Discover the Secret of Frankenstein, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea! What is the secret history of the Frankenstein experiment, and will the world survive its revelation? Thrill to the opening saga of the Crosso-verse, where worlds of fiction collide!

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Below is a preview to the novella

Part One

The actions of my father hovered over me for most of my life. At times they were like dark clouds raining sorrow upon me, while other times those same clouds were white with hope and illumination. In my young life I tried to strike out on my own to make my own name for myself, but in this feat I was not the victor, as my father named me to be.

My early years were happy. As a young boy my father filled my mind with the wonders of science and the mysteries of the world. He was a prideful, if sometimes boastful man. He named me Victor after himself, saying I was his greatest achievement. As I grew older I learned this pride was a mask to hide his occasional insecurity and aloofness. Mother on the surface was a kind, gentle woman, but underneath laid a great strength and iron like sturdiness. From her I learned literature, which I regrettably neglected in my manhood, but as a boy I knew of the great poets like Milton and Shakespeare, and from both parents I was blessed with a happy home. Or as Charles Dickens wrote, my home was a place "in default of a better, those I love are gathered together."

My father was a scientist, respected and admired. As a child I often heard him boast of the wonders of science during this enlightened age. With a great passion he believed that science would bring mankind into a bold new era. "Each day," he boasted, "science marches on to the limits of human knowledge. One day soon, mankind will grow so wise, that we will know what it is to be gods!" Regrettably it was this overconfidence that led to his undoing, and had drastic consequences for me and the rest of my family. As I grew older he was often away with his work. For months he'd toil away in his laboratory, refusing to see any visitors.

With my father absent I began spending more time with my grandfather, my father’s father, as well as Great Aunt Margaret. Grandfather was a retired sea captain. He still had his ship, and during these years he taught me some of the ways of sea life. He held some interest in science as well, which I believe was the spark that sent my father on his boundless quest for knowledge. My grandfather at times felt guilty about my father’s neglect, as if he felt responsible or had erred in some way. Hence he began spending time with me, passing on what he could. He adored my mother. In his youth he had briefly been a poet, and gave my mother many old editions of books from the greats like Homer and Shakespeare. In fact, much to the chagrin of my father, he once gave an original copy of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, by Mary Wollstonecraft.

One of my fondest memories with him and Great Aunt Margaret was sailing near Greenland. We watched the sun set near the top of the world. Amongst us were gargantuan icebergs, the purist white in color. Floating next to them we were like ants staring at a cube of ice. The chilled air was so fresh and pure, as if we were breathing the air of a new world. Our breath visible in cold thick primordial clouds, it was as if we were the first life forms to breathe on this planet. "There," my grandfather said, 'lays the Northwest Passage. Not very long ago the Franklin expedition was lost somewhere in that ice while trying to find a trade route between Asia and the New World." I had heard of the Franklin expedition. The mystery of its fate was the talk of the day. Two ships, the Erebus and the Terror, which were equipped with new powerful steam engines, had vanished. They were commanded by Sir John Franklin. Recently Francis McClintock's expedition returned from its two year journey to find the lost Franklin ships. They did not return with good news. Near King William's island in the Canadian Arctic, skeletal remains of the lost expedition were found.

I mentioned to my grandfather rumors that the lost expedition resorted to cannibalism. It was a fiercely controversial topic. Franklin's widow, Lady Jane Franklin, verbally attacked anyone who made such a suggestion. She even had the support of Charles Dickens, who wrote several pamphlets on the matter. When I asked Grandfather his opinion on the topic, he paused for a moment, staring into the deep ice, as if he'd just remembered some long-forgotten tragedy. "I braved it once." He answered. "I once tried to pass through the arctic."

"Really, what happened?"

"I was just a little older than you. The ice was impossible to get through. Almost didn't survive, my crew was close to mutiny. What we saw was, impossible....... monstrous."

For the first time in my life I felt a sense of purpose swell up in me. For one moment I was the mirror image of my father, fiercely confident and determined. "Each year," I blindly boasted, "better and stronger ships are being built. If you continue to teach me the ways of the sea, one day I can break the Northwest Passage!"

I was expecting to find pride and excitement in Grandfathers eyes, but instead those eyes continued to look toward the north in a cold sense of dread. It was an anticipation of dread, as if he could see some secret evil Pandora’s Box floating in the icy sea before us. “Seek happiness in tranquility.” he muttered. I didn’t understand, but he continued. “A friend, a very good and dear friend once told me, seek happiness in tranquility and avoid ambition.” This seemed something uncharacteristic of my grandfather to say. He went on, “Your father, I tried to teach him many things about science and the world. My departed friends advice is something a father can’t bear to pass on to his son, and I wouldn’t wish to pass it on to you either, but I wish to tell you this. We all have moments where triumph eludes us; do not let this burden you. You still have much life ahead. Never lose your ambition, but know this. Man’s ambition can push him to the greatest heights, but, if too reckless, can sink him into the coldest deepest sea. Remember this on all the journeys of your life.” With that he returned to his cabin, where he remained for the rest of the evening.

I awoke maybe 1:00am that night. There was a noise coming from somewhere on the ship. Was another ship at sea with us? Were we being raided? I opened my cabin door and peered into the blackness outside. My eyes could see nothing, but my ears heard a noise from Grandfathers’ cabin. It was the sound of his voice shouting out in terror! Was he being attacked? I rushed to his cabin, flung the door open, and there he lay before me. On his bed he was twitching, his arms thrashing in the moonlight shining through the window. In his sleep he called out my name, "Victor, Victor, no, no!" I called out to him, shaking his body when he awoke suddenly. He sat up and looked at me with a fear in his eyes. Margaret ran into the room, I asked what he was dreaming about, but he refused to speak. I pressed him for an answer but it was of no use. The nightmare had passed, so I returned to my quarters, but Margaret stayed with him. I heard her quietly whisper "It's ok. It’s ok he can't hurt Victor." Was I in some kind of danger? Was my father? Of such questions, I would get no answer.

