Halloween Special: Mad Scientist Showdown


This showdown has exploded, expanding from two to a handful of mad, neurotic fictional scientists. They’re all tied in my book – special in their own way, as the cliché goes. Who’s your favorite?

1. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is the original mad scientist. In Shelley’s gothic magnum opus, Dr. Victor Frankenstein must traverse the world in pursuit of his runaway creation. This is one of my favorite pieces of classic literature. Besides its obvious impact on the horror genre, it has also influenced science fiction, prompting us to ponder the question of what really makes us human. Nowadays, the monster is often mistakenly referred to as Frankenstein in pop culture, to the horror of literary nerds everywhere.

2. Dr. Whale (***SPOILER ALERT***), as we now know, is Once Upon A Time’s version of Frankenstein. In Season 1, we got to know him as the (hot) asshole that didn’t call Mary Margaret back after a one night stand. In tonight’s episode, Dr. Whale tries to bring back Regina’s love, Daniel, back to life in hopes that she will repay this favor by sending him back to his own world. But the resurrected Daniel is not the stable boy Regina once fell in the love, although he makes one sexy monster. The episode also takes us back to Queen Regina’s first encounter with Dr. Whale/Victor, in which he deceives her into thinking he is trying to bring Daniel back to life, when all he really wants is an enchanted heart from her world. (I may have to go off on a tangent about this episode in another post, it gave me so many fan-gasms.) Quote of the Night: When Victor says, “It’s not magic…it’s science.” Science, ftw.

3. Dr. Frank-N-Furter is just a sweet transvestite from Transexual, Transylvania and the mad, alien scientist of The Rocky Horror Show. Brad and Janet are just looking for a phone, but their strait-laced world is turned upside down (inside out?) by Frank. And in just seven days, he’ll make a man out of his own creation, sexy blond boy toy Rocky Horror. It’s just a jump to the left, and then a step to the right…let’s do the time warp again!

4. Dr. Horrible is played by the versatile Neil Patrick Harris in “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. He has a PhD in Horribleness and is vying for a spot in the Evil League of Evil. He runs a pretty tight schedule, what with hatching his evil plans and clashing with his nemesis Captain Hammer, all the while admiring his crush Penny from afar. Sadly, but perhaps not too surprisingly given it’s a Joss Whedon creation, we see Dr. Horrible live up to his title by the end of this web series.

5. Fringe’s Dr. Walter Bishop has gone from bad scientist (during his days when he and business partner William Bell tested psychic children in his laboratory) to quirky mad scientist. He’s riddled with idiosyncracies and seems to have experimented with drugs in the 70s, but he is driven and obsessive when it comes to his work. The brilliant John Noble portrays this neurotic scientist with grace and great comedic timing as well as playing his counterpart in the parallel universe, “Walternate.”

 

Can you think of any others? And Happy Halloween (Eve Eve Eve)!

The Devil Inside: Part II


II.

“I am sorry about Lord Gaston, m’lady,” Belle’s maid, Constance, says to her later as she is helping Belle out of her wedding dress.

“Thank you, Constance,” Belle replies politely. I am not, she wants to add, but holds her tongue. Belle gingerly steps out of the gown and shimmies into a mauve-colored dress, which is just as pretty and feminine but more comfortable.

“Is Lord Gaston still downstairs?” Belle wonders as Constance is fastening the dress in the back. She had seen him talking to her father before going upstairs to change.

“No, m’lady. He told your father that he is off to pay a visit to that wicked hermit, Rumpelstiltskin.”

Belle freezes. “What?” she whispers. She recovers herself quickly and pulls away from Constance. “I need out of this dress. Now,” she commands with uncharacteristic harshness. “I want to put on my riding clothes.”

Constance’s sky blue eyes look surprised, but she nods and goes to Belle’s closet. “As you wish, m’lady.”

In mere minutes, Belle has changed clothes for the third time. She pulls a blue cape around her shoulders and runs downstairs to the stables, rushing past her father even as he’s saying her name. “Not now, Papa!” she calls over her shoulder. At the stables, she readies Chestnut and launches herself into the leather saddle, adjusting the reins in her milk white hands.

