Dreams Come True, and Nightmares Too...
Don't Jump to Conclusions Without a Parachute
Harry had seen a lot in his many years as a postman. He’d delivered letters to George Clooney and Julia Roberts. He’d delivered parcels to Bill Clinton, and birthday cards to Paul McCartney. But today was a first, because he had to deliver letters to Dr Frank N. Stein, in his clinic in a converted old run down church.
Harry remembered that church from when he was a boy. It was a big, gothic monstrosity, with gargoyles outside and creepy statues inside. The stained glass windows made it dark and gloomy in there. It had been neglected for years, so it really should suit Dr Frank N. Stein.
The name gave Harry the creeps. His dad used to make him sit and watch those old horror movies late at night. He didn’t mind Dracula, the Wolfman and the Mummy, but he was genuinely terrified by Boris Karloff’s rendition of Frankenstein’s monster. He had nightmares about it to this very day.
So it was with trepidation that Harry carried his letters along Venn Street and down Cloister Court to the old church. The graveyard was overgrown and neglected, but on the old oak door was a bright new shiny brass plaque. On it he read:
Be Who You Want to Be
Beneath that he read:
Dreams Come True Clinic
And underneath that he read:
Dr F. N. Stein MD FACS ASPS Plastic Surgeon
There was no letter box, so Harry grasped the big old door handle and turned it. He’d expected at least a creak, but the door opened smoothly and silently, helped by the pretty young lady who was pulling it open from the inside.
“Hello,” she said. “You must be the postman. I’m Sylvia. Come on in.” She was a bit of a chatterbox, as though she hadn’t spoken to anyone all day. “You’re our first visitor, and those are our first letters.” She grabbed them out of his hands. “Welcome to the “Dreams Come True” clinic. Do you like it?” She waved her arms around to indicate the huge interior. It was very different from how Harry remembered the old church. It was all painted white – which was better than the grim grey colour of the stone that lay underneath the paint – and bright lights hung from the ceiling. The area where the pews had been now contained lots of cubicles – consulting rooms? – while at the end, where the altar had been, there was a random pile of metal rods and twisted wires on a raised platform.
“What on earth is that?” asked Harry.
“That’s going to be the centrepiece of the church - sorry, of the clinic. Dr Stein wants to put something there that will astonish people, and prove to them what a genius he is.”
“Oh,” said Harry, “and what will that be?”
“I don’t know,” answered Sylvia, “but you can ask him yourself.” She turned at the sound of footsteps, and a tall man appeared. He was bald, with spectacles balanced on the tip of his nose. He wore a white, sleeveless doctor’s jacket, and was the perfect image of a mad scientist.
“Who is our visitor, Sylvia?” he asked.
“It’s the postman,” she replied. “It’s our postman!”
“Hi, Dr Stein. I’m Harry, and I’ll be bringing your mail every day from now on.”
“Good to meet you,” said the doctor, looking down his nose at Harry. “You are very important to me. You see, I am expecting many packages to arrive in the next few weeks. Packages of all sizes, from all over the world.”
“Well then, I’m your man. But I can only bring you the small packages. The big ones will come in the parcel van in the afternoons.”
“No matter, as long as they come quickly and soon,” he said.
“What’s in them, doctor?” asked Harry.
“Oh, I can’t tell you that – not yet. They will form part of my greatest creation. There” - he pointed at the pile of metal rods and twisted wires on the platform where the altar used to be - “where everyone will see it.” He lowered his voice to a whisper. “I have a team of scientists working in the crypt below this old church. They will take each part as it arrives, and slot it into place. And when every piece is here we will assemble it over there, where everyone can see it.”
“Very nice, doctor, I’m sure, but I must be on my way now. The post doesn’t deliver itself!” He stepped towards the door and Sylvia said, “Thanks for the letters, Harry. When you come again don’t knock. We’re open to the public, so just come on in and put your letters on my desk.”
“OK, Sylvia,” said Harry, as he slipped out of the door. “I’ll remember that.”
He stood outside in the morning daylight and took a deep breath. It had all happened so quickly that he could hardly take it in. His mind kicked into overdrive. A mad scientist? In a clinic that used to be a church? With a pretty assistant? Had he stumbled into some kind of game show, or was he in fact on the set of a monster movie? It was all too much to think about, so he set off to deliver the rest of his letters.
The packages began the next day, and carried on for weeks. They were small ones, sometimes round, sometimes square, sometimes long and thin. Some were wrapped round in tape, and some were held together with brown paper and string. What they had in common was that they came from all over the world. Germany, Tibet, Rumania, Africa, Poland, Venezuela. Harry was so distracted by the exotic stamps that he managed to stop himself from wondering about what was inside them.
