Literary Remix: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
In case you missed the introductory article about what Literary Remix is, you can find it here. Keep in mind that all the dialogue you read below was the original works of Robert Louis Stevenson, but everything else was written by me. If you are interested in the full and original story, you can read it here, or purchase a copy on the right.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Science Fiction Remix)
It is dark tonight, so dark that my optical sensors are overcompensating by incorporating infrared light. I see the trash receptacles and urine stains in the dark alley as if it was high noon, yet I can tell that it is night because all the vermin are staring at me as if I cannot see them. I’ve finally located my target, hastily trying to shove his keys into one of the back doors of the nearby buildings. His hands are shaking, as if he hardly knew how to operate them.
I call out to him before he can escape. “Mr Hyde, I think?”
The man glances at me, remarkably like the vermin hiding in the alley. “That is my name. What do you want?”
“I see you are going in,” I say. “I am an old friend of Dr. Jekyll’s – Mr Utterson of Gaunt Street – you must have heard my name; and meeting you so conveniently, I thought you might admit me.”
Mr. Hyde hesitates. My friend, Dr. Jekyll, is a robot; hence the prefix in his name. Some time during the twenty-third century, when robotic surgeons replaced human ones, for purposes of accuracy, the general public jokingly explained that ‘Dr.’ no longer stood for ‘Doctor’ but rather it was an abbreviation for ‘Designated Robot’. After that the name stuck. With the increasing number of technologically enhanced humans ‘Mr.’ was similarly redefined as ‘Man-Robot’ hybrids. This coupled with the advancements in artificial intelligence made becoming friends with a robot a common occurrence. Personally I enjoy Dr. Jekyll’s dry sense of humor.
“You will not find Dr. Jekyll; he is from home,” Mr. Hyde said, using refined English. With robotic enhancements, illiteracy had become a thing of the past. Now every hobo on the street was speaking like William Shakespeare. “How did you know me?”
“On your side,” I begin, “will you do me a favour?”
Mr. Hyde hesitates again, then seems to plaster on a twisted smile. “With pleasure,” he says. “What shall it be?”
“Will you let me see your face?”
He turns very slowly until my optical sensors can register the entirety of his face. His skin is pale and misshapen, as if someone has stretched a balloon over a metal frame. “Now I shall know you again,” I say. “It may be useful.”
“Yes,” Mr. Hyde replies, “it is as well we have met; and apropos, you should have my address.” He pulls a pen from the breast pocket of his jacket and scribbles something onto the back of a business card. He then hands it to me.
“Good God!” I think to myself, “can he, too, have been thinking of the will?” The man has written down the home address of none other than my good friend Dr. Jekyll. Not only that, but he has written it on my friend’s business card. How presumptuous of this horrible little hybrid to assume the house is his. Dr. Jekyll had only just written out his will and testament.
“And now,” Mr. Hyde said. “How did you know me?”
“By description,” I huff, tearing my eyes away from the card.
“We have common friends,”
“Common friends?” Mr. Hide raises a twisted eyebrow. “Who are they?”
“Jekyll, for instance,”
“He never told you,” Mr. Hyde snaps. “I did not think you would have lied.”
“Come,” I reply. “That is not fitting language.” In truth I had come to know Mr. Hyde both through Dr. Jekyll’s will and testament, and an accident the previous day. A Man-Robot had come into the local eatery, shoveling down plate after plate of protein noodles before refusing to pay the cashier. I had only witnessed part of the debacle, but the whispers that had followed in the wake of the man’s behavior spoke only one name; Hyde.
My investigation has hit a dead end as the now angry Mr. Hyde finally manages to get his key into the door and disappears from my sight. Being a Man-Robot hybrid myself, I’ve come to understand the behaviors and necessary adaptations required for a life with technology. I have also known many other hybrids like myself, yet this Mr. Hyde exhibits none of the normal behavior. He seems, backwards somehow. I begin to express my thoughts aloud as I leave the dark alley.
“There must be something else,” I say, only the vermin to hear me. “There is something more, if I could find a name for it. Something troglodytic, shall we say? Or can it be the old story of Dr Fell? Or is it the mere radiance of a foul soul that thus transpires through, and transfigures, its clay continent? The last, I think; for, O my poor old Harry Jekyll, if ever I read Satan’s signature upon a face, it is on that of your new friend.”