“Where’re you going in such a hurry, Miss Belle?” the stable boy asks her in a panicked voice, still watching her, dumbfounded, from the corner of the stall.

“It is no concern of yours, Brandon,” she tells him. She hates being brusque with sweet, reliable Brandon, but she’s on a mission. She has to get to Rumpelstiltskin’s before…before something terrible happens. Belle isn’t sure who she’s more afraid for: Rumpel or Gaston. Her hands are sweaty on the reins and her heart pounds so loudly in her chest she wonders if Brandon can hear it. Taking a deep breath, she murmurs “Good girl, Chestnut,” before jerking the reins and sending Chestnut charging onto the path through the Dark Forest.

The chilly mid-morning air whips at her face, but Belle urges Chestnut on, determination surging through her body, through her hands and fingers, to the powerful legs of her beautiful brown horse. She abruptly skids Chestnut to a halt when they reach Rumpelstiltskin’s house. The house seems quiet and dark. After gracefully dismounting Chestnut, Belle tethers her to one of the wooden fence posts. She removes the hood of her cloak and approaches the front door with some trepidation. Even though she knows she must stop Gaston, the last time she was here Rumpel told her that he did not love her as she had assumed – he had called her a “warm body.” He does not want you here, whispers Doubt in the back of her mind. He does not love you. Why even bother? Go home and forget about him. But most of her doesn’t really believe that Rumpel was using her, and it is this that propels her forward.

Belle turns the knob and pushes on the front door. It opens with a loud creak, making her jump back. She waits a few moments, but doesn’t hear any answering noises, so she tiptoes inside and gently closes the door behind her. As always, the house is vast and magnificent, more like a museum than a place to call home. And quiet. So quiet.

“Hello?” Belle shouts, her voice sounding even louder than she had intended against the eerie silence. She removes her cloak and tosses it on one of the burgundy chairs. Quick exploration of the first floor confirms that there’s no one there, so she ascends the grand staircase, not caring anymore if her black riding boots cause the stairs to creak.

“Hello? Rumpel?” she calls, but there’s no answer. Am I too late? she wonders, her brow creasing with concern. Belle checks all of the rooms, but there’s no Rumpel, no Gaston. Maybe Constance was wrong. Maybe Gaston simply went home to sulk, and Rumpel was out being his mischievous self, making deals and doing magic…

That’s when she hears the strangled cry. Belle starts at the sound of it and rushes back to the room she’s just inspected, the master bedroom. It’s still empty, of course. The cry was unmistakably her Rumpel, but where had it come from? Then, she hears another, deeper voice shouting, and she realizes it’s drifting in from outside through the open window.

They’re on the roof.

Prying open the window the rest of the way, Belle crawls out onto the flat part of the roof. Now she can hear the scraping of boots against the shingles, and Gaston bellowing, “You stay away from her, you hear me? You worthless, undeserving little –”

“Rumpel!” It comes out as a terrified shriek when Belle sees them at the edge of the roof. Rumpel is scrambling to keep his footing, and Gaston has his sword poised underneath Rumpel’s chin. “Gaston, let him go! Please!”

“Stay out of this, Belle!” Gaston growls at her, his stance unwavering. “This coward is not the man for you! He is barely a man!”

“Gaston, please!” Belle knows how ridiculous she sounds, how pathetic and desperate, but, with no weapon or magic of her own, she doesn’t know what else to do except to beg Gaston to stop. “Please let him go. I love him,” she sobs, unable to hold back the tears that have started to pour down her face. Through the haze of her tears, she sees Rumpelstiltskin looking at her now instead of at his attacker, but she can’t read his expression. “I love him.”

