September 21, 2020, 04:24:17 PM

Author Topic: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Submission Thread  (Read 121 times)

Offline ScarletBea

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[SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Submission Thread
« on: September 07, 2020, 08:10:29 AM »
SEPTEMBER: STEAMPUNK



Steampunk Witch Doctor by Direimpulse

Airships and locomotives, corsets, parasols and clockworks. Steampunk is more than just steam (or even punk), it's a melding of fantasy, science fiction, alternate history, and many other genres. It can involve pirates on flying ships, pedigreed ladies doubling as assassins and spies, mad scientists in horrible laboratories or even steam-trains rushing over the ocean.

What does your steampunk universe look like? And what story do you have to tell?

Rules:

1. This must be prose or poetry.
2. The story must be in the steampunk genre
3. Prose must be 500-2000 words long.
4. Poetry must be 100-750 words long.
5. One story per person or writing team (not per account).
6. You will be disqualified if you exceed the limits, full stop. That's why they're called limits.
7. Your entry can't be published somewhere else before.
8. This is a writing contest, not a "I have written something like this ten years ago" contest. So if you happen to have a story that fits one of the themes, I'd like it to have a mayor overhaul/edit. Work for it. ;)
9. Please add your story's word count and, if you have, your twitter handle.
10. Please put your story in [ spoiler ] tags to make the thread easier to handle. :) You can find them above the smileys under the B.
Bonus rule: We consider voting in a contest you're taking part in a given. Others take time and effort to read the stories - you should do the same. A small community like ours lives from reciprocity and this contest needs stories as much as votes. 


If you want so submit your story anonymously you can do so by sending it in a personal message to @xiagan.

Entry will close September 30th/October 1st, 2020 and voting will begin somewhere around the same time too.

All members are eligible to join. If you are not a member you can join here. Sign up is free and all are welcome! :)

The winner will have their piece displayed on the main Fantasy Faction website sometime in the next months.
Submitting a story counts as published. The author retains all rights to their work.

Remember that this thread is only for entries. Discussion or questions can be posted here
At home in the Fantasy Faction forum!

I'm "She Who Reigns Over Us All In Crimson Cheer", according to Peat!

Offline hexa

Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Submission Thread
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2020, 12:18:57 PM »
The Ripper
950 words

