This Broken Wondrous World

BOOK: This Broken Wondrous World
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ALSO BY JON SKOVRON

Man Made Boy

VIKING

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) LLC

375 Hudson Street

New York, New York 10014

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A Penguin Random House Company

First published in the United States of America by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 2015

Copyright © 2015 by Jon Skovron

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA

Skovron, Jon.

This broken wondrous world / by Jon Skovron.

pages cm

Sequel to: Man made Boy.

Summary: As Boy, the hacker son of Frankenstein's Monster and the Bride, moves to Switzerland to enroll in college, the secret world of monsters and mythical creatures hiding in plain sight is torn apart by conflict.

ISBN 978-1-101-61291-0)

[1. Monsters—Fiction. 2. Human beings—Fiction. 3. Hackers—Fiction. 4. Science fiction.] I. Title.

PZ7.S628393Th 2015 [Fic]—dc23 2014028305

Version_1

For
my stepfather, Tom Barberic, who knows of war, its costs, and the hope that endures despite
it.

Contents

Also By Jon Skovron

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

PART 1

1: Meet the Frankensteins

2: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

3: Truth Will Out

4: Good Neighbor

5: DIY Family

PART 2

6: Home for the Holidays

7: Song and Dance

8: Not My Best Day

9: Untrust Us

10: The Freudian Slip

11: The Gathering Storm

PART 3

12: At Sea

13: On Noble's Isle

14: What Matters

15: Closing Night

16: Teratology

PART 4

17: Deceiving Appearances

18: Deduction

19: Boy Meets World

20: Where the Wild Things Are

21: Shock Therapy

PART 5

22: The Monster Who Challenged the World

23: The Revenge of Robot Junior

24: The Long Way Home

Acknowledgments

PART 1

Old World

“Man's
yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow; Nought may endure but Mutability.”

—
F
ROM “
M
UTABILITY,”
by Percy Bysshe
Shelley

1

Meet the Frankensteins

W
HEN I WAS
a little boy, I had nightmares about them: mad scientists in lab coats and rubber gloves, hunched and wild-eyed, with bedhead hair and shrill voices that crackled like electricity.

The Frankensteins.

I'd been stressing about this meeting for the entire seven-hour flight from New York. Now I stood in the baggage claim area of Geneva International Airport, holding my duffel bag like it was a life preserver that would keep me afloat in this sea of humans all around me. My father had assured me the Frankensteins were nice people. But “nice” for him was a pretty broad term that included werewolves, vampires, and trolls. And that was okay. I was used to those kinds of creatures.

But when I finally saw the people holding up the small, handwritten sign that said
FR
ANKENSTEIN
, I saw something that I wasn't prepared for. Something that was totally out of my realm of experience: they were completely, utterly, mind-bogglingly normal.

Dr. Frankenstein was an older middle-aged guy in a button-up shirt and wire-frame glasses. He had thinning blond hair, graying at the temples, and permanent furrows in his high forehead. His wife looked a little younger, but not much. She wore a simple
flowered dress and had jet-black hair, thick eyelashes, and high cheekbones. Their daughter was about twelve. She had her long, blonde hair back in a ponytail, and with her jeans and vintage Coke T-shirt, could have been any preteen girl from anywhere.

They looked at me now, these normal-seeming people, and I tried to gauge their reaction to me. My dad had been sending them pictures of me all throughout my childhood, so theoretically they knew what they were getting into. But pictures could only convey so much and I wasn't yet ruling out the possibility that they would all run screaming. It wouldn't be the first time I inspired that reaction. So I decided it would be best to let them make the first move.

“You must be . . . Boy, yes?” said Dr. Frankenstein in a French-sounding accent similar to my dad's. He smiled warmly and thrust out his hand. “Welcome to Switzerland.”

“It's good to meet you, Dr. Frankenstein.” I shook his hand as gently as I could. My nerves were strung really tight and accidentally crushing the bones in his hand would make a lousy first impression. I appreciated that he didn't flinch when I covered his slim, manicured hand with my own thick, stitched-together one.

“Please call me William,” he said. “You are family.”

“Uh, thanks.” The word
family
threw me off a little, but I tried to take it in stride. “I should probably go by something other than ‘Boy.' It's what my dad named me, but it doesn't sound very . . . human.” When I lived out among humans before, sometimes I went by the name Frank. But that was a joke that had just come back to haunt me. Frank Frankenstein. Har-har.

“Whatever makes you comfortable,” said William. “We want you to feel that you
belong
here.”

He said it so sincerely, so intensely, like he thought it was actually possible I could feel like I belonged here with them. I forced
a smile. “Okay.”

His wife nudged him.

“Ah, yes!” He gestured to her. “This is my wife, Elisa.”

“Boy, it is simply a delight to have you with us at last!” she said in an even thicker French accent. Then she stepped in close to me, went up on her tiptoes, and lightly kissed each of my cheeks. It happened so quickly and casually that I was completely unprepared. This was a European custom, I guess, but as she stepped away, I knew I was blushing furiously. Human women didn't generally kiss me. Like, ever.

“And this,” said William, “is our daughter, Giselle. Say hello to your cousin, Giselle.”

“Hey.” She was the only one of the three who gave me the look most humans did when they met me, somewhere between shock and awe, with a twinge of disgust. It didn't really bother me anymore.

