High in the Bavarian mountains a single window was illuminated against the backdrop of a stormy night. Shining out in the top of the north tower of Gotischenklischee castle the sickly yellow light flickered like a dying star. The castle itself stood out from the bible-black night only when lightning streaked across the Alpine sky, and then it was silhouetted in all its sinister glory. Thunder rolled through valleys hundreds of feet below. The air was charged and oppressive. Only the truly mad would be abroad tonight.
Clinging to the granite walls of the north tower, fighting against the gales, Herr Totherwürld inched his way upwards, fingers searching out cracks and crevices, boot tips rammed into the tiniest of footholds. Another lightning bolt ripped through the darkness making Totherwürld shrink up against the stonework. After a few moments he continued inching his way up the tower. And then the rain started.
Inside the tower, in the room with the light, Doktor Freude leaned over his petri dishes and examined the contents through a magnifying glass. “The samples are most promising, Igor,” he commented to his kyphotic assistant.
“Yes, master,” Igor agreed gleefully, though not fully understanding the implications.
“I have been working on this for years, Igor, and now my experiments are bearing fruit,” the Doktor cackled.
“Yes, master,” his assistant nodded enthusiastically.
“Soon the whole world will know my name,” the scientist roared, a little maniacally even by his standard. Suddenly there was a tremendous crash and shards of glass shot across the room as the aristocrat burst through the window.
“The lord is come, master,” screamed Igor.
“I can see that, you dumbkopf!” bellowed the Doktor.
Totherwürld leapt forward, barging the scientist out of the way, and swept the petri dishes onto the floor. They shattered, littering the floor with yet more glass. Igor tutted and went to fetch a brush.
“I have stopped your evil schemes, Doktor. Just in time, no doubt, before you released some dread disease upon mankind,” snarled the tweed-clothed Totherwürld.
Freude was staring, gaping at the sudden destruction of his meticulous work. “You fool! You damned fool!” he shrieked. “I had just perfected a cure for the common cold and you have destroyed it. I shall kill you!” and with that he hurled himself at the rather shame-faced Totherwürld. Despite his acute embarrassment the aristocrat had the presence of mind to step aside to avoid the lunging scientist, who ended up in a crumpled heap amidst slivers of glass and dollops of agar.
“Well, this is rather awkward. Very sorry old chap. Been a bit misinformed. I was led to believe you were about to hold the human race to ransom,” said Totherwürld, sheepishly.
“My work, my beautiful work. Twenty years of research and culture growth gone,” the scientist sobbed, “However will I repeat it? I shall be dead and gone before I get to this stage again.”
“Can’t you just, um, speed it up a bit? You know the basics now, surely?” asked Herr Totherwürld.
“Speed it up? Speed it up?” replied Freude, getting to his feet and brushing bits of jelly and glass from his velvet jacket. “How do I condense twenty years of work into a moment?”
Just then the sky outside was lit up by a brilliant explosion of lightning. It was followed almost immediately by a tumultuous crash of thunder. The storm must be practically overhead. The men almost jumped out of their skins. Igor screamed and violently jerked the dustpan he was wielding, scattering little pieces of glass around the room again.
“Freude, schöner Götterfunken,” yelled Totherwürld.
“What use is poetry to me now?” said Freude bitterly.
“The lighting; beautiful spark of god! You could use the lighting!”
“Mein Gott! You are right!” cried the scientist. “Quick, see if the storm is still raging.”
Totherwürld hurried to the now pane-less window and peered out. “Yes! Yes it is!” he shouted eagerly. Freude nodded to Igor who casually sauntered over to the aristocrat and gave him a shove. Totherwürld plummeted from view with a shriek.
“Well done, Igor. Now fetch me another batch of the anthrax cultures from the cold store. Just as well I keep some spare in case. I can’t believe that buffoon fell for the old common cold cure trick. Let us unleash hell upon the world! That’ll teach them to mock my name all through school and university. Doktor Freude shall indeed be joyful!”