I decide, on a spur of the moment, to travel to Dr. Jekyll’s house and perhaps confront my friend. It is late, but he should not yet have powered down for the night. I make my way down the empty streets, the sound of late night traffic honking several stories above me. I glance up at the lights of the hover cars and wonder if the behavior of Mr. Hyde is not an isolated incident. Our world has changed much over the years.
I reach the apartment building where Dr. Jekyll lives and enter one of the lift tubes. The door slides closed with a soft hiss before a light appears on my optical sensors. The voice over the intercom is Poole’s; Dr. Jekyll’s human caretaker. In recent years, humans that cannot afford to receive the robotic implants have taken to serving the needs of robots while they are powered down or busy. It seems like a sizable leap backwards for our species, and yet it pays well and is entirely voluntary.
“Is Dr Jekyll at home, Poole?” I ask into the intercom.
“I will see, Mr Utterson,” Poole says, pushing the button necessary to engage the lift tube. I watch the lights of the opposing building blur by until I pass traffic to the higher levels. The tube rotates one hundred and eighty degrees and opens into Dr. Jekyll’s lavish penthouse.
“Will you wait here by the fire, sir? Or shall I give you a light in the dining-room?” Poole says as he admits me.
“Here, thank you,” I say as I take a seat in Dr. Jekyll’s lavish sitting room. The fireplace is little more than a hologram of real flames, but it is a pleasant sight as I wait for Poole’s return. Why a robot would need such extravagance as this, is a mystery to me, though it was a possibility that it was for Poole’s benefit. Robots and their servants often developed close relationships, rivaling that of marriage.
When Poole returns, no doubt after checking his master’s bed of recharge outlets, he indicates that Dr. Jekyll is out and regrets that he could not be of more assistance.
“I saw Mr Hyde go in by the old dissecting-room door, Poole,” I say, eager to find any new information, regardless of the source. “Is that right, when Dr Jekyll is from home?”
“Quite right, Mr Utterson, sir,” Poole says. “Mr Hyde has a key.”
“Your master seems to repose a great deal of trust in that young man, Poole,”
“Yes, sir, he do indeed,” Poole says, his eyes wavering. “We have all orders to obey him.” He goes on, referring to the various other humans in Dr. Jekyll’s employ.
“I do not think I ever met Mr Hyde?” I lie.
“Oh, dear no, sir. He never dines here,” Poole shakes his head. “Indeed we see very little of him on this side of the house; he mostly comes and goes by the laboratory.”
Dr. Jekyll’s laboratory is located at the base of the apartment building. He has always kept his work distanced from his home life and I wonder if somehow his Mr. Hyde has muscled his way into both.
“Well, good-night, Poole.” I say to excuse myself.
“Good-night, Mr Utterson.”
As I ride the lift tube back down to the streets, my mind is a flurry of activity. “Poor Harry Jekyll,” I think, “my mind misgives me he is in deep waters! He was wild when he was young; a long while ago to be sure; but in the law of God, there is no statute of limitations. Ay, it must be that; the ghost of some old sin, the cancer of some concealed disgrace; punishment coming, pede claudo, years after memory has forgotten and self-love condoned the fault.” I stop to think of my own past. Designated-Robots and Man-Robots don’t age the way humans do, but we were all young once. I made many mistakes and have had countless upgrades to effectively prevent errors. But I wonder if I could have made a mistake large enough to result in my own Mr. Hyde; some sort of ghost from the past to haunt me in the present. “This Master Hyde, if he were studied,” I began to wonder, “must have secrets of his own; black secrets, by the look of him; secrets compared to which poor Jekyll’s worst would be like sunshine. Things cannot continue as they are. It turns me cold to think of this creature stealing like a thief to Harry’s bedside; poor Harry, what a wakening! And the danger of it; for if this Hyde suspects the existence of the will, he may grow impatient to inherit. Ay, I must put my shoulder to the wheel if Jekyll will but let me,” I then remember my good friend’s stubborn nature, “if Jekyll will only let me.”
In case you were wondering, the direction I was going was that the robotic Dr. Jekyll was attempting to make himself human, but the results were somewhat grotesque. I thought it was a neat idea to redefine something as common as “Dr” and “Mr”. Part of the fun of remixing literature is finding creative ways around the dialogue that doesn’t match your initial idea. I could have just made Mr. and Dr. mean the same things they always did, but it’s also important to really try to shake things up, rather than retelling the same story. I hope you enjoyed my first installment of Literary Remix! Let me know what you thought in the comments section below.
If you're interested in reading more of my work, you can find my first novel here.