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To What End

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Victor sits in a broken chair, a syringe hanging from his arm. He isn’t sure what the creature injected him with. It hardly matters. Victor has no interest in escape.

His thoughts have been on a continual loop of his failures. His work. His relationships. He lives in a hell of his own making. All that he has lived for has been destroyed, much like the remnants of his laboratory that surround him. Books scattered about the floor. His equipment in ruin. Shards of glass strewn amongst pieces of twisted metal bearing claw marks. Victor closes his eyes to the memory of it.

Caliban walks into the room carrying Lily in his arms. He lays her on the slab where she was born. She now lies lifeless once again.

“My Juliet,” sneers Caliban, running a finger across her cheek.

Despite all his defects, you can say one thing for the creature, he is an eloquent bastard.

Victor feels a crazed bit of laughter bubble up from within him but it doesn’t quite make it to the surface. Whatever is flowing through his veins is working quickly and, most likely, permanently.

“You flew too close to the sun,” Caliban sermonizes to Victor. “But your wings turned to monsters and you crashed back to earth with the weight of them.”

Victor can barely follow what the creature is saying. His head drops to his chest.

The creature seems intent to have Victor present for whatever act he plans to perform. He grabs Victor’s chin and forces him upright.

“Do not leave us yet, father,” instructs Caliban. “I would not wish for you to miss the final act of your tragedy.”

Victor swallows, the task becoming difficult. He watches the creature stand on the opposite side of Lily, presumably the stage for his magnum opus.

“You created life,” begins Caliban with a smile. “By all rights, you should be exalted by all who share it, the entire human race, scientists and laypeople alike, your name emblazoned in historical texts. Frankenstein, creator of life.” Caliban stares at him intently, the smile drifting into something darker. “But what kind of life did you create, hm? What was the true result of your experiment? You abandoned me immediately following my birth. I was a babe in the woods. A disfigured and abominable figure without anywhere to turn. And you abandoned me. How can I repay you for your great kindness, your generosity of nature?”

Caliban strikes a match and holds it up for Victor to see.

“Frankenstein, destroyer of lives,” declares Caliban. “I choose to erase you.”

He drops the flame to Lily’s dress and it catches like a field of dried wheat, instantly and horrifyingly.

“There will be no body to mourn, no grave to venerate, no record of your great contributions. Your friends…are they still your friends? They will inevitably forget your existence.”

The fire spreads swiftly, making frightening jumps from books to floorboards to cotton. Caliban tears off his outer cloak as it alights.

“There can be no greater pain than that of the forgotten,” Caliban whispers, eyes wide with terror.

Victor’s limbs are heavy, tingling with poison. He couldn’t escape if he wanted. In his delirium, he watches the flames dance across the room, climbing up and into the rafters.

He sees the fear in the creature’s eyes, the tears, the torment. Victor can offer no comfort. It is too late anyhow. He deserves his fate.

He thinks of his friends. Those who were once his friends anyway. Sir Malcolm, often acting like a father to Victor. Miss Ives, the most caring and simultaneously wicked person he knew. Sembene in his steadfast faithfulness. And Ethan. He closes his eyes in anguish. Victor’s heart is broken so inexorably that he wonders at its ability to still beat.

Smoke engulfs the room. Victor cracks his eyes open to the sting of the heat and fumes filling the space. He doesn’t have the energy to even cough. He is suffocating.

Victor can no longer see the creature but he hears as his lamentations turn into screams.

Victor ducks his head, ready for the end. With all the strength he can muster he takes a deep inhalation of smoke and feels the toxins fill his lungs. He collapses to the floor.

Shallow, wheezing breaths are all that remain of Victor’s life.

The last thing he feels is a pair of rough hands gathering him up as if the devil himself has come to collect him.

And then there is nothing. No bright light. No eternal flames. Nothing.

_______________________________________________________

He slowly awakens, to an unfamiliar room, in an unfamiliar bed. His eyes won’t focus and his breaths are labored. He closes his eyes and returns to the darkness.

He is beleaguered by nightmares, of fire inhaled and burning its way down his throat and out through his veins, turning his insides to blackened embers. He cries out in pain.

When next he blinks his eyes open, he is feeling well. His breathing is much easier. He feels very calm. Except he can’t remember what happened. There was a fire. And…he should be dead. Is he dead? He turns his head and is overcome to find Ethan frowning at him from across the room. He sits in a chair leaning forward, elbows on his knees, shirt stained with blood. He’s not looking well.

Victor cannot believe he is real. Tears fill his eyes. With great effort, he sits up. He notices that the sheets are also dirty with blood.

“Why is there blood?” asks a bewildered Victor, hoarsely, looking at his arms for signs of injury.

Ethan swallows, brow furrowing. “It’s mostly mine.”

Victor stares at him in confusion.

“I’m not as skilled in transfusion as you are,” admits Ethan darkly.

The cobwebs are starting to clear for Victor. He can only gape in shock. “You gave me your blood so that…”

“I didn’t know if it would work,” interrupts Ethan quickly.

“Does that mean…”

“I don’t know,” growls Ethan in aggravation.

Victor doesn't have the energy to argue, and there is no point. There will be time for analysis later, when he has more strength and Ethan’s disposition has improved. He sits weakly at the edge of the bed, content to have Ethan before him.

“Thank you,” breathes Victor.

Ethan’s mood grows even darker. “You may not be thanking me come the next full moon.”

Victor shakes his head. “I have not known such happiness.”

That seems to be the wrong response. Ethan leaps over and grabs Victor by the collar. “Do you understand what I’ve done!? How I’ve cursed you!?”

“You don’t know that,” murmurs Victor gently.

“I should’ve… I wanted…” Ethan struggles to find the words. “I saw the fire. I thought…” Ethan’s brow furrows in anguish as he pulls Victor forward until their foreheads are resting against each other. “Why do we keep doing these things?”

“We are uncommon men,” replies Victor, reaching up to touch the hollow of Ethan’s cheek. The lines of worry having expanded since he last saw him. He replaces his hand with his own cheek, rubbing it lightly against Ethan’s. Ethan leans into the contact with a deep and exhausted sigh.

“We will continue doing uncommon things,” continues Victor, dragging his lips up to Ethan’s ear. “But we will do them together.”

The tension in Ethan’s body has eased with each soothing touch but Victor draws back to see if it is reflected in his face. Ethan just looks sad. Victor doesn’t know what it will take to coax Ethan out of his shroud of self-hatred but he is determined to find its solution.

“You need to rest,” says Ethan.

Victor shakes his head again despite his exhaustion. He has already spent too much time away from Ethan.

As if hearing his thoughts, Ethan crawls up the bed and pulls Victor with him until they are lying on their sides facing each other. It is Ethan’s turn to run the pads of his fingers across Victor’s cheek and down his neck.

“Close your eyes,” instructs Ethan.

“I don’t want to,” replies Victor petulantly, his eyelids already drooping.

Ethan rolls his eyes inwardly. “C’mere.” He gathers Victor in his arms, situating them so that he is resting his lips against Victor’s forehead, his hand rubbing soothing circles onto his back. Victor sighs, relishing the feel of Ethan’s strong body against his own. He has never been more content. They lie tangled in their bed stained with blood.