My father's recurring absences caused my dear mother much distress which came to a boil one Christmas day. Mother hosted at our home; her family was there, as were my grandfather and great aunt. Uncle William was there as well, wearing a fine red dinner jacket. Seeing my whole family together was always a pleasure. When I was a boy they showered me with gifts, as I was the only child. This day however, a tension simmered in the air as my father was absent. He promised to be home, but warned he might be late.

That evening, just as my relatives were about to leave, my father came stumbling in. He looked exhausted, as if he had not slept in days. Mother was silent with embarrassment. What would her parents think? Everyone was quiet as they continued to quietly creep out.

My father meekly tried to apologize. "I'm terribly sorry everyone, I'm afraid I lost track of time. Thank you for coming. I'm sure you all had a nice time. Brother William, good to see you." William shot a nervous grin. "I'm sure you all had a good meal. Elizabeth is a fine host isn't she?" He glanced at my mother hoping to save face, but she shot him glare so harsh I thought lightning would leap from her eyes. My grandfather also looked on disappointingly. My father's side of the family was small and sometimes felt the lesser compared to my mother’s side. My father crept over to him and softly spoke. "Father, it's good to see you. I'm terribly sorry about being late. But actually I need to talk to you about..."

My grandfather interrupted sternly, "I think you need to talk with your family. Margaret and I are leaving now."

"Oh, you're leaving? Oh yes, I guess it's getting late. Well, we must talk soon. Merry Christmas!" His father and aunt said nothing as they walked out the door.

Once all our guests left, my parents had a horrific fight. "Elizabeth, I'm terribly sorry but I've been working furiously and haven't slept in days."

"It was Christmas Day! Victor, you missed Christmas with your family, with your son!"

"Again I'm terribly sorry Elizabeth, but please know this. Please know that the work that I do, I do it for you and for our son. What I do will bring incredible glory and honor to our family name."

"Our family name! What does your family name look like to my mother when you abandon your wife and child on Christmas Day? Where is your glory then?"
"Good heavens, I did not abandon you! I'm here now!"
"It's evening Victor, everyone was worried about you! Why are we not as important as your foolish laboratory experiments?"
Upon hearing that Father flew into mad fit. "Woman you don't understand! We are on the verge of something remarkable! Something that will change mankind, it will change the whole world forever!"

Mother began sobbing, "What you're doing is going to change this family forever." She turned and walked away, saying "There's some food left, clean the table when you're finished." There were only a few hours left of that Christmas day, and it would be the last one we would all spend together.

About a week later my father did in fact speak with my grandfather. We all went to his and Margaret’s home for dinner to celebrate the New Year. My father had stayed home since Christmas, but his mind was always pre-occupied. Things between him and mother had not mended. In private I asked him what great project he was working on, but, as much as he boasted of its importance, he would say nothing more. Dinner was not much different. There was only superficial conversation, talk of current news, the looming civil war in the Americas, local politics. There'd been various thefts on the docks. My grandfather’s ship and a few other ships were looted. Fortunately no one was hurt, and Grandfather said he lost nothing of value. After dinner mother, Margaret, and I went into the reading room and left my father and grandfather to talk. I strained my ears to try to listen, but heard little. After perhaps 20 minutes alone I heard my father shouting in a manner I'd never heard from him. "You must give them to me, I must see them!" The anger in his voice barely covered a sense of panic and desperation.

"Son, please forget this foolishness. Your family needs you, not some scientific monstrosity."

"Father, you don't understand, I cannot fail. It's too important. I must have this to bring honor to our family name! You must not stand in my way!"

We all knew the tragic truth that day. My father, whom I'd loved with all my heart, had become a blind arrogant man who held dreams of scientific glory above all else. Grandfather sternly warned him, “You are nosing into matters which you can’t possibly understand, let alone fully control! If you go down this path it will unleash monstrosities that will not only consume you, but will consume everyone you love!” But my father would hear nothing of it. We left his home and all Father did was complain that his father was standing in the way of his own greatness. He said he needed to return to his work, and as he left no words were exchanged between the three of us.

The next period of my life was the most tragic. A series of events occurred that shook me to my core. The first tragedy was that my father would never see his father again. Soon after they last spoke my grandfather and great aunt perished in a fire. It was the first time in my young life that I felt the pain of loss; the man who was a second father to me was gone. In his will he left me his ship. On the docks I boarded the empty ship, reminiscing about our voyages together. I sat in his cabin where I remembered him having that terrible nightmare. Below his bunk was a small heavy wooden chest with a large metal lock. Shortly before my grandfather died he delivered a key to me, and I found the key fit this lock. Inside I found a series of logs. These were his ship logs from his days as a sailor. He'd left them to me. His old coat he’d worn at sea lay inside along with other personal effects. There was a small painting of him and Margaret along with me with my parents. Atop the books lay a handwritten note. It read

“To my Grandson;
If you are reading this then I have passed from this earth. Margaret and I are most proud of you. We love you as though you were our own son. I leave you the logs of my voyages. You won't understand this now, but at times I was tempted to leave these at the bottom of the ocean, where many of my friends and companions rest now. In my time I've learned that some things are best left unknown. Yet I leave them to you, as I leave you my complete legacy. May you learn from them, and may they guide your life toward noble things. Weep not much for me, for I've led a full life. It was Shakespeare who said, "Cowards die many times before their deaths. The valiant never taste of death but once." Be brave my beloved grandson, be brave.”

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