seemed that the conduct of the man she had once thought could do no wrong, now warranted no defense. "If Victor has treated you poorly," she began, "I shall speak to him. You may depend upon that—"
"Isn't he coming to your bed?" The creature asked suddenly, turning about the room.
"—he must learn to take responsibility for his actions,"
"Surely he desires you on your wedding night?"
"—and that we must always stand up for the disadvantaged." She continued, not at all liking where the conversation was headed.
At that, he whirled to face her. "Absolutely! Give voice to the oppressed. Will you put my case?"
Elizabeth breathed a silent sigh of relief, contemplating his entreaty and deciding that if his requests were within reason, then she would most certainly help him in anyway she could. "What is it you want?"
"I did not ask to be born. But once born, I will fight to live! All life is precious, even mine." The Creature—no, the man declared with all surety and confidence, clutching a fist to his heart. "He promised to give me the one thing I lacked, the one thing I needed to be content. But then he…broke his word."
For an immeasurable moment, he stared at her, beseeching her understanding with those fathomless eyes. "I want a friend, that is all."
A friend. All he wanted was a friend. Dear Heavenly Father, no wonder this poor, pitiful soul acted in such a manner. Had he never been shown any kindness? From the tragedy his tale, no; most likely he had only ever received disdain and persecution for all his desires for connection with another, and Elizabeth decided she would rectify that starting this very moment.
"I would be your friend, if you'll let me."
"Yes, of course." She smiled "And if you need help, then let us put our minds together and see what can do."
Apparently she had managed to shock and elate him simultaneously, for he jumped into motion at her words, patting the bed covers with such an air of excitement. "Sit with me." He said, "I will not hurt you, I promise. I am educated. I know 'right' from 'wrong.'" His assertion came upon catching sight of her hesitance, which lingered nonetheless, but stemmed from an ingrained sense of propriety rather than fear, as he had assumed.
Endeavoring to assure him of her conviction, she pushed past the demands of etiquette and perched herself on the mattress edge as he sat beside her, seeming barely able to contain himself, much in the way of a child's enthusiasm in sharing a new discovery.
Now that she thought of it, he truly was a child, wasn't he? It was not so long ago that must he have been born, and to have come so far, to walk and speak as a man—though perhaps with some amount difficulty and affectation. Truly, she was amazed by such progress in so little a time.
"Incredible," spoke Elizabeth. "You are quite extraordinary."
"Me?" He inquired, with an innocent tilt of his head that made her lips turn up in humor.
"Perhaps I am a genius, too?"
At that, she could not help but laugh. How like Victor, such unabashed reveling in intellect! Really, they two could be twins at this moment, and the thought made her smile grow. "Perhaps you are." She said, in good cheer.
But all too soon her mirth faded, and her thoughts were brought back once more to her newlywed husband, fixating on the differences between the Victor's of past and present.
Their union had been the favorite plan of his parents ever since their infancy, she had been told as much and taught to look forward to it as an event that would certainly take place. They had been affectionate playfellows during childhood, and valued friends to one another as they grew older, or so she believed.
Yet brother and sister often entertain a lively affection towards each other without desiring a more intimate union, and they had been raised as such. Could it be possible that he had never actually held her high enough in his regard to think himself in love her? These past years, Elizabeth had often heard Victor boasting to his gentlemen friends about his luck in having such a beautiful bride-to-be. Could she really have only appealed to him on such a superficial level as his vanity and pride?
The thought was as sobering as it was sickening. "I suppose though that genius is not pinnacle of happiness, is it? The pursuit of knowledge at the exclusion of all else may sate the mind, but it leaves the heart hungry and cold. Book pages hold no warmth in an embrace."
At that, her companion froze and stared at her for the length of two breaths, eyes narrowed in a strange way, as though he were cutting her open and peering inside. She hadn't felt so unnerved since his initial appearance in her bedchamber.
"Is all not…well, between you and your love?" He inquired with great hesitancy.
"No. No, I don't suppose it is. Not given light to our current circumstances and the events leading up to them."
He stared at her from the corner of his eye as though he did not understand what he saw. Anxious—he seemed anxious, but why should he? What reason would the knowledge of her marriage's failings give him to be distressed?
"Do you love him no longer?"
