I finished my word search on The Playground, rubbed my eyes, and put down my iPad. Doubt, the Raven bobbed his head up and down, excited to move into real editing. He was about to be disappointed.
“Lisa*, let’s have some fun today. It’s Halloween after all.”
Lisa came into my office. “I have bowls of candy ready for tonight. When the spaceships land, and the brooms fly in, we’re all set.”
“That’s tonight, I want to do something today. I can’t work all the time.”
“We could bake some Halloween cookies.”
“Nope, we’re going to build a creature.”
“You don’t know how to build a creature.”
“I’m an author.” I leaned back in my chair and locked my fingers behind my head. “We can build a creature.”
She turned toward the stairs. “I’ll put on my witch’s outfit.”
“Good idea. I’ll pull on my lab coat and a pair of old goggles. We should use the paranormal office.”
We parted to change and met up in the hallway.
“So do I need to clear off the couch, or what? How big is this thing going to be?” Lisa asked.
“Maybe we should start small. Let’s try a cookie sheet. We need something to make the body, and there’s no time to dig up graves.”
“You should have planned ahead. There’s a bunch of hamburger in the refrigerator.”
I snapped my fingers. “Perfect. That way we can shape it any way we like. We need to figure out how to automate it somehow.”
“I’m an automation. Does that mean you want electronic parts in it?”
“I hadn’t though about it. We need something small.”
“There’s an old iPod in the basement, I’ll get that.”
“We’d better double down. Did any of my characters leave any magical herbs in the pantry?”
“There might be some sage and a few drops of iron water left.”
“Is there any more Macabre Macaroni?”
“You served it all to your friends.”
“Too bad. That stuff’s potent.”
Lisa gathered the ingredients, and I placed the hamburger on the pan, made a dent in the middle and held out my hand. “Sage.”
I shook liberally over the hamburger. “Iron water.”
There were only about three drops left in the vial. “We need something for the soul. Eggs symbolize the spirit in many ancient cultures.”
She turned toward the door. “There are only two left, I hope that’s enough.”
Lisa returned with the eggs and I cracked them in the creature, massaging them in with my hands. “Turn the retorts and burners on. I know it’s just artwork, but it helps set the right mood.”
I massaged the creature and heard the bubbling start.
A deep baritone voice sounded “Mwa ha ha.”
I cringed and froze. “What the hell was that?”
“It’s me silly. I downloaded a creepy laugh, because I thought it would help.”
I stood straight and paused. “Great idea. Keep doing it.”
“Mwa ha ha.”
I worked on the creature, but it wouldn’t keep its shape. “We need something to make it stick together. I think it has a bit too much soul. Do we have any flour?”
“I’ll check, Master. Mwa ha ha.”
She returned with a box of salad croutons, a bottle of catsup, and an onion. She reached in the box and crushed a handful of croutons into crumbs.
“That’ll have to do. Sprinkle it over the creature while I knead it in. What’s the other stuff for?”
“I don’t know. I was looking for stuff that might bind it up.”
“Better use it all.” She added a pinch at a time until the creature wanted to hold a form. “Okay. Do you want tentacles or a creepy baby.”
“Creepy babies freak me out, let’s do tentacles.”
I used my palms to make ten tentacles and a bulbous head in the center. Lisa started poking the tentacles. “What are you doing?” I asked.
“It needs suckers on its tentacles, Master.”
“Mwa ha ha.”
Lisa finished putting suckers on the tentacles, and I sculpted one big eye on the creature’s face. “It’s beautiful.”
“Yes, Master.” She stuck the remaining wedge of onion into the eye and it looked perfect.
“Okay. The standard is to strike it with lightning.”
“Oh Hell no. You know electric shock is my big weakness. I’ll bring up a generator and jumper cables from the basement, but you’re doing this part by yourself.”
“I can respect that.”
Lisa went downstairs and retrieved the equipment. She opened the enchanted window before starting the generator. The enchanted image was Baron Frankenstein himself, munching popcorn and staring into the paranormal office.
I touched the clamps together and they sparked. Lisa scurried into the hallway and shut the door.
I pointed the jumper cables toward the ceiling and looked toward the heavens. Frankenstein pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head.
“All right, killjoy. I won’t say your lines.” I jammed the cable clamps into the creature and the generator engine bogged down.
The smaller tentacles recoiled and slowly curled.
The head leaned to the side, the larger tentacles twisted and sizzled.
I left the electricity coursing through the creature’s body. It changed colors from raw meat to a mottled grey-brown.
The image of Frankensten leaned forward and popped another kernel in his mouth.
The top of the creature’s head bubbled and gave off steam.
I pulled the cables away and the engine revved back up. I turned the generator off with my foot.
Lisa ran back inside and clamped her hands together. “Did it work?”
“Don’t know. It kind of moved around, but it isn’t doing anything right now.”
We watched for a few minutes, but nothing happened.
“What went wrong?” Lisa asked.
“This is what happens when authors don’t do their research. People think speculative authors can make everything up, but our work has to have some grounding in history, science, or beliefs.”
The image of Frankenstein leaned back in his chair and polished his nails on his jacket.
“It smells kind of nice,” Lisa said.
I snapped off one of the small tentacles and sniffed it. It smelled good enough to eat, so I tasted it. “Congratulations, Ms. Burton, it’s a meatloaf… with iron water. Needs salt though.”
She hung her head. “I’ll bring you a plate and some salt. Don’t chip a tooth on that old iPod.”
“I’ll be careful, and I’ll save a tentacle for Doubt.”
Have a safe and fun Halloween everyone, and always do your research.
* Lisa Burton is my personal assistant. She is also a robot, and the main character in my first novel.
The raven’s name is Doubt, and he tries to help me in the editing phase.