- chapter 1
- chapter 3
- chapter 4
- chapter 6
- chapter 7
- chapter 8
- chapter 10
- chapter 11
- chapter 13
- chapter 14
- chapter 16
- chapter 17
- chapter 18
- chapter 19
- chapter 21
- chapter 23
- chapter 24
- chapter 25
- chapter 28
- chapter 29
- chapter 30
- chapter 31
- chapter 32
- chapter 35
- chapter 37
- chapter 39
- chapter 41
- chapter 42
- chapter 45
- chapter 46
- chapter 48
- chapter 50
- chapter 52
- chapter 54
- chapter 55
- chapter 57
- chapter 58
- chapter 60
- chapter 62
- chapter 65
- chapter 66
- chapter 69
- chapter 71
- chapter 72
The fourth book in the Dean Koontz's Frankenstein series, 2010
To Tracy Devine and Fletcher Buckley,
who keep each other delightfully sane in a
world gone mad. May your lives be full of good books,
good music, good friends, and-in light of your reckless
choice of vacation spots-only good bears.
Men do not differ much about what
things they will call evils;
they differ enormously about what evils
they will call excusable.
– G. K. CHESTERTON
The October wind came down from the stars. With the hiss of an artist’s airbrush, it seemed to blow the pale moonlight like a mist of paint across the slate roofs of the church and abbey, across the higher windows, and down the limestone walls. Where patches of lawn were bleached by recent cold, the dead grass resembled ice in the lunar chill.
At two o’clock in the morning, Deucalion walked the perimeter of the seven-acre property, following the edge of the encircling forest. He needed no lamplight to guide him; and he would have needed none even deep in the blackness of the mountain woods.
From time to time, he heard sounds of unknown origin issuing from among the towering pines, but they inspired no anxiety. He carried no weapon because he feared nothing in the forest, nothing in the night, nothing on Earth.
Although he was unusually tall, muscled, and powerful, his physical strength was not the source of his confidence and fortitude.
He went downhill, past St. Bartholomew’s School, where orphans with physical and developmental disabilities flew in their sleep, while Benedictine nuns watched over them. According to Sister Angela, the mother superior, the most commonly reported dream of her young charges was of flying under their own power, high above the school, the abbey, the church, the forest.
Most of the windows were dark, although lights glowed in Sister Angela’s office on the ground floor. Deucalion considered consulting her, but she didn’t know the full truth of him, which she would need to know in order to understand his problem.
Centuries old but young in spirit, born not of man and woman, but instead constructed from the bodies of dead felons and animated by strange lightning, Deucalion was most at home in monasteries. As the first-and, he believed, the sole surviving-creation of Victor Frankenstein, he belonged nowhere in this world, yet he did not feel like an outsider at St. Bartholomew’s Abbey. Previously, he had been comfortable as a visitor in French, Italian, Spanish, Peruvian, and Tibetan monasteries.
He’d left his quarters in the guest wing because he was plagued by a suspicion that seemed irrational but that he couldn’t shake. He hoped that a walk in the cool mountain air would clear his troubled mind.
By the time Deucalion circled the property and arrived at the entrance to the abbey church, he understood that his suspicion arose not from deductive reasoning but instead from intuition. He was wise enough and sufficiently experienced to know that intuition was the highest form of knowledge and should never be ignored.
Without passing through the door, he stepped out of the night and into the narthex of the church.
At the entrance to the nave, he dared to dip two fingers in the font, make the sign of the cross, and invoke the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. His existence was a blasphemy, a challenge to sacred order, because his maker-a mere mortal-had been in rebellion against the divine and against all natural law. Yet Deucalion had reason to hope that he was not just a thing of meat and bone, that his ultimate fate might not be oblivion.
Without walking the length of the center aisle, he went from the threshold of the nave to the distant sanctuary railing.
The church lay mostly in shadows, brightened only by a sanctuary light focused on the crucifix towering over the altar and by votive candles flickering in crimson-glass cups.
As Deucalion appeared at the railing, he realized that another shared the church with him. Glimpsing movement from the corner of his eye, he turned to see a monk rising from the first pew.
At five feet seven and two hundred pounds, Brother Salvatore was less fat than solid, as an automobile compacted into a cube by a hydraulic press was solid. He looked as if bullets would ricochet off him.
