CHAPTER 66

Life in the house of Victor Frankenstein was certain to involve more macabre moments than life in the house of Huckleberry Finn.

Nevertheless, the sight of a severed hand crawling across the drawing-room carpet amazed even Erika, a man-made woman equipped with two hearts. She stood transfixed for perhaps a minute, unable to move.

No science could explain an ambulatory hand. This seemed to be a supernatural manifestation as surely as would be an ectoplasmic human figure floating above a seance table.

Yet Erika felt less fear than amazement, less amazement than wonder. Her heart beat faster the longer that she watched the hand, and a not-unpleasant thrill made her tremble.

Instinctively, she knew that the hand was aware of her. It had no eyes, no sense other than touch-and should not possess a sense of touch, either, considering that it had no nervous system, no brain*yet somehow it knew that she was watching it.

This must have been the thing that she’d heard moving furtively through the bedroom, under the bed, the thing rattling the contents of the bathroom cabinet. The thing that had left the scalpel on her bath mat.

That last thought led her to the realization that the hand must be merely the tool of whatever entity had spoken to her through the television screen and had encouraged her to kill Victor. As it used the TV, it used the hand.

As it used the hand, it wished to use her as agent to destroy the man it had called evil.

There is no world but this one.

Erika reminded herself that she was a soul-free soldier in the army of materialism. Belief in something more than the eyes can see was punishable by termination.

As if it were the hand of a blind man exploring the patterns on the Persian carpet, the beast with five fingers felt its way past furniture, toward the double doors that separated the drawing room from the downstairs hall.

The thing did not wander aimlessly. By all appearances, it moved with purpose.

One of the two doors to the hallway stood open. The hand paused there, waiting.

Erika suspected that it not only moved with purpose but also that it wanted her to follow. She stepped toward it.

The hand crabbed forward once more, crawled across the threshold and into the hallway.

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