Spoiler for Hiden:
Detective Holmes arrived at his office at Scotland Yard.  He was greeted by Deputy Watts.
Watts murmured, "Good morning, Detective Holmes.  I am to brief you on your new assignment."
Detective Holmes removed his deerstalker hat, and sat in a wooden chair.
Watts continued, "Since you have succeeded as a detective, the chief has assigned you our most
pressing case.  There is a serial killer afoot in Whitechapel, in East London.
The newspapers call him Jack the Ripper."
Holmes sighed, "Ah, the fiend slays poor prostitutes.  After the slayings,
he continues his depravity by surgically extracting inner organs.
Jack the Ripper is a senseless killer; he is a madman."
Watts nodded, "The victims have no connection other than prostitution.
The Ripper's broad mania has alarmed the women of Whitechapel.
Queen Victoria is unhappy with the newspapers' hysteria about a petty thug of no significance."
Watts placed a folder of papers on Holmes's desk.  "Here are the documents about the Ripper."
Holmes said, "Thank you, Watson.  These are crimes of passion with a knife.
My Adams revolver should be adequate for this fiend."  Watts nodded as he left the office.
As Holmes read the documents, he sighed again.  "The latest victim, Catherine Eddowes,
was found in the City of London.  The preceding bodies were found in Whitechapel.
Jack the Ripper is no longer confining his crimes to East London.
He has moved west to the heart of the city.  This represents an escalation in his crimes."
Holmes informed Watts that he would investigate the latest crime scene,
the site of Catherine Eddowes in Mitre Square, in the old city.
Holmes retrieved his deerstalker hat, and traveled from Westminster to Mitre Square via train.
As Holmes arrived at the south side of Mitre Square, he found that a crime scene technician was
still there.  Holmes greeted the technician, and inquired if he had discovered anything.
The technician nodded, "It was very foggy this morning, due to coal smoke mixing with vapor
from the River Thames.  The yellow fog assisted the killer in concealing his assault from
witnesses.  This location in Mitre Square was once the site of an old monastery,
a priory named Holy Trinity.  Those old monks would disapprove that their monastery has been
turned into a site of prostitution.  One of those monks still lives across the street.
His name is Nicholas.  I thought that you might like to ask him if he witnessed anything
unusual this morning."  Holmes thanked the technician.
Holmes proceeded to the monk's house, knocking on the door.  An old bearded man opened the door.
"Ah, Detective Holmes, your reputation proceeds you.  My name is Friar Nicholas.
I presume you are interested in the murder that occurred this morning?"
Detective Holmes acknowledged his investigation.
Nicholas continued, "I heard a commotion across the street, but there was a sinister yellow fog
blocking my view.  Fortunately, we monks have a rite to drive away fog.
I performed the rite, which gave me a clear view of the crime.
I must warn you, Detective, that we monks condemn prostitution as a sin.
Normally I would not grieve for a prostitute, but that maniac butchered her body in a devilish
manner.  Although Jack the Ripper's face was not pointed in my direction, I noticed that he wore
a large black top hat.  He also had a rash.  The Ripper suffers from syphilis, a disease spread
by passion.  He was clumsy enough to drop a paper."  Nicholas handed a paper to Holmes.
The paper held a drawing of the Clock Tower of London, Big Ben.
Two days later, Detective Holmes reported to his office at Scotland Yard.
He informed Deputy Watts that the case of Jack the Ripper had been solved.
Watts walked to Holmes's office for a debriefing.  Holmes explained his deduction.
"Jack the Ripper was a mad hatter.  He worked at a hat factory in Westminster.
The mercury from his hats dripped on his head, giving him madness.
However, there have been many mad hatters in this city, and only this one became a serial
killer.  Jack's wife was not patient with his illness, and she left him.
Jack became a customer of prostitutes.  However, Jack contracted a disease named syphilis from a
prostitute.  Jack was angry at the prostitute that infected him.  Jack also lived within view of
the Clock Tower.  The precise schedule of the big clock convinced Jack to strike prostitutes in
a methodical manner, scientifically examining their bodies for syphilis.
That is why Jack extracted the inner organs of the prostitute, in a demented scientific study of
syphilis.  I was able to locate Jack's house, and summoned a police wagon to arrest him."
Watts congratulated Detective Holmes.  "Brilliant, Detective!  Should we charge him with murder?"
Holmes shook his head.  "The Ripper has been driven completely insane.
I shall recommend to Queen Victoria that he be committed to a sanitarium for the criminally
insane.  I wonder whether Queen Victoria will inform the newspapers that the case has been
solved."
Watts shook his head.  "Queen Victoria is disgusted that the greedy muckrakers have
sensationalized the crimes to sell more newspapers.  She shall not tell the newspapers anything
more of Jack the Ripper, for they would only use that information to fill their pockets with
money."  Watts paused.  "Is it time for you take a vacation, Detective Holmes?"
Holmes disagreed.  "It is not elementary, Watts.
I am disturbed by the Clock Tower's participation in recent crimes.
I fear that the infernal machine has become an instrument of evil.
I shall pay a visit to Friar Nicholas, asking him if the machines are empowering criminals.
It is not enough to merely solve crime; we must understand what causes crime."

Offline Henry Dale

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Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Submission Thread
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2020, 12:14:45 PM »
Sweet Tea
618 words

Spoiler for Hiden:
The Inventor's Faire was wild this year.

Steam Power had revolutionized the world and now everyone was focusing on its development to find that next life-changing breakthrough.

***

Granny Harriet would have none of it, however.

The reason she was here was because her granddaughter Letty wanted it really badly.
The girl was running to and fro, examining every invention with great fascination before bounding to the next exhibit.
That new-fangled steam was all the rage these days and some people even said it would eventually replace magic.
Harriet snorted at the mere thought of it. She was old enough to recognize a fad when she saw one.

"Granny, come look!"
Letty's high-pitched voice cut through the sounds of the bustling crowd.
Harriet sighed as she slowly made her way to her grand-daughter, brandishing her walking stick and whacking the shins of anyone who wasn't fast enough to let her through.
"What is it, dear?" Harriet spoke to Letty in a sweet voice, ignoring the upset looks of the people in her wake.
"Look, granny, it's so cool."
Above them, a group of miniature contraptions were puffing about, leaving a trail of little clouds in their wake. They sputtered and hissed as they circled overhead.

Harriet looked down into her four-year old granddaughter's doe-eyes. She knew what was coming next.

"Can I have one, granny, pleeeeaaaase?" The girl stretched out the last word, knowing all too well Harriet wouldn't be able to refuse her granddaughter.

The salesman, a young flamboyant character with a straw hat and striped suit started his pitch, much to the annoyance of granny.
"Are you two young ladies interested in a drone? They can fly up to a hundred miles without recharging and are eco-friendly to boot. On top of that, no enslaving of djinns to make 'em fly. This is proper certified science and nothing beats that."
Harriet's eyes narrowed themselves to little slits. "Harrumph." She said, but Letty tugged at her granny's arm.
"Alright, alright. Just give me one of those thingamajigs."

While the salesman bagged one of the toys, Harriet started counting out her copper coins from the tiny wallet she carried around. As is the case with wallets of old ladies, they were larger on the inside.

