A newly rich liberal-minded teacher stumbles upon Mary Shelley's secret of reanimation, with wacky consequences; by Doug Hawley.
I should tell you about my Uncle Dave first. He was definitely the black sheep of the family. A little bit of his status rubbed off on me I fear. The rest of my family, outside of the two of us, were hard core Baptists and political conservatives. They were and are amongst those that believe abortion is murder, but fighting a war for oil that results in mass destruction and thousands of deaths is a good thing. Sorry, I'm getting off topic.
In many ways my family should have approved of my mother Alex's brother, instead of condemning him to hell. He was helpful, handsome, kind, athletic and rich - all of the things normally valued in males. Dave's main failing, in the eyes of my family and much of society, was his sexual direction. He had been living with Ted in a monogamous relationship since they met in college. I think that he might have been accepted if he had acted contrite and guilty, but he didn't.
I was only ten years younger than Dave, so I thought of him as more of an older brother. There was a running pickup softball game at the field across from Madison where I went to high school. My parents thought that it was great that I played there several months of the year. What they didn't know was that Dave and Ted also played there. While playing ball, they were discrete about their relationship, so it was no problem and they were both good players. At first I mostly ignored the two of them because of my parents' opinion, but after awhile, I began to see them as just a couple of great guys.
After games, the three of us would go out for burgers and cokes and talk about whatever was going on in the world. I learned about evolution, world history and all sorts of things I never would have understood if I depended on my parents or my school.
During the early years that I hung out with Dave, he was an engineer at Intel in Hillsboro west of Portland. I could never understand anything about electrical engineering, so Dave gave up on explaining his job. I was more interested in Ted's work anyway. He was an editor at Mahonia, a local publisher, as well as a writer. It was Ted that got me interested in writing.
I went to the University of Oregon after high school. I did the minimum obligatory visits home, but spent a lot of time visiting Dave and Ted without my parents' knowledge. After graduation, I got a job teaching in Hayward California. The job market was tight plus I wanted to get farther away from home, but stay on the West Coast, and Hayward was hiring. The second year there I was supervising a student teacher, Julianne Jones. One thing led to another with her, and I faced fatherhood. That suited me fine, because by then we were mutually besotted. Given the times and our relatively liberal leanings, we debated unmarried parenthood. Eventually, we opted for conventionality. When I called my parents and told them of the schedule for my impending fatherhood and marriage, they disowned me because of my implied fornication. I felt fine about being relieved of all of my filial duties and benefits. After that, whenever Julianne and I went back to Oregon, we visited Dave and Ted, who had moved to Hermiston where Ted wrote and Dave had started up a very successful drone operation.
Years went by as they tend to do when you are not paying attention. Julianne gave birth to Dave, honoring my uncle. Based on our save the earth attitude, we decided that one was enough. Life was looking good until we got the call from Dave that horrible evening. He told me that he had pancreas cancer and had about six months to live. He had already sold his business and was going to spend what time he had left with Ted and the two of us, whenever we could take time from our jobs.
We were only able to visit Ted and Dave once before Dave died. He went a lot faster than expected. As expected, Ted was the executor. We were shocked at the reading of the will to find that apart from a few thousand dollars to some of Dave's favorite charities and some close friends, the rest of the estate was divided equally between Ted and me. Nothing went to anyone else in Dave's family.
A week later I got a call from my mother asking if I intended to share any of my windfall from my godless Uncle Dave. I told her that I wouldn't burden her with godless money.
Julianne and I were committed to the simple life, so we didn't know exactly what to do with our sudden riches. We didn't jump into anything right away, but got a competent investment guy. About that time I saw a one paragraph article buried in the San Francisco Chronicle saying that the descendants of Mary Shelley were selling an original draft of "Frankenstein". Coincidentally, I had been working on a Gothic horror story while teaching. I thought that reading an early draft of her work might jump start my own work. It sounds crazy, but I really needed some inspiration, and now we had the money to bid on her work.
The bidding was done internationally via conference call. I won with a bid that would have equaled ten year's earning as a teacher, but I cheered myself by telling myself that I could resell it should I need.
