Fragments Vaguely Relating To Steampunk


Excerpts from a short story relating to a steampunk convention:

Parts I and II. Unedited, unrevised, unread since it was written over a year ago.

The station was small and harshly lit. Honestly, it was more like an antechamber to hell. And not the fire and brimstone hell, either, just the boring one that is comprised of waiting for a train that never arrives. Or, perhaps worse, when that train pulled in, it deposited you somewhere other than your destination, somewhere you had not planned on going: somewhere like Harrisburg…when your goal was Newark. Though going to Newark once should be enough for even the hardiest of souls. Chesterfield, Lyle, and Kid were waiting, as it turned out, for a train to Newark. They had been waiting in this demonic antechamber for some time; two hours according to Lyle’s watch, two hours and five minutes according to Chesterfield’s. They are all well dressed, in what you might call traveling clothes--if you were traveling to high tea with Queen Victoria.

Chesterfield wore a dark blue collared shirt with white buttons, and a pair of green woolen trousers that did not seem to match with anything, but they did look functional. His coat was a black and grey herringbone antique, it sat over his travel bag, almost protecting it from the harsh gleam of the florescent lights. He also wore black boots, riding boots, the leather soft, cracked with age, with dried mud showing at the heels. Kid, Chesterfield’s arm around her shoulder, had on a black woolen coat, satin lacing up the back, that covered from her neck to brown jodhpurs and black calf-length boots with stiletto heels. Sitting across from the couple, Lyle toyed with his canvas fedora. The battered hat had seen better millennia, and neither of his traveling companions could figure out why he wore it instead of something dressier. Chesterfield resisted an urge to offer him one of his spare top hats or better-looking fedoras. He remained silent about it, though, reckoning there to be some deeper meaning to the hat. Perhaps it served Lyle as some sort of talisman, or maybe he did not want to risk traveling with a better-priced hat.
“Wot’s all this then?” Chesterfield muttered.
“Sall wot?” Lyle said, copying Chesterfield‘s accent. None of the three, including Chesterfield himself, have a clue where Chesterfield picked up his accent, wherever it was though, it has stuck with him.
Despairing at Lyle’s lack of situational awareness, Chesterfield makes a sweeping gesture, cracking his neck and jaw in the process. “This, we’ve been waiting here for how long? Two hours or so, and for…what?”
“A convention.” Kid said, rubbing Chesterfield’s right shoulder. “A convention filled with the most wonderful people, with people like us.” Lyle snorted with laughter and closes his eyes.
“Like us?” Lyle giggled. “Right, the image that just popped into my head is an entire guildhall filled with clones of Chesterfield here, muttonchops and all.” he kept on laughing.
Kid turned Chesterfield’s head to face her and smiled. “Sounds like my kind of convention.” she said, running a hand playfully through his hair. Chesterfield grinned, closing his eyes either deep in thought or simply luxuriating in Kid’s presence. At length he nodded. “I’d totally host a clone-convention, it would probably end when we had planned and executed a coup on every country in the western hemisphere.” he said.

“Traffic jams, flight cancellations, and now three hour train delays. There is a fundamental screw-up in the system, in the national transportation network.” Lyle said after giving the couple a few moments to gaze deeply into each other’s eyes. It seemed Kid was about to fall asleep, even with the burning florescent lights humming overhead.
“And you know what the problem is, don‘t you?” Chesterfield said, taking the bait. He tilted his head towards Kid and winked. Lyle, oblivious to the wink, answered.

“The problem is Communism.” Lyle said, pounding his fist on a suitcase for emphasis.
A man of anywhere from thirty to forty years old walked to the ticket counter, dress shoes clacking across the shiny tile-and-concrete floor of the station. The sound of his shoes caught the attention of Chesterfield, whose head twitched in the man’s direction. Lyle and Kid followed his gaze. The man, brown-haired, middle-aged, carried a dark brown briefcase. He was not incredibly well dressed, aside from the high-end leather shoes, he wore a white collared shirt that he had not bothered to iron recently, and black trousers. He tapped on the glass of the ticket window.
“My name is Marx. M-A-R-X. I should have a first class ticket to Pittsburgh.” he said.
Chesterfield and Kid looked at Lyle. Lyle shook his head and mumbled something before raising his hands towards the lovers. “See, Communism. There you have it, folks. Marx himself will be traveling with us tonight. Since this train lacks a working class car, they always end up misplacing both your luggage and your yokes anyway, Comrade Marx will be traveling first class to liberate the people of Pittsburgh from capitalist oppression.” Lyle said. “And apparently the train station gods are eavesdropping on our conversation and throwing in people like Marx at the perfect time. I suppose it is a good thing I didn’t blame it all on Germany instead, though I do have this great picture of Erwin Rommel walking in and buying up a ticket to Boston.” Kid grinned, Chesterfield grunted, something both his companions knew to be his equivalent of a laugh. He only really laughed when the situation called for it, and very rarely when he was sober and in public. Lyle ran a hand through his hair, pausing to brush some of it out of his eyes.

