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On the mountain

Her leg was broken, there was no doubt about it. She cursed herself for ignoring the warnings of attempting to climb that mountain and explore that old castle. She remembered telling those that were concerned for her safety that she was an expert climber and hiker.

When she was told that the mountain was cursed and repelled any and all visitors she laughed at these silly stories and superstitions. This was 2016, and she couldn't believe that some people actually believed in curses in this modern day.

The sun would soon set and plunge the mountain into cold and darkness and there was no way she could navigate the paths at night. She managed to apply a splint to her leg in order to restrict movement and minimize her pain.

She then looked around for a sturdy piece of branch that she could fashion into a crutch to aid her decent down the mountain come daylight. She would not be able to carry her backpack as she didn't need any extra weight on her when she started her journey down, perhaps she could drag it.

She built a small fire for warmth and to heat some water for some instant coffee. An inventory of her backpack revealed that there was plenty of food and water so she wouldn't go hungry or thirsty, but there was no sleeping bag of pup tent. She didn't pack one as she had planned to be off the mountain by sunset.

As she sipped her coffee and enjoyed a smoke she took an inventory of her situation. Here she was in Munich, Germany high in the mountains looking for the ruins of castle that she was told does not exist. The area is has not seen many hikers so the paths are not well defined and the trees were so thick in some areas that they blocked out the sunlight.

Jane Winters was an explorer and a photographer that loved nothing more than exploring old forgotten structures and photographing the interiors and exteriors. The images she captured had been featured in National Geographic more than once along with other publications.

Jane ignored the stories of hidden treasure on these shoots and never wasted time looking as they were always false. She not a "girly" type and became an avid climber and hiker while in her pre-teens. She had mastered climbing mountains before she mastered walking in high heels.

Her second passion had always been photography. For one so young there wasn't much she didn't know, she had even been taught how to develop film by a kindly teacher at school.

She was considered attractive and in great shape, but love affairs were brief at best and never lasted more than a month. It usually ended when a would be boyfriend suggested she give up this dangerous lifestyle and settle down.

Just as the remains of daylight were fading she heard heavy footsteps heading her way and fear clutched at her heart. She had no weapon save her boot knife and that could only be used as a last resort. As she heard the fallen branches snap underfoot of the approaching stranger she uttered a small prayer.

"If all he wants sex I'll give it to him. As long as he doesn't try to kill me," she said softly.

Then suddenly through the heavy foliage the shape of a large man appeared and drew closer. The man was well over six feet tall with a large build. A thick shock of black hair fell to his shoulders and surrounded a stern but pleasant looking face.

The man spoke to her in German and Jane responded to him in his language that she didn't speak it, so he tried French and received the same response in French. Jane was able to accurately identify any language spoken to her and learned how to say that she didn't understand in a dozen different languages. She asked if he spoke English.
"I asked if you were all right," he repeated in English.

"I fell and broke my leg," Jane responded.

"Let me see."

"Are you a Doctor or paramedic?" she asked warily..

"No, but I do have extensive knowledge of medicine and anatomy," the stranger responded.

The man had large hands with extensive tattooing visible on his wrists. He expertly examined her leg and when he gently touched the area below her knee she let out a yelp of pain and tears formed in her eyes.

"Yes, its broken. Probably an oblique fracture of the tibia and fibula."

"How am I going to get down the mountain?" she asked aloud. 

"In the morning I will take you. For now we need to get someplace warm as the temperature is starting to drop and that little fire would not be much help."

"Okay. Where?"

"I have a cottage just over the ridge. Let me grab your backpack."

Jane started to protest for him to leave it but to her surprise the stranger looped the backpack over his arm at the elbow and then bent down and picked her up in both arms. He began to walk back the way he had come.

The stranger showed no signs of strain under her weight and that of her pack as he walked and footsteps never faltered. In less than ten minutes the lights of a large cottage butted up against a small rise came into view and Jane was relieved as she was starting to hurt again.

She was gently deposited into a soft comfortable arms chair and a foot stool was slid close for her to rest her leg on. The interior was warm and well appointed with large fire roaring in the fireplace and enough books to fill a small library lined the built in bookshelves.

