"Hnnnn," he said, fastening the last bolt into place.
It remained motionless, a reflection of flesh and metal under white sheets. The doctor envied it, that it would sleep so soundly while leaving the master to his own nightmares. Now he feared that it would awaken in less than an hour, that it would live a life of far greater fulfillment than his own dreams.
Victor wondered what its first words would be. Should he expect the word "father", for instance? The madman was certainly his father, of course, but never in the mere reproductive manner of the world. No, he was his father in terms of opened graves and stolen skin, and these blasphemies coagulated like sweat into a stark feeling of inadequacy.
Father, indeed. Perhaps "tormentor" would have been the better word.
Now was not the time for such thoughts. The storm was coming tonight, as his instruments had foretold. The platform had been readied, the massive coils primed and charged with the aura of mystic electricity. Poor Igor had spent the previous night shivering in the darkness, as he had wired the lightning rods that would channel the power into his creation.
But it was too late; doubt had crept into the doctor's heart. He took one long, deep look into the creature's face, prayed that he would one day see the spark of life into the dead black eyes, and hoped to all the gods of Science that he had not made a terrible mistake. The words, regardless of resolve, rang hollow in his mind.
Perhaps it would not call him "father". Perhaps it would call him "master", as Igor did. Perhaps it would one day rise up, tear free of the wires and electrodes that surrounded it, and curse its very existence. And then, once its anger was spent and the cold hard world had crashed down upon its childlike senses, it would immolate itself in a fiery end.
"God made man in his image," Victor whispered under his breath, "and in the image of God he made him."
Between the endless scars that crisscrossed his creation's face, the bolts and the rivets that attached jointed bone, and the grayness of decayed flesh, the doctor could only stare at the harsh reflection that science had visited upon him.
Perhaps it would call him "god". Victor wondered if godhood was his goal from the very start. What else would have convinced him to make a man, to pull life from the heavens and send it thundering into a stolen heart? And there, in the depths of his rotten stomach, the question burned: What, then, if he did make a man? Would it have made a difference?
The storm roared in the distance, and he just stood there, staring into a face that he had stitched himself. It was suddenly too repulsive for him to bear, and he drew the white sheets up.
The sound of bowlegged footsteps caught his attention, and he turned to regard his deviant assistant.
"Master," Igor said, in a voice that was silent with awe, "all is ready."
The thunder sounded again behind him, as though it relished the wait. Victor took a deep, shuddering breath.
"It will call me many things," the doctor finally observed.
"It will call me many things. Father. Tormentor. Master. God."
"Yes, master," Igor said, uncertain.
"I will be all these and more," Victor said, as the lightning flashed. "Bring up the platform, and prime the mechanisms. It is time."
Igor stumped off, only too willing to do his master's work. Victor walked across the room as the wind picked up. His threadbare coat danced around his feet as the storm began to howl its seductive pleasure. There was a massive switch there, a trigger that would bring about change. Perhaps a beginning, perhaps an end.
The lightning was close now. He counted half a second before the thunder sounded in his ears.
Perhaps it would call him "father", no matter how unworthy Victor felt. But no... perhaps it would simply burn under the gaze of the white heavens, that the celestial being would disallow the crime that the mad doctor was about to commit. It could never be said that the universe was without such mercy.
But now there was the scent of ozone, the merest, briefest moment before the lightning struck. Victor roared something into the night, something that was lost in the crackle and the spout of energies, and would never be heard for the rest of their existence.
His hand clamped upon the switch. Two seconds now, and visions of fatherhood floated through his dreary mind.
One second now, and he wondered if he was making a mistake.
Then there was nothing but the surge of electricity, and the faint traces of movement under the calumny of white sheets.