by Frank G. Murdock
Zadok Grimm poured hot tea into a cup and handed it to the regal-looking woman. She sipped from her cup before looking up at the others in the room.
“I will begin by introducing myself. As the Baron said, my name is Victoria Von Frankenstein. I am the last descendant of the Frankenstein line of which you are familiar through the writings of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Despite the general belief that her work was a piece of fiction, I am here to tell you myself that the story is true — minus a few omissions.”
“Oh, hell,” grumbled Jack Gold. “What’s next — the damned Wolf-Man going to show up on the doorstep?”
Victoria gave the reporter a knowing look as she took another sip from her cup.
Jack swallowed hard as his eyes dart around the room, abashed. Saying nothing, he quickly lit another cigarette and sat back in the sofa.
“When my ancestor, Baron Victor Von Frankenstein, conducted his infamous experiments in the late 1800s, he consulted the writings of outdated theories of science that focused on achieving natural wonders, particularly those of Cornelius Agrippa, Paracelsus, and Albertus Magnus, all as stated by Shelley. But what Shelley failed to note in detail was the exact texts of these men Victor employed.”
Julie Kadmon’s hand gripped Adam’s. In a hushed voiced she said, “I got a bad feeling where this is leading.”
Adam Kadmon nodded slowly in agreement as he stays focused on Victoria’s tale.
“It appears that one of the books written by a young Albert of Cologne was a copy of the Necronomicon. It has been speculated that he was the first to translate the forbidden text from Greek into Latin around the year 1220.” Victoria bit her lip momentarily before continuing. “Some occult orders believe it was this translation and realization of what he had done that led Albert into the Dominican Order in 1223 or 1229, where he would later be known as Albertus Magnus.”
“An account by Rudolph de Novamagia refers to Albertus’ encounter with the blessed Virgin Mary as being the reason he entered the Holy Order,” said Adam matter-of-factly. “But considering his participation in the transcription of the Necronomicon, it might be that he joined the holy order seeking to repent after coming to the realization that he had delivered a great evil into the hands of mankind.”
“He wrote a number of letters to Pope Gregory IX during his time teaching in Bologna,” said Julia, lifting a cup to her lips, “which subsequently led to the Pope’s banning of the text in Greek and Latin in 1232.”
Jack Gold squashed out his cigarette and ran a hand over his face and through his hair. Letting out a deep breath, he looked at the Kadmons and said, “What is it with you two? You guys know something about everything. Do you ever leave the library?”
Julia and Adam smiled. In unison they said, “Only to watch Jeopardy.”
Jack’s face took on a look of resignation. “#^@%in’ A…” he sighed.
Victoria raised an eyebrow to the interactions of Jack and the Kadmons. She wasn’t sure what to think of them just yet, but she wasn’t green to the occult and those who traveled its roads. These people were different, but not as strange as some she had met.
“At some point it appears that Victor found a copy of the translations and invoked the powers within to create…” Victoria paused. “And through a manner lost somewhere between science and sorcery, had managed to bring life to that which was dead.”
“The Frankenstein monster,” injected Adam pointedly. “Though I’ve also heard Dr. Terrence Thirteen refer to him as the Spawn of Frankenstein.” He paused for a moment before adding, “Er, no offense intended.”
Victoria nodded her head. “He calls himself Deucalion, after the Greek son of Prometheus, the Titan most known for his giving fire to mankind. He is known to the world at large as the monster made famous by Shelley, though primarily as a work of fiction. He is nothing like Hollywood has portrayed him as being. It is true what Shelley wrote of his rampage of murder, his killing of Victor’s wife, and eventual patricide of Victor himself, but it has been a long time since then, and Deucalion has long since suffered for his crimes and paid the appropriate penance.” She paused for a moment as if gathering her words carefully.
“After being frozen in the Arctic for one-hundred and eighty years, Deucalion was finally resurrected on August 18, 1972, by a scientist in Maine named Victor Adams,” she explained. (*) “Deucalion has been a friend and colleague to me for over a decade, and during that time I’ve done all I can to help him find the peace within his soul that he’s always desired but long lacked. He has a place to call home at my castle in Ingolstadt. It is not uncommon for him to disappear for several days at a time without notice. He is a wandering spirit. But for him to have left in the manner he did, I knew something was wrong.
