Chapter One, Job benefits.

Chapter One, Job benefits.

A Story by Alexander Z. Anthony

Introducing Percival Thorfell, your average mad scientist.


Threateningly, thunder rolled across the darkened countryside, quiet at first, then growing in volume. It rose to a roaring climax before fading off, over the sea and into the distant horizon. Ominous storm clouds suffocated the moon, blocking her light from reaching the pine barren below. A frigid wind blew off the ocean, promising colder days to come as winter lay claim to the land. Waves crashed upon a small, mucky beach that extended for a few yards before becoming a twisted labyrinth of conifers known as Adenwald forest. Amidst the rolling thunder and crashing waves, on a rocky outcropping surrounded by trees, stood an ancient and decrepit castle.

A once solid and imposing wall now lay in ruins around the castle. The moat was dry, except for a few puddles of rainwater that saturated the ground at its bottom. The castle stables had long collapsed into themselves and were now nothing more than a pile of rotting wood. Of four original towers the castle had boasted only one still stood, impossibly tall and narrow and bearing a large crucifix on its roof. A winged silhouette dropped out of flight and perched atop the tower, then hissing, snapped the crucifix from the roof and dropped it to the ground, far below. The creature settled into a sitting position on the tower, holding its hand as if it were burned. Soon it became nothing more than shadow among shadows in the night.

Candlelight emitted from the ground floor windows of the castle, as well as the distinct smell of rotting flesh. Moans and unintelligible words came from inside as dark, shambling shapes walked, limped and lurched about, sometimes passing in front of a window temporarily blocking the light.

Atop the castle a rickety metal pole stood straight up towards the sky, swaying slightly in the wind. An angry bolt of lightning flashed from the sky and struck the pole. The electricity was channeled down through the pole and into the castle. Crazed, maniacal laughter burst forth from deep within the structure.

“It’s alive! It’s alive!…oh, wait…sorry, false alarm.”

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Percival Thorfell was your average mad scientist. Well, maybe not average, but he did meet all the requirements to be a mad scientist. He had a decrepit castle in an area prone to dramatic thunderstorms, a hunch-backed assistant named Igor and a nearby village that was always on the verge of becoming a torch and pitchfork carrying mob. His castle, however, was a tad bit too decrepit according to the government, whose seemingly endless stream of condemnation notices appeared on his doorstep every morning. And, the local village really had been acting too civilized lately. It had been almost a year now since the last mob had come banging on the castle gates, hoping to drive Percival out. Maybe it was because of the vampires who had taken up residency in the master bedroom and north tower, they always tended to scare away the neighbors. Yet, it could also be the horde of zombies who had moved into lower floors. Though slow and unintelligent, the zombies packed a nasty bite if bothered. (Their smell was worse than their bite, however.) Then again, there was always the unknown entity, not living, but residing in the basement. So horrible it was said to be, even the monster under Percival’s bed was afraid to venture down there. Percival himself had yet to encounter the “entity” but his winter wardrobe of lab coats (not dissimilar from his summer wardrobe of lab coats.) was stored down there and he knew that soon, as the days grew colder he would be forced to launch a search party to locate and extract them. Percival’s castle seemed to attract these creatures as if they simply couldn’t exist without a stereotypical frightening and eerie abode. (But hey, no complaints, Percy made good money working as their landlord.)

Percival, or “Doctor Thorfell” as he preferred to be addressed, was up late once again, working on his latest and greatest project. He was attempting to prove that deceased body parts could be harvested and used to create a living, breathing human being. So far he had accumulated all the major parts, although a few fingers, one ear and a right arm were still missing. The local graveyard had been swept clean by Igor, Percy’s hunch-backed assistant, searching for the aforementioned missing parts. The villagers had been in good health of late and Percival had misplaced his order request form from Mad Scientists Supply Co, thus no new parts were forth coming. Doctor Thorfell was attempting to jump start his creation by harnessing the natural and awe-inspiring power of lighting, when a knock sounded at his laboratory door. Percival looked up at the plain, wooden door as lightning flashed dramatically outside the window.

“Yes, yes, come in.” Percival said hurriedly. The door creaked eerily as it opened, much as doors in ancient, decrepit castles are supposed to, and Igor entered, a shovel in hand. The side of the shovel’s head was serrated and covered in blood. He set it down on an unoccupied operating table. A small, mud splattered, sweat stained hat sat atop his head, covering his thin mass of wiry hair. His boots tracked fresh mud across the floor as he hobbled into the room.

“Ah, Igor, did you find those body parts I requested?”

“Yes, master.” Igor nodded, his hunched-back caused him to look slightly down as he spoke, giving the impression he was talking more to your feet than you. “All of the villagers were in good health, so I had to create an “accident.” I expect you will find a new grave marker in the cemetery soon, bearing the name of young Billy Jowlson.”

“Very good, very good. And you left a clear trail back to the castle, so the villagers will know it was us?”

