We see the pale students of unhallowed arts beside what they are putting together. Dracula and Frankenstein are at work in the laboratory, stitching arms onto a female torso. Suddenly the door bursts open and Renfeld storms in leading a startled peasant girl by the arm. Both doctors turn to look. He reaches out and tears off her long skirt and spins her around.
They stare hard at her legs.
After conferring with each other briefly, they nod to Renfeld and he bashes the terrified girl on the back of the head with a hammer and pounds her brains in until she’s dead. A gush of blood spurts out and a gurgling, bubbly sound fades. He drags her into an adjoining room and a saw starts up. Frankenstein looks extremely downcast.
“Not in the lab!” Dracula yells, disgusted. “I’m sorry you had to see that, Frankenstein, I know you find that sort of thing distasteful.”
“I’m getting used to it,” Frankenstein says.
The saw grinds away in the next room. Frankenstein bends back to his work. Dracula watches him for a moment and then also goes back to work on the torso. They operate in silence for a long while.
“Your surgical skills are amazing,” Dracula compliments him. “She will be seamless. She’s only the second I’ve worked on and it’s already obvious she’ll be as perfect as authentic life itself. Better than authentic life! She’ll be the perfect woman!”
“She will be.” Frankenstein nods his agreement.
“I apologize for the degree to which she’ll be better than you are Frankenstein,” the vampire admits.
“I think it can be attributed to the fact that our four hands and two intellects worked on her,” Frankenstein reasons. “You worked alone on me.”
“BULLSHIT!” Dracula snorts. “I had Renfeld’s two hands to help me then. I’m getting better at this. It’s as simple as that. My skill improves!
“Don’t get me wrong Frankenstein, Renfeld is no surgeon, and having another doctor to work with has accelerated the process considerably. But it’s undeniable. I am an artist at creating life, and my skill improves with each life I create!”
“Don’t get full of yourself,” Frankenstein warns.
“How can I not be full of myself? I create life!” Dracula is incensed. “Listen Frankenstein, one day a man will walk on the soil of the moon, but then he will have to come down and ride in a carriage and it will make him insane. You’ll see for yourself. When she lives and breathes with the life you will give her, your final humanity will fall away and you will be divine. These thoughts will be yours, also!”
Frankenstein grimaces and stares down at the torso.
“I can’t wait,” he says.
Dracula pores over scientific journals in his study. Renfeld enters and waits silently before the doctor.
“Yes, Renfeld?” Dracula asks, but doesn’t look up.
“Doctor, I don’t want to upset or alarm you, but some townspeople visited the castle while you slumbered.”
“What?” Dracula is very concerned now.
“I greeted them,” Renfeld tells him. “And they explained that certain superstitious villagers have begun to spread rumors that ghouls live here, owing to the disappearance of some local girls and children lately. I showed them the grounds and assured them nothing haunts this castle… I volunteered to help them search for these unfortunates. It will be a considerable waste of my time…
“I really think we should wait, or seek a head from further away. It’s too dangerous now. They suspect.”
“Don’t bother me with peasants,” Dracula waves him off. “And never let strangers in here while I sleep. More of this and our partnership is dissolved! We are at the cusp! Frankenstein was an experiment! She is the ultimate achievement of science! She’s going to be better than life itself! Absolute perfection. Biological poetry. You can’t understand until you’ve given life to the dead! We’re too close to pause now.
“Frankenstein is in a surgical frenzy preparing this female. His skill is not hampered by his new hands! A testament to my own skills! Frankenstein can’t wait for her to live! This is the best he’s felt since we killed him! I won’t stop him now. When he has his female he will be content, and when Frankenstein is content, he will help me cure my bloodlust. I have planned this, Renfeld, and everything proceeds according to my plan.
“Now, speaking of bloodlust, bring me a child.”
Renfeld swallows hard.
“But there are no children, Doctor. We’ve run out here at the castle and it’s too dangerous to take them from the village just now,” he explains.
“What?” Dracula gasps. “No innocent blood? What will I feed on? This is absurd! You can’t expect me to feed on regular blood. I’ve been good to you. And just don’t forget that you’re filled with regular blood, Renfeld. You wouldn’t want me to develop a taste for it. Now don’t let me get hungry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry.”
“Some of the girls we took for organs were very young, Doctor.” Renfeld says nervously. “I saved pints. That should get you through to the animation of Frankenstein’s mate.”
Dracula leans back.
“Let’s hope so Renfeld. Let’s hope it’s enough. I haven’t been dry in so long.”
Frankenstein works alone in the laboratory over the nearly complete body of his mate. She is headless, and Frankenstein looks through a huge magnifying glass into an incision in her abdomen that is held open by complicated equipment. He is working his hands slowly in the cut, doing advanced surgery.
‘Dracula is a fool,’ he thinks. ‘My body is an abomination next to her artistry. I’ll never be worthy of her.
‘Maybe. There might be a way. But no. It would be impossible. For now there is work before me. She is nearly complete. Dracula has wisely withdrawn and left me to my bloody task, but he’ll still claim credit in the end.
‘Better than making a man, Dracula has created life that in turn creates life for him. Maybe he is the true genius. Ha! He always comes out on top. All of my work will go to his credit. My achievement will be his. Watch. But she will be mine. She is for me. The most flawlessly beautiful female form ever.’
Dracula lies in a huge bed with his Maidens.
“Lord, will you grow tired of my sisters and I, and take up with your female creation?” Agnes asks.
“She is an angel, Lord.” Karin says.
Maria rolls her eyes and yawns…
“She is for Frankenstein,” Dracula reminds them, bored.
“Everything is for you, Lord.” Agnes and Karin say at the same time.
“Everything,” Maria says sarcastically.