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Spawn of Frankenstein, Phantom Stranger #23 (January-February, 1973).]
“I was heading up to my room after a long night of research in the lab. A cup of tea had warmed me from the coolness of the castle stone. I was about midway up the stairs when I heard a wailing coming from outside. I recognized it as being Deucalion’s, and quickly made my way to the front door with a flashlight in hand. At first I found nothing until his painful pleas of agony came again and again, which I followed and found myself witness to a horrific sight!
“In the back courtyard where Deucalion had his personal quarters, I was stunned to find my friend in mortal combat with demoniac creatures, some of which were ripping him apart physically, and others attempting to steal his soul.
“All of a sudden something happened. Deucalion’s greenish-gray skin suddenly turned white and veined… his eyes turned from dark brown to opaque and cataracted orbs. He looked at me and smiled, but that smile was not the friendly smile of my friend but one of vile wickedness. I fled for the castle and bolted myself inside. For the rest of the evening, the creature that inhabited Deucalion’s body pounded relentlessly at the front doors of the castle. It spoke in strange tongues and voices about stealing my soul and of the end of mankind. But before the sun rose, it all stopped — the pounding, the voices… everything. When I worked up the courage to venture outside, I could see that Deucalion was nowhere in sight. He had just disappeared. That was when I contacted Baron Winters. I knew if anybody could help me in tracking down Deucalion, he could.”
“Aw, you have got to be kidding me!” said Jack Gold. “Are you trying to tell me whoever stole the book has used it to control the Frankenstein monster?!”
Baron Winters spoke, and all in the room listened intently. “Victor’s creation was given life by spells and magicks from a translation of the Necronomicon. And as accurate as the translation was, as well as how accurate was Victor’s casting of the necessary spells, it is forever connected to the magic which spawned it. That magic is eternally linked to the source from whence it comes. As a result, it appears that whoever has obtained the Al Azif has begun to cast incantations of the most dark and chaotic.
“One of the vilest is that of the demon resurrection. Through a direct summoning by way of the Al Azif, it is reputed that a vast army of darkness can be summoned — and what better leader for such an army than the possessed form of one of the most powerful undead — Victor Frankenstein’s patchwork creation? This can only mean that whoever has the dreaded tome has grander intentions. As such we should waste no time in uncovering the identity of our adversary and put an end to his insidious ruse before it is too late.”
The Baron looked at Victoria Frankenstein. “Do you happen to have something on you that is personal to Deucalion?” Victoria looked at the wizard.
“I am clairvoyant,” interrupted Vanessa Van Helsing, who had sat quietly until now. “The more personal the item, the better the connection.”
Victoria reached behind her head and unclasped a gold chain. She held out her hand to let the object dangle loosely through her fingers for everyone to see.
“It’s beautiful,” said Vanessa as her fingers traced the gentle carvings of the ruby pendent that was shaped like that of a small teddy bear. “This is Deucalion’s?”
Victoria shook her head. “No. He made that for me. It took him several months to sculpt it — a gift he gave me for my birthday.”
Baron Winters reached out with his hands to Julia Kadmon, who sat at his right, and Jack Gold, who sat at his left. “Let us join hands — Miss Van Helsing, you stand in the center of the ring. With my magic I shall connect our minds, enabling us to observe that which you uncover.”
The group joined hands as the Baron instructed. In the center of the circle, Vanessa nodded as she took the gem-shaped bear into her hands. She closed her eyes, then pulled her hands to her chest. She focused all her concentration into the pendent.
As the blonde psychic breathed rhythmically, Baron Winters used a spell of telepathy to tap into the woman’s mind, where he then transmitted those images into the minds of those encircled.
The darkness slowly gives way to a shadowy gloom. Like a hazy dreamscape, the dim begins to give way to shapes and forms.
The room is small. Inside there is nothing but a bed of straw to lie upon. Deucalion stands silent in the dark, his eyes staring out through a barred portal in the heavy banded oak door.
Vanessa moves through the room and through the door. She looks down the hall and sees two other doors. There is a croaking voice coming from the last on the left. She moves closer to investigate but is repelled by a burst of black magic and the agonizing screams of a man.