"Oh, I still feel bound to him with a strong attachment, still perceive the warmth of my affection for him just as the day it was kindled beneath my breast. Yet now I find I cannot help but wonder who it is that I have been prevailed upon to love, because the Victor whom I have wed—the Victor who has committed the egregious acts that have at present been made to known to me—is not the Victor I first came to appreciate and cherish." Her brow furrowed further as she went on, lost within her own thoughts. "I wonder if that Victor is still there for me to love; if he has somehow gone away; or if perhaps he never existed, save for within my own fool's paradise. I find I do not recognize him anymore."
In return her companion said nothing, choosing instead to fidget in his seat. If anything, her explanation seemed to have somehow agitated him further. "I am to understand that you loved him before, as he once was, but not now?" He asked after an awkward breadth of silence.
"I do not know." Was all she could manage in reply, her eyes remaining on where his hands lay clenched in his lap, like he was fighting to keep some great compulsion at bay. Really, why would this upset him so?
"And this change of heart is because of me, because he created me."
Oh, he thought she blamed him for her suffering. "No, no of course not. The change in Victor has stemmed from his own volition, and his alone. I assure you, it is by no means your fault."
He shook his head with undue force that betrayed his persisting distress. "You are the first to say so. In fact, you are like no other I have met before."
Elizabeth turned towards him with a smile, hoping to engage him in more lighthearted conversation. "Have you met many people?"
"Indeed." He replied. "In my travels, I have watched and listened and learned. At first, I knew nothing, but I studied the ways of men and slowly I learned how to…ruin. How to hate. How to debase. How to humiliate." By then her smile had fallen completely, mouth slack as his palpable anguish thickly coated her own tongue with a foul flavor that grew more and more acrid as he enumerated the lessons humanity had 'taught' him. "And at the feet of my master I learned the highest of human skills, the skill no other creature owns: I finally learned how to lie."
Upon that last admission, dread began to pool in her stomach. "What do you mean?"
"I feel I must be honest with you now Elizabeth, as you yourself have been nothing else and for that I am most grateful, but I lied to you when I promised you no harm." Her throat seized. "Undoubtedly the good doctor has not told you, but this grievance concerns far more than a broken oath. I am owed a great debt in wrongs done to me by your bridegroom, for you see…he did create for me a companion as he had promised. A love of my own kind, and she was," he drew in an uneven breath, "perfect." Then his eyes turned to chips of jagged ice, sharp enough to carve flesh from bone. "But shortly thereafter he took her from me, tore her apart before my very gaze, and I sought to do the same" He turned to face her "with you."
She jerked back as his hands came to circle her arms. "I do not wish to hurt you, Elizabeth—"
"—but I must. In order to have justice, I must." His ruined face twisted further in grief. "I am…truly sorry, Elizabeth."
Elizabeth understood then that she was going to die unless she found some way to dissuade, or at least delay him, but what could she possibly say? His grip was constricting tighter and tighter, saturating all thought with animalistic fear. If she was to survive, she had to act fast.
It is said that vengeance emanates from a need for acknowledgment, that the slighted seek an end to their helpless humiliation through retaliation. Perhaps then she should attempt to reach beneath the layers of boiling rage and charred cynicism, to the tender flesh still throbbing with heartache.
"I hear your pain, Sir," she began "and I understand how you now feel the need to exact retribution, but you must know that revenge is a barren tree; it will bear you no fruit for your efforts. Such violence might satisfy your vendetta, but what of your soul?"
His lips pressed into a hard line. "It matters not, for revenge is all that I have. My soul is well and beyond damned."
"No, you mustn't think so! The path to redemption may be arduous and paved with wearying obstacles, but it is never denied to any who sincerely dedicate themselves. You may seek it through faith, and friendship, and—"
"Friendship!" He bellowed. "Once, I falsely hoped to meet beings who pardoning my outward form, would love me for the excellent qualities which I was capable of unfolding, but my accursed creator formed a monster so hideous and foul that even he turned from me in disgust!" His mouth strained into a horrible grimace as he spoke, each utterance a laceration upon his already bleeding heart. "For that reason alone I am solitary and abhorred, as only one as ugly as I could ever love me. Thus, I have decided that if I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear. I will give them the monster they seem to desire so enthusiastically!"