“I must provide contentment to Frankenstein.” Dracula tells them. “I gave him life. I have everything else. Leave her for him…”
“Our Lord loves only us!” Agnes exclaims.
“Our Lord loves only himself.” Maria yawns.
“My most pleasant Maria,” Dracula says.
Renfeld enters and leads in a confused looking village woman who seems very startled to find Dracula and his Maidens.
The wispy ladies swarm on her and she makes a croaking noise as they pull her down to the floor and eat her. Dracula can’t look. He hates the thought of normal blood. Renfeld exits and the whimpering and slurping continue.
“But she is perfect.” Dracula muses. “She will be better than actual life itself. Frankenstein is a very lucky man.”
Agnes and Karin look up with blood on their faces and gaze jealously as Dracula contemplates the mate of Frankenstein.
In Dracula’s study, Frankenstein, Renfeld and the vampire are having drinks.
“I know you haven’t chosen to go outside the castle since your new life began Frankenstein, but you must go with Renfeld and travel to get the head,” Dracula advises. “It’s essential that you be involved in the selection. As she is for you, the features must be to your liking.
“Renfeld! Stop at nothing to get Frankenstein the head he desires! And take care to kill her as peacefully as possible so that the shock might not be too severe. We want our new creation to be serene. Her death must be easy… But don’t strangle her! It ruins the brain!”
“There are some teenagers for you in the meat cooler,” he says. “The best I could do. I will bring you back fat babies from two counties over, brimming with innocent blood!”
But Frankenstein is very upset.
“I don’t want to leave the castle,” he growls. “Renfeld can pick her. He knows a handsome face. He lays down with enough whores. Or have him bring me all the heads he can, so that I can choose one! I don’t need to leave these walls.”
“Let Renfeld pick the head of our woman?” Dracula is aghast. “Maybe we did damage your brain! I mean no disrespect to Renfeld, but a matter of this import requires far greater than the skill of a layman, even one so experienced as you are.
“In fact, I would go myself if it weren’t for my aversion to sunlight. However my research continues in those directions, and soon that will be at an end. I’ll show you my notes sometime Frankenstein. In the meantime you simply must go with Renfeld and find her a head!”
Renfeld and Frankenstein navigate the back country in a carriage during daylight.
“You’re wise to adapt so well to your new life,” Renfeld says. “The Doctor’s work is very important. It’s good you can move ahead with him to this next project with such enthusiasm.”
“I was angry at first.” Frankenstein explains. “I understand now. I had to become a monster myself, to live with them and to work for one.”
“I’m certainly not a monster!” Renfeld exclaims.
Frankenstein looks squarely at Renfeld.
“You feed babies to a vampire and you take girls apart for pieces,” he says.
“I suppose I am awfully gruesome.” Renfeld says, sounding amused. “But living with a walking cadaver and a vampire, I hadn’t really thought about it. It’s just the work that we do. The Doctor really is doing God’s work here on earth. He might be God, after all. Maybe there are no vampires and he’s Jesus returned!
“We’d be his first apostles. You’re busy in surgery, but you should think about it. The Doctor strips away the veils, but all mysteries have not been revealed. There is work to do beyond your mate as there was work to do beyond yourself. Beyond the mummy, and the capture of the man-wolf hybrid. And the acquisition of the creature from the black lagoons of South America. The Doctor does not rest for long in his quest to demolish the boundaries.”
“A great mind. A great man,” Frankenstein says facetiously. “Dracula is ahead of our time.”
“A tragedy he must go unsung for all his many accomplishments,” Renfeld says. “A great pity.”
“I don’t like the looks of this weather,” Frankenstein notes. “Perhaps we should find shelter and stop for the night.”
“We must hurry,” Renfeld tells him. “The Doctor expects innocent blood when I return. He won’t be pleased if we linger long out here on our journey. In fact, if we take too long, he may reach out to us. I don’t want him to have to do that, and you don’t either.”
But the wind picks up, and rain begins to fall. Soon a storm rages.
In the dark of the night, they spot the light of an inn through the pounding rain.
“There’s a light!” Frankenstein points.
“This weather will wreck us!” Renfeld agrees. “You’re right. We should stop.”
A great feast is being devoured in the banquet hall of the inn, and a large party celebrates long into the night. Frankenstein and Renfeld lurk at the edge of the festivities and dry off over a pint.
“Look at this wedding party,” exclaims Renfeld. “These people are having an incredible time! Two young lovers have wed and now all this drink is consumed and all these feet are dancing. Fantastic. I don’t get out of the castle enough! Just listen to this music.”
“These are the first normal people that I’ve seen since all of this madness began,” Frankenstein realizes. “The blur of surgery and bizarre concepts. These people sing and dance and drink and their lives are happy and ignorant of the shadows at the edges of their world.”
In the middle of all the merriment is their bride, the girl they all want to dance with, very young and extremely pretty. She’s jolly from drink, and exhausted from dancing.
Frankenstein can’t take his eyes off her. Renfeld follows his gaze.
“Oh no my friend!” Renfeld says. “We are not yet far enough from the Doctor’s castle. It could be disastrous! Besides, she is the center of all this attention! We could never get to her!
“But she is beautiful and full of life, isn’t she? It would really be shameful to kill her today and take her away from all of them! What kind of a monster would do that, right?”
“Dracula told you to stop at nothing to get me the head that I want.” Frankenstein reminds him. “I want her. Her face, her head, her brain. This is the girl. You yourself know that she is the one.”
“Something about her face does hang in the mind,” Renfeld admits. “She almost seems familiar. They’ve got it all mixed up, haven’t they?”
“They think that’s his wife, but she’s The Bride of Frankenstein now.”
With great laughter, the groom carries his bride over the threshold of their honeymoon suite and walks into the darkness. He flings her, giggling, onto the bed. He turns to close the door and she lights a candle.
