OMG 2012 BT: STEAMED! Steampunk Novel & Tiara Giveaway!
Welcome to Day # 5 of my week long blog tour!
Today, please join me at STEAMED! where you can read the first part of the story below as well as enter to win an author-signed copy of The Zombies of Mesmer and a Clockhand Tiara/Necklace made by EJP Creations. I’m wearing the lovely piece as a tiara in this picture, taken for Gearhearts Steampunk Glamour Revue, but it can also be worn as a necklace. Check out the close up at the end of the story.
(By the by, you can order your very own copy of Gearhearts Steampunk Glamour Revue, Issue #3, featuring ME on the cover, my short story “Of Aether & Aeon,” an in-depth interview, a review of Avalon Revisited, and more scandalous pictures of yours truly along with many other Steampunk beauties. Order from Antarctic Press today!)
….continuation of the story….
Hannah still counted next to him. “twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine, and thirty. Ready or not! Here we come!” she sang. But her smile fell the instant she saw Gabriel’s face.
Her scream echoed off the surrounding trees.
“C’mon, she couldn’t have gone that far yet. I think I heard her go this way,” Gabe said pointing into a thicket of trees. They truly did all look the same. After about twenty minutes, Hannah began to panic again.
“She left us here. She really left us!”
“It will be just fine, Hannah. I left a trail, but I ran out of cogs before we got here. Still if we can find just one cog, we can find our way back home.”
“I’m hungry,” Hanna said.
“Me, too. We have these.” Gabriel held out the crusts of bread, and Hannah took the smaller one. “No, take the bigger one. We’ll be home before long, and there will be more there.”
They ate in silence, but it did not take too long to finish their lunch, as the pieces of bread were very small. They started walking again, but Hannah began to fall behind just after a short while.
“I’m really tired, Gabe. Can we rest some more, please?”
She sat down in the leaves and fell over onto outstretched arms, fast asleep. In fact, she lay so perfectly still, Gabriel had to look closely to see that her little chest was still rising and falling. It was. Although he felt relieved, he thought it strange she would fall asleep so fast, but just as he finished that thought, all went black and he collapsed next to her.
The sound of a deep voice singing woke Gabriel from his unnatural slumber. His sister still lay in the same place, same position. She shivered all over, and he felt cold, too. Darkness surrounded them. Only the light of the moon allowed him to see at all. It was high in the sky, so it must be very late. The singing started to fade. After lifting Hannah up by the arm, which woke her up, Gabe dragged her along side of him as he followed the sound of the song. Before too long, a light appeared up ahead in the shape of a square with a cross through the middle. A window! There was a cottage which meant food and a fire. They would not freeze or starve after all. Gabriel watched a tall, lanky man disappear into the house. It must have been he who had been singing.
“Where are we?” Hannah was still sleepy. She rubbed her eyes with her little fists.
“Here is a cottage. We shall be all right, just as I told you.”
“Look!” She pointed to the cabin, and Gabe clasped his hand over her mouth before she could say anything else.
“Shhhh,” he warned, finger pressed tightly to his lips.
“Look,” she whispered this time. “The cottage is made of cake and candy!”
“Don’t be silly, Hannah. Houses cannot be made of sweets! The birds would eat them all up.”
“But look!” she insisted.
Sure enough, the roof shingles did indeed seem to be slices of gingerbread cake and the shutters around the windows looked like licorice. The smell of freshly baked gingerbread wafted in their direction. Just as they were about to sneak up and help themselves, the lanky man appeared in the window and placed three hot pies on the windowsill to cool.
Gabriel took Hannah by the hand and led her slowly up to the window. As they got closer, they could see that the licorice shutters were actually wrought iron and the gingerbread shingles were just regular wooden shingles covered in a brown sort of moss. But the pies on the windowsill were very real! Using the napkin that had held the bread, Gabe reached up and slid the nearest one off the ledge. Even through the cloth, the iron plate burned his hand, but he didn’t care. He dashed away from the house with his sister following every footstep. Once they were far enough away not to be seen in the darkness, but not so far that they lost sight of the house, Gabe stopped running, sat down, and dug in. His sister followed his lead, and before long they had devoured the entire pie.
