Authors: Jon Skovron
Published by the Penguin Group
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First published in the United States of America by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2013
Copyright © Jon Skovron, 2013
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LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA
Man made Boy / by Jon Skovron.
Summary: Tired of being sheltered from humans, seventeen-year-old Boy, son of Frankenstein’s monster and the Bride of Frankenstein, runs away from home and embarks on a wild road tripthat takes him across the country and deep into the heart of America.
[1. Monsters—Fiction. 2. Human beings—Fiction. 3. Runaways—Fiction. 4. Science fiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.S628393Man 2013 [Fic]—dc23 2012043217
Designed by Kate Renner
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility
for author or third-party websites or their content.
my mother, Gini Kelley, who chose the road less traveled
and taught me to do the same.
A Boy Named Boy
IN THE BEGINNING, there was zero. And then God said, let there be one.
Computers, Internet, phones, text messages—our entire digital lives can be broken down into code. And code can be simplified into binary. And binary is nothing but a string of ones and zeroes. At each moment, a choice. Yes or no. Everything we create, everything we do, everything we are, comes down to that. It is so simple. And so beautiful.
That’s where I was happiest. In my room, at my computer, creating amazing things with the beautiful simplicity of code.
The outside world intruded. I pretended not to notice.
This time, it was loud enough that there was no way I could pretend not to notice. I unplugged and turned around. A massive figure filled my bedroom doorway. He had to angle his shoulders and stoop his head just to fit through. He looked at me with watery, mismatched eyes that glared beneath patchy hair and a protruding brow. Black, uneven stitches zigzagged across mottled skin without any pattern or regularity. He lifted one massive,
stitch-and-scar-covered hand and pointed a thick finger at me.
“Did you eat?” he asked in his rough, deep voice. Even after living in the States all these years, he still had a heavy accent. Somewhere between German and French.
“Yeah,” I said.
“I had some Pop-Tarts for dinner.”
“That was last night. You haven’t even had breakfast?”
He raised one bristling eyebrow.
“So you didn’t sleep, either?”
“I guess I lost track of time.”
“This is not good, Boy. Not healthy.”
“I’ll take a nap this afternoon,” I said. “Promise.”
“No. Your mother has made you some lunch. You will eat it. And then you will take a break from your computer and do something else.”
I sighed. He’d been doing this to me more and more lately. “Like what?”
“Why don’t you…” He lifted his palms up and smiled, like a brilliant idea had just popped into his head. “Help Charon in the box office.”
“Really? The box office?”
“You used to love helping out in the box office!”
“When I was twelve…”
“Okay, okay, I’m going.”
You didn’t argue with my dad when he got that tone of voice.
“I THINK I’M going to change my name,” I said.
“Oh, yeah?” Charon didn’t bother to look up as his ancient hands worked quickly, stuffing tickets into envelopes.
“I’m seventeen,” I said. “And my mom finished upgrading all my kid parts to adult parts last year. So technically, ‘Boy’ isn’t really an accurate name anymore.”
“But your father isn’t exactly ‘
Monster,’” Charon said. “And I love your mother dearly, but it’s been a long time since anybody thought of her as a ‘Bride.’”
I swiveled back and forth in my chair, as much as the room would allow. Like most box offices, the space was small, with just enough room for two computer terminals, a filing cabinet, and us. I’m a big guy, but Charon was basically a skeleton with leathery skin, so it wasn’t too cramped. Besides, when you’ve lived your entire life inside a Broadway theater, tight quarters don’t bother you much.
“So?” I chugged the rest of my Mountain Dew and tossed the bottle in the trash. “Maybe we should
change our names.”
Charon’s tight, brown skin crinkled into a smile.
“Okay, you’re right, they’d never do that. But I want to change
“I don’t know.” I stared for a moment at the names on the tickets as they printed from the machine. “What about Henry? Or William? Something that sounds…”
Charon set down his stack of tickets and looked at me. “Your argument is that ‘Boy’ doesn’t suit you anymore. But a human name wouldn’t suit you any better.”
“That’s what your parents would say, and you know it.” He handed the stack of tickets to me. “Now, make yourself useful and rack these.” Then he turned to the filing cabinet and began flipping through the last-minute house seat requests.
I sighed and began to slide the tickets into alphabetical slots above the customer window. My clunky patchwork hands made me a lot slower than Charon.
“What’s your infatuation with humans, anyway?” he asked.
I shrugged. This was a topic we couldn’t agree on.
“You’ve never even met a human. Watching them on TV doesn’t count.”