As the glow comes up from the flame, Frankenstein and Renfeld are revealed. The bride is shocked and terrified.
Renfeld is upon her. The groom takes a step back, but Frankenstein reaches out and crushes his throat in one powerful hand. Blood shoots from his ears and eyes and nose. His tongue juts out of his mouth and is bitten clean off as his jaw contracts violently.
Frankenstein drops the dead body to the floor. The bride tries to scream, but Renfeld is at her too quickly. His hand clamps down over her mouth and Frankenstein helps hold her. Renfeld brings out a saw.
“NO!” Frankenstein exclaims. “We’ll do that at the castle! It will be fresher! We’ll take her there, talk to her and see what kind of brain she has! Renfeld, No!”
But nevertheless Frankenstein holds her down while Renfeld gruesomely saws off her head, panting and gasping as blood sprays the ceiling and the room in fountains and jets.
“We’ll never get her out of here alive Frankenstein. These bodies won’t be discovered for a while yet, but we will be suspected. We must take only what we need. If constables caught us on the road with an abducted bride? No! We take only what we must.” Renfeld reasons. “We go to the castle tonight! We are not too far. She will remain fresh.”
His grisly work done, Renfeld holds the head up by the hair and looks it over before tossing it into a sack. Blood gushes from her neck and soaks the wedding bed.
“Don’t be sad my friend.” Renfeld says. “Dracula will make her beautiful again and she will be your bride. All goes according to the Doctor’s plan. Hurry, we must leave without a trace. It could prove ruinous if they are able to track us. Come on.”
Frankenstein looks back into the room at the limp, lifeless groom and the headless, mutilated bride. Renfeld doffs his cap as he locks the door behind them.
“Happy honeymoon!” he says.
Later, Dracula stares down at the wet lump on the operating table and shakes his head disapprovingly.
“I don’t see it,” he says. “But listen fellows it’s a severed head. I’m sure when we get it cleaned up and transplanted it will be just what we want. If Frankenstein enjoys her I will be pleased. We can always change it later if we decide we can’t stand it. On the bright side it appears to be exactly in proportion with everything else, which is a lucky stroke having not taken the proper measurements before removing it. I’m hoping that the one direction you took pains to follow was to make sure she was killed quietly?”
“Yes Doctor,” Renfeld lies. “She died peacefully. It was beautiful.”
Frankenstein stares down at his feet.
“Well let’s strike while the forge is red hot!” Dracula exclaims with great enthusiasm.
They all scrub up and sterilize. Once in full surgical gear they move into the operating room and transplant the new head onto the female specimen.
“A perfect fit!” Dracula says gleefully. “She’ll clean up nice! She is your perfect bride, Frankenstein! Your counterpart. Today you are a lucky man. Tomorrow we bring life to her and a lucky man becomes a God! Your destiny is at hand. Seize it!”
‘I’m quite unworthy to touch her,’ Frankenstein thinks. ‘Though it was my very own hands that sewed her together, I can hardly look upon her. Frankenstein’s Bride. The Monster Frankenstein. She deserves so much better. Surely she’ll come to life and fall in love with Dracula himself! It’s bound to happen… It’s always just the way he wants it, isn’t it? His Maidens, his servant who does everything for him. He has it all set up. King of Monsters. Living off the blood of children. High on innocent blood…’
He turns his eyes away from her.
‘Perhaps a new body could be constructed for me next,’ his mind races. ‘Dracula is so impressed with himself he just may assist me. No, he would never help, and there would be no one to perform the brain transplant. Not only would Renfeld be of absolutely no assistance, I would have to kill him before I could even attempt to build myself a new body in secret.’
“You’re a million miles away Frankenstein!” Dracula chides. “Are you losing perspective now? Are you burned down?”
“No,” the monster tells him. “I am humbled and awed by the overwhelming beauty of our creation. You were right to make me and you were correct in making me build her. Thank you Dracula.”
“I brought life to dead flesh,” Dracula says, taken aback. “Our work has brought hope back to my undead heart. I truly believe, Frankenstein, that there are no barriers that might not fall before us. We might rule this world someday! I told you that you would thank me but it was my ego run amok. It takes a real man to say what you’ve said, and I’m proud to say I created that man. Renfeld, play some music! Bring Frankenstein a bottle and a newborn for me! A pregnant woman if you must! For tonight is the most special occasion yet! The very eve of our own ‘Eve’!”
Frankenstein can hardly stand to celebrate. He thinks only of the pretty, dancing bride.
The following night the gory crew assembles to animate the Bride. The lab is gleaming, and Dracula, Frankenstein and Renfeld are bedecked in their finest surgical garb.
“Tonight,” the vampire begins, “Her eyes will open on us for the first time. Her creators. Her mate. This is the moment we have built for!”
Electrodes are connected to the corpse and life-giving energy is surged through her.
“Softly,” Frankenstein orders. “Easy,” he shouts.
Dracula places a stethoscope to her breast.
“The heart beats! It’s faint,” he says.
They hook her up immediately to life-support mechanisms.
“She lives,” Dracula says, “But she is comatose.”
“Small steps,” Frankenstein advises. “She must be eased into life. There’s far less shock this way.”
“Perfect!” Dracula smiles. “It is correct. She lives. Soon she will rise, but first she must rest. She will be brought about slowly. You know, it’s less exciting, but you’re right. It’s not quite as dynamic but much better for her down the road. So be it!”
As Renfeld leans in to check her vitals, the Bride tenses reflexively and grabs his face in her hand. Shocked, he begins to scream and struggle to get free. Before anyone realizes what’s happening, she squishes Renfeld’s head and his brains and blood explode all over the operating room.
