Monday, July 28

Why you never look in a young woman's purse

I was ready to knock on Miss Burton's door when I noticed the ticking sound behind me.

I sighed and and asked "Sir Edward?" as I turned.

A manicured hand wrapped around my wrist. Her ruffles brushed against my hand. I stared into clockwork pupils that rotated into jade as I gasped.

"Not quite. Let's talk."

I tries to pull my hand away, but her magenta sleeve pulled back, drawing me closer. She smiled, baring porcelain fangs.

"Now now, Cousin! My new Daddy said I should play with my cousins..."

Her grip tightened like a vice, and I winced.

"...and I never play with my food."

I gulped. "Fair enough..."

"And don't even think about taking off, Junior Birdman. You'll scare the fish."

"What?" I looked up and saw a school of pink salmon swimming over the Steelhead Sky.

"Babbage has air kraken, Steelhead has air salmon. Koen and Kira are too busy fishing off the rooftops in Boomtown to notice us. Maybe the air kraken eat the air salmon? That would make things interesting, wouldn't it? When's the last time we saw a giant chicken or steampowered elephant around here, anyways? This place isn't as wild as it used to be, that's for sure..."

"So what's your game, Gematria?"

"I figured you would come crying to Genie when you realized your bag of tricks hadn't dropped yet, along with your..."

I looked away. "DO YOU MIND??"

"Do you?" she asked sweetly. She twisted my wrist until I looked back at her again, and she swatted me across the face with a small black leather handbag. She then tugged me across the street and sat me down at the steps of where my Steelhead home had once been. She drew me down to sit with her.

"Here, hold this." She pulled her arm back. Her wrist clicked as her hand detached from her forearm, staying clamped to my wrist. I stared at the hand, and when I tried to pull it off it squeezed hard enough to make me scream.

As I flailed my arm in protest, she unlatched her purse with her remaining hand. She slid the stump of her arm inside, and after a series of fast clicks she withdrew a new hand, this one pale porcelain that contrasted the flesh tone of ther current frame. The white hand already clasped an envelope sealed with wax and a ribbon.

"My friend Alice passed this to me. This is a new contract from Novem."

I looked up in stunned silence, and the hand relaxed its crushing grip on my wrist.

She unsealed the envelope and begna to read it, giggling to herself. I tried to grab it with my untethered hand, but the I felt the fingers dig their nails into my flesh.

"Get this thing off of me!"

"You keep struggling and you won't have a hand left to sign! Now behave!" She spread the paper out on the flagstone and fished a mechanical pen from her purse. "Sign here." The mechanical hand dropped to crawl like an insect onto the document, holding it down as a breeze carried the shadow of a salmon school overhead. As I signed in the best handwriting I could muster with a sore arm. she fished a bundle of satin and lace from her purse. "Your handwriting for prescriptions is worse."

"That's supposed to be illegible."

"Then how does the pharmacist read it?" She squeeazed the bundle, and steel rods expanded upward and spread to form a parasol shielding us both as well as the contract from errant fish droppings.

"It's in code or something. I can't really remember right now."

"Of course, Sweetie." She patted my wrist with her porcelain hand, and I flinched and held it to my body protectively. "Aww...poor baby. Since the contract doesn't kick in for another week, I'll host the next event for you."

I stood up and stamped my foot in protest.

"NOW HOLD ON A SEC...OW!!"

Her parasol telescoped downward and wrapped around my head like a claw, pulling me down to a prone position. The scent of cloyingly sweet perfume assaulted the back of my nose.

"I said behave!"

I had a narrow tunnel of light and air edged with lace, through which I saw her purse tip over. The porcelain hand crawled back in as I heard her original hand reattach. The purce tipped back upright and a daguerrotype rose from the opening. She snatched it from the pale manicured fingers and held it in front of my laced aperture.

"Do you know these people?"

I frowned. I hated to look at family sepias, especially when features repeated themselves exactly from one generation to the rest. The stern man with the handlebar mustache had to be Jeremiah, dressed to the nines with the family crest in the background. Two children stood emotionless at his feet, flanking him. They both looked exactly the way I do now, minus a year or two.

"Who...?"

"One of them is you. The other is your clone-brother, Marcus."

"WHAT?!?" I sat up with a start, and the parasol retracted to give me a dizzy view of the world again.

Gematria smiled sweetly again as she adjusted her auburn curls.

"Story-time!"

TO BE CONTINUED

11 comments:

Fuzzball Ortega said...