“Gladys? Gladys, are you there?” The lanky man stood in the doorway and called out to the darkness. The sound of his voice made both Gabe and Hannah freeze in mid-chew. They held their breath until the man dropped his head, shook it sadly from side to side, mumbled something to himself, and closed the door as he disappeared back inside.
“Let’s go to him,” Hannah said looking up at Gabe with her big blue eyes. So brave, even at just six years old. Brave, or perhaps not old enough to be wary of strangers. Besides, after being betrayed and abandoned by their own family, how could they trust anyone? They could not survive on their own, two children lost in the woods. So they had to risk it, as it was their only option. For Gabe was just two years older, and he could only do so much to care for her. Perhaps this strange man would help them find their way out of the forest and back home.
“In the morning,” Gabe said, putting his arm around Hannah and pulling her close. She shivered against him and before long Gabriel joined her. Even snuggled together, they could not keep out the chill of this October night. “Stay here. I’m going to get another pie.”
“No! He’ll know. Let’s just knock. He wouldn’t turn us away, would he?” Hannah’s big eyes started filling with tears again.
“In the morning. We don’t want to wake him up. He might be cross with us if we wake him, so we’ll wait until dawn.”
“But I’m cold,” she said through chattering teeth, so the word ‘cold’ came out like ‘cowowowold.’
“So am I. Another pie will help. Just wait here.”
“No. I’m coming with you.” She stood up, crossed her arms, and stomped her little foot, and that gesture warmed Gabriel’s heart.
“All right. Just be quiet.”
“I can be quieter than you! Remember last night? I had to tell you to hush, so there.”
“That’s true.” But Gabe’s smile faltered at the reminder of what his parents had done, as if he needed a reminder. “Come on.” They tiptoed back to the house and stopped just outside the window, listening for any sign of movement, but there was none. Gabriel reached up to work a second pie from the windowsill when a long, lanky hand shot out of the window and clasped his wrist. Gabe cried out, scaring Hannah into a shrill scream.
“Ah ha! There are my little thieves,” the man said as he held on tightly to Gabe’s arm, bruising it. Gabriel struggled to get free, but all that did was knock one of the pies to the ground. All that fresh gingerbread pie smashed onto the dirt, ruining it.
“Run, Hannah! Run!”
But Hannah did not run. She just stood there crying and covering her ears.
“Don’t worry none. I’m not going to hurt you. If you were hungry, you should’ve just knocked,” the man said letting the boy go. “I have plenty of food. Please, come inside.”
Gabriel looked at Hannah, and Hannah nodded. But Gabe did not think it was safe.
“It’s much warmer inside, children. Please, do come inside and sit by the fire. I have a delicious roast and potatoes and carrots, and then you can have fresh gingerbread pie for dessert. There is one left after all. All right?”
Tentatively, the children entered the house when the lanky man opened his front door.
“That’s right,” he said. “Go over by the fire and warm up. I’m Dr. Abbington, by the way. Retired, of course. It’s so nice to have the company. What are your names?”
Gabriel stood protectively over Hannah who was already warming herself by the fire. She spoke first.
“I’m Hannah, and this is my brother Gabriel. But I just call him Gabe.”
“Nice to meet you both, Gabe and Hannah. It’s so nice to have the company. It’s so, so very nice to have some company. So.” Dr. Abbington loudly clapped his hands, making Gabe and Hannah both jump, then he rubbed them together back and forth. It gave Gabriel the creeps. “Are you hungry? You must be hungry. That one little pie didn’t go too far between the two of you.”
“No sir. We’re sorry about stealing from you, sir.”
“Yes. No more stealing.” He shook his long finger just off the tip of Gabriel’s nose. “Just ask and you will receive. Dinner coming up. I’ll just put you both to work tomorrow, and that’s how you will pay for the pie and for dinner. Yes, that’s what I’ll do. Put you to work. So nice to have the company. So, so nice.”
