“I figured it out,” Bonnie declared as she slid open the cabin door. George waited patiently in the hall, ready to tidy the room once the ladies left for the dining car.
Vi stood inside the cabin, doing a final check in the mirror of how much damage her sleepless night had done to her face. She gave her cheekbones a pinch to add color. “What did you figure out?” she asked eventually.
The other woman waited until she’d slipped out the door before answering. “Your secret,” she whispered mischievously.
“You’ll have to be a bit more specific than that. I’m a woman with many secrets,” Vi replied. She tried for a chuckle but it came out strained, her new and unpredictable ability weighing heavy on her mind.
Bonnie savored the moment as they passed to the next car. Once they’d shut out the rush of wind she smiled. “I know why you’re looking so grouchy.”
“Really. And why is that?” Vi asked levelly.
“Well, you keep trying to hide it, but I know the truth…” the little brunette trailed off suggestively, eyes shining. Finally, she announced, “Trains make you sick to your stomach!” Relief flooded Vi’s body, and she let out the breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding. Bonnie mistook it for admission of guilt. “Aha!”
“Yes. You’ve found me out,” Vi replied, applying just the right amount of remorse to her voice to sell it. Feigning motion-sickness was far more appealing than trying to explain the true source of her sleepless night. Bonnie may be proving more resilient than she first appeared, but there were limits.
After he retrieved the loose pages, the sepia-colored Peter puffed up his cheeks and he blew out a low, appreciative whistle. Awe knocked the slur out of his voice as he surveyed the stack of deeds, titles, and other important papers he held in his hands. “This has to be one of the biggest scores of all time.”
“Big enough to get out of here and never look back, that’s for certain,” Vi confirmed, carefully tipping the heavy bottle over the narrow opening of her champagne flute. “To my new husband, and his very deep pockets,” she said with mock seriousness and raised her glass. Some of the golden liquid bubbled up over the brim and she giggled as it sloshed and dribbled over her fingers.
Peter captured the younger Vi’s hand in his. Before either of them realized it had happened, he pressed his lips against her fingers. He caught the ribbon of champagne before it dripped onto her dress, and for several heartbeats her shadow-self sat breathing into the moment.
The flesh and blood Vi knew what came next, but couldn’t drag her eyes away.
A figure suddenly burst out of the crowd in George’s path, but the little boy could not see or feel him as he passed right through. The ghost walked in a straight line with no mind to any would-be obstacle, the foggy material of his body swirling in response to the contact without hindering his speed. When she took in her former partner’s furrowed brow, she had a fleeting reminder of her vision. Her concern was short-lived; the ghost’s annoyed voice cutting through the crowd told her this Peter could see her.
“Why did you insist on bringing the kid? You know they just complicate matters,” the ghost harrumphed, crossing his insubstantial arms across his chest once he came to a stop. Vi blinked the picture of the living Peter’s dejected form out of her eyes as he continued. “Not to mention, he doesn’t know anything about your abilities, so you’ll have to be on guard all the time again.”
“I couldn’t leave him behind,” she murmured, allowing the sound of the busy station to cover her hushed words.
“Of course not,” Bonnie assured her, unaware of the ghost’s presence. Vi moved her free hand so the back of it touched the other woman’s skin and Bonnie let out a knowing “ah” as the ghost came into view. It was hard to believe this was the same woman who’d slapped Vi across the face for even implying she could talk to the dead when they’d first met.
In case you missed the post on my Facebook author page, here’s where to find my latest interview. Steampunk Cavaliers is a collective of Steampunk writers who reviews books, write articles, and interview other Steampunk fans. I was asked to talk about my first encounter with Steampunk in a guest post for the Cavaliers.
I don’t believe in fate, but I do believe in the power of a single moment to drastically change the trajectory of a person’s life.
I was back in my native Minnesota for a visit, and a friend happened to have a show the same weekend. I always thought of her as a singer. But she’d recently started to perform with a burlesque troupe. Or, what she said was more accurately described as “nerd-lesque.” In addition to the sexy strip teases, the performers usually chose something from geek or pop culture to integrate into the act.
That month, they’d chosen steampunk as their theme.
Steampunk Cavaliers are also a partner in the Network of Indie Steampunks, and serve as a stop on our blog tours.
Viola Thorne was not amused.
If the average person found herself in the middle of a blank, eternal void, she’d probably give panic at least a few moments of her time. But the relapsed grifter simply put fists to hips, and painted on her best surly glare.
“I know I wanted to get a clean start, but this is ridiculous,” she grumbled into the emptiness.
A light breeze suddenly kissed her cheek and gently tugged at her clothes. The force of the wind redoubled, the darkness rippling in its wake as the nothing began the process of becoming something.
After giving my “30 Years of Steampunk” talk at the International Steampunk Symposium, the fine folks behind OddMall approached me about making another appearance. This will be the first Halloween edition of an event described as “not your grandma’s craft fair,” and I am thrilled to be a part of it!
In addition to the exhibit and its accompanying lecture, I’ll be giving another talk on the things Victorians found frightening. This is different from the “Make it Supernatural” talk I’ve given before, and will focus on the urban legends of Victorian London such as the “Great Garroting Scare.” Jack the Ripper brought the idea of a serial killer into the popular imagination for the first time, and at a time when your reputation meant everything, a doppelganger could spell ruin.
So, come on out to the Seagate Convention Center in Toledo Oct 14-15 to see my talks, check out my merchandise, and enjoy the hallowondrous frivolity for the whole family.
Find out more about Hallowondrous
Would you like me to speak at your event? Check out my list of topics.
To the untrained eye, the silver platter simply floated across the room. No strings held it aloft, and nothing supported it from below, yet it made slow and steady progress hovering across the polished wooden floor. A seated figure watched from the other end of the well-appointed room, patiently awaiting whatever lay at its center and smiling at the strange parody of King Solomon and his magic carpet.
“Very good,” he said. “You get stronger every day, Mary.”
The ghost held her mouth in a firm line as she took another deliberate step. “Thank you, sir.” A tremor traveled through the tray as she spoke, and she puffed up her cheeks as she focused her energy on her hand. The mirrored surface of the tray flashed as she crossed into the pool of candlelight and it crashed to the floor.
“One thing at a time,” the man scolded as he rose from his leather chair. “Remember, throwing something in a burst of energy is much easier than being steady enough to carry things. But you are making excellent progress. Just think! You died less than a year ago and you’ve already come so far.”
“I want to be ready,” she simpered. “When the time comes.”
“And I’m sure you will be,” the man replied before stooping to retrieve both the platter and the folded slip of paper. “Now, what is this you’ve brought me?”