I open my notebook, quill pen in hand,
begin to write the nightmarish story
I dreamed last night, June 16th, 1816,
about a scientist who created life,
horrified by what he had created.

I could not sleep, vivid images kept rolling
through my mind, imagination tossed
and turned me until I had an idea.
I will call it Frankenstein or The Modern

I turn up an oil lamp, light a candle.
My eighteen-year-old hand continues to scribble
words in answer to Lord Byron’s challenge
of two nights ago: who among you can write
the best horror story. Percy, Lord Byron, Dr. John
Polidori, Claire Clairmont, and I lounge
in front of the stone fireplace. The crackle
of flaming logs does not mask thunderclaps
of an impending storm outside the villa Diodati
on the shore of Lake Geneva, Switzerland.
The room is rife with shadows, ghost stories,
and the spirit to compete.

I finish chapter one, rub my eyes, turn down
the lamp, blow out the candle, apprehensive
but hopeful I’ll have a decent chance
to win the competition.