After Dr. Abbington went into the kitchen, Gabriel looked around the strange house. Every nook and cranny was filled with books or gadgets, most of which appeared to be broken. Or at least they hadn’t been used in a long, long time. Cobwebs stretched from cog to corner, from book to book. Above the fireplace hung the only portrait in the entire cottage. It was of a woman all in white. A long white veil covered her hair and parted in the front just enough to show a sweet face. Something about the picture enchanted Gabe so much that he didn’t hear the doctor return.
“That’s my Gladys on our wedding day. The portrait was a gift from her family. Long dead they are now. And my Gladys is gone. Gone, gone. Every night I wait for her to return, and I make fresh gingerbread pie. Her favorite. She did love sweets. Too much, I’m afraid. You children clean your teeth after sweets now, don’t you?”
The ferocity with which he said those last words scared Gabriel. It scared Hannah too, judging by the way she leaned back into him, causing him to catch his balance.
“No matter. Not now. Time for dinner. Come, come. Come to the table here, and I will bring you some meat. It’s good meat. Melts in your mouth, it does. So tender. Sit. Sit!”
He put an iron plate with generous helpings of meat, potatoes, carrots, and even peas down on the long wooden table. Hannah had difficulty getting up into the tall chair, so Gabe helped her up before climbing up on his own chair.
“This is the last of it, I’m afraid,” the doctor said. “So we will have to find some more meat soon. Indeed, soon. No worries. Something always comes along. But there are plenty of potatoes and vegetables yet. Yes. And there is always plenty of pie. Yes plenty of pie. Every night I make more pie. Every night I wait for Gladys to return.”
Between mouthfuls of food, for it really was delicious, Gabe asked, “When was the last time you saw her?”
The doctor looked at him with surprise, almost like he had forgotten anyone else was there, which seemed rather ridiculous since he had just spoken to them. But his shock was apparent. He shook his head and ran his hands through his long white hair, making it all stand up on end. His thin pointy nose hung low over his thin lips and pointy chin. Thin and pointy, that described most of him. Thin and pointy and lanky.
“Oh,” he began to answer and then looked up toward the ceiling, thinking. “It’s been near a month now, I’d gather. Yes. Near a month or so. I remember because it was the day I first noticed the leaves turning. Yes. I had wanted to go for a nice walk together in the woods, but Gladys would have none of it. Her legs hurt, you see. Carrying all that weight. Did I mention she liked sweets? Yes, always eating some sweets. Even rotted out her teeth after a time. I made her brass ones so she could still chew. Oh, how I loved her!”
A tear appeared at the corner of his eye, and he wiped it away with a long, lanky, sad motion.
Gabriel figured he should change the subject, as this one seemed painful. “What is that?” he asked pointing to a rather large wooden contraption in the far corner. He couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“Oh-ho, my boy! That is my greatest invention. It’s a steam engine, but it’s not just a steam engine.” The doctor got up and danced a little jig on the spot, flapping his arms like an oversized gawky chicken. Both of the children giggled at this spectacle. “My greatest invention! You see all around you are my inventions, and I was quite clever. Yes I was, quite clever indeed! But this–” he stroked the side of the monstrous thing with the tenderness of a real mother caressing her child “–this is my greatest invention ever.” His voice even softened as he looked at it.
“How does it work?” Hannah asked.
The massive thing was mostly made of wood, like a big barrel on its side with a trunk sitting atop it. The side of the trunk facing the room had a glass window. It was a door! The doctor unlatched it and it opened downward, revealing a large inner cavity.
“This is also an oven, you see? The bottom portion produces the steam to power–well many possibilities, really–and the top uses the same heat to cook. I’ve cooked an entire wild boar in there. And you see this pipe?” He referred to copper tubing that stretched from the side of the barrel, which had a metal end covered with gauges and more pipes, up into the top oven cavity. “That pipe feeds the extra steam into the oven. The mixture of steam and the heat from below makes for very tender meat. Well, as you just tasted.”