Frankenstein and Dracula rush forward to save him but he is gone. She looks at the two of them and screams. She screams! Frankenstein holds her and Dracula injects her with a sedative that knocks her back out.
“She’s feisty!” Dracula says. He slips in Renfeld’s brains and falls on his ass.
‘I looked into her eyes,’ Frankenstein thinks. ‘She saw me. And she hated me…’
“She already hates me,”
The tavern is lit by candlelight. There are no patrons, and those grim figures assembled are here to discuss a wicked and sinful business indeed.
“This meeting of village elders is hereby called to order,” intones the Constable. “I’m sorry to have risen you all at this hour, but what we tend to here tonight must be kept a secret between us for now.”
“A secret,” the Innkeeper scoffs. “This is no secret! My business is at a standstill.”
The Constable barrels on:
“The mother of the murdered bride and the family of the groom have risen an incredible stir. We’ve been able to keep discussions of the disappearances to a minimum, but this massacre is sensational news. Everyone for three counties over has heard of this, and of the bounty!”
“Bounty hunters,” says one of the grim village elders, “I hate them.”
“They may bring business back to my rooms,” the Innkeeper shouts. “They’re welcome! If they kill our menace, that’s great. Even if they don’t, they’ll bring money for food, rooms and drink. Send them in. Bounty hunters!”
“Vampire hunters,” hisses the Constable.
Everyone gasps and crosses themselves except the Constable.
“Well, I’ve said it,” he tells them. “You’ve heard and spread the rumors. You know what’s been spoken of, the signs are confusing, but they’re all there. That’s what the people think hunts their children at night. That kind of talk will bring vampire hunters. Bounty hunters seeking ransom for a madman on the loose will be the least concern of ours. These vampire killers will bring a stain upon the community. Evil follows them, nothing good will come of them.”
“What if it is a vampire? Don’t we want someone to kill it?” asks another elder.
“Have you ever heard of them killing a vampire?” the Mayor chimes in. “They damage property and destroy communities. They’re bad luck. I’m with the constable. We don’t need that kind of thing.”
“It’s a perfect machine,” the barkeep advises. “A murderous, thirsty machine. An abomination against God and nature. All it does is hunt and feed and spread its curse. We’ll never be rid of it now.”
“Let’s not get carried away,” warns the Constable. “We can still manage this ourselves.”
A solitary, dark figure steps from the shadows near the doorway.
“You know you can’t.” He says. “You all know me… You know how Van Helsing earns his living… Now I can catch this bat for you, but it ain’t gonna be easy. This is a real monster. Not like hassling drunks at the tavern or trying to bring justice to the whorehouse. This vampire… He’ll swallow you whole. He’d tear out your throat with his fangs, drink every drop of your blood, and damn your soul to hell in the process. Now we gotta do this quick. The more blood he drinks, especially the blood of innocent children, the stronger he’ll get until there’ll be no stopping him… But it’s not going to be pleasant.
“I value my neck a lot more than these families’ rewards and bounties, Constable. I’ll find him for that, but I’ll catch him, and kill him, for ten thousand… Now you gotta make up your minds… You wanna ante up, or do you want to play it cheap… And feed your children to this thing? Ten thousand. For that you get the head, the stake through the heart… The whole damned thing.”
“Thank you very much,” the Constable says. “Mister Van Helsing. We’ll uh, take it under advisement.”
Out in the night, a girl screams. Every face in the room goes ashen except Van Helsing. Everyone crosses themselves but the Constable and the vampire killer.
In the darkness of night under a pale full moon Dracula seems much like an animal now, savage in a way he was not before. No longer smooth and controlled, he clutches a girl to him in the countryside and drinks her blood. He is panting and gasping and sucking like a madman and nearly chews her head off. Blood sprays everywhere. He lowers her to the ground, still slurping. Soon he rises and wipes his mouth.
He stares up at the moon and closes his eyes.
Through the eyes of a rat he sees a floor’s-eye view of the dining room back at the castle. Frankenstein is setting the table and lighting candles.
In the dining room, Frankenstein pulls out a chair and leads her in and sits her down in front of an exquisite meal. Her face is blank, staring and vacant. The Bride does not seem to be enjoying her new life at all. She is dressed in a fine gown and her wrists are bandaged. Frankenstein seats himself opposite and begins to chat with her while he eats.
“I had a terrible time of it myself,” he explains. “I could hardly fathom it at first, but here I am. A new man. I’ve put the past behind me and I look forward to a full and exciting future, and you should, also. I know you don’t care much for me now, but as long as there’s a mutual respect, that kind of thing can grow. I’m realistic. I can accept that. You know, what is love, anyway? It’s a mutual respect, a devotion… It’s a caring, from one person to another… And if we could set up some kind of foundation, based on that mutual respect, I feel that eventually you would care enough about me that I could live with that.”
She gazes at the silverware, picks up her knife with long, lovely fingers, and jabs it into her neck, twisting the blade. Blood runs out of her mouth and sprays from her severed jugular. Frankenstein watches, aghast, as she sinks to her knees, bleeding to death with a dark stain spreading around her.
The Maidens of Dracula appear from nowhere to kneel and lick the blood from the floor, disgusted. Finally though the Bride convulses, begins to gasp, and then lays still. The Maidens continue to lap from the ground, careful not to touch their master’s female creation. Frankenstein returns to his own meal. He eats in a frustrated silence.
Back through the rat’s eyes we return to Dracula, who gazes up at the moon and laughs long into the night.
Later, Frankenstein stands impatiently before Dracula in his study. The vampire sits at his desk looking sick and hungry and thin. Where once he was suave, now he is greasy.
His suit is a mess and his hair is mussed. He’s dirty. The study, also, is looking unkempt.
