Dear Lord Fitzwilly Daftwager, Doctor Von Quatloo, The Third,
I love your twitter, your adventures, you.
Very, very much.
How can I grow up to be like you? Just like you? Like I was wearing your skin?
Yours in perpetuity,
Dear Pre-Op Ann, Good question, to which there are four basic answers.
(a) You would have to be born into the aristocracy. I was born in the typical fashion – evicted from my mother’s womb without even my security desposit. I wanted to leave anyway; she played a lot of loud, bad classical music, and life in her uterus was subject to invasion when she and her husband were drunk. Therefore, I left without a cry – until the doctor slapped me. I slapped him back of course, and ten days later my pudgy fingers seized the duelling revolver and shot him in the shin, or some other insignificant place.
Mostly the preserve of my mother for the first four years, I did those childish things tots do. At one, I had just begun, I was christened with fox’s blood, dripping onto the lace red hood. At two, I had much to do, I hunted the foxes myself, doing terrible detriment to their health. At three, I was set free, hunted by the hounds, barely escaping into the out-of-bounds. Then I was four, and did toddler things no more. It was time for school, to learn the ways of really being cruel.
I attended the nearby children’s primary, the Greystoke School For Boys. Built within Lord Greystoke’s personal menagrie, we learned the ways of all of God’s creatures. We also learned how they were only like stuffed animals in that, if we weren’t fast enough, they would be stuffed with us. Taught by the Sisters of the Doomed Spider God (a contemplative order), we learned our numbers, letters and how to turn common garden animals and pets into our unholy army of the night.
(b) You would have to attend an aristocratic boarding school.
At age twelve, I progressed to secondary school. The school was run by the Brotherhood of the Soul-Eating Squid-Monarchy, a charitable order. Set in a somewhat bleak set of moor-bound moribund buildings, previously a plague hospital, the Gormenghast School For Young Men had a death rate statistics reminiscent of a major metropolitan cities. I was educated by a combination of war veterans, propagandising pedants and institutionalised sadists. Happy days. They made me the man I am today out of the boy I was then, presumably out of the spare parts of other, less-deserving boys.
My journals at the end of my time there as Head Prefect resembled the following:
04:00; Wake, and dress in Senior uniform of black tie on black shirt on black coat on black pants etc. Vaguely curse prohibition on candles, as uniform is impossible to find in early morning wardrobe. Shady.
05:00; Wake juniors, with a stick, to dress in junior uniform: aquamarine frockcoat & knee breeches, worn with cream waistcoat & ruffled shirt and straw hat with red ribbon. Love my senior uniform again.
06:00; Vespyres involved the usual hymns, prayer, announcements, burning of our enemy’s books, enemy’s possessions, effigies of our enemies. This, a special occasion, we burned with some of our enemies.
07:00; Breakfast; pickled coelecanth, white rhino chunks, pygmy elephant steaks, thylacine liver, dodo eggs, dino eggs, and dragon eggs (deep-fried). One day I’ll eat better than this, but that day is not today.
08:00; Juniors finally allowed in again after running, in the rain, for an hour after vespyres. What remains is meatloaf of an unnamed parts of an unnamed animal and a porridge composed of grain and firecoke. 09:00; Science! Test – Dissect misbehaving juniors sufficiently to extract tonsils, addenoids or appendixes. I take a kidney, when the teacher isn’t looking, & caution the still-conscious junior not to tell. 90%
10:00; Fencing! Final Exam – Against rapier, I was offered a pistol, pen or furled umbrella. Umbrella – caught blade in umbrella spokes, locked it at both ends, twisted rapier out of opponents hands. 90%.
11:00; Literature! Act out last scene of Hamlet with real swords and real poison. Cross-curricular with fencing and science; my blade dodging & mountebank immunities are sorely tested. 10%, 10%, 100%.
13:00; Mathematics! Final equation – with a set of actuarial tables, work out indemnity if everyone in the world died except for oneself and the insurer. Wrote ‘1’, once and then ‘0’ for an hour. A solid 100%.
14:00; Geography! With a map of Norway, its GNP, budget, city distribution, population centres and energy sources, plan an invasion. Mine has my troops drinking Darjeeling in Oslo by 20:00 hours. 100%.
15:00; History! Using ‘Pewter’s True Peerage’, work out how many generations one must go back in any monarchy to find an animal. Found a horse in the Romanov line within eight generations. Neigh 100%. 16:00; Afternoon tea!
17:00; Phys Ed! Rugby – Led the school football team to Massacre Cup glory, beating Manchu Prep by six fouls (four broken legs, a compound fracture and a dismemberment) and a sundry number of goals.
18:00; Law! Final Deposition – Requested glass of whiskey, as allowed for in ancient test guidelines. Fined for not having rifle to fight off a bear, as required by ancient test guidelines. Actual bear is released.