Gaston glances back at her, seeming to hesitate. Finally, Belle relaxes as she watches Gaston withdraw his sword and return it to its sheath. “I hope to God you know what you are doing, Belle –”

Belle is looking at Gaston, listening to his fervent pleas, so only out of the corner of her eye does she see something skitter along the rooftop and into Rumpel’s eager, outstretched hand, which clutches the object and raises it behind Gaston –

“Rumpel, no!” Belle now implores her love, but it’s too late; Gaston staggers forward, Rumpelstiltskin’s dagger sticking out of his back. He collapses, his forehead smacking against the roof, blood gushing from the wound. Belle kneels down beside him and cradles his head in her arms, but his eyes are closed and he has stopped breathing. Whether it was only from the injury itself, the magic within the dagger or a combination of both, Belle isn’t sure, but Gaston is already dead.

For a moment, Belle cannot find words. Although impulsive and even sometimes aggressive, Gaston was a good man, a  man she would have gladly married if she hadn’t already found her one, true love.

To her surprise, her cheeks are dry now, and she can’t cry anymore. Belle shakes her head slowly. “What have you done, Rumpel?” Her voice is small but filled with despair and exasperation. She looks up at him. Although he would never rival Gaston in breadth and height in life, Rumpelstiltskin seems to tower over Gaston’s lifeless body. He cocks his head to one side, appearing more confused than repentant.

“He was trying to come between us, my love,” Rumpel tells her as though it should be the most obvious thing in the world to her. “He was trying to kill me. I was defending myself. Us,” he insists, taking a step toward her. Belle automatically shrinks away from his proffered hand.

“He was just threatening you!” she yells, throwing all of the anger and hurt building up inside of her into her words. “He had put his sword away, was about to leave us alone! He could not defend himself. And anyway, he would not have actually killed you, he was not a –” Belle clamps her mouth shut so that she doesn’t blurt the word she’s thinking of. Rumpel’s face falls and he drops his hand.

“A what, Belle?” he hisses. Belle flinches as he yanks the dagger from Gaston’s back. It drips blood onto Gaston’s midnight blue coat, forming little purple blotches. “Gaston was not a what?”

“A monster!” she finishes reluctantly, not meeting his gaze.

“What, like me?” Rumpel spits at her. Then, he emits one of his strangled, high-pitched cackles. Belle usually finds his laugh endearing, but right now it sends chills up her spine. “I am a monster, love. A beast, if you will. You never really understood that, did you, that you were in love with a beast?” He walks around Gaston and bends down so that they’re face-to-face. Belle is forced to look him in the eye, now, and she sees that the man she thought she had brought back to life through their lovemaking and heartfelt talks in the library is gone. His eyes shine only with hatred.

“I’m going now,” Belle whispers, standing up and walking deliberately back to the open window. Without looking back at him, she adds, “I did love you, you know. And I know you loved me, too.” She pauses for Rumpelstiltskin’s response, but when he doesn’t speak she ducks back through the window. As soon as Belle’s feet hit the floor, she breaks out into a run and doesn’t stop until she reaches Chestnut. She realizes she has forgotten her cloak, but untethers and mounts Chestnut anyway, goading the horse back into the Dark Forest, never looking back.

The Devil Inside: Part I


Trying my hand at fanfic – I hope you enjoy this short story even if you aren’t a fan of the show it’s based on, “Once Upon A Time.” I feel like this is really the end of a story (or maybe the middle?), but it’s what came to me; perhaps one day I’ll write the rest of it. (It also turned out kind of depressing, so I’m sorry for that too!)

In keeping with my new theme of naming stories after 80s pop songs, this one is called The Devil Inside. I’m splitting it up into two posts because it got kind of long…you can find the link to Part II at the end!

[I must state that I do not own the rights to these characters. This piece is based off of events that occurred in Episode 12, “Skin Deep,” in season one of ABC’s “Once Upon A Time.”]

 The Devil Inside

In the first season of the Once Upon a Time tv series version of Beauty and the Beast, the lovely Belle becomes the prisoner of the wicked Rumpelstiltskin. Rumpel and Belle grow closer throughout the episode until they finally kiss; however, Rumpel breaks the kiss and kicks Belle out when he suspects that she is trying to break the curse that gives him his powers. In my version, this never happens; in fact, Rumpel and Belle do way more than just kiss many, many times. While Rumpel turns Gaston into a rose in the OUAT episode, Gaston is still alive in my version, and he comes to Rumpel’s castle to rescue Belle. Rumpel lets Belle leave with Gaston, insisting that he never had true feelings for her and was only using her for sex. Belle reluctantly returns home with Gaston, and this short story picks up the morning of their wedding day.