After the exchange was made, Harriet managed to grab Letty before she darted off again.
"What do you say to your granny?"
The girl bounced up and down, struggling to free herself from Harriet's iron grasp. "Thank you, granny!"

***

It was getting late and Harriet's legs were getting tired. She didn't know where Letty kept getting that energy.
The girl ran between the different exhibits and her gran.
Honestly, she didn't get what was so great about this stuff. To think she could've sat in the sun, in her rocking chair and --

A divine smell interrupted her train of thought. A smell of summer leaves in the wind. A hot breeze in the evening. And it was coming from one of the stands.

Tucked between the exhibit for the rocket boots and the one for automobiles was a little table, decked with strange metal bulbs with elephant snouts. There were an assortment of mismatched mugs as well.

The salesman was an elderly gentleman with spiffy white hair.
The man jumped up from his chair and called out. "Do you fancy a cup of tea, ma'am? I made it with my revolutionary invention: the tea kettle. I swear it will change the world. The power of steam will find its way to every household."

But Harriet wasn't listening anymore as she sipped from the fragrant tea she had been offered. And she had to admit not all steam power was a fad.



Offline bdcharles

Re: [SEP 2020] - Steampunk - Submission Thread
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2020, 05:06:49 PM »
Note G
(1500 words)
Spoiler for Hiden:
Lady Fairy wanted to fly. Lady Fairy wanted to fly, and to understand the human mind. But that was before Spamme slid curious tendrils about the narrow isthmus of her waist.

Charles was the one who began it; note this down. Naturally he had read much of Byron’s work, going about it with some protraction, until later everyone said that ennui at his desk employ must surely have set in because in February’s meetup at the Green Mum in Gaslantern Street, he brought along a copper bowl, a lantern, a vial of naphtha, and a gem that might have been the turkstone. I, the first to arrive, procured us a corner table in the window and rubbed mist from the panes with one finger.

“Naphtha?” spluttered Catherine, when all were present and seated. Montgomery’s eyes pondered Lady Fairy’s mechanical contrivances, bolted to the walls. Her creations had revolutionised the Mum’s distilling process, much to our enjoyment, and she had apparently gifted them a few parts as decoration. No doubt more chuntered on in the taproom at the back, diligently producing mettrick and wine for us.

“Mmm,” muttered Charles. “For the vapours. Spamme, you see?”

Lady Fairy said nothing, though I recall an admiring glint crept into her gaze. That was nothing unusual itself; the two were firm friends. None of us had any clue what Spamme was, and started to query Charles on it. But he was evasive, fobbing us off with mumbles about “shrouds” and “forms” and “the mendicantish Other.”

Then Lady Fairy spoke for the first time that befogged evening. “Spamme?” she said. “It’s a little-known sect of the Jesuits.”

Montgomery’s head nodded up from its measure of brandy. Everyone else fell quiet. The only other customers in the Mum were a trio of hooded figures; bandits, I surmised, or taxmen; ne’er-do-wells at any rate. “The Jesuits?” Montgomery muttered. He was a meticulous man prone to bouts of kundalini panic and I suspected Lady Fairy might be loosing a joke on him.

“Yes.” At this, Charles became more focused. He leaned towards us, away from the brassy fire, embracing us in a mischievous gaze, and continued sotto voce, though infused with new energy. “These Jesuits – Spamme – believe that the way to heaven can be accessed, at will, via a consecrated hedgerow, which I have tonight learned is not far from here, past the little chapel on Astrophasia Lane.” He paused, leaving us all a-raised of the eyebrows. “There are, however, conditions.”

“Oh, go on, Charles,” said Catherine, getting to her feet and squeezing around a candleholder whose flame broadcast orange. “More absinthe, anyone?”

“Heaven?” I chortled. “At will, you say?” It was too delicious. “Yes, do go on. What conditions would these be?”

As Charles recited a fanciful-sounding list, including his three items, assorted inclement meteorological terms, most of which were rapidly transpiring outside, followed by a sequence of words, to be venerably spoken, and so forth, Montgomery looked to fold up inside himself. It was as if he didn’t wish to be there or was trying to avoid being spotted. I couldn’t blame him. This was rather silly.

And I immediately noticed – by what mechanism, I cannot say, though Lady Fairy might illuminate me – that between that lady herself and Mr. C. Dickens, esq., across the table, had sprung new strands of some co-conspiracy. An affair? It was not outside the realms of possibility. Moreover, I was certain that Catherine, his wife, was privy to precisely none of it. She returned with a bottle, an 1847 Couric and Tayburns. Those curlicues on that label didn’t lie.