As I read through her first draft, I was immensely disappointed in that it was almost the same as the finished product. A few changes in punctuations, a few changes in words, that was about it. I tried to be careful with it because I knew now that I would just resell it, and give up on my plan to write the next great Gothic novel, but I noticed that after I had read and reread it several times, the back cover was separating and I noticed a document between its layers. At last things were getting interesting.
The page read, "Of course electricity by itself is not adequate to reanimate a corpse. The body must be treated chemically before electricity is applied. The formula listed below must be injected first. I dread what the results of giving the true method of reanimation to the unprepared public would be, so I am not including it in my book."
I'm not going to divulge the formula either, for the same reason that Mary Shelley excluded it from her finished book. I can tell you that it is an easy potion to prepare from readily available ingredients.
Maybe money makes people arrogant, because I now decided that rather than simply writing a Gothic tale, I would create a Gothic reality.
There is no way that I could keep my plans from Julianne, even if I wanted to. When I told her what I was thinking, she said, "I don't know if that is a good idea, but we definitely have to get a house with a dungeon before you start. I don't want young Dave mixing with a reanimated corpse."
It didn't take long to find out that houses with dungeons were very rare. Julianne came through with a great idea. "How about we move out to the wine country, get a house, and have a secure 'wine cellar' installed. Besides getting us our dungeon, we can have more privacy in the country."
A few months later we had the ideal place outside of Napa, ready for reanimating. All we needed was a subject. Now that was a real head scratcher. We learned that fresh bodies were hard to come by and grave snatching was a dying occupation. We didn't exactly give up on our dream, but we still hadn't a good idea how to come up with a subject. Corrupt funeral home? Fake burial? Dig up someone ourselves?
We had just about given up on the dream, while still enjoying our lives in the country when a miracle happened. Julianne and I had been out for a drive when we saw a massive body alongside the road.
We pulled over to see if we could help. Because he was lying on his back we immediately recognized him. It was Mladic Szabo, the former Golden State Warrior power forward. He was a Serbian national who had never achieved much, but had hung around the NBA for ten years. Our good fortune was that he was a little small for his position. We checked later and found that he was 6'7" and 230 pounds during his playing days. Even though we could find nothing wrong with him, he had no pulse. Between the two of us we were able to push and pull him into our Subaru Outback with the back seat folded.
After we got him home, I injected the chemicals and jump started him in the 'dungeon'. We are fortunate to live in a time when we don't have to wait for lightning; we just used a standard 120 volt outlet that we use for the laundry washer. After he came around, he was mystified about what had happened to him. All that he could remember was feeling light headed while out for a jog. He said "You know, I don't want to get out of shape and fat like a lot of ex-NBA players." We explained that we had come to his rescue when we found him alongside the road. We didn't say anything about the reanimation. It seemed like a bit much to absorb so soon after being dead.
You might have imagined he would terrorize the countryside and the locals would come after him at our house with pitchforks and torches. OK, pitchforks maybe, but probably flashlights, not torches. They might even call him Hanley after me, like the fools who called Shelley's monster Frankenstein rather than Frankenstein's monster. Why wouldn't history repeat? Reanimations always end up badly -The Re-animator, Pet Sematary and the original Frankenstein and all of the sequels and remakes.
If that's what you imagined, you blew it. The reanimation turned out badly, but not in a traditional way. We mutually decided that Mladic would stay with us until we were sure that he was OK. No one missed him because he lived alone and was something of a hermit. His family all lived overseas. Rather than turn monstrous, Mladic was a perfect gentleman and a great guest. Dave started to call him 'my giant', and the two of them got along famously. We even planned to use the dungeon as a wine cellar. I still taught my classes in Hayward during the day. A week after the reanimation I came home to an empty house. The note started "I'm leaving you." I burned it rather than read the rest. It wasn't the first time I'd been dumped for a tall guy.
Bride Of Hanley
Let me bring you up to date. I found a real method to re-animate the dead. Rather than resulting in terror throughout the neighborhood, it lost me my wife Julianne and son Dave to the ex-NBA player Mladic Szabo who I reanimated.
Days went by after they left while I assessed the situation and dealt with soul crushing sadness. I couldn't help but wonder what I had done wrong. I know that Julianne had led an exciting life before we married. She had a few broken engagements and had trekked around the world. Maybe I was just too boring for her.