"And that is it what you truly want?" she countered.
He looked on her then with a molten hatred so hot, she could feel it burn her where his fingers dug into the flesh of her arms, and Elizabeth knew that she had at last pushed too far. In that horrible moment which stretched the length of hours, she understood with absolute certainty that her next breath would be her last, and the terror was all encompassing.
But before he struck, before he dealt the final blow, his face suddenly cracked and splintered into a rictus of sorrow, and it seemed she had finally managed to reach the man buried beneath the beast.
He stared at her with eyes gleaming wet and wailed, "All I wanted was his love!"
Then just as abruptly, he crumpled, all of the fight draining from his frame as he pitched forward to sag into her shoulder and wept. Jostled suddenly from being assaulted to embraced, Elizabeth was at a loss as to how to respond.
"I would have loved him, with all my heart." He said whilst he held her ever so gently. "And now…Now, all I can think of is the means to his desolation, as he had brought about mine. It consumes me. Tell me, Elizabeth, is love always so fickle?"
She swallowed dryly, the knot of fright incited by his ire still lodged painfully in her throat. However, it appeared that he no longer desired her death. Perhaps he had not truly meant to kill her, even as he doled out threats with as much veracity as he could muster, or perhaps he had merely sought to scare her as terribly as he had young William¹.
Looking at it in that light, he acted as the wounded animal forced into a corner, lashing out at whomever came near in fear of further injury. Not so much a monster after all. That revelation allowed her to find her voice.
"In truth, I am not certain…but I would like to hope not."
He huffed a self-deprecating laugh. "And so the blushing bride knows as little of love as the heinous beast, what terrible irony. Indeed, there must be a God, for he surely laughs at our ignorance." His words were, though spiteful in nature, were spoken without any real malice. "And yet I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all. For that one who would look upon me with sincere kindness, I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine." His voice grew in fervency, muffled though it was in the hollow of her neck.
"I do not doubt it," she said, feeling the last of her fear finally fade, "and I am sure there are those who would come to care for you, if you allot them the chance to do so. The world at large may be full of cruelty, but that does not mean it is entirely devoid of love."
He took a great shuddering sigh, as though her words were as searing as they were soothing, but remained folded against her.
"Could you see yourself as, one day, loving me?" He asked after a quiet time, for in that moment that was what he found himself wanting, coveting, needing. Elizabeth was the humanity of which he'd first dreamt when he was pure and untainted, lying in the rain-soaked grass: warmth and softness, kind and nurturing. He wanted to burrow into her lap and let her soothe away the gnawing ache that festered in his heart.
Almost as if hearing his thoughts, her hands came up to touch his shoulders and he nearly choked on his sob. "I don't know you well enough to say." She finally whispered in reply, one so shocking that it robbed him of his breath entirely, for not only did she lack any and all obligation to humor him in this, but she was wed only just this morning—to his creator, no less.
They sat there for a while: Elizabeth rubbing circles into his back, listening as his cries quieted down, and he finding solace in the pacifying rhythm of her breath.
When he had calmed enough, he slowly pressed back from her embrace to face her. "I could not. Not you, with your unaccountable beauty and infinite compassion, and me with my pallor of death and savagery. We are too…"
"Different?" She finished for him, with a tone expressing her disapproval of the comparison.
His lips pulled into a smile, even as a more stray tears fell along his ruined cheek. "I thank you for your patience and for your friendship, Elizabeth. In receiving them, I feel a great wealth of elation as I have never experienced up to this time." He said, grasping her small hands firmly in gratitude before releasing them. "But I should impose myself upon your kindness no longer and take leave."
With that, he finally stood and resigned himself to depart, until a light touch upon the crook of his arm forced him to an abrupt halt.
"Something yet troubles you."
His throat worked as he swallowed, eyes gazing ruefully at the door though he made no other motions towards it. "I am…saddened to leave your company, but am otherwise content, I assure you."
There was an air of intense apprehension about him, Elizabeth could feel it like a physical force attempting to pull him from the room. She smiled and brought her other hand to brush the wetness from his cheek before he could retreat; never flinching, even when the soft pads of her fingers lighted upon the rough edges of his sutured flesh. "Come now, you and I are friends this night and friends do not part with words left unsaid. Tell me, what it is that pains you?"
