[Original Novella] The Resurrection Men, Part 3

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Previous parts: 1 2

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was based on early misunderstandings of those experiments, as some mistook them for proof that electricity is some sort of life force. Vital principle. Prana, or Qi, as the Orientals refer to it. But, he produced no battery or wires. Instead, with a grunt, he heaved a odd looking contraption up onto the desk from the space under it.

he offered. As he plugged it into the wall, confirming electricity still played some part, I again wondered if it wouldn’t be smoke and mirrors. A rudimentary deception to exploit men with more money than brains. , I imagined them promising their gullible patron, before disappearing soon after with the advance deposit.

He opened a hatch in the top of a glass cylinder filled with what looked to be saline solution. Depositing the limp frog into the fluid, he shut the hatch, made airtight by means of a rubber seal around the rim. Then, satisfied that he’d captured my attention, he flipped a switch. A pump rattled to life and as I looked on, a cloudy black fluid issued forth into the cylinder, billowing outward as it mixed with the salt water.

Once fully saturated, the water appeared hazy and fog-like. I could just make out the form of the frog, floating motionless inside. Beady toggled a second switch. A loud hum sounded, and brilliant blue arcs of electricity spread through the liquid, sending the frog into violent spasms.

As I thought. The trivial application of current, to give the appearance of life to a dead animal. Before I could ask that they spare me any further insult to my intelligence, Beady turned off the current. Yet, the frog continued moving. Thrashing about frantically within the cylinder as if in need of air. I blinked in disbelief.

He opened the hatch, and seized the still frantic animal from inside.

It croaked loudly several times before settling down.

Injections? Scholls produced a leather case from within his vest. Inside, a neat row of syringes, all filled with the same thick black fluid I’d seen enter the cylinder. I demanded to know what was in them.

He flashed me a knowing grin. I did not reciprocate.

he offered. I balked. He laughed.

My stomach began to churn. A feeling familiar to me as instinctive warning of unseen danger. As yet I did not believe anything except that they had resuscitated a frog. Perhaps one they’d put into a deep sleep by refrigeration, making a big show of startling it back to wakefulness? Yet, the splinter in my mind only grew stronger. I now dared to hope. However foolish, however certain my disappointment.

So it was that I descended with them into the building’s basement where I found a subterranean tunnel, with a small electric tram positioned as if to enter it.

Why he imagined I would laugh under such conditions is a mystery to me. I piled into one of the precarious steel carts. As he twisted a knob, I heard the electrical whine of a motor under load, and we began to move.

I experienced my first pangs of hesitation as the train entered the tunnel. Had I done the right thing in coming here? Might they be abducting me with the intent of seeking ransom from my father? But as the little train trundled noisily down the damp, pitch black corridor, I pictured Annika ahead. The light at the end of the tunnel. The impossible possibility which drew me here. I had to know.

We came out into an astonishingly vast underground warehouse of sorts, with stenciled in letters twenty feet high along the far wall. I held my nose as the stench hit me. The source of it soon became apparent as the train passed by heaps of waxy embalmed corpses. I muttered, wondering again what I’d gotten myself into.

, Mr. Beady admonished, He harrumphed, stopped the train and hopped off. Scholls followed, his considerable mass tipping the little train as he climbed out.

A great grid of tracks stretched out across the floor of the facility. Along it, a sort of bi-directional motorized carriage scooted along, with what looked to be a hydraulic elevator mounted to it. As it raised the platform to one of countless sliding hatches in the ceiling, receiving a casket from it as it opened, I realized we were standing directly beneath the cemetery. Long transparent rubber tubing ran up the walls, connecting to a spigot beneath each grave.

I exclaimed. He nodded, plainly proud of his handiwork.

What exactly was I looking at, though? Industrialized grave robbing. Under everyone’s noses, the remains of their dearly departed extracted from what was to be their final resting place by this bizarre little man and his burly counterpart. I managed. Still dazed, I was herded towards the centerpiece of the installation, a scaled up version of the little machine he’d demonstrated for me in their office.

Five cylinders rather than one. It dawned on me that the rash of mistaken burials were a cover story. He confirmed it.

I cut in. He slowly nodded, not breaking eye contact.

I assured them I had no such intentions. As yet I couldn’t really say what I intended to do except gawk at the disturbing spectacle around me. The gentle throb of a nearby generator intensified. One of the glass cylinders, the fluid inside the same hazy black as I recalled from the model, now pulsated with current. Resembling a storm cloud, arcs of lightning leaping from one part of it to the other.

Then the throb died down and the arcs vanished. Below the cylinder, a sort of silicone sphincter bulged. As I watched in morbid fascination, it birthed a nude man coated head to toe in the filthy black slime. He gasped for air as Beady and Scholls rushed to wrap him in a blanket. He struggled for a time to orient himself, then after that to form words. But soon he was able to answer their questions.

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