I hadn't heard anything from Julianne or Mladic after they left. I was afraid that the next thing that I heard from her would be a request for a divorce, so I was surprised when she and Dave showed up four days after she left looking as if nothing unusual had happened.
The shock showed on my face. She reacted by asking, "What's the matter Duke, didn't you read the note that I left?"
It became clear that I had no idea what was going on, so I did the obvious thing and lied. "Sure, I did." In fact I had only read the first line, "I'm leaving you," before burning the note.
"Then you have no reason to be surprised. I'm the one that should be surprised. Why didn't you call my cell, like the note said?"
I attempted to be cagey. "Well, I didn't think there was anything to worry about, and I've been busy."
"It turns out that you didn't have any reason to worry. The trip with Mladic went well, but he seemed very strange. All of sudden, he insisted on going to Las Vegas. He was acting so odd, that I thought the best thing was to just give him what he wanted. I just dropped him off on the Strip and that was the last I saw of him."
At that point I was probably doing my idiot face. Of course now I can imagine the rest of the unread note went something like "I'm leaving you for a few days because Mladic insists on being driven to Las Vegas immediately. Dave wanted to go along. I'll see you by the fifth. Don't forget to eat vegetables while I'm gone. Love you, call me on my cell." I'll never know exactly what the note said, but I'm willing to bet that my reconstruction is close.
I was so relieved to have my happy family back together that I probably let out a big sigh. Whatever it was that I did, Julianne gave me a strange look, but it passed quickly. The next thing that she said was, "I'm pretty worn out, what do you have for a tired and thirsty girl?"
I've never been happier to fix her the brandy and Frangelico that we ended up splitting.
Julianne probably wondered when I was extra affectionate and brought her little presents and love notes over the next few weeks, but didn't complain.
Happy ever after? I wish. That July while Dave was away at Boy Scout camp for two weeks and I'd gone off to fish for a week, I came home to find our house filled with natural gas and Julianne dead on the floor. First I hauled her out to our work shed, and then called Pacific Gas and Electric. While awaiting their arrival, I reanimated her. If it worked with Mladic, I had hopes that it would work with her. By the time that the P G and E man arrived to fix the leak, Julianne seemed to be back to normal. Naturally, Zack the repairman asked if we had been exposed. I told him, "No, we just came back from a vacation."
Julianne gave me a quizzical look, but I made a sign for her to let it go. When the P G and E man left, I told her what had happened. All she could remember was napping on the couch and waking up much later. She had no idea what happened during the elapsed time.
"Why didn't you notice the gas? The rotten egg odor should have tipped you off."
"All I can think of is the medication that I took for my sore throat. Let's take a look at it."
Sure enough the medication said, "May effect sense of smell." Clearly no one should take it before a gas leak.
As you can imagine, Julianne was very perturbed. Telling her that it was better than being dead didn't do much to ease her mind.
Dave came back from camp, and we returned to our normal life during my summer vacation from teaching. In August I read a disquieting article in the San Francisco Chronicle.
"Former Golden State Warrior Mladic Szabo became bankrupt after a weeklong gambling spree in Las Vegas. Players, friends and family say that this is not like the Mladic that they knew. He was always quite financially conservative, and although never an NBA superstar, he had invested his money wisely and had built up a retirement account of several million dollars until his sudden obsession with gambling."
What they didn't know is that I had reanimated him. I hadn't noticed any ill effects from bringing him back to life, but could the reanimation have instigated his gambling? There was no way to be certain, but what else could it be?
I started to wonder what could have gone wrong. Certainly there were major problems in giving life to the original Frankenstein's Monster, but he had a defective brain. My reanimates had no defects previous to the reanimation, other than being dead of course.
I went back to my list of chemicals used in reanimation. How could I have screwed up so badly? One of the chemicals in the process that I was supposed to use was nitrate not nitrite. Now my one hope was that Julianne wouldn't have the negative reaction to coming back to life that Mladic did.
In the weeks that followed, she seemed alright except that I would catch her looking at me with a strange expression on her face. When I asked her what's up, she always said something like, "Oh, my mind was just wandering."