“Behold, the wretch — the miserable monster whom I have created! Thank you for stopping in,” Dracula says weakly.
“I heard whispers that you wanted to see me.” Frankenstein says. “I’m very busy now. Perhaps some other time?”
“Don’t blow me off, Frankenstein.” Dracula is angry. “I need to talk to you. It’s very important. Until now I’ve left you alone to our experiments and tried not to bother you in your quest to repair the female.
“For a while it was thrilling to be back in the night… But Renfeld’s death has left me in the lurch, I’m afraid. Without him to procure innocent blood for me I am nearly starving to death.
“Frankenstein I’m old, and I can’t get out there and hunt like I used to. And besides, Renfeld was not the first. I’ve had many procurers for a number of years. Most of them very effective. I’ve only hunted for sport really, for much longer than many lifetimes. I don’t like the desperation of it all.
“So far I have been able to find what I must have, but it’s getting very difficult. My hunger has roused the suspicions of the villagers, who now hunt for me in the night like I seek their children. I’m getting too old for this!
“Normally I would not bother you for something like this, but I know we’re good friends now and we can be open with each other. I have a great respect for you Frankenstein, and I would not come to you this way if I was not perilously close to having to drink regular blood.
“I must ask you to procure for me. Just for a little while, until I can get strong and find someone else.”
“I can’t believe this!” Frankenstein says, amazed. “You can’t be serious! I’d no sooner feed you children than I would eat them myself! You’re crazy!”
“You SHIT!” Dracula slams his fist down. “I gave you life!”
“You took my life!” Frankenstein argues.
“I accelerated your work by decades!” the vampire says.
Dracula grows enraged.
“You cocksucker I made you live and I can make you die!” he says. “You should think twice before fucking with me or you could find yourself on my bad side.
“Now I haven’t gotten really hungry yet, but if I do you are going to have bigger things on your mind than working the damned bugs out of your malfunctioning Bride.”
“When Renfeld was killed it was a blow for us all here at the castle.” Frankenstein reminds him. “He did much more than just collect children for you. He brought food for me, also. I have to feed myself, and you will too.
“We all have to take care of ourselves. And don’t lay all this on her! He was the last thing she saw as she was killed! When she woke, she was still trying to defend herself. It’s his fault, really. Not hers. She’ll be much calmer now.
“I’ve thrown out the old brain after this latest suicide and I’ll be starting from scratch in the cranium soon. And I won’t have Renfeld to bring it to me, either. I’ll have to go out and get it myself, so you see we all suffer, Dracula. But I will be ready to reanimate her by week’s end nonetheless. Will you be attending?”
“To Hell with that!” Dracula yells. “Forget about that useless sack of shit! That’s not a priority. We can no longer afford to waste my resources on that nonsense! If you won’t procure for me, then I must insist you redirect all your research in the direction of isolating what causes my hunger and rid me of it. I must feed or be cured of this bloodlust. It can be so degrading. You don’t know me! You don’t know where I’ve been!”
“Why not your maidens?” Frankenstein suggests. “They can go out.”
“And get them hooked on innocent blood?” Dracula scoffs. “I don’t need the competition. They take care of themselves. They stay out of my way. I forget about them. They’re not important. Will you work to cure my bloodlust?”
“I will,” the monster promises. “But my experiments with the female will continue. I can do both. You’ll have to trust me. Without her, I could become very unwilling to do much of anything else.”
“You might become very interested my friend,” the vampire warns. “This might become very important to you.”
It’s night and the laboratory is empty. From nowhere the Maidens of Dracula appear and glide around the place, picking things up and inspecting them, turning things upside down. Maria finds a chalkboard filled with mathematical formulae and with her finger she erases a plus sign and redraws it as a minus.
Agnes smells the air. They all do, and pretty soon they’ve found some blood, which they pass around between each other and share. They giggle and carouse, all the time seeming so ghostly. Suddenly the lab door opens and they vanish. Not a trace remains, except of their mischief.
Frankenstein enters and broods. He sits for a long time in silence, and then he speaks to the empty room:
“Your Lord Dracula is very displeased,” he says. “He hungers for innocent blood and his female creation is incorrect. Her flesh will not last much longer without life, and she can’t live without a brain. He hungers and cannot do the surgery himself or it would be done, of course.
“If she doesn’t live soon, all will be lost. If Dracula begins anew on her, he will be very unhappy and very busy for a long, long time. The work will go slowly because Renfeld is dead, and he was a great help. I could put a new brain in her tonight, but I haven’t one. If I did, half of Dracula’s problem would be solved in an instant. Even better if she were a woman who could adapt well to unnatural circumstances.”
He sits a long time with his head in his hands, peeking through his fingers for any sign of them.
Alone in his study, Dracula pours thick, lumpy, regular blood from a bottle into a glass and stares disgustedly at it.
“When was the last time it got this bad?” he wonders aloud. “At times like this I wish I’d never even tasted innocent blood. That way I could choke this garbage down. Next to innocent blood, everything else is dishwater.”
He takes a long drink and vomits. He pours himself another chunky glass and takes a drink and tries to hold it down, he is miserable. He is so sick the room begins to spin.
In the laboratory, Frankenstein disconnects the electrodes from the Bride’s body and checks her heartbeat.
Maria sweeps in from the shadows and lays a head on the operating table while Frankenstein’s back is turned, then dissolves away again into nowhere. Frankenstein turns and picks it up by its long hair.
“You honor your lord,” he tells the shadows.
He begins preparations for the transplant.
Outside the castle, the Constable and Van Helsing search for an entrance.
“The ladies went this way,” Van Helsing says. “We gotta get inside somehow. They were sloppy this time. Now we have them! I told you the villagers’ suspicions about this castle were right.”
