“Who is this mystery candidate you want us to fund, Victor? We want to meet him before we give him our money,” Walter Scott, Victor’s boss said. His long gray hair was pulled back in a ponytail, which hung down the back of his Hawaiian shirt nearly to the waistband of his cargo shorts.
A half dozen people sat on the patio of Victor Franks Victorian era mansion in the suburbs of New York City. There was the President of James University, Walter Scott, and his wife, Liz; Rachel Moore, the NY Times best-selling author of Why Republicans Suck, and her wife, Ed; and the Hollywood couple of the day, Jodifer. All were chosen for their liberal spending and deep pockets.
“Or our support,” said Rachael. She brushed her shaggy brown hair out of her face so she could take a drink.
Beth stood off to the side watching the spectacle. She had never liked politics, especially the kind Victor and his friends preferred.
Every day was a new social injustice that needed to be righted. But, she played along as the dutiful wife, listening to his guests drone about the latest wrong and pretending any of it interested her.
Victor flipped the organic vegan burgers and asparagus spears on the grill. She had wanted to serve something more practical, like chicken or fish, but Victor had insisted that Jodifer wouldn’t have shown up if there had been meat of any type served. They were the deepest pockets in attendance, so Beth complied.
“In good time,” Victor said. “What I can tell you is that Erick Grimes will change the face of politics for the future. The Presidential election will be the first of many wins for the new Progressive Party. Our hopes and dreams of a social conscientious government will become a reality. There will be real progress toward wiping out income inequality, providing free college for everyone, eliminating ownership of animals and ensuring women are equal in society in every way.”
“Sure…whatever, Victor. I’m not writing you a check to back someone who I’ve never heard of, who’s never held a public office, and who can’t be bothered to show up for a fundraiser held for his benefit. If you think you can get an unknown funded and elected only a few weeks before the election, you are delusional. I’m sorry, Victor, but we’re out of here,” said the female half of Jodifer. The male counterpart followed her lead and stood. The two were stunning to look at, but Beth had come to the conclusion that there weren’t two brain cells between the two of them.
“At least stay and have lunch. Beth made a fabulous desert for later. The raspberries were hand-picked by Sudanese orphans in New Jersey.” Jodifer sat back down. “You’ve all met Beth. She’s such an absolute dear putting up with me all these years.” Victor looked at Beth to help him out.
“I’ll get everyone another round of drinks. I’ll be right back.” Beth slipped from the house into the garage while her husband, Victor, continued to talk politics. She looked at her phone. Still nothing from John. They had been talking about getting married once she divorced Victor and then two weeks ago, he had just disappeared. No texts, no calls, no posts on Facebook…nothing.
She and Victor had been married twenty-two years. They had been happy for most of that time, but over the past few months the professor’s ideas had become more radicalized than usual. His talk of human genetic experimentation scared her. She hadn’t come across any indication that he had been doing anything of the sort. Mainly, she supposed, that he didn’t want to risk his cushy job at the University. He had been a professor at the James University for a decade in the bio-research department. His experiments had made him widely known as one of the leading experts in the world. That influence gained him access to deep pockets for his political endeavors.
Beth picked up the small red and white plastic cooler that sat in front of the refrigerator door. It was heavy, probably filled with water from Victor’s fishing trip he had returned from a few day prior. She’d dump it and use it to carry in the extra drinks.
She yanked on the lid until it came free. A part of a face stared up at her. Beth flung the cooler across the empty garage. It landed with a thud and the contents spilled out onto the floor in a bloody puddle. The fumes from the body had a distinctively chemical smell. Her stomach churned. What the hell had he done? The pieces began to knit themselves together, the goo filling in the spaces between the bones and parts turning into muscle, tendons and skin. The seams were not perfect and a grotesque man appeared as a patchwork of body parts formed.
