Okay ninja minions, I explained this whole dueling Frankenstein stories thing with me and Shannon Morgan, right? GO READ HER STORY RIGHT NOW! And without further ado, here it is: a 1,160 word excerpt from my new (and as-of-yet-untitled) work-in-progress:
When I say it sucks to be me I’m not just being a whiner, no matter what anyone says. It does suck to be me, for multiple reasons. Reason #1: I have the weirdest parents ever. My dad murders squirrels for research, for example. My mom has two different eye colors and two different sets of fingerprints. That’s the kind of stuff you have to deal with when you’re a descendant of the most famous mad scientist in history. Reason #2: I look half-Asian – I got the chinky eyes and everything – but my name is Eddie Franken, which makes people ask stupid questions about my family that I’m not allowed to answer. Reason #3: the new kid at school started talking to me, and he’s a total freakshow.
His name’s actually Igor! Igor Jones , which can’t be real, right? When Mrs. Brody called his name on the first day of school everyone cracked up. Alex Cruz actually hee-hawed like a mule. I didn’t laugh – I’m usually the one who gets laughed at, so I’m out of practice – but Igor ignored everyone else and gave me the look of death, which was not cool. No solidarity among outcasts, I guess.
The first week of school was the usual festival of stupidity, finding the least noticeable table in the cafeteria, resisting the urge to talk about my dad’s experiments with re-animated tilapia, that sort of thing. It was gonna be cool to dissect a baby pig – I’ve dissected bigger things, but it’s always fun to cut up something dead, even if it’s only a baby oinker. Other than that, though, eighth grade wasn’t all that different from seventh grade, even with Igor Jones staring at me in homeroom. But in the second week of school he sat down at my lunch table, and things started to get screwy.
“I know who you are,” Igor said, slamming a brown paper bag on the table. He sat across from me, put his meaty forearms on either side of his lunch, and stuck his face out at me. Wow, Igor was uuuuuugly. He’s the only bald 12-year-old kid I’ve ever met, for starters. And his head was tilted to the side, like somebody hit him in the side of the head with a frying pan and his neck got stuck that way.
“Excuse you,” I said, taking a bite of my sandwich. “Don’t just stand there, have a seat…”
“You don’t know who I am, do you?” Igor said.
“Besides the weird new kid, you mean?”
Igor shook his permanently tilted head.
“Dad was right,” he said. “Your stupid family doesn’t even know its own history.”
“Shut up!” I said. “Did I say anything crappy about your family?”
“Your family’s been crapping all over my family for centuries,” Igor said. He clenched his jaw, which made the muscles in the whole bottom half of his head twitch.
“I’ve never even seen you before, Quasimodo,” I said. Freaky or not, Igor was starting to bug me.
“Oh come on,” Igor said. “The name doesn’t ring a bell? Igor? IGOR?”
“I feel kind of sorry for you, if that’s what you mean,” I said. “I wouldn’t want a name like igor.”
“Oh, like Eddie Franken is any better?” Igor said. “Are you kidding? Your family should have just kept its original name.”
“ I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I lied. “What name?”
Igor planted both palms on the table and leaned way forward, looking at me from under his big hulking eyebrows.
“You know what name,” he said in a low-but-growly voice. “The one your backstabbing family had before leaving the old country and changing it. Your family’s real name. Frankenstein.”
Yes, yes, my great-great-great grandfather was that Frankenstein, with the monster and the laboratory and all that stuff. Thinking about a bunch of relatives who died two hundred years ago isn’t something I’d choose to do on my own, but my dad has a thing about it – misunderstood genius, proud scientific heritage, modern Prometheus (whatever that means), blah blah blah. So I know about the old guy and his monster, but to me it just means my family really IS the weirdest family in the universe, and even if I had any friends I wouldn’t be able to bring them over to the house.
Dad doesn’t care, of course, he’s too busy bringing dead things back to life. Mom cares, but she is one of the dead things Dad brought back to life, so she’s kind of messed up. When other kids talk about how weird their parents are I just want to laugh in their faces. When I got home from school after my pow-wow with Igor, Mom was somewhere in the house and Dad was doing his usual thing, messing with the fish in our aquaponics system.
“Eddie, come here,” Dad said as I closed the greenhouse door behind me. “Look at this, I’ve suppressed the cannibalistic tendencies in the tilapia!”
“That’s great, Dad,” I said, dropping my backpack next to a big plastic pipe that ran the length of the floor. Dad was kneeling by a round concrete pool that was built into the floor. It was a few feet deep and was full of green, stripey fish, swimming around in a state that resembled life. When Dad brought the first tilapia back to life it went totally zombie on him, attacking the other fish and trying to eat their brains. It was kind of cool but also kind of freaky. I guess it was also against Dad’s bizarre code of not creating stuff that could hurt anyone. If you’re a Frankenstein you don’t want to stir up old memories like that, right?
“It sure is great,” Dad said. He smiled at me and whacked me on the shoulder in a we’re-all-guys-here kind of way. “That little complication was preventing me from getting to work on the edibility issue. How was school?”
“Weird,” I said. “There’s this new kid who’s really strange, and today he started talking to me.”
“Really?” Dad said. He reached into a bucket next to him and pulled out a couple of live frogs. They wiggled and kicked as he tossed them into the pool. The fish went berserk when the frogs hit the water, and PRESTO – no more frogs, not even a shred of frog meat. “That’s great, Eddie, you need to start forming some alliances at school.”
“I don’t think there’s gonna be an alliance with this kid, Dad,” I said. “It sounds like his dad knows you or something.”
Dad turned away from the frog massacre and looked at me with a frown.
“His dad knows me?” he said. “What’s this boy’s name?”
“Igor Jones,” I said.
Dad’s face went white. I mean, it looked seriously milky, like someone had just used a computer program to convert his face from color to black-and-white.
“Did you say…Igor?”