Monday, June 8, 2009

Praying For Rain

The body was assembled and strapped to the table, the sutures smeared with sterile grease to keep the gut from becoming brittle. The cables had been clamped to the electrodes on either side of the creature’s neck, connecting it to the armature that rose in the spire above. My assistant, who was indeed strong but by no means deformed, turned the crank to elevate the table into position. He paused for a heartbeat, understanding the gravity of the moment. It was time for me to say something.

We had been at our work for decades. I acquired the manor house with its attached laboratory, and we cleared debris from the attic and cellars. Igoroslav converted the servants’ quarters to a respectable chamber with a study and modest library, somehow finding a way to continue his studies despite the demands our work placed on his time.

I established relationships with the producers of scientific instruments and raw goods for our experiments, developing a rapport with several of the area hospitals and homes for indigents. Slowly the research led us to the study of galvanic forces, and we found ourselves augmenting our surgical knowledge with the tools of the coppersmith and engineer.

Of the two of us I came later to the understanding that our work was moving beyond the more well-lit paths of scientific inquiry. There were times when doubt would stay our hands, but always the one would encourage the other to look beyond the benighted mores of our primitive age. The Work was all that mattered.

As I reflected in that moment of triumph I realized that Igoroslav was much more than a mere assistant. Just as we had been creating a masterwork of surgical and electric craft, we had also been shaping each other in the form of a new kind of scientist: equal parts natural philosopher, alchemist, and evangelist for the age of reason. In moments the lightning would course through our apparatus, into capacitors and great batteries of lead-acid cells, discharging the force of life itself into the creature. But this was almost an afterthought. The more powerful act of creation had already occurred. Limitless potential yawned before us – no problem could prove the equal of scientific thought unburdened by the moral superstitions of backward eras.

“Thank you, Igor,” I said, shortening his name as I would a son’s. He smiled, and I pulled the lever that opened the spire to the sky. The storm lashed the vault of heaven, blinding arcs flashing through the clouds, thunder ringing out as if to crack the world in two.
--Steve Kilian

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