“Note from the bridge, sir.”
“Harumph. Yes. Thank you. What’s this then. “Strange glow seen to rear of ship?” Harumph. Nonsense.”
Miss Plumtartt and I exchange a look. “Get to the back of the boat,” she says sternly.
There is definitely a green glow from behind the ship. What’s more, I don’t need my “Green Beauties” to see it. Everyone can see it.
Miss Plumtartt is shaken.
“Mr. Temperance.” She really is shaking. “Something big is coming after me.”
The decks are alive with excited crew and passengers.
The glow now surrounds the ship. Something seems to be rising from the depths.
“There!” call the multitudes.
Several hundred yards behind the ship, an island has risen. Smooth, and featureless. Until it opens its eyes.
Tentacles of titanic proportions emerge from the water, hover hundreds of feet in the air, and then slam down with devastating force upon the stricken ship.
What was moments ago, one of the greatest achievements of man, is now a playtoy next to this organic leviathan.
More tentacles descend upon the ship. They begin to constrict.
The Nipponese on board excitedly say a name.
Many of the crew who were struck dumb, now seem to come to a realization.
The name is taken up through out the ship.
More tentacles encircle the ship.
Lifeboats are lowered. Rope ladders are deployed.
The mouth draws closer. Tentacles actually extend from its mouth. It means to devour the ship, it would seem. The bow starts to rise, as the stern is supporting the gross weight of the foul beast.
Victoria’s keel just broke! This ship is doomed. I reach a conclusion. Grabbing Miss Plumtartt up in my arms, I pitch her over the rail into a lifeboat on its way down.
“Hold that woman!” I command.
With grim resolve, I know that I have to act.
But, I stop. I toss Miss Plumtartt my derby.
Time seems to slow. A temporal aberration. A little bubble of serenity and quiet outside of the tumult around us..
“I love you, Persephone.”
Then I’m off. I fly past passengers. Now the decks are clear. I pick up speed. Instincts help me to dodge tentacles the size of subway cars. I leap deck chairs. The deck of the Victoria tilts towards the stern. The downhill slope increases my velocity. I zig-zag more monstrous appendages until I hit the rail and then I take flight!
I feel as if I am in slow motion,,,,
The gaping maw of an unspeakable terror, takes me in.
It is New Year’s Eve, 1875.
With the help of some simple rake and pull lockpick tools that I keep about my person for the odd emergency, I defeat a locked door, and entry to the house, bordering on mansion, is achieved.
No one seems to be about downstairs. Except in the kitchen. We do not think we will get much good data from the cooking staff, so we easily avoid them. Movement is heard above, but it seems pretty distant.
An investigation reveals two large living areas, filled with cushy chairs and forest-devouring fireplaces.
A large dining room is bypassed.
A library is discovered.
“I have always enjoyed success while conducting investigations at libraries,” I add.
We are pursuing our investigations in the library, as such places are ubiquitously notorious for their valued contents.
Mademoiselle looks up.
“Ladies, be sharp! Oui!”
A set of double doors bursts open and half a dozen troopers rush in, rifles at the ready.
“There you are! We were afraid you girls wouldn’t make it. It seems that there has been some trouble down the road at the other secret factory, er, that is, I mean, cannery.”
“Here we are! Oui! I think we get here before you have zee trouble? Oui! So! Where is zee birthday boy! Oui! Oui!”
Mademoiselle sweeps in upon an officious little fellow with spectacles before his tiny eyes.
“Oh! I say! A party! Good show!” I quickly catch onto Mademoiselle’s game. Miss GoldenBear appears to be a little slower to catch on. I think she is about to do something rash. I give her a good nudge and a gentle elbow. A ferocious winking and pulling of head gestures follow. “Good show, right Miss GoldenBear?”
“Good show?” Miss GoldenBear hisses under her breath. “I think we can take ’em! Oooph! … Oh, well, …. Party! Sure! That’s why I came to this place tonight. A, uh, party.”
Mademoiselle cradles the bespectacled man’s bald head. “And what,” (smooch, smooch, on his blushing forehead) is your name, my little hostie wostie.”
“Hee hee! My name is Howard C. Goodwinkle. But I am afraid that I am not your host, That would be Mr. Thraschewright.”
“Three beautiful girls for one lucky man! He must be French! Oui! But no, his name is not French. What did you say this man was, and who does he do?”
“Millicent Pernicious ThrascheWright. He’s a big canner.”
