“What was that?” whispered Harriet.
We heard it again before I could answer. A deep, retching sort of growl. The sound made by an angry jungle animal as it’s awakening. Or hungry.
We looked at each other. Then heard movement scratching against the stone floor above us. Something moving toward the stairs. Down the stairs. We inched back into the shadows, too frightened to run, to cry out. Shivering—now with fear as well as cold.
The form moved about halfway down the stairs. Stopped as a bright shaft of sun sliced through the window and illuminated the stairway.
Harriet and I, recognizing the form, were far too shocked to scream. It was Blue Boyle. Or something like Blue Boyle. This version of him had to be seven or eight feet tall, with a massive upper body.[i] Over his face, long stringy black hair fell like seaweed.
I heard Harriet’s sharp intake of breath—as if she were going to speak. I stepped behind her, covered her mouth with my hand, made a sssshhhing sound in her ear. The creature whirled our way. His eyes gleamed yellow. His upper lip seemed permanently lifted in some sort of sneer. His teeth were green.
He turned his head and snarled up the stairs, making some sounds that seemed a blend of creature and human. But I somehow understood it as clearly as if I’d said the words myself: Someone is here!
I heard more movement upstairs, another set of feet moving toward this. I had no doubt who this would be, and when Dr. Eastbrook stepped into the light beside the Blue Boyle creature, Harriet could no longer restrain herself. She shrieked with a sound I was certain would topple the stones of the tower.
Upstairs, my wrists tightly bound, I looked around the laboratory that Dr. Eastbrook had created there in the renovated tower of the old Green Island lighthouse. It was greenhouse hot. All around we saw equipment you would expect to see in a laboratory—beakers and Bunsen burners and refrigerated storage and tables and microscopes and other devices I wasn’t sure I recognized. Many of these things, of course, I had back at home in my own basement.
But there were also things I would never have at home. Bodies of dead animals—all sorts of them. Pieces of them, too, distributed about on the various tables. And some of those pieces, I was positive, had once been attached to living human beings. I felt acid rising from my stomach, filling my mouth.
“I don’t understand it,” Dr. Eastbrook was saying. “Twice now you children have stumbled into my world, caused me to abandon months of careful work.”
His look communicated a mixture of wonder and anger.
“Daddy—” whimpered Harriet.
“Shut up!” he snarled. “Now I’ve got to think what to do with you two.”
The Blue Boyle creature beside him was emitting a low, humming growl. He hadn’t stopped since he’d easily caught us earlier while we were trying to run away. He’d grabbed us firmly, his fierce grip making movement—and escape—impossible. And now his yellow eyes were fixed on us. He seemed eager to do something. I didn’t want to think what that might be.
“Who knows you’re here?” Dr. Eastbrook snapped.
Harriet started to say “No one” when I interrupted her. “Just about everyone,” I lied. “My dad. Harriet’s mom. A bunch of people on Put-in-Bay.”
“You’re a liar!” he barked. He walked over to me and slapped me across the face—hard. I had never in my life been hit, by anyone, and the sensation was such a shock that I didn’t even cry, even though the pain was intense. It was as if my brain were desperately trying to figure out what had just happened and didn’t know how to tell the rest of me to react.
“Do you think I’m stupid!” he went on. He raised his arm as if to strike again. I just stared at him. He looked at me, surprise in his eyes. “You’re not afraid of being hit?” he asked. I said nothing. He looked at me. “I always thought you were a creepy kid,” he said. I smiled at him, trying to send a silent message: You think I’m creepy?
But he ignored me. Went on talking. “You can’t expect me to believe that your father”—he shifted his look to Harriet—“and your mother would approve of a trip, alone, to Green Island, which, as I’m sure you know is not open to the public.”
“Then what are you doing here?” I asked mildly.
And he hit me again. I tasted salty blood.
“If you open your mouth again,” he said, “I’m going to let Blue do what he does best.” I glanced over at him. His eyes, if anything, gleamed even more fiercely, his eagerness even more ugly—and frightening—to see.
[i] Ed. note: And in Frankenstein, Chapter 4, Victor Frankenstein talks about his plans for the creature he will assemble and bring to life: “I resolved, contrary to my first intention, to make the being of a gigantic stature; that is to say, about eight feet in height, and proportionally large. After having formed this determination, and having spent some months in successfully collecting and arranging my materials, I began.”