Vampire 2.0 – Installation

(Enjoying the story? It starts over here…)


Dr. Franks worked quickly and efficiently, humming the Ride of the Valkyries under his breath while he bustled between different stations in the gleaming steel laboratory. He’d glance at one gauge, turn a dial, cluck contentedly before making a checkmark on his clipboard, turning to a different system and repeating the process. Every three or four circuits of the room, he moved towards the large table in the center, lifted up the sheet that covered the shape laying on it, then would shake his head and move away again for another check of all his instruments. The only sound besides his footsteps and humming was the crackling of the Jacob’s Ladder in the corner and the faint whirring of the artificial respirator that sat beside it, looking dejected and useless.
As he was making his twentieth trip around the room, the door beside the respirator inched open, and a tiny knock drifted towards him. Dr. Franks snapped his head towards it, ceased his humming and snarled.
“Who is it?! I am busy, the patient, he is not doing so well!”
 His thick German accent made the already gruff tone sound even worse, and the figure outside of the lab seemed to hesitate. Then the door opened the rest of the way, and the visitor walked through. Franks seemed to relax – slightly – after determining that his guest was supposed to be here, and went back to his dials and clipboard.
“There is not yet a change, Mr. Brand. Still he doesn’t wake.”
Brand stepped towards the table at the center of the room, lifting the sheet that covered it and squinting a little at the high-intensity bulbs that glowered down from above, giving it the look of a macabre pool table.
He was short and squat, barely three feet tall, and powerfully muscled; he hid it well under an immaculately tailored suit. His facial features appeared to have been made by an apprentice sculptor making a caricature of a bird, with no lips to speak of at the end of a protruding beak; tiny holes for a nose, and deep set eyes the shade of polished ebony. His skin was red; not merely sunburned, like some of the other residents of this place, but a literal bright fire-engine red. If Dr. Franks found anything odd about his guest’s appearance, it didn’t show.
Brand winced, dropping the sheet and turning his avian gaze back to the doctor.
“He don’t look so good. He ain’t gonna be happen when he wakes up and checks a mirror. And what’s with the bolts, Doc? I mean, really? Bolts?”
He rolled his shoulders, a brief pained expression wandering across his face, then crossed his arms and tapped one clawed bare foot on the ground as though awaiting an explanation.
Franks dropped his clipboard atop one of the stainless steel counters, internally pleased by the theatric gong noise it made when he did so. He turned towards the little monstrosity, placing his hands on his hips and adopting his best lecturing tone – the same one, he thought, that he had once used before they chased him off the campus for his crazy ideas. Crazy, indeed; let them call him crazy! Here was the fruit of his labor!
“Yes, bolts! There must be somewhere too hook up the generator, jah? And what of it?! It is my style, it is my… signature! Better than that one on the television, always adding an extra buttock to this or that, eh?”
He shook his head and flapped a hand at Brand.
“And if he is not happy with the looking, then he can fix it on his own. You give me terrible materials – Terrible! That one leg, the femur was cracked in six places! – but when he wakes, his flesh is malleable to him, is it not? Then he can fix the rest. I… I… I gave him life!”
He shook his fist in the air, tilting his head upward as though no longer speaking to Brand, but rather some invisible other that hovered overhead. The Jacob’s Ladder sparked as if in response.
Brand sighed, shaking his head.
“Yeah, yeah. Just call me when he wakes up. And get one of the ghouls to get some dinner for him. The boss’s always hungry when he wakes up from a nap.”
Franks lowered his fist, looking puzzled. For a moment he had forgotten he wasn’t alone in the room, able to rant at his uncaring God as he pleased. He coughed lightly into his fist and nodded.
“Of course. He will be tended to.”
Brand sighed and slipped out of the lab, muttering to himself. Franks didn’t catch most of it, but his ears were well attuned to a specific phrase, and they caught them here.
“I am not mad!” he shouted out after the beast as it left. “Only eccentric! True genius is never properly recognized!”
Sighing, realizing Brand was already gone – and likely wouldn’t have cared to listen, anyway – Franks picked up his clipboard, shook his head, and resumed his vigil.

(Want more? The story continues here…)

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