Thursday, March 14, 2013

Prompt: Steampunk Animals

When the tower clock started chiming, Darius nudged aside the magnifying lens of his custom eyepatch to glare up at it. He looked down at Petunia, sitting patiently at his feet. He reached down to pat her head, and she lifted her muzzle to give his fingers a soft slurp. He heard the soft whine of gears as her tail wagged slowly back and forth. “Remind me to take a look at that after supper, little one. You can’t sneak up on the kitchen cats making that much noise.”

That didn’t change the fact that it was time for dinner, and Lucia would be giving him a glare of her own if he was late a third night in a row. He looked down at the mechanical spider in his hand and smiled as he realized what had been wrong. The clock and even Lucia were momentarily forgotten as he snapped the lens back in place and picked up his tiny screwdriver to tinker with the spider’s monocular eye lens once more.

“There!” He exclaimed with satisfaction as the spider began to move its lens around, surveying the room. Darius leaned down and set the spider on the floor. It bounced up and down on its multi-jointed legs for a few seconds, then scuttled across the floor and under the door. Darius flipped up his magnifying lens and slid another in its place. He felt along the strip of tiny gears holding it against his forehead until he found the proper adjustment. The lens snapped into focus, and he saw the hallway from the spider’s view as it scurried along the edge.

“Excellent. Now, run along, my fine friend. Let’s see what we see, shall we?” Darius murmured as he collected his overcoat and tophat. Lucia really would be ready to stab his other eye out if he didn’t hurry. By habit, he picked up another mechanical animal and his pocket toolkit and slid them into one of his overcoat pockets. Petunia stood and walked at his heels down the keep’s stone corridors to the dining room.

Everyone was seated and chatting as Darius entered. He leaned over to kiss Lucia’s cheek as he slid into his chair at the head of the table. She slid him a sideways look that spoke volumes, but held her tongue.

“Good evening, all! Well met and welcome. My lovely bride Lucia has, no doubt, a spectacular feast planned in your honor. Let us commence!”

A line of servants brought a steady flow of food and drink that seemed never ending as the dining hall was filled with merriment. Darius and Lucia said little, for different reasons. After he had eaten his fill, he reached for her hand, but she slipped it away from his and into her lap. He sighed. She was indeed angry and he would be hard pressed to lift her temper when they were alone.

Darius slipped the spider’s eyepiece down over his patch to check its progress. Blades of grass swept past, and he thought it must be well into the meadows by now. It would make it to the forest tonight, and probably to Daedalus’ Hold the following day. It should stay in hiding until dark to enter the Hold unseen.

“…wouldn’t you say, milord? Milord Darius?”

He looked up with a start to find all eyes on him. He smiled to the room at large and said, “No doubt, sir, no doubt!” The ladies laughed behind the hands, and the men roared and pounded the tables with their mugs. Darius leaned over to Lucia. “What did I just agree to?” He asked her sotto voce. Her eyes danced with mischief.

“You should pay better attention, husband. I know you’re not overfond of jousting.”

Darius groaned and fiddled the wings of the mechanical bird in his pocket. Jousting? He shook his head. Why did it have to be jousting? But there were no competitions for mechanical creatures, more’s the pity.

Darius straightened, considering. Now, that might be interesting indeed. He leaned over to kiss Lucia’s cheek again. Forgiven his earlier faux pas by the merriment of his later one, she accepted his kiss gracefully.

“Pardon me, my dear, but I’ve just had an idea I must act upon immediately. I won’t be long.” He rose and paused. “Don’t wait up for me though.”

Lucia sighed and gave him a level stare. “I never do, my love. I never do.” She turned to reply to another comment from the table, and Darius slipped down the hall to return to his workshop.

A competition! What a capital idea!
Dogs in house:
Houdini, Brindle, Bacon

Rhythm of the dishwasher

Time writing:
~45 minutes

March word count:

1 comment:

  1. Prompt: Steampunk Animals

    Frank coughed and waved a gloved hand in front of his face, clearing the last vestiges of smoke from his vision. He squinted. Well, it was still in one piece. The flank of the copper cat was marred by soot marks. He tapped with his hammer, and the belly rang soundly. That part wasn't the problem.

    He tapped along the back and up the neck, then down both legs. Ah, there. The back left gave a dissonant clang. He swung the legs--movement was free. There must be something on the inside blocking the flow of steam. He turned with a sigh to get the wrenches and removed the leg.

    "Wha'cha up to, Uncle Frankie?" called a deep voice. Rick sauntered into the workshop, a young man in tan trousers and vest, with a close-shaven beard.

    Frank gestured at the cat and squinted down the leg.

    "Oh, wow," Rick said. He stopped and starred. "It's beautiful, Uncle Frankie. Have you run it?"

    Frank raised his eyebrows and nodded meaningfully at the soot.

    Writing time: 45min, active baby