Our heroes, three of them--first there is the short guy with neck-length reddish hair (though compared to his two companions his hair is quite short), wearing a canvas fedora that looks like it has seen better millennia--he is hauling a massive contraption made out of luggage and an empty golf-bag behind him. It looks like he has not slept in weeks. His name is Eric, but we shall call him Harlequin. The second is a beautiful girl about the same height as the first guy. I could go into greater detail, but if I did that I would never get where I want to go with this bit of writing. Let us just say that, among all her radiant features, her eyes are of that kind that you can just stare into and feel yourself being drawn in and downward to dance with her soul. She is hatless and wearing a black wool riding coat with some very tasteful boots. Her name is Alex. The third person is a rather tall gent with muttonchops and a ponytail. He is wearing a top hat, chesterfield, and freshly polished riding boots. The boots are old, he is not exactly how sure old, no. He thinks that they are probably older than his twenty-one years, though--the leather is impossibly worn in some parts, and almost broken through in others, and the inside of the boot is no better. That was why he ordered boots two weeks before getting on this train ride to what promised to be a wonderful weekend. Wait? Promised to be, so you mean it was not a wonderful weekend? No, I never said that--the weekend itself, or rather, Saturday, was probably one of the niftiest days I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in quite some time. Why? It was a Steampunk convention that my lover and one of my friends attended--how could it be anything other than awesome? Actually, with the trip we had, if the whole thing had ended horribly--with our luck the hotel would burn down and the band slated to play that night would scatter to the four winds, I would not have been surprised. Pissed off, yes. But I probably would have just grunted in a stoic fashion and curled up on the pavement. If there was pavement. However, this is not my story yet. Oh, well, I am the third traveler, yes, but I do not come into my own in this brief story until later on, once we finally arrive in the hell that is New Jersey. I hate New Jersey, and unsurprisingly, so does the third traveler. His/my name is Robinson. You probably knew that, just thought you could use a reminder--or I suppose an introduction if you did not know that. People forget things they should remember, and, of course, remember things they really should block out of their collective memory. No. Though collective memory would be really cool.
There is a missing panel in the ceiling above and to the left of our heroes, two of them glance at it with the same expectation, they are waiting for a tentacle to reach out and pick off one of the other station goers. Sadly, that tentacle did not come out of its hole. This time. If the group waited around long enough, sleeping one at a time, the other two awake and monitoring the opening, something would come out. Something.
Kid snuggled up next to Chesterfield, it was probably around one in the morning, definitely after midnight anyway. The men in the aisle were talking about the health of someone named Yoder. Chesterfield’s Dutch was not all that good, but he understood enough of it to know that Yoder had been ill, but would be released from the hospital soon. For some reason, maybe it was the certainty in the main speaker’s voice, this pleased Chesterfield immensely--though not as much as the feel of Kid’s warmth next to him.
“We’re in the Luddite car. Aren’t we lucky?” Kid said, her smile gleaming in the lights that shown through the rain-spotted window. The landscape outside of the train made them feel like they were on a different world, there seemed to be nothing but tilled soil and the occasional cluster of lights signifying a village It reminded Chesterfield of Dune, of Arrakis, Dune, desert planet. It reminded him of sand and vast wastes spanned only by a single track and the glowing light which would inspire him to write stories of his own later on in the year, for the moment, though, it just made him think of Frank Herbert and Barbara Kodetova. Most Barbara Kodetova in a stillsuit. If the conductor had informed them they would be stopping off on Mars next, they would not have been surprised. Chesterfield grunted, still trying to translate bits and pieces of the Amish conversation.
“I’ve been able to follow most of their conversation. Pretty sure they are getting off in Pittsburgh. Probably heading to Lancaster or thereabouts from the station. Yoder had a heart problem, but a doctor in Chicago was able to help him. He should be staying with Graber once he gets out of the hospital.” Chesterfield whispered.

“My, you are quite the linguist.” Kid said. Chesterfield only grinned and winked in reply. The wink was unnecessary, and came out as more of a facial twitch. Kid giggled.

The thud-click-thud of the wheels carried them eastward towards the fabled city of Newark and a concert they had been preparing months for. Things, however, were about to change…


Steampunk, steampunk, steampunk…

What the bloody hell is it?

The fusion of the possible histories with the ideas and ideals of the this century.

That, in one sentence, is my answer. I’m working on a longer one.

Ursmajor Ursmajor
Jul 12, 2010