Until one morning when he couldn’t avoid it. He arrived at the depot and found that his bag was very full and heavier than usual. When he looked inside he saw a suspicious long thin package, wrapped up in brown paper.
“Hey guys,” he called to the team that worked there, “this is too big for me. It should go on the afternoon’s parcel van.”
“Sorry Harry,” came the reply, “but it missed yesterday’s afternoon delivery, and your friend Hermann Munster called to say that he wanted it urgently this morning. So you drew the short straw.”
“Hmph,” grumbled Harry. He had no choice but to take it. As he was about to pick up his bag he noticed that the package’s brown wrapping paper was torn at one end. He reached for the tape to repair it – for damaged packages were not unusual – when he suddenly had an idea. He looked closely at the tear, and after checking that no-one was watching, he tore it a bit more. And a bit more. Until he could see what was inside.
And what he saw was – a bone! A bone about the length of a human femur. So that’s what the doctor was collecting – bones! Harry quickly taped up the package, put it back into his bag, and set off.
As he delivered the letters to his usual clients his mind was going crazy. He finally understood what was happening in that old church, with the mad scientist, the crypt and all those wires.
Dr Stein was collecting bones from all over the world. Bones from different countries so that no-one would guess what he was up to. And at the same time he was cutting bits of flesh off his patients. That was what plastic surgeons did, wasn’t it? A snip snip here, and a snip snip there. And when he had collected enough human flesh to cover the human bones he would mount it all in a wire frame, pass electricity through it, and hey presto! – he would have a modern Frankenstein’s monster!
The revelation was so powerful, so utterly overwhelming, that he almost threw up in the street. It was then that he realised that he was standing outside the door of the clinic. The great stone gargoyles looked down on him, either laughing or sneering, he couldn’t tell which. He didn’t blame them. He felt such a fool!
Not knowing what else to do he opened the door and stepped inside. Sylvia was there, and Dr Stein too. Before he could say anything the doctor came up to him with a huge smile on his face.
“Harry! You’ve brought me the final piece of the jigsaw! How kind of you!”
“Just doing my job, doctor,” Harry mumbled.
“And you do it so well,” beamed Dr Stein, who was clearly extremely happy to see him. “At last! We can finish my masterpiece! Would you like to come and see it, Harry?”
“What? Come and see what?” Harry was truly caught off balance.
“My creation, of course! With this, the last piece, my team can make the final assembly. At last! Then the whole world can see it!”
Harry began to tremble. All his fears were coming true.
“I will open it to the public tomorrow,” continued Dr Stein, “but I would like to invite you to come and see its first appearance at nine o’clock tonight! Will you come? It would mean so much to me. You, more than anyone else, deserve to see what you have helped to create. There will just be a few close friends here tonight, an intimate gathering so to speak, so please, do come and join us? You will, won’t you?”
“Come on Harry,” said Sylvia, “It’ll be fun. There’ll be snacks and drinks as well.”
“Oh, all right then,” said Harry as he forced a smile. There was nothing he would rather have done less than watching a monster come to life in an old church. “Anyway, I must go now. Work to do! See you later!” He waved to Sylvia and Dr Stein, and quickly let himself out.
He rushed through the rest of his working day, not letting himself think until he could sit down at home and focus.
“Tonight,” he said to himself, “Dr Frankenstein the second will bring his monster to life in front of a chosen audience. They must all be creepy people, like him. Ghouls and murderers, I shouldn’t wonder. And why should he invite me, a nobody? Because no-one will miss me when he feeds me to the monster, that’s why! Well, I’m not scared! I’ll go and I’ll show them all what I’m made of. I’ll stay near the door, and when they come for me I’ll run for it. I’ll call the cops and have them all arrested for attempted murder, that’s what I’ll do!”
Harry ate a small supper, dressed himself in his best suit, and set off, arriving at the clinic at exactly nine o’clock. It was spooky to stand outside the clinic at night, but he was determined not to be scared, and so he let himself in.
Dr Stein was waiting inside the door.
“Harry,” he cried as if he was an old friend. “You are the first to arrive!”
“I’m the first, am I? Very well then, do your worst. Show me the monster!”
“Monster? Yes indeed, Harry some might say so. Behold my creation!”
Harry looked down to the far end of the church, to the raised platform where the altar used to be.
On it, held together with wire and metal rods, was the complete skeleton of a fully grown Tyrannosaurus rex.