“Oh! Canning! How interesting! One canner, three girls. Big fun! Oui! Oui!”
“We-ell,” Howard C. says, “there will be three gentlemen. Along with Mr. ThrascheWright, are two very important men. A military big-wig, and a, and a, um, priest. Yeah. That’s it. A priest.”
“Oh! The Mademoiselle DeeDee likes zee man in zee uniform! Oui! But I think the priest, he eez not so much fun? No?”
We ‘Ladies’ are escorted upstairs. The distinctive crack of one billiard ball striking another can be distinguished at a distance, before loud, angry male voices can be heard.
Howard C. Goodwinkle hesitates at the door. There is a heated argument within, and he is loath to interrupt his superiors.
Mademoiselle DeeDee Gauzot sweeps past, throwing open the door and making a grand and sparkling entrance.
“Bonjour! Party time! Where eez my Birthday Boy? Is it schoo, my magnificent, and gargantuan, Man of Industry! Oh! You are so beeg! So much for DeeDee to love! And, oh! A soldier! Zee uniform! It makes DeeDee zee romantic girl! I tell you! Too! Oui! And who is this? A priest? If you are a Man of the cloth, then why do you wear the leather? Maybe you have some dark and wonderful fetish? No? You want to tell DeeDee, yes? Oui! Girls! Come join zee party! Persephone, why don’t you loosen Monsieur Thraschy Wrighty’s tie? Oui? Abigail, I know you just love zee man in zee uniform. Oui, Oui, too!
“What is this? Who are these girls?” hisses Lord Bar’Bazaul, “Did you plan this, ThrascheWright? Is this just another checkmark in today’s list of your failures and incompetences?”
“Oh! Well. Burbityburb. Let’s not be hasty. What. Spoils of war and all that, don’t you know. Burbityburb. Right.”
“You see! Zee Commodore, he agrees with DeeDee! Too!
“That’s Field Marshall.” from beneath the massive moustachio that any walrus would give his left rear flipper to own.
“Of course, my Admiral!” Too!
“We were in the middle of something!” fumes the angry Lord Bar’Bazaul. His heated anger threatens to melt his eyebrow wax and wilt his lip whiskers.
“Er, well, I think we can continue. These silly girls won’t comprehend what we’re talking about.”
“That eez, unless you talk about zee party, oui! Eezn’t zat right, girls?”
“Oh. Oh I see. It’s my turn, then is it? Rather. That is, perhaps I should say, party!, party!, as it were.”
“Oh! Oui! You are zee wild one I think for sure! A tiger, no? Persephone eez zee wild animal, Mr ThrascheWright. I hope she does not give you a beeg bite! He he! Oui!”
Miss GoldenBear joins the Field Marshall.
“This is more like it.” says a voice from deep behind the gray nose bush and eyebrow shrubbery. “Sit down, young lady.”
“I am sitting down.” replies Miss GoldenBear.
“Yes. Harumph. Back to what you were going on about, Thrashgummy.”
“Yes. As concerns the ‘accident’ from earlier, there’s no evidence to suggest it was anything but an accident. Before you go sending in any bad reports on me, just remember that the only witness to tonight’s activities was conveniently ki.. disposed of, by none other than you, yourself. If you want to send in a negative report, go ahead. Just make sure you are ready to accept the blame. … And punishments.”
“You worm, I stand ready to make the World grovel, and you would threaten me?”
“The World may grovel before you, but not Millicent Pernicious ThrascheWriulllgh!”
The leather robed Sorcerer moves with remarkable quickness snatching the arms executive by the windpipe.
“Do not threaten that which stands ready to devour you!”
“Burbityburb! Gentlemen, please!” from the voice of reason within the Field Marshall’s uniform. “I realize the factory was a complete loss. But did any of the germs… er bug bombs survive?”
Only what was shipped to Europe last week, and the wagon that barely survived tonight’s accident. It is headed for Winniedepuh, then Kuetinpeenk, and that one wagon has enough bad news on it to give every fleet surrounding the Pacific to have a sample.”
“What about my mechanized armies. Once all these traitorous recruits are replaced with units that know how to take orders, we’ll really get things done. Harumph.”
“All units are scheduled for on time delivery, General. Oops. I mean Field Marshal.”
Millicent Pernicious ThrascheWright’s jowly face gains a trace of firmness. “I guess things are in your hands now, at your double secret, ‘Location Z’ … Lord Bar’Bazaul.”
