Part 10 – A New Life (AKA ‘Frank’)
I looked over at Dr. F. and was surprised to see that he also had tears in his eyes.
He smiled, a rare occurrence which I had just witnessed twice in as many minutes.
“Maybe you didn’t get the implications of all of this,” the doctor said. “I’ll tell you a little story.
“I wasn’t always a mad scientist,” he said. He looked at me. In the past I would have made a stupid comment at this point, but I could see he was serious. I nodded for him to continue. “No, I was a respectable man from a respectable family.
“I graduated at the top of my class and knew I was destined to change my field, microbiology and genetics,” he continued. “I took a job at the leading research institution and started studying the components to create life at its most basic, and meaningful, level.”
He looked wistfully out of the window over the beautiful gardens. “Some say I should be the happiest man alive,” he said. “I inherited huge wealth and an enormous estate. My grandfather brought the family home stone by stone from the old country after it was destroyed by Allied bombing. He added the ancient castle to the huge neo-Gothic structure his father and grandfather had built on the estate. And it is mine. Yet I longed to be back in that one bedroom apartment with her. Or better yet, the dilapidated starter home with the two of them.
“You see,” he said, turning to me, “I married the woman I loved. She supported me as I finished my doctorate and started my career. She was devastatingly intelligent and a stunning beauty. Our son, Victor Jr. was a budding genius yet a normal, loving boy. Oh, he still got into trouble. What boy doesn’t? But to me he was a little angel.
“But all good things must come to an end,” the doctor continued. “I was devastated. We had only lived in the castle for a few months. I was able to get the bodies, saying I was going to bury them in the family plot. Four generations of the F. family are buried here, nobody blinked when I said that is where they belonged. Only I didn’t bury them right away.
“I was just on the verge of a great discovery; one that I thought would end all human fears of death. I had learned the secrets to life itself,” he said. “I was racing the clock but just couldn’t make it work. I was on the cusp, I could feel the great discovery just beyond my grasp. Finally I had to admit defeat. I took some DNA and buried the bodies.”
Dr. F. put his head in his hands. He started shaking a little. I felt uncomfortable, but finally went over, put an arm around him and gently patted his shoulder. I don’t know why I performed this action, I’d never done anything like it in the past, but for some reason it seemed the right thing to do.
After a minute the doctor sat up, wiped the tears from his eyes and turned towards me, pulling out of my arm as he did so.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “That was a very hard time for me. I dropped out of life. I had flirted with cloning the boy, but there were too many issues, not least of which would be the surrogate mother. No, I had to do something else.
“This was the time I became mad,” the doctor said. “My experiments went in a totally different direction. I couldn’t bring the dead back to life, but I could create new life. I made new DNA sequences that would replicate through a host’s body, replacing the existing DNA with its own matrix when given a high voltage ‘zap’. I experimented with lower life forms and perfected the method. After a few years I decided to try with human DNA, my son’s DNA.
“There were some problems, of course,” he said. “I had to have a host body. Although the DNA would change the tissue, the new life would have many of the characteristics of the host body. And then there is the issue of the brain. I couldn’t limit my new creation’s intelligence with a sub-par brain. Of course a lot of prep work had to be performed on the body, so everything had to be of a larger size. If the body was too small it would impossible to work with it.
“I started visiting graveyards late at night,” the doctor continued. “Slowly I pieced together the perfect body, taking special care to ensure the tissue stayed fresh. The coup-de-grace occurred when the young genius Dr. Matthews had an unfortunate accident. I was able to grab his brain within hours.
“At first I thought I had failed,” Dr. F. said. “The body didn’t seem to be reanimating. Little did I know that actually the matrix was doing its magic, spreading through the body and making the tissue its own. When you opened your yellow, oily eye I knew fear. ‘Dr. Matthew’s, can you hear me?’ I asked. You see, I wasn’t sure what the matrix would do to the donor’s brain. But it wasn’t him. It wasn’t Victor Jr. It was some idiotic monster.”
I flinched. The doctor smiled kindly at me and said, “It took the matrix weeks, even months, to finish its job. The tissue taken from many donors didn’t want to act synergistically. It took a long time for the various bits to pull themselves together and act as one. And, of course, the brain was a clean slate. How could I have expected there to be any knowledge?
“I went into a deep funk,” Dr. F. continued. “I tried to get to know and like the creature I had created, but every time I tried something bad always happened. Finally it dawned on me that it was a child. I should say ‘you’. It dawned on me that despite your huge frame and great strength you were really just a child. I started to pay attention. I had to admit that you’re very smart, possibly even smarter than Victor Jr. You were a sponge soaking up all knowledge you could find.
“I knew this in my mind,” he said, “but I didn’t feel it in my soul, at least not at first. But as you quickly matured I began to appreciate you for your own sake. You are not Junior and never will be. I don’t know why I expected you to be. I’ll admit I was unfair.
“And yet, you are him,” he continued. “Most of your DNA is his. You have some of the same mannerisms, they just come out different in your giant body. You’re the same, but very different. I made my decision. People don’t have to know you were created in a lab. The scars can easily be explained from the car accident. In fact, as your body becomes one and the scars heal, you don’t look too different from most people. Yes, I had made my decision.”
I must have looked puzzled for he gave me a big smile and said, “Don’t you understand? Although you are completely your own person and we both know it, to the world you are now Victor Jr. Sure, you may like to rebel a little and go by your middle name, Frank, but you are now legally him.
“As for me,” the doctor continued, “I have finally let Junior go. He is dead. To me you are not Victor Jr., you are Frank. Yes, you are Frank, and Frank, please know that you are truly my son.”
I fell into his arms and he cuddled me as if I was a baby, not a lumbering seven foot tall monster.
“Happy Birthday, Frank,” he whispered into my ear, “Happy Birthday, my son.”
And so ends Frank’s adventures. I hope you enjoyed reading these stories as much as I enjoyed writing them. Oh, and not only is today Franks’ birthday, it’s his creator’s birthday as well, and I don’t mean Dr. F.