Vanessa quickly moves up the stairs at the end of the hall opposite the horrors implied at the other. She moves through darkness as only the senses can when freed from limitations of the flesh.
Up. Up. Up. She travels wraithlike through the foundation. Up through the floors. Up through the roof and into the night skies.
Up above a small cabin in the southern mountains of Tennessee.
The shadows from the woods below writhe and combine to take form. A giant hand of darkness reaches out from the trees and seeks to grasp that which watches.
Vanessa Van Helsing screamed. Her lithe body dropped to the floor as Jack and Adam quickly rushed to her side to offer aid.
Jack looked at Adam. “What the hell was that thing?”
Adam merely shook his head as he lifted Vanessa’s chin up to face him. “Are you all right?”
Vanessa pushed the two men away as she slowly rose to her feet. Looking at Baron Winters, she said, “The evil… so much evil… You saw…”
Baron Winters said nothing as he eyed the girl. For several moments the occultist remained silent before he turned to Zadok Grimm and said, “Ready the van. Everyone pack up and prepare to head out. A great evil has once again been unleashed upon the world.”
A prison somewhere underground:
The man in black lay in a heap beside his open grimoire. But unlike the hero lying prone nearby, the man in black began to stir and slowly made his way to his feet amidst a cacophony of coughing and hacking up of blood-riddled phlegm.
Reaching out to close the ancient and forbidden tome, the man in black was stilled by the image of his own hand. The once-thin and crooked hands withered by the corruption of black magicks no longer existed, as sinuous and greenish-gray hands of polished marble had replaced them. Moving closer to the torchlight, he examined his hands and marveled at the vitality he now possessed in them.
Slowly, the man in black raised his hands to his face beneath his hood and felt his features. The wrinkles of time and misfortune were now smooth and firm, like in the days of his youth. Farther up, he felt the protrusion of small horns from his forehead just below the widow’s peak of his long and lustrous hair.
A wicked grin cut across the man’s still-shrouded face as he licked his lips with anticipation. Reaching out with both hands, he commanded in a deep and rasping tone, “Come to me!”
From a point in the darkness beyond the fallen body of Blue Devil, a fiery form combusted into being. Brimstone consumed the dank mildew of the air as a seven-foot trident sailed through the dim light and into the hands of the man in black.
Red eyes accompanied by yellowed grinning teeth could be seen under the man in black’s hood as his knuckles whitened from the tightness with which he held the trident.
“At last!” croaked the man in black. “The Trident of Lucifer! Such power is mine to command! And soon… so much more — the power of the universe!”
For several minutes the man in black merely mused to himself of victories to come before kneeling down and securing the magical grimoire within its bindings and leaving the room.
As the man in black made his way toward the stairs, a voice came from an iron-bound door to his right. The voice was deep and gravelly, like rusty iron on cement.
“This darkness you use will consume you. In your quest for power, you will only find torment and self-destruction.”
The man in black stopped moving. The low sound of a mocking chuckle could be heard coming from under his hood. “You seek to gain your freedom through an appeal to my conscience — some idea that I might repent for the salvation of my soul?”
“One must have a soul to repent for,” said the man behind the door. “I was stating a fact.”
The man in black laughed. “We will see, my friend… we will see. Remember who you speak to — I have lived for nearly seven thousand years. I have witnessed the rise and fall of nations. I have watched religions come and go. I have watched men reach near godhood, and I have witnessed men play god.” The man in black paused on these last words as if making a point. “What you say to me has been said before, and yet I am still here, but older and more knowing — and now more powerful!” He paused. “But there is still power to be tapped, and you, my friend, are going to help me attain that power. Once I have nourished this new body and let it rest, I shall return, and you shall play your part in my ascension into godhood — my conquest of the universe!”
“Men such as you always hunger for power,” said the man behind the door. “But so few lack the wisdom to harness it.”
“Silence, fool!” hissed the man in black. “I will not be taunted by the likes of you! You are merely a pawn on a chessboard, as you have always been since your maker gave life to you! Who are you to talk to me of such things, when I am the one who holds the tapestry of your life in my hands?”
The man behind the door said nothing. He merely gazed at the man in black with knowing eyes.
The man in black grinned wickedly, feeling once again in a position of power.
Then, without a sound, he turned from the door and made his way up the stairs, leaving his captives once again in the darkness.