As a result, I became very aware of her at all times, even though she did nothing untoward until weeks after coming back from the dead when she went after me with a butcher knife. It was my good fortune that Dave wasn't around to see the attack. As I scrambled to avoid being stabbed, I knocked over my chair. Julianne tripped over it. It didn't look bad, but somehow it killed her.
Now I will find out if someone can be reanimated a second time, this time with the nitrate.
Son Of Hanley
You haven't heard of me yet. I'm David Hanley and up until now I've led a very quiet life. It all changed when I invited Wendy out for drinks after work on Wednesday. She has something of a party girl reputation and said, "Sure." Things went well at Atwell's where she out-drank me about two to one. She was feeling no pain and quickly agreed to go to my place in the Marin County California countryside. Once we got to my place I was sure that I was in like Flynn. Yeah, nothing there that I'm proud of, but I was horny as hell.
She excused herself for a trip to the bathroom. After fifteen minutes, I started to get nervous. Was she taking drugs? Had she gone to sleep? It scared me. I knocked on the door, but didn't get a response. The door was unlocked, so I went in. She had fallen of the toilet and had vomit running down her blouse. As good as she looked at the beginning of the evening, she looked like crap now. After first yelling at her to wake up, I tried slapping her. Nothing. My pulse went up and I started to sweat. As much as it repulsed me, I felt for her pulse. Nothing again. After another few minutes of sweating and heavy breathing, I was forced to conclude that she had suffocated on her vomit in her drunken state.
To understand what I did next, I must explain what my father did twenty years ago. He stumbled on the workable method of reanimation. He had more or less successfully used it to bring my mother back from death not once, but twice, and a former NBA player once. Sure there were a few bad side effects, and you had to use the electricity and chemicals exactly as outlined by Mary Shelley, but it was mostly a success. My father dwelt upon the downsides and never tried bringing anyone back to life after the first three tries. In fact, he thought that it was a complete secret. He clearly did not know that young boys are very curious and when they overhear things they have to keep digging until a mystery is solved. Unknown to him, I had taken a copy of the resurrection technique with me when I went off to college. Finally I had a practical use for reanimation. Not only that, but I had stockpiled the necessary chemicals should the need ever come up.
After a little while Wendy was up and about again. Rather than come up with a story about what happened to her, I told her that she had died and that I'd revived her. I can't blame her for responding, "Bullshit, did you give me a roofie? Did you rape me?"
I'm not an idiot. I had foreseen her response and had filmed the entire sequence starting from her dead body on the floor. After showing her, her attitude changed from anger to thanks for saving her. Again, I'm not proud, but I accepted gratitude sex.
I told her that the safest thing would be for her to call in sick at work and stay with me for a few days to observe her and see that she was alright. Given the gravity of her situation, she agreed to stay at my place for a few days. I of course was thinking of more sex as well as observation.
She seemed to be back to normal. The next day, she drank moderately and we had sex again, but she didn't seem enthusiastic. I have to admit, my romantic life has been pretty limited and my technique may not be up to porn star standards, but I think that I did everything right.
Day two she fidgeted for hours, watched some TV and eventually said, "I've got to get out of here. I can't stand being penned up like this. I feel fine and I don't need more observation."
"But Wendy, I don't think that it is safe for you yet. You might hurt yourself, or someone else. Why don't you just stay for a couple of more days?"
"No, I've got to go."
"Listen, besides the reanimation, I think that we've really hit it off. I'd like to be your boyfriend."
"Dave, I'll always be grateful for you saving me, but you're just not my type, and anyway I'm not really girlfriend material. I know it's a cliché, but I go for the bad boy types and you are more of a nerd. I want tattoos and piercings and you've got thick glasses and Dockers. I thought that you might be fun for a change, but it didn't work out."
"The sex meant nothing?"
"I don't want to hurt your feelings."
After that, we silently looked at each other with nothing more to say; my mind went to a strange place. She owed me her life. If she died again, we would break even. If she died again, who knows what a second reanimation would do? The second reanimation changed my mother for the better, curing her of her murderous urges. The more reanimations that I did, the better I would be at the process. Reanimating her twice could in effect be of benefit to the whole world. How could anyone object to the advancement of science?
Also on the plus side, she might like me better after a second resurrection.