“You madman!” the Constable whispers. “This is trespassing. We’ll come back in daylight and raid the place. Van Helsing, I’m the law around here, now do what I say!”
Van Helsing continues to seek entry into the castle.
Dracula lurches into the lab holding his stomach just as Frankenstein finishes hooking the Bride to the life support machines.
“What’s this?” he wonders.
“She’s back.” Frankenstein tells him.
“Already you’ve put so much effort into this while I’m starving to death?” the vampire snarls. “You said you’d work to cure my bloodlust but every ounce of energy you have goes to this meat!”
In a rage, Dracula knocks loose the Bride’s life support and smashes the machinery.
“Get to work!” he yells. “GET TO WORK! I gave you life! You’ve got to help me Frankenstein! I must have innocent blood! I’m dying!”
He clutches at Frankenstein, who watches the Bride convulse on the table. Dracula shakes him. Frankenstein pushes him away hard and the vampire falls back sprawling.
“Get off me you damned, dirty bloodsucker,” Frankenstein growls. “I can’t help you, and I don’t want to! You’ve killed her! Why? Why ruin my life because you’re miserable? I hate you! All you’ve brought me is ruin! I wish you would die!”
Just then, Van Helsing and the Constable barge in.
“What the shit is this?” Van Helsing demands.
Dracula and Frankenstein are startled to see the intruders and stop arguing.
“BLOOD!” Dracula shouts.
He lunges forward and tears the Constable’s head off, sucking at the stump, trying to feed.
Van Helsing pulls out a crucifix and starts pummeling Dracula, who is lost in a frenzied delirium. Van Helsing realizes the crucifix has no effect, and tosses it aside. He pulls a wooden stake and a hammer from his bag.
“Die, you son of a bitch!” the vampire hunter hollers.
He raises the stake to Dracula’s back and prepares to drive it into the vampire’s heart. Frankenstein steps forward to save him, but then thinks twice. He decides to watch instead.
“STOP!” shouts the Bride.
She has not died, as was presumed. Reaching out, she snatches Van Helsing’s wrist. He loses his grasp on the stake as she rips his entire arm off and then drops it, shocked by her own strength.
He strikes out at her ridiculously with the hammer in his remaining hand, but it’s useless. His stump sprays a geyser of blood and he’s clearly in shock. Dracula has been oblivious to this point, but all this fresh red blood gets him excited and he devours Van Helsing in a fury.
“Choke on it,” Van Helsing says, dying. “Choke on it you fiend!”
Dracula snarls and bites his face off. The Bride gasps and covers her eyes with her hands in fright. She’s splashed with blood. Frankenstein gazes on, stunned.
The Maidens of Dracula hiss from the shadows as Dracula slurps and the Bride sobs, terrified. Van Helsing’s dead hand finally releases the hammer, which falls to the floor with a wet thud.
A shining tea tray has been set out. The sitting room of the castle is beautiful and gleams. Everything is in perfect order. The Bride is decked out in a lovely dress, and her hair and makeup are very nicely done. She has a drink with some village ladies.
“Well, I can assure you that while rather imposing from the outside,” the Bride tells them, “the castle is quite cozy inside. No, nothing haunts us, and no strange goings on have happened since long before we’ve come here. This castle has been in our family’s possession for centuries. Only recently did my husband and I decide to move in and renovate a bit. We had no idea that the place was considered haunted!”
“You have no servants?” a village woman inquires.
“We’re between servants,” The Bride explains. “Mister Renfeld has taken ill and excused himself to seek a warmer climate. Until we find someone else, we’ll have to make do.
“It’s troubling, these disappearances. We worried it may have been Mister Renfeld, but as the children continue to disappear it would seem we were unnecessarily suspicious of him. Really, I hate to admit it, but in these days you can never tell exactly who you’re dealing with.”
After the villagers have departed, the Bride looks very upset. She storms into Dracula’s study and takes the wedding ring off her finger, throwing it at Frankenstein, who puts it in his pocket.
“That’s enough of that,” she says. “Where do you think Renfeld got it? Damned lucky stroke, anyway. What’s got you so upset? We’re in the clear now, I’d suspect. A woman’s touch is all it takes. Why not have a drink? It’ll settle your nerves. How is Dracula?”
“I don’t want a drink.” Frankenstein says. “Dracula has fallen on hard times. He is consumed with the hunt now. You should have known him before. He was once a great scientist.
“You were his vision. His greatest success. It was I who built you, but it was Dracula that dreamed you. Maybe it would have been better for him had those vampire hunters done him in.”
“How can you say it?” she cries. “He’s our creator! Sometimes you sound like you have great respect for him, but then other times you insult him behind his back. What’s wrong with you?”
“I respect Dracula’s intellect,” Frankenstein admits. “His condition though, is repulsive. His bloodlust disgusts me.”
“Then take it from him,” The Bride suggests. “Cure it. Lift his curse so he might return to work. You two could do wonders! You already have. Help him, Frankenstein. You’re his only hope.”
“He’s too unpredictable,” Frankenstein warns. “You don’t know Dracula. He’s not like this when he’s strong. I think it’s best he be kept weak and that his mind stay focused on hunting and avoiding capture. He has his hands full, and that’s good.”
“He can hear you!” she hisses.
Frankenstein looks deeply into her.
Dracula rests in the darkness of his chamber. The Bride opens the door. She strides in and sits down on the floor.
“Yes, my sweet.”
“I know you’re hungry,” she acknowledges. “I know that hunger has made you a different man and I want to know the man that was. I want to help you. You gave me life. I can’t allow you to lose yours, or for you to live any longer in misery. I will serve you, but Frankenstein must never know.”
“He will not, my lovely creation,” the vampire coos. “He never will. Now bring me a child, dear. Please. Bring me children.”