"Dearest Elizabeth, I thank you but—" He broke off, attempting to reign in his rampant emotions, but exhaled sharply in surrender as his efforts proved futile. "This hole, this gaping pit between my lungs that hungers for love and comradery, I fear it will never be satisfied. I have your kind regard, yet even with such an allowance, I crave something I should not."
Elizabeth felt her own breaths grow shallow. "What is it you crave?"
"You are a married woman." He replied weakly.
"What is it?"
Her imploring whispers left him anguished, as he was certain once she became aware of his covetous thoughts, she would turn from him in disgust, flee his presence in fear just as the rest.
But then, he knew just as well that he could deny her nothing when her gaze upon his skin felt like the warmth of sunlight. Even while doing so would undoubtedly be his undoing, he could only give in.
"I long for that which I have only experienced through word upon parchment, yet have envisioned its splendor over and over in the dimmest of nights." He looked away, settling his gaze at her feet so that at least he would not have to watch as her fondness soured. "I would dare dream…to kiss you, Elizabeth."
At his admission, the wind left her lungs entirely.
Elizabeth looked back on all the times she'd been approached in request of a kiss, and realized that none of them had ever asked in such shy earnestness as this, not even Victor. Especially not Victor, who rarely touched her and had never even kissed her, save for the obligatory and perfunctory kiss to signify their joining in matrimony.
Yet here was his creation telling her how he dreamed of her kisses, and Elizabeth thought that it would be rather nice to be kissed with such ardent feeling.
"Well, it is rather dark, is it not?"
In an instant his head shot up and he gaped at her, eyes comically wide, swallowing noisily before responding.
"That it is." He said, then uttered not another word. The way he looked on her spoke clearly that he thought her a hallucination, contrived by his mind for the sole purpose of his torment—but indeed she was real, and if she was truly saying what he so desperately hoped, he would not allow this moment to slip by.
He placed his hands upon her delicate shoulders and shifted towards her, one centimeter at a time, so sure of his rejection, yet Elizabeth could not find it in her to remove herself from his grasp. He came close enough that she felt the heat of his exhalation fan across her mouth before his head dipped, and he brought his lips to hers.
It was barely a kiss at all, more a sharing of breath, but she shuddered all the same. He pulled back a handbreadth, only to press against her mouth more firmly, and it was wondrous.
When he finally withdrew his expression was that of utter devastation. He traced her cheeks with trembling hands, before suddenly falling to his knees to clutch at her skirts like a woeful child. "By that lip I long to taste." He mumbled into the fabric of her dressing gown. "By that zone-encircled waist. By all the token-flowers that tell, what words can never speak so well²." Elizabeth realized the he was crying once again, that her kiss had brought him to tears.
The moment was shattered, however, upon the echo of Victor's voice sounding down the hall.
Her companion stood and gathered her up against him desperately. "Oh lovely Elizabeth, stay. Say you will, please."
"Of course I shall, but you must go. Victor aims to kill you, and even now he searches."
"Then say you will see me again. Promise me." He begged. "Promise me."
Her gaze fell to the bedroom door briefly before returning to him. "Then give me a name by which to call you, so that I may in turn give you my word." She said, nearly arresting his stuttering heart entirely.
He had once told Frankenstein that it was Satan with whom he sympathized. He should have been Adam, and would have had his "Eve" were if not for…but sheltered in the luminous glow of the angel before him, he found that perhaps he had merely fallen from the Garden of Eden, that perhaps he could be Adam still—for her—and he told her so.
"Adam." She smiled. "It is a lovely name. Then Adam, I promise you as your friend and companion, that we will see each other again. Upon my word, I swear it."
The smile that graced his face upon her words was blindingly brilliant as he replied. "And if I see but one smile on your lips when we meet again, occasioned by this or any other exertion of mine, I shall need no other happiness."
Victor's frantic shouting began to grow louder as he approached, forcing Adam to abscond, ere he risk discovery and death. "Go, Adam. Quickly!" Elizabeth gasped and he did, vaulting through the window to escape into the night, but it was not with a heavy heart that he did so, for he knew he would see her again.
She had promised.