“It was very good,” Hannah said, her eyes wide at this strange machine.
“Yes. Delicious. Thank you, sir,” Gabriel followed, showing his manners.
“Oh my.” The doctor ran a gangly finger down the inside wall of the oven and showed it to the kids. It was all black. “This really must be cleaned. You, boy. Tomorrow, you can clean this. Yes! Put you to work! And you.” He pointed to Hannah, coming closer and bending down to her. “You will tidy up all around, dusting and the like.” His smile was wide, almost splitting his lean face completely in two. Then he flicked his blackened finger down her nose, leaving a long sooty mark which made her giggle. “Time for bed! Tomorrow, you shall tell me how two youngsters ended up alone in the forest, but not tonight. I must return to my vigil. Oh! And put in another pie! I almost forgot. I promised you pie!”
The doctor dished out the pie and the children ate it more slowly than before, for they were very full from their fine meal. Afterward, the doctor lent them each an old dressing gown, which extended far past their feet. Then they slept, long and deep.
“Who are you! What are you doing in my house?” The doctor’s shouts pulled Gabriel out of one nightmare and threw him into another. “How dare you come into my house!”
Gabriel gathered Hannah into his arms to protect her. She hid her face against him.
“Sir! Beg your pardon, sir. You invited us in and fed us last night, remember? After we stole one of your pies, you said we could work it off. I’m happy to work for our food, sir. Then we’ll be on our way.”
The doctor scowled and grabbed Hannah’s arm with his spindly claw.
“No!” Gabriel shouted. “Please sir, I will work. Will will both work. Just don’t hurt us!” He tried desperately to hold onto his sister, but the doctor put his cane against Gabe’s chest and pushed at the same time he pulled on Hannah’s little arm.
“No!” she cried, and the sound hurt the inside of Gabe’s chest even more than the cane was hurting the outside. The doctor carried her away under one arm with Gabriel following behind, trying to save her from this mad man. He grabbed her flailing legs and pulled, but this just angered the doctor more. Spinning around with his cane held high, the doctor brought it down on Gabriel’s head three times. Gabriel tried to protect his head, and felt the blows welt his arms and hands. He remained crumpled in his protective position waiting for more, but the next thing he heard was his sister’s screams muffled by the closing of a door. He looked up to see the doctor locking a closet with a set of keys dangling from a long chain that was attached to his trousers.
“Now you, boy. Get to work. You get that oven spotless, then you can see your sister again. I might even let you go. But first, you will pay for what you stole from me.” He shook the cane at Gabriel, and Gabe put his hands up defensively. “My Gladys! She left because of you. She never liked children. No never. And you drove her away!”
“No, sir. No! We didn’t. We never even met Gladys!”
Gabriel covered his head again as the doctor raised his cane, but the doctor did not strike this time. Instead, he lowered the cane and tapped it twice on the wooden floor.
“My my,” he said as calm as could be. “Apologies my chap. Now where was I? Ah yes, the oven. I shall get you a bucket and scrub brush.”
The pounding on the closet door and his sister’s muted screams would likely drive Gabriel as mad as the doctor before too long. He must take care of her. It was, after all, up to him now, so he would clean the oven and hope for the best. What other choice did he have?