I.

Belle studies herself carefully in the mirror. Her long, white silk gown fits her body snugly while still maintaining some semblance of modesty, and her maid has woven small white and pale pink flowers throughout her dark brown tresses. She watches a tear roll slowly down her reflection’s cheek. This is my wedding, she thinks to herself. Should I not be happier?

“You look breathtaking,” a deep, masculine voice rumbles behind her. Belle jumps, startled, then whirls around.

“Gaston! You should not be in here,” she gasps, making futile attempts to cover her wedding gown with her dainty, pale hands. “You know it is bad luck to see the bride in her wedding dress!”

“A silly superstition,” he insists, strolling further into her bedchamber. He stops short and peers at her glistening cheeks. “Have you been crying?” he asks her softly.

“What?” Belle hurriedly wipes her cheeks dry with the back of her hand. “A little,” she confesses. “Tears of happiness.” But her voice cracks when she says this last part.

Gaston looks at her doubtfully and sits on the foot of her bed, crossing his ankles. She can’t help but notice how handsome he looks –imposing, in his midnight blue uniform and black boots, but handsome.

“You do not love me, do you, Belle?” he asks her, his bluntness catching her off guard.

“I –why –that is just not true,” Belle stammers, but she can’t look him in his hazel eyes.

“I know it is,” Gaston counters. “I have realized it for some time, I think, but I did not want to admit it to myself.”

Belle is about to protest again, but then her shoulders sag and she shakes her head sadly. “I am so sorry, Gaston. You are such a wonderful, kind man, and you are most deserving of a woman who can return your love. Do you love me?” she wonders, her voice barely above a whisper.

He finally catches her gaze and holds it steadily. “With all my heart,” he says.

Belle comes around to sit beside him on the bed, brushing aside any feeling of guilt over this breach of propriety. “What are we going to do?”

“Well, it is going to disappoint a lot of people, but…we are going to go into the church, shoulders back and heads held high, and let our guests know that the wedding is off.” Belle can’t help but smile at his words; Gaston’s tone makes it sound like it will be the easiest thing in the world.

“Belle, there is something I simply must know, if you will not mind my prying,” Gaston continues, suddenly standing and facing her squarely. “Do you love another?”

Belle feels a blush creep onto her cheeks. “Yes.” The word is barely above a whisper.

“Is it…Rumpelstiltskin?” Gaston gulps before uttering the name, and then says it as if it pains him to do so.

“Yes,” Belle repeats, this time more loudly and with more conviction. Yes, she’s fallen in love with Rumpelstiltskin. How is it any of Gaston’s business?

“Belle, may I make a request?” Without waiting for her reply, Gaston proceeds, “I am willing to accept that you do not return my love, and I do not wish to marry someone that is not in love with me. I wish you only the best and hope that you do find your one, true love.

“But please, please do not let that one, true love be that horrid Rumpelstiltskin.” Now Gaston is kneeling before her, taking her hand as though to propose marriage again. Pleading with her. “No matter how much you wish it otherwise, he will always be monstrous, wicked, and less than a man. Give your heart to someone kind, loving and good. Someone that deserves it.”

Belle yanks her hand away from his and jumps to her feet. “I appreciate your concern, Gaston,” she says through gritted teeth, “but I will love whomever I damn well please.”

For a moment, they are both silent, staring at each other, daring the other to speak. Finally, Gaston rises and crosses the room to the door.

“Then do as you please,” he says coolly from the doorway, his back turned to her. “May I request that you join me at the church as soon as possible so we can inform our guests that there is to be no wedding.”

Belle’s tenacity caves as she watches Gaston leave, wishing that they had left things on better terms. She goes back to the mirror and angrily rips the delicate flowers from her hair. They fall and pepper the floor around her like a pinkish white snow.

The Devil Inside Part II >>