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Clarissa quickly let go of the railing and jumped back. The stairs shifted and hung at an even crazier angle but did not fall, and she breathed a sigh of relief. She turned to look for another, perhaps safer flight of stairs somewhere else on the ground floor when the wild dogs began to howl again, sounding as though they were right outside the monastery. Clarissa, uncertain, moved a step closer to the stairs, not wanting to brave them but wanting to face the dogs even less.

Suddenly one of the hounds came slinking into the room, sniffing out her trail. Its head came up. It began to growl deep in its throat as it caught sight of her. She screamed and fled up the crumbling stairs as it leaped to attack her.

She threw herself up the stairs as quickly as she could as they shook themselves to pieces beneath her feet. She could not hear herself screaming over the roar as the world seemed to shatter all around her.

Clarissa reached the top just as the staircase detached itself entirely from the upper story. The wild dog was buried beneath a mound of rotten timbers and rusted iron.

Clarissa made her way down the cold hall, holding her lantern high above her head, until she reached a door on the left. Finding it unlocked, she peered inside, only to find it empty. She tried one door after another; all opened, but all led to rooms devoid of furnishings. Finally she came to the last door. She turned the doorknob and discovered it to be locked.

She eyed the door for a moment, then reached into the bodice of her dress and pulled out the key she kept on a string around her neck. Her hand trembled slightly as she slid the key into the lock and turned it. There was a click, and the door swung open with a screech of disused hinges, revealing a small room filled with furniture and equipment. This was what she had come here to find.

She approached the long table in the center of the room and opened a dusty ledger. It was filled with writing done in a cramped hand. On closer inspection it turned out to be a diary. She turned to the dates which interested her and began to read.

"January 8, 18--. Finally, after many trials, I am successful. For years I studied death -- its manner of working, the stealth with which it eventually claimed all. I saw how the fine form of man was degraded and wasted; I beheld the corruption of death succeed to the blooming cheek of life; I saw how the worm inherited the wonders of the eye and brain. Most of all I saw how no man, no matter how great, could escape his doom.

"Yet I have found a way to cheat death; I have created a being which cannot be overcome by him; I have given life to that which will not die, but which will live forever in the bloom of youth, untouched by age.

"My wife has expressed great sorrow at the fact that she cannot bear us a  child due to her frail health; therefore I feel that she will rejoice as I have over the creation of this eternal being. Since nature was unable to provider her with the ability to bear us a son, I have enlisted the aid of science. I believe that this time my experiments have been successful, and that I will not be forced to destroy this boy as I have the others."

Clarissa turned the page and continued reading.

"January 12, 18--. My wife has taken Louis, as she calls him, into her heart and given him all the love a mother could show to her own child. He has so far shown none of the self-destructive tendencies I observed in the other specimens; his actions befit a young boy of age four, which age I have approximated in him. If the experiments are successful he should cease to grow at about twenty years of age, the time youth is most perfect.

"As this first child was a success, my wife has asked that I form another: a daughter, this time. I have already begun the calculations.

"February 2, 18--. Again science has triumphed over nature! The girl is healthy and nearly ready to leave the lab. I have improved my experiments even more than with Louis, and this second child should be even less prone to the ills which befell the others. Louis still seems to be free of defects, but with my other specimens it sometimes took up to three years for the eventual decline.

"My wife has already named the girl Clarissa."

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