We both turned the corner together - skidding on the damp concrete, leaning on each other and the shelves for support as we bolted towards the exit. We should have gone down in a heap but somehow we ricocheted along and slammed into the door… which flew open about three inches before pulling tight against a chain on the outside. Faint sunlight illuminated a crumbling staircase that must lead back up to the surface, and fresh air taunted us as it flowed past into the moldy basement. Ursula shoved one arm into the gap even though it was obvious she would never fit, and being equally delusional I turned to look for another way out.
It was there. Standing at the end of the aisle. Seven feet of grey skin and thick stitches, tubes and strange devices protruding seemingly at random from his mismatched limbs like a busload of nightmares reassembled following a car crash. He stepped forward, limping slightly, and Ursula pulled herself free from the door. We both had the idea at the same time, and we slammed our shoulders into the shelf. It barely shifted, causing the specimen jars to rattle but not offering a new route for escape.
"I can't believe I'm going to get killed by Frankenstein," Ursula said, gasping to catch her breath.
"Frankenstein's monster," I corrected as I went to push the shelf again, and realized as I hit it that I was alone. I turned and Ursula was staring at me.
"Are you fucking kidding me?"
The creature marched closer, slow but inevitable. "What?"
"We're about to get killed, and you're correcting me because I called it Frankenstein rather than Frankenstein’s Monster?"
The shelf wasn't going anywhere, probably even with Ursula’s help. I sighed and leaned back against the wall, shrugging. "Look, I don't want to spend our last moments arguing. It doesn't matter."
A deep, rumbling voice came from the monster. "Wise not to argue, especially since the young lady is correct."
It was the first that we had heard it speak. "Yes, yes, obviously in the novel it was Frankenstein's Monster and the tendency for people to call it Frankenstein is due to some confusion - but in the specific situation you find yourself, the correct name is indeed Frankenstein. Doctor Victor Frankenstein, at your service."
We looked at each other, and then back up at... Frankenstein. He had stopped coming closer, but with us still cornered and him having rather long arms there wasn't much reassurance.
"Are you going to kill us?" I asked.
He shrugged. "My initial research was such a success, it seemed like I would have it perfected within a handful of years. But time has marched on, and... well, look at me. Even with all the advances to medical technology there are some rather tricky roadblocks. At this point maybe I could pull it off with a typical human, but upgrading myself is like trying to install a DVD player in a Commodore 64. So I'm stuck experimenting on myself, and destroying organs left and right."
Ursula backed away, accidentally closing the door. The sound of the latch and the disappearance of the slim line of daylight sent new shivers down my spine. "So..." she said, "You're going to harvest our organs?"
He nodded. "That's the long and short of it, yes. Sorry. It's for science."
"What if..." I started grasping at straws. "What if you just put your brain into a fresh body?"
He smiled. "Yes, that would work, but I would need to have someone else do it. And I don't trust anyone."
"What if we... found... more people for you? Like, we could lure them down here and you could take them instead."
Ursula snorted. "We could start with Ben, it's his fault that we're here in the first place."
The monster laughed, wiping tears from his eyes. "You know, that's the same deal Ben made with me."