Gabriel climbed into the oven, and his entire body fit inside. The black soot covered all the sides and it felt gritty on his bare hands. Then he saw something shiny, a single brass nugget trapped back in the far corner. Picking it up, he examined it more closely to see that it was not just any nugget, but it was a tooth! He turned just in time to see Dr. Abbington coming towards him with a large wooden club raised over his head. Gabe leapt out of the oven, and in Dr. Abbington’s surprise at Gabe’s quick retreat, he swung the cudgel with all his might. Gabe ducked, and Dr. Abbington spun around with the force of the missed blow and lost his balance, falling onto the open oven door. The wood baton fell out of his hand as he tried to catch himself, and Gabe picked it up without a moment lost, turned, and brought the club down on Dr. Abbington’s head with all his strength. A sickening crack filled the air just before Dr. Abbington collapsed motionless, half in and half out of the steam oven. Out cold, but still alive. Gabe watched the doctor’s chest rise and fall. Rise and fall. He knew he didn’t have long, so he pulled the key chain, ripping the doctor’s trousers. Then he pushed the doctor all the way into the oven, closed the door, and secured the latch. There was only one knob on the side of the barrel portion of the steam engine, the rest were gauges, so Gabe turned the knob until it pointed to the word ‘High.’
Then, taking the doctor’s keys, he released his sister from the closet. She rushed into his arms, and he held her tight, telling her it was going to be okay. A horrible wail interrupted their moment, and Gabe looked over to see the doctor’s face pressed up against the oven’s glass window. His eyes filled with madness and horror, and his rounded mouth let out another most piteous howl.
“I had to,” Gabe explained to his sister. “He was going to kill us and eat us, just like he did his wife.”
“You mean,” she started, pointing to the dinner table, but she did not have to finish. “I’m glad you did. You will always take care of me, won’t you Gabe?”
“I’m hungry,” she said, looking up at him.
“There’s some bread in the kitchen. I’ll bring you some. Then, in a few hours, we will have a feast of our own.”
So very dark and delicious!
This story, along with eleven others, appears in Caught in the Cogs: An Eclectic Collection. Additionally, you can read my poetry and some relationship essays in that same book, available author-signed from me, on the Kindle, in PB at Amazon.com and wherever books are sold.
Don’t forget! There is still time to enter the contests from earlier this week!
- Win a KINDLE and a handmade baby Cthulhu at Bitten by Books. Read a different excerpt from The Zombies of Mesmer and enter to win via Rafflecopter. Easy sign-in with Facebook or Twitter, and there are many ways to increase your entries. It’s so much fun to see all the things you can do! But the only this you have to do is 1) leave your name & country, and 2) leave a comment on the guest post. Contest ends on Sunday, December 2nd.
- Win a copy of Avalon Revisited at Romance Junkies. Listen to the STEAMY chapter one after reading about how I got started in podcasting. Then enter the giveaway simply by leaving a comment & asking a question. Last day to enter is Friday, November 30th. (TOMORROW!!)
- Win all three of my titles (The Zombies of Mesmer, Caught in the Cogs, and Avalon Revisited) PLUS an adorable handmade Voodoo Doll at Straight from Hel! Read about Dr. Mesmer, hypnosis, and Voodoo, then enter to win these books, all beautifully gift wrapped with a hand-drawn gift tag, just by leaving a comment and asking a question. Contest ends Friday, November 30. (TOMORROW!!)
- Win a copy of Caught in the Cogs and a handwritten, matted copy of my poem “New York Rain,” as well as read about the inspiration behind my poetry and listen to a short fiction/poetry podcast! All over at Savvy Verse & Wit! Easy, easy entry…just comment and ask a question.
- All week long you can enter to win a copy of any of the books on Goodreads. Contest ends on Saturday, December 1st.
Join me tomorrow…
Friday, November 30: Romance Junkies: Avalon Revisited Podcast
Book Promo Giveaway
Win an author-signed copy of
the steamy steampunk erotic romance
An Amazon Gothic Romance Best-Selling Novel
LAST DAY TO ENTER!
Click here for the entire O. M. Grey 2012 Blog Tour Weekly Schedule
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~ by omgrey on November 29, 2012.
Posted in Events & Contests
Tags: age of steam, author, avalon, avalon revisited, bdsm, book, broken heart, caught in the cogs, ejp creations, kindle, lolita, lolitas, love, o.m. grey, olivia grey, paranormal romance, podcast, poetry, relationship advice, relationships, romance, short story, steamed, steampunk, the zombies of mesmer, tiara, vampires, victorian