18:30; Throw whiskey in bear’s eyes. Temporarily blinded, it mauls the invigilator. I liberate the examiner’s whiskey stock, and inebriate bear. Counts as extra credit Phys Ed in Bear Wrestling. 100% & 10%.
19:00; Home Economics! I get a double rosetta in sewing and first aid, fixing up the invigilator. ‘BLESS THIS HOUSE’ in pokerwork received high praise. I replace his kidneys with the junior’s spare. 100%.
19:30; Home Economics Extra credit when I turn the invigilator’s shredded kidneys into a lovely stir fry. Win coveted ‘Lecter Apron’ in resourced ingredients and aggressive cooking. Apron has tomato stains.
21:00; Evening Vespyres. Sacrifice single junior to the Blind Squid God. Last junior to die all year. Am aware that the new seniors will treat new juniors just as we did. Traditions continued. Much rejoicing.
22:00; Retiring for tobacco, gin and infirmary opiates, I consider possible careers. I’m a polymath, a jack of all trades, imparticular in my ingenuity and occassional good and bad turns towards others. Doctor?
23:00; Definitely not Lord. Allan survived Gormenghast School – assuredly the world won’t kill him. Doctor might be able to do something about Allan’s ability to breathe, or to breed. Dr. Daftwager indeed.
00:00; Hum the school song. I miss Robert Roberts and Pete Pequod, both having taken the Ninjatech Dark Scholarship in Japan. Their alternate ideas of assassination were useful in reprimanding the juniors.
(c) You would have to be born into the mad sciences.
The birth into the mad sciences is a second birth. My second was much like my first birth. Evicted from my mother’s home briefly after my return from Gormenghast. I wanted to leave anyway; I was an institutional man now, and school was somewhere I was on furlough from previously, now permanently paroled. Therefore, I left without a cry – until the doctor-lecturer slapped me. I slapped him back of course, and ten days later my surgeon’s fingers seized the duelling revolver and shot him in the shoulder, or some other insignificant place. The entrance exam was to close up the entrance wounds. 100%.
Attending Moreau’s College of Surgery and Vivisection, I excelled brain extraction on dead, undead, living, and unanaesthetised living. Studying alongside DNAdam, Nutriknow and the man who would later take the name Apocaleprosy, I learned the galvanic arts and natural philosophy from Krempe, Waldman and White Horse. I was tutored by the disembodied brains of Albertus Magnus, Hippocrates, Galen, Celsus, Paracelsus (Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim) and Brainstein himself.
I took my Masters in biological alchemy. I spent my hours distilling dread homunculi, creating sentient livers and beating back the tentacles of animate retinas with my brass microscope. I won the St. Germaine Prize for my Elixir of Life. It was based on the formula found in the notes of the police when they arrested ‘Long’ John Thirty-Silver for selling a false E of L as a repeat offender (convicted 1902, 1830, 1768, 1623, and 1525).
I graduated from MCSV with ‘Earnest’ Thesiger-Pretorius honours.
(d) You would have to attend a Mad Fellowship.
I received a Doctorate in Medicinal Madness and an offer of a Malpractice with Doctor Coprophile Wrothauser, on the continent. No small incentive was Wrothauser’s proximity to the Meinschaftworks; he handled, or rather delegated, the on-site medical care for the central weapon foundry. As the foundry’s fatality & injury rates were extremely low, due to extreme worker care that was a Meinschaft hallmark, I had a great deal of paid time (who would want free time?) to observe the greatest mechanical maestros of this mad science. Wrothauser had a lot of affluence and influence to spread to his apprentices and rarely engaged in practical surgery those days, except in operating on himself – his hobby.
I worked in the village clinic adjacent to Castle Wrothauser. By right, the villagers received top treatment in exchange for vegetables – their elderly. The rest of the world had to pay an arm and a leg. They did too, the celebrities and the politicians, for the miraculous cures administered by apprentices. We got the coolest toys.
A daily medical log:
06:00; Wake. Dress in white medical smock & gloves, with magnificatory goggles. Suggests to patients that I am clean, careful, and never cause a bloodbath. Actually means Wrothauser buys these in bulk.
07:00; Morning rounds. Bed 1 has been up all night, seeing ghosts of former patients and hearing one-sided reviews. Bed 2 has been asleep all day, entering the dreams of other patients and comparing notes.
08:00; I advise a sedative shot for Bed 1, stimulant shot for Bed 2, and a lead headshot for Bed 3, ‘Mined Over Mater’, the German dwarf psychic with mommy issues, who literally projects his problems.
09:00; Wrothauser wheels in on that monstrous trolley of his. Asks after the celebrities, and the newer treatments, then gets to the point – he wants a new heart, lungs and liver. And something for his dinner.
10:00; I get him a new all-of-the-above from the recently deceased dwarf, dinner included. Macabre, but the man is Resident on my fellowship. Plus he has five hearts. Its like trying to floor a brachiosaurus.
