We begin this year’s look at fun and creepy (and sometimes silly) aspects of Halloween and childhood with a (purportedly) scary story by my own twelve-year-old self, turned in as a seventh-grade English assignment to the long-suffering Mrs Mueller.
As you can see by the intentionally distorted lettering, this is supposed to be disturbing and scary. The choice of title for this epic makes me feel that Roger Corman had better watch his back.
The “1968” date is incorrect, this was 1969. I had turned twelve two months earlier. You can tell by the name of my “protagonist” that I was heavily influenced by readings from the Golden Age of pulp sci-fi, in which a strange name coupled with a number was shorthand for “citizen of the future.” I’m talking about tales such as Hugo Gernsback’s"Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660."
Note the hi-tech (for 1969) concept of reading a book (Shelley’s Frankenstein) on a “microfilm tape”!
The entire premise of a story’s “main character” as a passive viewer of a set of vignettes portrayed on a time viewer, is obviously based on the umpty-hundred stories featuring just this scenario in DC’s Superman line. Often Superman (or Supes with Batman) will use his Super-Ultivac to view the past, or what might have happened if one thing had changed. Here’s a fine explication of this trope. Read the first comment, by “Commander Benson,” for a list of stories involving time viewing. Since I didn’t have more than a few dozen comics to hand, or the inclination to bust through them to steal somebody else’s term, I called my time-viewer a “light-sound wave capturer.” Literal, not poetic.
The second paragraph above the row of asterisks is the writer’s attempt to pound his reader on the head with the GOSH-WOW of it all. “Thousands of years ago”! This must be astounding, right?
Well, maybe for a twelve-year-old.
At the bottom of the page, the tale of the monster’s killing the family on the lake is a sad demonstration that I had bought into the patriarchy’s image of brute-as-killer. Shame on me!
As you can tell by the fact that this “page two” jumps backwards to before the picnic murders, obviously there was another typescript floating around somewhere. Be glad that it too is “lost in the darkness and distance.”
I kind of like the top paragraph’s term “the false man.” And I don’t make any attempt to justify my story’s title “Frankenstein on the Loose” with my evident understanding that my story is about not Frankenstein (the scientist), but his monster.
I don’t know the state of portable photography around 1911 in England, but I don’t think somebody could pull off a candid pic as described.
It is certainly probable that I had seen the 1966 Time Tunnel TV show’s tale concerning the characters ending up on the Titanic. Still, it seems pretty creative for a kid. Notice that I at least got the correct point of origin for the cross-Atlantic jaunt.
The last line of the page is a perfect example of the amateur writer’s tendency to tell, not show: “He was shocked, understandably.” A better writer (if stuck on this yarn) would probably describe Loxx as dropping his sandwich forgotten to his lap, leaning forward towards the screen, bugging his eyes out, and choking back a gasp. Or something.
I got a few things correct, but of course the Titanic didn’t sink in a ball of flames. Or have a mast! Of course, many survivors DID report one of the smokestacks ripping away and falling into the sea separately, but I was unaware of this. I do kind of like the conceit that you can’t read the name of the ship until a flaming piece of wreckage falls into the water, its passage illuminating the ship’s moniker of doom.
It’s a cheesy and dramatic touch to inform the reader that nobody else but our stalwart hero will ever find out the truth of the Frankenstein monster and the Titanic. Darn ol’ one-way lightwaves!
This was the first version of my story. A revised version was turned in and graded, below.
So, I had to hand-write corrections, as you can see.
This version of the GOSH-WOW explanation (now the first paragraph following the first asterisks) ups the rhetorical ante by adding! exclamation! points! because otherwise! you might not get! the drama of it! all (any influence by the Shat was subliminal)!
I do like the wording towards the bottom “Came the inevitable crash” -- that kind of verb-object inversion shows a *touch* of craft, don’t you agree?
The attentive reader (hah!) will note that we have a different epilog. Evidently it was decided to replace the “never to be seen again” original with a more ruminative, dare I say dramatic, ending, as Loxx recalls the novel’s narration of the monster’s last words. And by golly, if you think about it, being burned “alive” in the hold of a flaming, sinking ocean liner might qualify as a “funeral fire,” too!
I can only imagine Mrs Mueller’s facial expressions and thoughts as she fell off this avalanche of florid impulse, to land at the bottom of “The End (or is it?)”. Imagine her restraint as she merely writes, “avoid.” I must have watched the ending for 1958’s The Blob recently!
I’ll say I had a good vocabulary! But I wish I had my own “light-sound wave capturer” to see what other students’ assignments might have ranked higher than my paltry score of 92%.
Regarding typing … this typewriter was my dad’s first machine, given to me at Christmastime a few years earlier. I must confess that I wore that thing out - literally - a few years later. What happened was, I struck the keys so hard that the metal strikers chewed up the rubber roller. After a while I had to have three sheets in the machine at once to try and smooth out the words’ appearance.
Tomorrow … the 2014 Hallowe’en music compilation!