“Hey.” I gave her a little grin, like we were on the same side and it was these adults making things uncomfortable. I couldn't tell if she was buying it.

“Sorry for her rudeness,” said William. “She thinks she's a teenager already! Tries so hard to be cool like her big brother, you know?”

She gave him a withering look.

“It's totally fine,” I said quickly. The last thing I wanted was enforced fake familial affection.

“Sadly, Henri could not be here to meet you.” There was a hint of irritation in William's voice. “He is visiting a friend in Paris. But he will be back any day now. Plenty of time for the two of you to get acquainted before classes begin. He is entering as a freshman this year also.”

“Great.” I wondered if Henri had chosen this day to be in Paris
on purpose. Maybe not all the Frankensteins were on board with welcoming me like some prodigal son.

“Well, you must be positively exhausted after your flight!” said Elisa brightly. “Let's get you home, fed, and comfortable, yes? I know you'll love it at Villa Diodati.”

WE CLIMBED INTO
the Frankensteins' sleek black Audi. It had a leather interior and a full GPS rig on the dashboard. Most of my car experiences were riding in New York cabs. Well, there was also that time a middle-aged werewolf named Mozart showed me how to hot-wire an old Pontiac. Regardless, I'd never been in a car this nice.

Elisa insisted I ride up front with William. Out of politeness or so I didn't sit next to Giselle, I wasn't sure. But it was fine because it gave me a better view of my surroundings. I'd traveled a lot in the States, but this was my first time in another country. And there was a lot to look at as we drove through Geneva. Once we got out of the airport, you could tell at a glance this wasn't America. Sure, there were Swiss flags everywhere, but it was something more than that. In the States, things shifted constantly and nothing ever really felt permanent. But these stone buildings, narrow cobblestone streets, fountains, and old cathedrals had been around a long time. And even they were nothing compared with the line of massive, snowcapped mountains that stretched across the horizon. Those seemed like they were forever.

“The Jura Mountains,” said William, nodding in their direction. “Impressive, no? It is good to keep them in view. For perspective. We may think the efforts of humanity are mighty. Our
science and technology. But what are these things, compared to that?” He snapped his fingers. “Gone in a blink!”

I thought about my parents, how hard and unchangeable they usually seemed to me. At times they were more like those mountains than like people. Part of the reason I'd come to Geneva was to understand my parents and where they came from. I assumed I'd get most of that from the Frankensteins themselves. But maybe that wasn't the whole picture.

“Is it possible to go up into those mountains?” I asked.

He smiled, his eyes still on the road. “It depends on how high you want to go.” He glanced at me. Then, a little hesitantly, he said, “I understand that your father lived on Mont Blanc for months at a time. So I think you could go wherever you wish.”

WHEN I FIRST
saw the Villa Diodati, it was hard to think of the massive building as a home. It was four stories tall and about the width of a New York apartment building, with thick columns spaced evenly across the front. As we drove along the narrow, treelined driveway, it rose up in front of us like some Gothic mansion. Well, I guess technically it
was
a Gothic mansion. But it didn't look gloomy at all. It had bright beige walls, blue shutters, graceful balconies, and lots of decorative architectural things I didn't know the names for. It was bordered by trees on three sides and Lake Geneva on the fourth. There was even a little private dock at the lake with a sailboat tied up to it. In the fading afternoon sun, it looked like a fancy resort hotel.

“Well?” asked William as we pulled up to the front entrance. “What do you think of your new home?”

“It's . . .”

How could I possibly express just how different this was from my childhood? I'd grown up in a community of monsters posing as a Broadway company, living in cramped, dark caverns beneath the theater. The Frankensteins didn't know anything about The Show, though. As far as they knew, my parents and I were the only real monsters in existence.

So I just said, “It's incredible.”

Elisa leaned forward from the backseat and put her hand on my shoulder. Her fingers were long, thin, and covered in rings.

“You know, I remember the first time William brought me here. I thought, My God, it's more like a museum than a home!” She gave a little laugh. “But while it seems intimidating on the outside, I hope you will agree that it is very warm and inviting on the inside! Now, let us give you the tour and show you to your new room.”

THE INSIDE WAS,
if anything, even more intimidating and uptight than the outside. Everything looked antique, expensive, and breakable. I'm not so good with breakables.

Even more unnerving was the silence. Theater people are noisy by nature; theater monsters probably even more so. And New York City itself never really shuts up. So I was used to noise. It all kind of blended together and faded into the background. But in this place, silence was the default. As the four of us moved from room to room, our footsteps on the hardwood floor echoed like intrusions into a private conversation. The only sound that felt like it belonged was the steady tick of an old grandfather clock in the library.

And yeah, there was a real library. Also a dining room, a
foyer, a living room, an entertainment and game room, several bathrooms, a kitchen, a laundry room, a sunroom, and a meditation room. And that was just on the first floor. It took a while for Elisa's tour to get through the house but finally we arrived at my room.

“It should have everything you need,” she said, gesturing that I should go in first. “But please let me know if there's anything I've missed.”

By this time, I wasn't surprised that it had a king-sized four-poster bed or a gigantic mahogany writing desk and wardrobe. It was exactly the kind of stuff I'd seen all through the house. What caught my attention was the view. I stepped out onto the small balcony and put my hands on the curved iron railing. The setting sun sparkled on Lake Geneva's calm surface and gleamed off the distant snowy peaks of the mountains.

BOOK: This Broken Wondrous World
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