He lives somewhere on the island of Tasmania and he shuns a lot of publicity, so we shall call him Claus. This is to respect both the man himself and the former identities of his work companions. When they walked amongst the living.
Claus works for an agency, some branches of which have great need of his unusual skills. His workplace is a medium-sized studio which is full of stuffed animals, dinosaur replicas and rather unnerving examples of his other speciality.
It's a bit like walking into the back of a SAW II film set, which is not so stange as Claus does some work for the film industry too. He tells me he has a few ah, private customers whom he helps to indulge their unorthodox taste, grooving on Thanatos and all that. Just animals of course; nothing too weird.
A couple of wild cats stare out at me from behind the window of the freeze-dryer unit as we talk. One has even got a rat in its mouth, preserving the relationship of hunter and hunted beyond death. Do we have wildcats in Tasmania? Well there are two less now. Or maybe Aunt Maudlin just wanted Tiddles immortalised as a coffee-table conversation piece. The grandchildren will love it. More tea, Vicar..?
Some wag or other has probably already passed the phrase about taxidermy being a dying art, but I prefer not to be so obvious. Not that Claus doesn't have a sense of humour, no. Quite the opposite. There's nothing Claus likes more than to take the odd invited but unsuspecting visitor on a tour of his studio and seeing how long it takes them to pass out or throw up.
I suppose that's a black sense of humour really isn't it. But it's totally appropriate - given the macabre nature of this man's work. Because he doesn't just do animals.. You see,
Claus chops real people up into little pieces.
And there it is. The table. A table with the white sheet over it. Slightly familiar ripples in the cloth hint at what might lie below. Suddenly I'm not sure if I want to see what lies below. But the sheet is sliding away.
I'm certainly no stranger to death, having witnessed both self-violence and suicidal injury under the most extreme circumstances. However the sight of the dismembered bodies reminded me less of a post mortem than of a large butcher's workbench. Except the limbs, torsos and heads were human. A cannibal's smorgasbord, as it were.
Claus's particular claim-to-fame in certain circles, is his technique of preserving the body parts by sealing them with a secret recipe of chemicals, thus preventing the natural decay of the tissues. Claus calls his technique plasticisation.
Certainly on picking a sample up, the skin and soft tissues feel hard to the touch. However no plastic model could be this accurate in its depiction of the skeletal form, the musculature, the blood vessels. Even parts such as eyelashes and pubic hair remain intact, frozen in time.
Naturally such a fine resource is extremely valuable to anyone who needs to study the minutae of the human anatomy, such as students of the healing sciences. And of course, the cadavers themselves had legally donated their bodies to the cause while still in life
No need for Egor any more, but Frankenstein will always need his raw material..