Lady F and C.D. chatted on. She produced a scrap of paper headed with the words ‘Note G’ and in whose blanks were written numbers and arcane symbols, arranged to form patterns akin to poetry or mantras. What the deuces were they up to?, I pondered in my mind, as Charles went on.

Across the small saloon, the caped individuals got up and left. Suddenly the world presented as something very fractured. This was no ordinary meeting of friends. And furthermore, I harboured no illusions that this marvellous hedgerow to which Charles alluded would escape a visit from us tonight. The fog, Lady Fairy’s paper, Charles’s bits-and-bobs – the pre-conditions were all there.

And so it was not mere happenstance that thirty or forty minutes later, we five – Catherine, Charles, Lady Fairy, Montgomery and myself – having paid and quit the Green Mum, emerged from one bank of thickening pea-soup or another to stumble straight into the metal gate at the end of Astrophasia Lane.

“Careful!” cried Catherine. Her voice was pitched too high, too loud, too inappropriate for the moment. In the milky gloaming of one shuddery lamplight, the cross atop the chapel shimmered. Judging by his timid gesticulations, Montgomery was inferring it as an augury.

But before he could make any tremulous excuses, Lady Fairy was by his side. “Now, my dear, Mr. Montgomery,” she purred, and it was just like that – the sort of noise you might expect from a jungle cat; “you weren’t thinking of leaving, were you? But you simply must stay!” She laughed. Unlike Catherine’s utterance, it was in keeping with the shrouded dark. Enhanced it a little, you could say; gave it a sheen of something. “What’s the worst that can happen?”

Montgomery gave a feeble moan; and with a ferrous screech, the gate swung unwillingly open. And we were in.

At first I supposed us to have entered the churchyard. I couldn’t say what Spamme’s burial customs might have been, but a cemetery was an appropriate spot for a glimpse into heaven. Presently, however – and remember, we were entombed in wratithlike drapes of fog; at one point, despite our lantern, I realised I could not see my hand and very nearly panicked – segments of mist vanished and I realised we were in a maze. What a sight we would have made by day. I wasn’t half-glad no respectable persons could see us then.

Charles took Lady Fairy’s arm. “Do you have your paper – Note G?”

She looked into his eyes, solemn. “I do,” she replied, each word coloured by hues of meaning. What I could see of Catherine, which was about an arm-and-a-half, suggested she remained unaware of the situation developing.

We proceeded down arboreal lanes, and, I considered those hooded figures in the Green Mum. Were they emissaries of Spamme? Something sinister about a shadowy religion, wasn’t there? Still, we’d by now made so many turns that even the most committed zealot would have trouble finding us even without the fog. From ahead, Charles told us to “hold hands, as there was a great thickening up ahead.” I was at the back; Catherine took my sleeve.

A great thickening up ahead. How I wish I had heeded the warning in those words.

Paper in hand, Lady Fairy took up residence beside a solid wall of conifer – a dead end. In the ordinary realm of things, we were profoundly lost. Beside her, Charles held the lantern. Behind him, Montgomery, then Catherine and me. All about was white. I wished for naught than to be a small child again.

“Grant body and soul entry to the Kingdom of Heaven. Six,” read Lady Fairy.

The hedges parted. I craned my neck to see.

“Good Lord!” Charles screamed.

Poor Mr. Montgomery. The whole thing thrust him into sudden and terrible spiritual loops. His eyes must not have been prepared for what awaited us; then again, none of ours were, except perhaps Lady Fairy’s. His knees gave out.

The colours – in the name of humanity, I cannot begin to categorise them, yet I must. Here we were, gazing upon True Heaven. Yet we – or I, certainly, had no idea what I was looking at. Imagine a dahlia, green and pink and spiny. Imagine it turned through a million multiple contortions until it was the only thing in our field of vision, warped and awful and everywhere, suffused with fury. Imagine a thousand freakish bugs squeezed into configurations never meant for them, and possessed of the power of the most demonic language. And the things they spoke of – oh.

And beyond them, three – how can I say? Three tadpolean forms, man-sized, devil-faced, the emissaries circling a – circling a – a rent, an anomaly, a hole.

The emissaries.

The mind of God! We were looking into the mind of God, and it was a psychic artefact to dread. The mendicantish other, grabbing blindly at human souls, disposing of them.

I cannot say what happened next or how we got out of there. What I do know is: Montgomery never recovered his senses; the elderberries did Catherine’s liver in; Charles, not seen again. I can only imagine he ventured past the tadpole emissaries – and into that hole, the hole in the mind of God.

But come, now; sit; be easy, for Spamme has us, and demands we show the world that hedgerow on Astrophasia Lane.

Ah; Lady Fairy, inheritor of her father’s madness.

« Last Edit: September 16, 2020, 05:27:46 PM by bdcharles »
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