Her savior returned with a wide array of every known over the counter pain medicine on a tray along with a glass of water.

"Please help yourself," he stated.

Jane looked at him warily.

"Young lady, you have nothing to fear from me. I am not some pervert that goes around drugging females."

Jane took two Tylenol from the bottle and was handed a large glass of water to wash them down.

"My name is Jane. I'm from the USA."

"My name is Victor and I was born near here. Are you hungry? I have a large pot of stew that is almost ready."

Jane had not thought about eating since her injury and realized that she was famished. She was carried to the kitchen table where a large bowl of stew was set down in front of her along with a small loaf of bread. He took a seat opposite her and bade her to eat.

Dinner conversation was more of a question and answer session. He asked many questions and had a keen and inquiring mind and his voice was pleasing.

"May one ask what brings a lone climber up so high?" Victor asked.

"I want to photograph the castle that's not far from here."

"Weren't you told that there was no castle?"

"A dozen times, but my research told me better."

Jane was carried back to the comfortable chair and was served a goblet of wine. Victor sat on the chair opposite her.

"You know that this mountain and the castle are allegedly cursed," he told her.

"So I've been told. Do you know the reason for those stories?" she asked.

"It is the alleged birthplace of the Frankenstein monster," he told her in a solemn voice.

"That story was a work of fiction," Jane said as she fixed him with a look.

" Is it? Do you really believe that some silly eighteen year old girl could conceive such a story without being influenced?" Victor told her.

"I have really never thought about it. Wow, Doctor Frankenstein's lab. What a shoot that would be."

"Some people believe that it is the monster himself still resides up there."

"He'd be well over two hundred years old."

"Frankenstein did imbue him with almost internal life if you believe that young woman's story," Victor continued.

"I would love to meet him."

"He is a killer if you believe your Hollywood movies."

"Most of those movies all bullshit. Boris Karloff portrayed him as a suffering creature that never asked to be born."

"Yes, Mr Karloff's work was impressive to say the least."

"Do you like horror movies?" Jane asked with some enthusiasm.

"Yes I do, but only the old black and white ones."

"Me too. Color robs it of something."

They talked for hours on the topic of horror movies until the pain in her leg returned with a vengeance. She tried to hide it but her tears were a give away. Victor stood and headed to the back room of the cottage.

He returned with a hypodermic needle and before she could protest injected it into the thigh muscle of her broken leg.

"That should take the edge off your pain," he informed her.

"You just happen to have a needle and syringe on hand?"

"Living so far from civilization it's wise to have a complete medical kit on hand," he told her.

The contents of the shot made her drowsy and her eyes grew heavy, but her pain vanished.

"You will need to sleep," he told her as he stood up.

He returned with a large pillow and a soft blanket and helped her stretch out on the sofa.

"At sunlight I will take you down the mountain. Now get some sleep."

Jane slept for a few hours until the pain returned and woke her. She called out for Victor but there was no response. Jane managed to head to the back of the cottage by using the furniture to support her and aid in her limping walk.

There was a large tapestry on the back wall that was pulled to one side to reveal a large wood and iron door. It pulled open with ease and she entered by hanging onto the wall for support. The long passage appeared to be cut into the mountain that was behind the cottage.

Another door was before her that also pushed open with ease and the sight before her eyes was almost too much to handle. The room was huge, at least ten time large than the cottage It was filled with every type of antique electrical device she had ever seen, except it all appeared clean and fully functional.

There trays of surgical instruments on stainless steel tables. She saw built in refrigerator units holding bottles of injectable fluids. She believed she saw every book of medicine published in the last two hundred years through the glass doors of a massive book case. Some of the books appeared brand new while the others were quite old.

Then her heart almost stopped when she glanced to left. For there on an operating table lay Victor.

Long heavy black cables ran across the floor from one of the electrical devices that emitted a low hum. The cables ran up the length of the table and stopped at his neck and the ends were affixed to bolts protruding from his neck.

Against her will Jane let out a scream of horror which caused Victor opened his eyes and look at her. She then collapsed to the cold stone floor..

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