The hard angles and blunt edges of Salvatore’s face might have given him a threatening aspect in his youth, when he lived outside the law. But sixteen years in the monastery, years of remorse and contrition, softened his once-cold gray gaze with kindness and reshaped his smile from brutish to beatific.
At the abbey, he was Deucalion’s closest friend.
His large hands, holding a rosary, seemed to be all knuckles, which is what his associates had called him in his former life. Here at St. Bartholomew’s, he was affectionately known as Brother Knuckles.
“Who was it they said murdered sleep?” Knuckles asked.
“I figured you’d know.”
Perhaps because he was born from the dead, Deucalion lacked the daily need for sleep that was a trait of those born from the living. On the rare nights when he slept, he always dreamed.
Brother Knuckles knew the truth of Deucalion: his origin in a laboratory, his animation by lightning, his early crimes, and his quest for redemption. The monk knew, as well, that during Deucalion’s sleepless nights, he usually occupied himself with books. In his two centuries, he had read and reread more volumes than were contained in all but the largest of the world’s libraries.
“With me it ain’t Macbeth. It’s memory,” said the monk. “Memory is pure caffeine.”
“You’ve received absolution for your past.”
“That don’t mean the past didn’t happen.”
“Memories aren’t rags that come clean with enough wringing.”
“Guess I’ll spend the rest of my life wringing them anyway. What brings you here?”
Raising one hand to trace the contours of the ruined half of his once handsome face, Deucalion murmured, “He is risen.”
Looking at the crucifix, the monk said, “That ain’t exactly news, my friend.”
“I refer to my maker, not yours.”
That name seemed to echo across the vaulted ceiling as no other words had echoed.
“Victor Helios, as he most recently called himself. I saw him die. But he lives again. Somehow… he lives.”
“How do you know?”
Deucalion said, “How do you know the most important thing you know?”
Glancing again at the crucifix, the monk said, “By the light of revelation.”
“There is no light in my revelation. It’s a dark tide in my blood-dark, cold, thick, and insistent, telling me He’s alive.”
Erskine Potter, the future mayor of Rainbow Falls, Montana, walked slowly around the dark kitchen, navigating by the green glow of the digital clocks in the two ovens.
The clock in the upper oven read 2:14, and the clock in the lower oven displayed 2:11, as if time flowed more languidly nearer the floor than nearer the ceiling.
Being a perfectionist, Potter wanted to reset both clocks to 2:16, which was the correct time. Time must be treated with respect. Time was the lubricant that allowed the mechanism of the universe to function smoothly.
As soon as he finished his current task, he would synchronize every clock in the residence. He must ensure that the house remained in harmony with the universe.
Henceforth, he would monitor the clocks twice daily to determine if they were losing time. If the problem wasn’t human error, Potter would disassemble the clocks and rebuild them.
As he circled the kitchen, he slid his hand across the cool granite countertops-and frowned when he encountered a scattering of crisp crumbs. They stuck to his palm.
He brought his palm to his nose and smelled the crumbs. Wheat flour, soybean oil, palm oil, skim-milk cheese, salt, paprika, yeast, soy lecithin.
When he licked the tasty debris from his palm, he confirmed his analysis: Cheez-It crumbs.
He liked Cheez-Its. But he didn’t like crumbs being left on kitchen counters. This was unacceptable.
At the gas cooktop, he lifted one of the burner grates, set it aside, hesitated, and wiped his fingertips over the stainless-steel drip pan. Grease.
Erskine Potter believed in cleaning a cooktop after each use, not just once or twice a week. A tool or a machine, or a system, would function better and last longer if it was clean and properly maintained.
In the sink, he found dishes waiting to be washed: plates, bowls, flatware standing in drinking glasses. At least everything seemed to have been rinsed.
He hesitated to look in the refrigerator, concerned that what he found might make him angry. Anger would make him less focused and less efficient.
Focus and efficiency were important principles. Few people in the world were focused and efficient. For the good of the planet, the unfocused and inefficient needed to be killed.
As the mayor of Rainbow Falls, Montana, he would never be in a position of sufficient power to exterminate millions of people, but he would do his small part. Regardless of the scope of his authority and the size of his assignment, each member of the Community-with a capital C-was as valuable as any other.
Absolute equality was an important principle.
The embrace of cold reason and the rejection of sentimentality was another important principle.
Unfailing cooperation with others of the Community was an important principle, too, as was keeping their existence secret from ordinary men and women.