The stranger was facing him. It was full dark now and, with the moon shining behind him, the intruder was little more than a silhouette. But Chess, staring up in sudden, breathless alarm, could tell that the man was tall, and, from the rifle that jutted up behind his shoulder, that he was armed.
The stranger said, “Hi.”
With slow, deliberate movements, Chess rose to his feet. He hoped desperately that the girls had not been spotted. “Please,” he said with a dry throat, “take the rest of the food.” He tried to shrug casually as he waved at the remains of their dinner. “It’s too much for just me, anyway.”
The stranger answered, “I know about the girls.” He jerked his head in the direction they had gone. And, as he brought his gaze back forward, Chess launched himself at the guy with all his strength.
He glimpsed a surprised look on the guy’s face just before they both fell to the ground, but the stranger twisted away from him. Panicked, Chess ran at him again, but the guy sidestepped him easily and rolled Chess down onto his back.
Suddenly finding himself blinking up at the moon, Chess gasped for breath and pushed back up to standing. He heard the stranger say something, but the words did not register over his thudding heart. He backed away a bit and tried to decide what to do.
Vaguely, it occurred to Chess that the stranger was not fighting him. The guy had at least one weapon, but he was not using it. Chess wondered if he seemed so completely non-threatening. And what would happen to the girls, if he couldn’t protect them? In growing terror, Chess grabbed one of the thick branches from the fire and swung it upwards, the lit end trailing a shower of sparks.
At that, the stranger stepped toward him and, in a flurry of motion, knocked the branch out of his hand and brought him to the ground once more. When Chess, now pinned under strong hands and knees, still struggled, the stranger cried, “Stop it! Chess!”
Chess stopped moving and stared. “How do you know my name?” he gasped.
The next morning, the girls emerged from the night’s shelter to find Chess, his eyes half-closed now with exhaustion, talking with a man they had never seen before. The man, young and dressed in military-looking clothes, looked up and nodded a solemn greeting. Chess grinned at them.
“Uh, this is Gryffin,” Chess explained. “He’s seen Razor’s men on the road, in several groups. Uh, possibly Woolf’s men, too,” he stammered, as the girls stared at him in wide-eyed silence.
Frankly, Chess could not imagine what they were thinking. And he was so tired from having talked all night that he was not too sure of anything, himself. “So, uh, Gryff is pretty comfortable with the area around here,” he continued, feeling like he was just babbling now. “And he’s uh…” He glanced at Gryffin, who still wore the dead serious expression that was already becoming familiar to Chess. “Well, he’s been kind of… following us for, uh, well over a week now.”
They decided to stay where they were for the day so they could all talk.
“I never lived in civ. My family left before I was born.” Gryffin seemed completely open to any questions. “They founded a town, outside, with some other families. I’ve never been anywhere else.”
Ileana kept frowning sideways at Chess, but he could only shrug helplessly.
Yes, it kind of freaked Chess out to think that the guy had been following them long enough, and closely enough, not only to learn their names but, apparently, to feel like he knew them. Gryffin made references to the poor family they had recently encountered… the rabbits they had just caught… the place where they had stayed three nights ago… with such casual, firm knowledge that it was hard for the three of them to keep their mouths from dropping open in horror. But then, well, Chess decided, everyone had their own eccentricities, especially outside… so, who was he to judge?
“So, why did you decide to leave your family and go off on your own?” Ileana asked.
“I wanted to meet some different people,” Gryffin answered simply.
Continued next page...
“What chiefly struck me was the gentle manners of these people, and I longed to join them, but dared not... for the present I would remain quietly in my hovel, watching and endeavouring to discover the motives which influenced their actions.
- Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft (Godwin) Shelley
Frankenstein is another of those classic stories that successive generations of artists have re-imagined and morphed into tales that sometimes get far off from the original. And many of those varied interpretations and even alternate reality stories are truly enjoyable. (For instance, I really like the romantic-tragedy approach to the legend of the City of Troy.)
One notable thing about reading the novel Frankenstein is that there is no life-giving lightning strike. There’s very little description of how the monster comes to life. There is a vision, much earlier in the book, of a tree struck by lightning, but that scene is actually an impetus to Dr. Frankenstein to turn his study to the accepted laws of physics and other sciences, and to cease studies of what we might call arcane arts and the writings of alchemists (his inspiration for creating the monster). Funny how these things get turned around in popular knowledge and sometimes end up interpreted in a way that is nearly opposite of their original meaning. (This seems to be especially true of quotes taken out of context, unfortunately!)
But what I remembered most from reading Frankenstein back in high school was the description of the way the monster observes a family: for months, he watches them like a ghost, until he learns their language, their motivations, and understands everything about them that he possibly can without having the cultural background to put it all in context. This was the part of the story that I believe is truly notable. Well... that, and the idea that the horror is actually more psychological than physical: the monster who destroys what the man loves was created by him and, essentially, is him, with all his capacity for both empathy and destruction. That theme is sooo nineteenth century gothic. You almost never see that depth in any movies starring Frankenstein’s monster!
comments powered by Disqus
|SeeDarkly All Rights Reserved
additional coding provided by Dormouse Games