Frankenstein labors alone in the laboratory over his secret new project: a perfect male body for himself, and it is almost finished. It is even more seamless than the Bride, if that’s possible.
“My new body is nearly complete,” he ponders. “Soon I will give Dracula the ultimatum. He can transplant my brain into this new form in exchange for my help in curing his sickness, or I’ll leave and I will try and take her with me…”
Back in his chamber, Dracula feeds. Slurping and gobbling up children and babies which the Bride has stolen for him.
“Thank you!” the vampire says, high on innocent blood. “So delicious! I love you! Thank you so much! I needed this more than you could ever know! I treasure you above all others. I’m so very glad I created you!”
“I love you also, Doctor,” the Bride says, watching him eat with real devotion in her eyes. “I love you too.”
In the shadows, the Maidens of Dracula weep.
“This body is excellent,” Frankenstein proclaims, at work in the lab. “Surely she will love it. She’ll be so surprised! She’ll adore me in this!”
Suddenly a whisper is heard in the silence of the laboratory.
“Frankenstein!” the Maidens call.
Frankenstein is startled and looks up from his new creation.
“Huh?” he grunts, confused, trying to hide his new body under a sheet.
“Your Bride lays down with our Lord,” they hiss. “Kill her!”
There is silence again. At first Frankenstein goes back to work, but then he throws his tools across the lab and storms out in a furious rage.
He stalks through the castle toward Dracula’s chamber. As he arrives there, the Bride is just coming out. Her hair is mussed, her clothes are crooked and there is blood on her where the vampire’s hands were.
“Are you feeding him?” Frankenstein shouts, sick with disgust. “Are you insane?”
“Not now,” the Bride tells him, walking away in a hurry.
Frankenstein follows her into the sitting room.
“How could you do this?” he says. “You’ve no idea what he’s capable of. You idiot! You dolt! Dracula is dangerous!”
“Dracula is my pet,” she snarls. “He lives because I allow it, and to amuse me. I feed him and coddle him, and if I choose to, I will put him to sleep. He knows who his master is. Whatever he was before, he isn’t anymore. Leave me alone! Dracula is your master and I am the master of Dracula. Don’t question me.”
“Can’t you realize?” Frankenstein says hopelessly. “I’ve told you… Innocent blood will give him tremendous strength! You can’t control him. He’s manipulating you. Listen to me! I love you! He’s using you, and when he’s done he’ll throw you away.”
The Bride rushes out angrily. Frankenstein is left alone in her sitting room, helpless.
In the dining room at night, Dracula, Frankenstein and the Bride are all seated at the dinner table in silence, and it’s very awkward. Dracula drinks the finest of infant blood from a wine glass. He is again very fit and healthy and strong. His cool and smoothness has returned. He gazes longingly into the glass, holding it up to the light.
“Forget about it Frankenstein,” he says. “We’ll work on the bloodlust problem at a later date. Why would I even consider quitting? It truly tastes so good, and our lovely female companion is the best procurer I can remember. She keeps my body strong and my hunger at bay so that I can tend to other things.
“I am ready, Frankenstein, to return to the laboratory and to my research. I know you have your own experiments, but these resources must go to my ends. I promise that the work will be stimulating if you help me.”
“And I will work harder to please you,” The Bride tells Frankenstein. “If you help him. You must help him, Viktor.”
“We’ll just have fun,” Dracula suggests. “Do experiments. It will be a return to our salad days. What do you think?”
Later, in daytime, inside the laboratory, Frankenstein rolls his new body, perfect and complete, into the meat cooler. He prepares things for Dracula’s return.
Much later, Dracula fills a syringe with what seems to be air from an empty bottle. He turns to Frankenstein.
The Egyptian mummy is laid out on the table, wiggling. Dracula injects the mummy and lays the needle to the side.
“This serum we’ve come up with is incredible!” Dracula marvels. “Imagine the possibilities if only we could find an antidote to its effects!”
He begins to unwrap the mummy, unraveling the bandages to reveal: Nothing!
There’s nothing but blank, empty space under the wraps!
“Invisibility!” Frankenstein marvels.
“The barriers fall before us,” Dracula notes. “As I predicted.”
Almost in montage, Frankenstein and Dracula’s experiments continue, and with the Bride to bring them flesh and blood they have plenty of work to do. They regain a bond they lost during their darkest days and finally Frankenstein works up his nerve. They labor over a cadaver, dissecting it.
“The body is a wondrous creation.” Dracula says. “I love to manipulate flesh. I suppose all surgeons do.”
“We know so much more now than we did even when we made her.” Frankenstein agrees. “We are masters of giving life to lifelessness.
“I’m afraid this body I wear pales in comparison to what we could accomplish now… Would you consider, if I were to prepare myself a new body, would you possibly perform the transplant of my brain into it?”
“You insult my work,” Dracula scoffs. “Besides, how many transplants can one brain handle? You’d be fried. Leave well enough alone Frankenstein. You’re healthy. I didn’t take consideration for handsomeness, but you’re fine, my friend. You have all you need.”
“I already have the body,” Frankenstein admits. “It’s perfect and complete save for life, and my brain. On ice.”
He opens the meat locker and shows it to Dracula.
“I won’t do it.” Dracula denies him.
“I’m begging you to consider it,” Frankenstein pleads. “I’ll be much happier in this body. We’re friends. Don’t you want me to be happy? I’ve done the majority of the work. All that’s left is the transplant. We could do it now! Think about it Dracula.”
“You’d be killed,” the vampire tells him. “This is ridiculous. Don’t be an idiot. This discussion is finished.”
He walks away. Frankenstein is crestfallen.
Later, in Dracula’s chamber at night, the Bride is feeding the vampire.