“Of course, master. We may even be so fortunate as to have an angry mob in the near future.” Igor said, smiling. His teeth were horribly rotted. An odor, comparable only to that of a dead muskrat which had been rolled in bat guano and left to ferment in a hot and stuffy morgue for a fortnight poured forth from his mouth. Realizing this, Igor closed his mouth embarrassedly and made a mental note to tone down his weekly road kill


“Well then, I suppose you may retire for the night, Igor.” Doctor Thorfell said most graciously, then went back to fixing some stitches on the corpse in front of him.

“Thank you, master. Igor bowed, then remained standing in the same place, making no move towards the door. Percival looked up from his work,

“I said you may retire for the night.”

“Well, uh, if you have a moment, I wanted to uh, discuss my job benefits with you, master.” Igor now had his hat in his hands and was squeezing it nervously. Percival’s scalpel missed its target on the corpse, and punctured an artery, which began spurting blood into the air. The scientist raised his eyebrows in surprise, not because of the blood. A dirty rag and a tourniquet quickly stopped the rapidly forming mess. Percival wiped his bloody gloves on the front of his lab apron, stepping away from the operating table and closer to the nervous assistant.

“Igor, what job benefits? You mean the satisfaction you receive each night as you lay down to bed, knowing that another day of dark and sinister deeds has been completed, all in the name of science?

“Umm, yes, but-”

“Or the glory that will be yours when I am hailed as that greatest scientist in all the four lands?”

“Yes, and also-”

“What more could you ask for, Igor, my dear assistant?” Igor flinched,

“Well, maybe some sort of Dental Insurance plan,” he smiled revealing his rotted teeth once again, “and, uh, a sick day every now and then.” A long silence followed as Doctor Thorfell stared critically at his assistant. Igor’s hat had now been twisted so much it appeared a misshapen lump of fabric, mud and sweat stains. The silence continued, broken only by the sound of rain drumming on the window and the moans of zombies on the lower floors.

“Igor,” Percival said, drawing out each word with extra emphasis, “ That is the single most absurd thing I have ever, and understand me very clearly now, ever heard in my entire life.” Igor flinched yet again. Percival stared at the hunch-back for another long minute, before breaking into a maniac laughing cackle that sent his chest heaving as if he were having a spasm.

“Dental insurance? Sick days? Oh the madness of it all!” Percival steadied himself with a hand on the operating table in front of him, still bursting with laughter. Igor stepped on a curious spider who scampered by, then twisted his boot, grounding the poor arachnid into the stone floor. Percival wiped a non-existent tear from his eye,

“We have worked together many long years, but I am afraid I must ask you to leave and not come back.”

“Master! Isn’t that a tad bit drastic-” Igor began.

“Leave!” Percival was now red in the face and yelling at the top of his voice.

“Leave! Or I shall use your misshapen, broken body to complete my precious experiment here!” He screamed, waving at the reconstructed corpse in front him. “Leave now you foul breathed, groveling, hunch-backed, no-good, pitiful little man!” Percival threw a bloody glove at Igor, it flopped on the ground at his feet. Igor sighed, put his hat back onto his head and left the room, picking up his shovel as he went. The door creaked closed and Percival was left alone in the room, muddy footprints the only reminder of his ex-hunch-backed assistant. From a distant tower, a vampire screeched and from somewhere far below, a zombie moaned in the dark. Lightning flashed across the land and thunder roared, distant at first, but growing in volume as it neared.


© 2009 Alexander Z. Anthony

Author's Note

Alexander Z. Anthony
Tell me, please, if you think I should continue this, or scrap it?

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Posted 13 Years Ago

I think you have a good start here, and should continue on it. I think Howl was right about the first couple paragraphs...a bit too much description. Not everything needs a specific adjective, you know? Details are good of course, but when constantly used it becomes a chore to read. (Listen to the words of Dr. Seuss on that one.)

I kind of adore smelly little Igor. He works so hard, and then gets fired for wanting a Dental Plan and some sick days... I just wanna hug him! (From a distance of course.) It's also kind of cool that Percival's castle is home to all sorts of mythical, scary creatures.

So a work in progress, but a good one! :]

Posted 14 Years Ago

Wow. That was an awesome read. :) It has the right amount of everything. I agree with Howl about the descriptive words. It was easy to get lost in the description, but very nice imagery! You should definetly keep writing this.

Posted 14 Years Ago

This was a very interesting story, and you definitely should continue writing to it. It does need work, however.

In the opening paragraph it felt like you were trying too hard with description. Your descriptive words are overused, making it a little hard to know and remember exactly what it is you're talking about in each sentence. Cut out a few words and keep the ones that best describe the image you want to portray.

You also to need work on how you construct your dialogue.
"Yes, yes, come in." Percival said hurriedly.

Posted 15 Years Ago

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4 Reviews
Added on May 6, 2009


Alexander Z. Anthony
Alexander Z. Anthony

Tampa, FL

Hey. I'd rather not describe myself in a little box. I'd rather let my writing do the talking. "All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost." -The Fellowship Of The Ri.. more..


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