Chapter 2:

Round 1, Match 1: Archer (Actually Satan) vs Marshall Eastman. Marshall Eastman:

Community Sudden Fiction Tournament Arc

Round 1, Match 1: Archer (Actually Satan) vs Marshall Eastman.

Prompt: Building a Frankenstein

Participant: Marshall Eastman (

“Isn’t it beautiful?” Dr. Dymond pointed to the mass of feathers on the operating table.

Agor looked at it. “What is it?”

“Archaeopteryx,” the doctor said proudly.

It lay lifeless, a bag of tendons and meat, a taxidermic tumble rather than a soaring achievement. A little lightning would solve that.

“Oooh,” Agor stooped into a sneering bow, “first bird, real original. Scientific American will be so eager to interview you and the dozen other fellas who did it first.”

Dr. Dymond fumed. This was his life’s work, no, his art that Agor was trash-talking. “You...uncultured little...hunchback! What would you know of science? What would you know about bringing a creature, dead and gone for tens of millions of years—” Dr. Dymond’s bushy eyebrows twitched and his voice cracked “—back to life?”

Agor remembered his cousin, Ugor, and the advice he gave—don’t make the mad scientist mad. Be as a rug. A helpful rug that throws switches and sutures blood vessels and stitches ligaments together. That’s the way to keep your job, Ugor would say between pints. That’s the way you keep working at the operating table instead of laying on it.

Looking at the Archaeopteryx, Agor could feel in his hump that this wasn’t right. This wasn’t the way. He had to try.

“It’s barely worthy of a high school science fare. Bronze medal at that.”

Dr. Dymond deflated. Depressed nitrile gloves thudded into the biohazard bin.

Soft as summer rain, Dr. Dymond fired him. “Get out of my lab.”

Agor winced. I went too far. Guess it’s time to join Ugor at the unemployment office. He shuffled up the stairs without his usual vigor. Time to pack up and get out.

It was a real shame. Dr. Dymond was the perfect master—if an unconventional one. His maniacal laugh was shaky, but the way it kicked up into falsetto on the second ‘ha’? That was unique—could be his signature, if he worked at it. And the crumbling castle was genuine nouveau-visigothic, not like those awful McCastles that sprung up on every suburban lot these days. Agor saw so much potential unrealized in him.

If only the good doctor had the vision to go with.

But his meager possessions were packed. No excuse to tarry remained. Agor shuffled down the stairs, trunk thumping along behind.

Agor’s path took him through the laboratory one last time. He found the doctor slumped, face in his palm, next to the operating table.

“Doctor. Thank you.”

Dr. Dymond didn’t look up. He groaned. “What’s the use? No one understands, not even me. Why do I need to create these...things?” He got up and began to pace. “Don’t you see? I’m restoring something lost to the world!”

Agor watched, a wary, but hopeful spark warming his soul. This was either the moment the doctor forgave him, or took out his anger with the scalpel. He noted that Dymond wouldn’t look at the operating table.

“There have been great extinctions by asteroid, and volcano, but oh no, WE, humanity, had to come along and outdo them ALL!” Dymond vibrated with anxious energy. “Someone! Something! Out there in the blackness beyond the universe bestowed upon me the talent to

HF Sudden prompt: Build a Frankenstein Marshall Eastman

bring reach back, beyond the veil of extinction, and bring back that which TIME HERSELF locked away!”

“Master,” Agor shuffled closer. “I know.”

Curiosity broke through the mask of rage. “You do?”

“How many mad scientists do you think I’ve worked for?”

Dymond paused to count Agor’s scars and stitches. “Uh, 5 or 6?”

“Twelve, actually.”

“Twelve! My, you are quite experienced.” The doctor’s expression soured again. “And set in your ways. I need someone fresh, someone with an open mind.”

Agor shook his head sweetly and reached a hand as far around Dr. Dymond’s shoulder as he could, and steered the good doctor to the operating table and the inert specimen.

“Fresh isn’t what you need, it’s what the world needs,” Agor said. “You want to spit in extinction’s face? Fine! Make something it’s never seen before.”

Dr. Dymond’s hand twitched, like that of a child who’s just been told he can raid the cookie jar but doesn’t quite believe it.

“I-I don’t know. It doesn’t seem right.”

“One bone, one tendon at a time. Remember what you grandfather said? Start with what’s—”

“—in front of you, and go from there,” Dymond completed the quote, tearing up a little. “Handkerchief, Doctor?”
“Yes, thank you, Agor.”
They regarded the bag of bones and blood.

“Well, I, it’d never work.”

Agor tugged on his sleeve. “What?”

“I just thought, maybe it’d be funny, to use the python spine for the neck.”

Agor grinned a toothy grin. “Let’s try it.”

“And then, gariel teeth in the mouth, and then....” The doctor slipped into thought, imagining a glorious chimeric beast.

This was what Agor worked, no, he lived for this. The doctor made the monsters, but with a little encouragement here, a little hint there, and in a few years Agor would be able to show the world a brand new, world-class mad scientist. 


Judge's Feedback

znf: Interesting play on the mad scientist/assistant dynamic, focus on the assistant's pov / his egging on the mad scientist to cultivate some deeper obsessive madness, focus on building a mad-scientist as opposed to focusing on creating the bird. Buildup is a bit meh though, feels deflated by the time we get there.

OscarHM: The focus on this kind of relationship in such a short format leaves a lot to be desired. I'm left feeling like I'm reading a scene from something else out of context, it feels like the start of a character dynamic being established but then it's all over. It doesn't read poorly, it doesn't feel bad but it doesn't feel like much either. Some of the dialogue feels quite OTT.

otkrlj: It's not bad, but it's hard to keep track of. It feels like were missing a huge chunk of the context. Characters don't seem bad but neither of them really stand out to me. also the dialogue feels clunky at times.

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