“He’s built a handsome new body,” Dracula tells her. “To surprise you. He wants me to transplant his brain into it! He’s gone completely mad.”
“If it will make Viktor happy then what would it hurt to give him this?” she asks.
“I know what you want!” Dracula accuses. “Don’t worry about that. You’ll become busy with him and you’ll have no time for your work, and your work is very important.”
“That’s ridiculous,” the Bride tells him. “I just see no reason to keep him miserable. When he said I shouldn’t feed you, I stood up for you in much the same way. I didn’t ignore your pain and I can’t ignore his either. Give him this, Doctor. You’re stubborn.”
“Give him what he wants, Dracula, or you could get very thirsty. I might decide to take a vacation,” she suggests.
Dracula lunges at her, close enough for her to gaze into his dead, black eyes.
“If I bite this sweet neck of yours,” he says, “The hunt for innocent blood will consume you as it does me. If I get too hungry, I may decide to motivate you greatly in your work. You provide a service for me now. Play around with me and become enslaved to a hunger much deeper than you can possibly imagine. Before, I reasoned with you, but you have proven yourself unworthy of my condescension. Remember that I have powers to make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. I am your creator; I am your master, obey!”
He releases her and she runs away terrified. The Maidens laugh at her from the darkness as she exits, sobbing.
Frankenstein works alone in the laboratory. The Bride rushes in, clearly upset. He holds her close to him as she weeps.
“You were right Viktor,” she cries. “He’s insane. I wish I had just let him die. He’s an incredible danger to us now. We must kill him. You’ve got to help me kill him. It’s our only hope for happiness. I can’t live here under the threat of him. If you don’t help me I’ll do it myself!”
“You’re flying off the handle!” Frankenstein tells her. “I said we should leave him to his own devices. Not kill him. I wouldn’t even know how to kill a vampire! It’s absurd. You’ve just got to get some rest.”
“You’re a coward,” she says flatly. “All you care about are your experiments. He’s too dangerous! Soon the sun will rise and he’ll be in his casket. I have Van Helsing’s tools and I’m going to use them. This morning.”
“Please!” Frankenstein begs her. “I need him to help me with something. Listen, I have such strong emotions for you. Don’t put me in an awkward position. I’ve constructed a better body for myself. Just give me long enough to get transplanted into it. By then you’ll have settled down some and we’ll all be okay again.”
“That’s over,” she says. “He dies this day. No negotiations. You can forget that new body. Dracula would never let you have it. He’ll never perform your transplant. He’s not your friend. You’ll see. Stay out of my way Viktor.”
“Surely he’s heard you,” Frankenstein warns. “Surely they’ve heard you.”
“I’ll kill them all if I must,” she shouts. “Where can he hide from me? How could he defend himself? He isn’t listening! He’s gorged with innocent blood that I’ve provided. Drunk with it. And them? He never listens to a word they whisper. It’s all over for him.”
“Listen, please,” he says, earnestly. “You have to trust me. He always wins. You won’t beat him. He’ll come out on top. There isn’t much that could happen to you that I couldn’t bring you back from, but if you attack Dracula and he kills you, then it’s over. There’s no coming back from that.
“He may decide to be done with this whole mess and destroy me also. You must imagine the scope of this. He had a life before us and he’ll have a long one after. We’re amusements for him.
“Time has no meaning for Dracula at all. It’s not the same to him. You haven’t seen enough yet to be making decisions like this. I’m not being a coward. I’ve seen him do things you haven’t. You can’t kill him, but he can give me my transplant and we can leave this place. I’ll cure his bloodlust! I know I can…”
“Viktor,” she says, “You’re a fool. He has you in sway. You’re hypnotized by him. Snap out of it! He’s a beast. He’s made you a freak, like his fish man or his man-wolf. He’s put you in that collection and you don’t even realize it! Your cage is this lab! You’re right, we’re amusements for Dracula. Well this morning I’m going to amuse the hell out of him!”
She looks at him fiercely, and opens her mouth to say more, but he puts his lips on hers and his rough, scarred hands begin to move down her body, gently exploring the smooth skin he once had given to her, and she forgets everything except what is happening to them.
Later, at the piano in the sitting room, Frankenstein is very depressed. Nervous, he begins plucking at the yellowed keys, and soon he is playing beautiful music that echoes all throughout the castle. Blood drips gently on the ivories from his loose finger stitching.
At sunrise, The Bride bursts into Dracula’s coffin room and tears the curtains off the windows, letting in blinding light. She clutches the wooden stake and the hammer.
“Wake up and show me how frightful you are,” she shouts. “I’m here to cure your bloodlust by ending your miserable, starving life you foul pig, now get up!”
She flings back the lid of Dracula’s coffin and raises the stake to its target. Before the vampire can react she’s stabbed him through the heart.
“STOP!” Frankenstein shouts, as he rushes into the room.
“Let me finish it!” The Bride yells at him.
Dracula hisses, and his skin begins to shrivel up. His body turns to dust and blows away in a wind from out of nowhere.
“No!” Frankenstein cries in desperation. “What did you do? What have you done?”
Frankenstein flings her back and she falls into the shadows. Dracula’s Maidens appear and catch her. They claw and scratch and rip her to shreds. The Bride screams as they tear her apart.
Once destroyed, they advance toward Frankenstein but stop short of the light and then vanish. Frankenstein is covered in the Bride’s blood. Her dismembered corpse lies wet at his feet. He sinks to his knees and holds what’s left of her in his arms, sobbing very deeply. Dracula’s dust swirls around in what’s left of the wind. All hope is lost now. Everything is ruined.
Flesh & Blood vol. I, II, & III contents ©2007, 2013 Brian Jackson
Categorised in: Horror Books
This post was written by Nadia Vella