A scream caught in her throat as the monster looked up at her with blue eyes that didn’t quite fit in the sockets. His half-formed lips smiled. He dragged himself across the floor leaving a trail of bloody slime behind him. Beth backed up out of his reach. When her feet touched the stairs she turned her back on him long enough to run up them. She scurried into the house, closed the door behind her and turned the deadbolt.
“Victor!” Beth screamed in fear and rage. Victor didn’t answer.
The monster slammed into the door, his face pressed against the glass . Beth stepped back. It backed up and slammed into the door again. The wood cracked a bit every time he hit the door. Eventually he would get through.
“Victor!” She screamed again. Why wasn’t he answering?
“Did you need something?” He said from behind her.
She spun around to see him holding a hammer. “What the hell did you do? What is that thing?”
“That isn’t a thing. That’s Erick Grimes. Formerly he was your lover, John.” He said it like it was normal for a monster to be trying to break in the door. “He stumbled on my little experiments and threatened to call the police. John didn’t understand what greatness I was trying to achieve and I couldn’t have him interrupting my work.”
“So you killed him?” Beth stared at him, mouth hanging open. This can’t be real. Victor was a scientist, not a murderer.
“He’s not dead, exactly.” Victor said. “He’s reanimated. It’s really a work of genius. Imagine the uses for such a procedure. Think of all of the lives that could be saved. Think of how we could create politicians who do our every bidding.” He reached for her arm.
Beth pulled away from him. “Get away from me. You’re sick. You need help, Victor.”
“You’re wrong Beth. You’ll see. My name will be remembered for being a pioneer of genetic advancement.” He stood over her, the hammer hanging at his side. “You can join me Beth and share in my glory, or .… well, I don’t want to think about the or.”
Behind him, the door gave way. John stumbled into the room. Beth screamed and scrambled away as the monster gave chase. Victor just watched in fascination as John passed him.
“Beth.” It moaned. He caught her in the doorway to the living room, his slimy hands were vices on her upper arms.
“Victor!” Beth closed my her eyes. “Please, no.” She waited for him to do something. She peaked open her eyes when nothing happened.
Then, without warning, the creature pulled her towards him, his face inches from hers. Air rushed past her as John slammed her into the door frame. Her head exploded in pain on impact. He paused for a moment, enough time for the pain to subside, and then slammed her into the wood again.
“Why?” The monster asked. Beth opened her eyes and watched in horror as skin formed on the creatures face. It was John’s face in a grotesque sort of way. Her dear sweet John. Her heart ached at the thought of what hell Victor must have put him through in order to turn him into that…thing.
“No!” Victor swung the hammer at his creation with little effect. It sunk into the gooey flesh that instantly repaired itself when he pulled the hammer back for another blow. “Let her go,” he pleaded.
“Noooo. She’s mine.” John shoved Victor away with one hand. Victor landed hard against the island’s marble countertop and slid to the floor, blood pooling around his corpse.
John’s grasp loosened on Beth’s arms and she yanked herself free and ran for the patio door.
“Help!” She screamed. The people on the patio stood in confusion when Beth ran past them on to the patio with the half-formed creature following her.
“What in the world?” Walter said. “I never thought I’d see the day when the rape culture penetrated the confines of Victor’s home. He was always a stable sort. I don’t know about everyone else, but I can’t support someone who would allow this sort of behavior in their own home. I’m leaving and I would suggest you all do to.” The group concurred and, as a unit, walked past the monster into the house.
The creature stumbled when his feet took shape, colliding with the grill. His arm went up in flames. The flames quickly spread across his body. He bellowed as he continued his pursuit of Beth down the patio steps and across the lawn.
Beth stopped when John collapsed to the ground, the flames having consumed much of his flesh. What was left of him was blackened and charred, but still alive. The creature looked up at her from where he lay in the grass, sadness in his blue eyes. He reached out towards her with the stump of what remained of his left arm.
“I’m so sorry, John.” Beth pulled the croquet stake from where it was set up and walked over to the charred remains. She said a small prayer before slamming the stake into his heart. The light in the creatures eyes died and his political career was ended.