You know, this MUST be fiction. I mean, who in their right mind would treat a boy like that in Steelhead, especially since all I have to say is, "Oh, you take care of it, Tensai"

Besides, management and the Sheriff (guess who?) are a bit more on their toes than what yours and Gematria's bloggings are inferring (which I know isn't your intention).

And it's funny, I've seen giant chickens and such in Steelhead.....just haven't seen you or your kin.

Darien Mason said...

Well, the three entries you speak of only cover a maximum of span of ten minutes' time. Also, you tolerate a lot more crap from someone when they're related to you.

As for not seeing much of the Mason family, Ash is circulating among the Consulate sites with mundane duties, so he's probably in town the most often.

Dr. Mason was occupied for a few months in New Babbage with an epidemic
and immediately before that with an outbreak of mushroom poisoning in Caledon. It is a credit to the common sense of the populace of Steelhead that they seem to eat neither fungi nor monster hands that they can't identify.

Also the fact that other jurisdictions are much more lenient towards reanimating activities (in one town to the point where I had to turn away donations) has been a factor.

And also there's that whole thing where I'm helping run a club because I miss hosting and use most of the profits to fund Regency Hospital and keep my son Ash in tip-top shape.

Gematria has been actively practicing the art of How Not to Be Seen, and she's largely been successful on this part.

Koen recently came back from the dead, so give the boy some slack.

Qlippothic has been scarce lately, even to other family members. Since she now has the voice and DJ skills of Nova Sakigake, why don't you invite her to spin some phonographs at Club GEARZ? You'll get a large crowd, I promise you.

Amarantis is the newest family member, and also a Consulate member. Maybe she'll show up at the next meeting.

As for the most villainous members of the family, Jeremiah has apparently run out of clones, and You-Know-Who, last I checked was no longer welcome in the Gaslamp Fantasy region.

Oh, and don't worry about Marcus showing up in Steelhead. It's one thing to lay waste to half of Baltimore. It's pretty much wasted already. I don't think a 12-year-old runaway telekinetic knows enough to file for a Steelhead License to Practice Destruction and Mayhem on Sim Property. I think a certain werewolf hunter stole all the forms.

Mara said...

It is a credit to the common sense of the populace of Steelhead that they seem to eat neither fungi nor monster hands that they can't identify.>>>>>>>

Indeed!!!

I'm sure I saw three large chickens at the dance last Friday night. As for the salmon, I didn't see them, but I sure did smell them - my owl even managed to snag a couple.

Bettye Dugan said...

Indeed some very, very good reasons not to look in a lady's purse. VERY good advice Dr. Mason!

Fuzzball Ortega said...

He's not a werewolf hunter. He hates all non-humans, with Lycans at the top of the list, which mostly has to do with a certain Lycan interfering with his plans after taking control of the country of Moldavia.

So, basically, furries, tinies, elves, Neko's, and, quite possibly, clones (due to the fact that they are not born like proper humans) fall into that category

Rhianon Jameson said...

I will admit to nibbling a few mushrooms to determine if they would be suitable for a stew, or perhaps to be sauteed on the range, but I would never think of dining on a monster hand of unknown provenence. Unless the hand were clearly chocolate. (True, the mushrooms turned out to be highly unsuitable, but what does not kill us...anyway, I made a complete recovery. I think.)

If your family hails from this Baltimore of which you write, Dr. Mason, you must be careful about casting aspersions toward the eating habits of adverturesome souls. I hear that the denizens of that town enjoy dining on crustaceans.

Darien Mason said...

Miss Jameson,

Yes, it's said the Chesapeake Bay could feed the entire nation if harnessed properly. Shellfish has been consumed from time immemorial, and for those whose faith and constitution allows them to eat, more power to them. Occasionally someone gets a bad batch and winds up in the hospital, but for them it's a calculated risk.

Now if someone fished out a creature they'd never seen before, I'd suggest they hold off on eating it before a biologist takes a look at it.

Miss Lily said...

But Dr. Mason---Dang, I mean *Darien*: that meat pie was soooo tasty!

Ama said...

Between the meat pies and the cannon-trout, I am seriously considering becoming a vegitarian.

If I have to dine away from home, it is starting to look like the only option.

Even the chickens are getting scarce.

Gematria said...

Would you like a pomegranate, Miss Belfire?

*grins*

genie-burton said...

*sniffle* He was coming to see me and I never _knew_!