In another building, on the sprawling, fortress factory grounds, a bell is ringing.
The ‘Ladies’ exchange furtive glances.
“What is that infernal ringing? Is that some sort of summons to general quarters? Is this facility under attack? Burbityburb.”
“Just a drill, Colonel. I mean, Field Marshal. Gotta keep the boys on their toes, what, what.”
“I should think a clockwork soldier would not need to be drilled in staying on his toes, Mr ThrascheWright. Harumph!”
“Hisss!” Lord Bar’Bazaul hisses. “Field Marshal! This might be just the time to spring a surprise inspection on ‘Location Z’. If you should be so kind as to accompany me.” He holds a door open for the Field Marshall.
“Oh! Merci Boucoup! Ladies! Let’s not dally! Too!”
With supreme effort, Miss Plumtartt helps Mr. ThrascheWright to his over-burdened feet. She slips out of reach as the Executive looks for more assistance.
“All right my little battle booty, you’re coming with me.” says the Field Marshal grabbing Miss GoldenBear by the wrist and pulling her along after. He very nearly dislocates his own shoulder.
“Oh, yeah.” as Miss GoldenBear remembers to be coquettish. She manages to prance a bit as she allows herself to be dragged along, the spoils of war.
Autho Ichabod Temperance
“Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.”
I don’t know where that quote comes from, but I depend upon it far too frequently.
Some folks work hard to make things happen in their life, and some folks sort of blunder into fortunate circumstances.
It was an unusual set of occurrences that led me to discover a love of writing, and I feel that I am very lucky to have found that latent talent. When I pitch my books to potential reviewers, I describe them as “Steampunk, paranormal, happily ever after, action/romances told in a humorous fashion.” I also think it fair to give the description, “these novels contain no graphic sex or violence. Okay, there is a little monster violence, but not bad. There is no strong language. They do however, contain a light sprinkling of mild innuendo.”
Before February eighteenth of 2013, I had never put two words together. I had no idea of how to go about it, but once the first line of my first book came to me, I was encouraged to jump in and give it a go.
“The rumbling purr of an impossibly big cat thrums through my body.”
My first novel poured forth after that opening line came to me, and I have been unrelenting ever since.
My girlfriend had the technical knowledge of how to format the book for Kindle. I just needed book covers for my novels.
I have a wonderfully talented friend, an obstreperous fellow by the name of Sergeant Turk. He’s a gruff ol’ cuss, but I got him to do the graphic work for the books. He came up with a charming and old-fashioned style of cover that to my eye is very different from the appearance of other novels that we see being released nowadays.
But lastly, my luck brought me into contact with a fantastically talented silhouette artist, by the name of Wolfgang Metzger. He read my adventures as they were being written in a blog entry adventure on the website ‘The Steampunk Empire’. Unbidden, he created a silhouette of me and my lovely and gracious muse, Miss Persephone Plumtartt. Mr. Metzger generously allowed me to use the unusual art form of his cut-outs for the cover of the first novel.
Wolfgang Metzger’s silhouette reminded me of a silhouette done of me as a child. When I was five years old, a photographic silhouette was created for me at kindergarten. Forty-five years later, the image still hangs in my mom’s bedroom. She says that silhouette captured me and looks more like me than any photo ever taken of me. I look at that old image and have to agree with her.
Recently, my mom found an old silhouette done of her when she was nine years old. She was leaving church with her mother and two sisters. They met a woman in the park in front of the St. Petersburg Methodist Church. This was 1936, and times were still tough, coming out of the depression. Money was very tight; however, my grandmother sprang for the artwork from this talented woman, who quickly cut out perfect likenesses of the three girls. Everyone was in agreement that the artist was somehow able to capture the image of each person in this unlikely format. I am amazed at how it is done. My childhood silhouette was done photographically, but this woman from Florida in 1936, and my friend Wolfgang, did it with scissors.
I was so delighted with Mr. Metzger’s work that I shamelessly asked him to do one for my second novel, to which he kindly consented.
I am about to embark upon my third novel, after doing a bunch of short story writing exercises for the past few months. Mr. Metzger has already provided another wonderful silhouette to grace the cover of the new book. I feel it is rather providential to have this delightful art form provide such a distinctive, elegant, turn-of-the-century feel to my writing efforts, and at the same time, resonate with intimate familiarity.