11:00; I snag a quick lunch while I dissect the dwarf. I lay aside the organs for surgery and the intestines (Coprophile indeed!) for dinner. The brain I lay aside for study – a psychic, and putty in my hands.
12:00; Wrothauser doesn’t have surgery scars; he has a neck-to-nape zipper running down his chest. I squeeze in a sixth heart, third liver. The lungs I leave on the outside, like gently inflating floats/fairy wings.
13:00; Close up just in time for Wrothauser’s ghast repast. Having observed his operation entirely conscious, he approves of my technique. I ask for the Schaftworks shift. I have him by the balls, so to speak.
14:00; Schaftworks; little medical happens. Nobody smokes so nothing will explode. Nobody lets their mind wander so they won’t lose an arm. Nobody checks a loaded rifle by peering down the barrel …
15:00; But inside my head thoughts explode. Inside my head a hundred reaching arms rise in the air. Inside my head the inquisitorial eye sees light at the end of gun barrel, the spark of an oncoming idea …
16:00; I ‘familiarise’ myself with the steamtank’s torque ratios, the stairship’s thundergun batteries, the supermarine’s depthcharge releases, ‘in case of emergencies’. It is like seeing an organ cutaway diagram.
17:00; I could have been born to all of this. Perhaps. The immense wealth, the scientific knowledge, the laboratories, the foundries & factories. But being born to it is no insurance of keeping it, especially here.
18:00; My aunt Quatloo invites me to eat in the dining hall up above the Schaftworks main floor. Mixed ranks at the dinnertable of my aunt, her Quatloo kids, Meinschaft orphans and Herr Meinschaft himself.
19:00; We discuss biological warfare and calculated pandemic – the only dinnertable where one might do so politely. I’ve no stake here, and I hear not secrets, but everything else turns steamgears in my head.
20:00; I bid them goodbye. Return for clinic night shift. Fellow intern DNAdams is running around with an empty box, asking if I’ve seen his guinea pigs. Yes – they are creating clinic customers as we speak.
20:30; Local woman mauled by flying guinea warthog – treatment expensive. I note she has a non-responsive grandma in our elderly care unit. If she could just sign here … Being of sound mind is overrated.
21:00; Use most of braindead grandma’s organs to help tissue-matching granddaughter, who now has finally found the strength to ‘let go’ in the midst of her pain. Heroic. Grandma’s intestines, thats different …
21:30; Post-op supper for Wrothauser butters him up sufficiently to give me the Schaftworks shift tomorrow. He does his ‘tine tasting trick; ‘She was an eighty-year old woman, three children, two affairs …’
22:00; ‘… and she enjoyed being “looked in the back of the head” by both her lovers’. According to the medical family history, Coprophile is spot on. I just love asking embarassing questions on those things.
22:15; The psychic projectionist’s brain sits in a jar in my study. A special jar, with a standing electrical charge and amniotic fluid. His file says he knows Morse code. I tap until he projects an answer: ‘Damn’.
22:30; I tap and take notes. Apparently he had to know Morse to qualify as a communications officer, where his projection powers put him far ahead of all others – until personal, psychological issues arose …
22:45; Mined Over Mater inherited his stature from his father and his powers from his mother. It seems MOM’s shortness compared to his mother and drill imagery from his father has left him feeling … small.
23:00; Counsel him for a time, then down wattage to allow him ‘sleep’. Not a telepath, obviously, or all those mental images of his mother being ‘drilled’ by his father (photo in file) would have sent him insane.
23:30; One day I will get my telepath. One day MOM will recover. One day Wrothauser will be surgically satiated. One day Ninja Bob Roberts will find his kidnapped shadowfellow, Pete Pequod. One day.
00:00: Letter: It seems Bill Eldritch, unseen by myself since our Gormenghast days, has taken holy orders in the Church of the Soul-Eating Squid-Monarchy. Souls? Typical – Bill was always overly optimistic.
So, ‘Bryann’, obviously code for ‘your parents actually wanted a girl’. It isn’t as if you haven’t tried to get in touch with your feminine side – you are all goosed up on estrogen hormones. You see, I ran the copious ‘genetic samples’ you left on your letter (and no, I’m not talking about the saliva kiss print under your name or the lock of hair you sent.
Seriously Bryann, one hand for the black pen, one hand for the ‘pink’ pen) through a few DNA tests. It seems you have a XXY chromosone. Yes, I didn’t know they existed either. You’re Special. You may be a physical woman by your early forties. I wouldn’t be surprised if this runs in the family – Slaughturblud seems like overcompensation. I prescribe rest, yoga and staying away from any and all situations mentioned in ‘All You Zombies’ by Robert Heinlein.
And that, my dear wo/man, is why you can never be me; my doctorishness detects the femininity in your family history, and my aristocralyptic view bans you from ever becoming Lord Daftwager.
So there. You should marry Amanda Hugenkiss. She is man enough for both of you.
Fondest regards, Lord Fitzwilly Daftwager, Doctor Von Quatloo, The Third, Esquire.